Missed Mortgage Payments – Avoiding Foreclosure

Mary Stewart, a contract attorney for the Foreclosure Relief Project at the NH Bar Association, explains what to do when you fall behind on your mortgage payments.
 
 

 

First off, New Hampshire is a non-judicial foreclosure state.  This means that if you fall behind on your payments, your mortgage company can foreclose without having to go to court, and it can happen quickly! If you fall behind on your monthly payments or even if you anticipate that you may fall behind, it is important to seek out help sooner rather than later.  Ignoring the problem most definitely will not make it go away.  The sooner you act, the more options will be available to you.

Second, don’t go it alone.  In New Hampshire, there are free Home Ownership Counselors available throughout the state.   Home Ownership Counselors are familiar with all the options that may be available to you, including modification and forbearance. They will help you assemble the vast amounts of paperwork needed when working with your lender and take care of transmitting the paperwork to the right person at your mortgage company for review.  Best of all, this service is completely free.

Home Ownership Counselors work all day, every day with people who are in the same situation that you are facing.

Third, if you already have a foreclosure scheduled, it is not too late to get help. However, it is important to act before the foreclosure auction.  The first step is to stop the foreclosure from happening.  This can be done by either filing a complaint in the NH Superior Court or by filing for personal bankruptcy protection.  There are private attorneys throughout the state as part of the Foreclosure Relief Project who will help you with this process. You can meet with an attorney FOR FREE at a Home Retention Clinic, and you may qualify for additional free or reduced fee legal services, depending on your income.

Lastly, no matter what, please don’t be afraid to get help.   Everyone has financial ups and downs.  You are not alone!  For information and guidance on the next step for you, please call the NH Bar Association Foreclosure Relief Project at 603-715-3255.

The NH Bar Association’s Foreclosure Relief Project is supported by funding from the National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association partners with the Foreclosure Relief Project by providing referrals for distressed homeowners to attorneys who are specifically trained in foreclosure-related legal matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

NH Bans Campaign Apparel Inside Polling Places

campaign-buttons_russwalker_fccNH state law prohibits people from wearing campaign paraphernalia such as buttons, stickers or clothing supporting specific candidates inside polling places. Violators could face fines of up to $1000.

According to Allie Morris, State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan is advising moderators to have ponchos on hand for voters wearing campaign shirts at the polls to cover up with.

“Electioneering in the polling place is not permitted generally,” Scanlan said. “If you have the same design on a campaign sign as you do on a sweatshirt, it’s effectively the same thing.”

Some people feel this is a violation of the freedom of speech.  Republican Rep. Dennis Fields, who filed the legislation at the secretary of state’s request, says the law’s intent is to prevent people from wearing items that might sway or intimidate voters.

Read the entire story.

For information about the 2016 changes to election laws and the voter ID law, go to the NH Secretary of State’s Office website.

If you have an election law issue or any other legal matter, the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can provide you with referrals to competent and insured attorneys to assist you.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Photo by Russ Walker – Flickr Creative Commons

New Parenting Plan Modification Law

On May 31, 2016, Governor Hassan signed HB1280 into law.  This bill expands the reasons and criteria for modifying a Parenting Plan within our Family Court system.

The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, adds three new categories for allowing modification of a parenting schedule.  Attorney Elizabeth LaRochelle, one of many competent and insured panel members of the NH Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), explains the new law in greater detail on her firm’s blog.

Call LRS today at 603-229-0002 for a referral to the right attorney for your specific legal matter, or request a referral online.

 

Parenting Plan Schedule Book

Fraud Alert for Bankruptcy Filers

Bankruptcy Court

PRESS RELEASE

“New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster issues the following caution for people who have filed or may soon file for bankruptcy. There is an on-going telephone scam related to individuals who have filed bankruptcy papers in court. The scammers, apparently using information from public filings in the bankruptcy court, will call a person who has filed for bankruptcy, claiming to be that person’s lawyer, the lawyer’s partner or a member of their law office staff. Using software that can affect a person’s caller ID system, they make it appear that the call is actually coming from the person’s lawyer. The scammers instruct the unwitting consumer to immediately wire money to satisfy a debt. The calls may be made late in the evening or during non-business hours so the person receiving the call cannot contact his or her lawyer to confirm the request. Any person who receives such a call should not wire funds and should contact their lawyer as soon as possible. Scams should also be reported to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau at 1-888-468-4454.  Consumers with consumer-related complaints or concerns can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Information Line at 1-888-468-4454 or file a complaint on-line.”

Read the entire Press Release at the NH Attorney General’s website.

Although it is possible to file a bankruptcy case without an attorney, it is not a step to be taken lightly. If you do not understand the law or if you fill out the forms incorrectly, you may unnecessarily lose property or jeopardize your discharge.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can refer you to a competent and insured bankruptcy attorney to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the right step for you.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

In Bankruptcy, What Property Can I Keep?

Bankruptcy CourtIn a bankruptcy case, you can keep all property which the law says is “exempt” from the claims of creditors. You can choose between state law exemptions or federal law exemptions.

Federal exemptions include:

  • $22,975 equity in your home;
  • $3,675 in equity in your car;
  • $575 per item in any household goods up to a total of $12,250;
  • $1,550 in jewelry;
  • $2,300 in things you need for your job (tools, books, etc,);
  • $1,225 in any property, plus part of the unused exemption in your home, up to $11,500;
  • Your right to receive certain benefits such as social security, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, public assistance, and pensions—regardless of the amount;

You must have lived in New Hampshire for the last two years to use the New Hampshire exemption laws. New Hampshire exemptions include:

  • $100,000 in equity in your home
  • $4,000 equity in you car
  • Up to $3,500 in household furnishings
  • $5,000 in things you need for your job (i.e. tools, books, etc.)
  • $1,000 in any property plus up to $7,000 of unused other exemptions
  • $500 in jewelry
  • Most retirement plans, social security, unemployment and other public assistance benefits
  • New Hampshire law also protects up to 6 sheep, one hog, one pig, and either a horse a cow or a yoke of oxen.

The exemption amounts are doubled when a married couple files together.

In determining whether property is exempt, you must keep a few things in mind.  First, property value is not the amount you paid for it, but what it is worth today. Especially for furniture and cars, this may be a lot less than what you paid or what it would cost to buy a replacement.

Further, you only need to look at the equity in your property. This means that you count your exemptions against the full value minus any money that you owe on mortgages or liens. For example, if you own a $50,000 house with a $40,000 mortgage, you have $10,000 of equity in your property. Under New Hampshire exemptions, if the equity is under $100,000, the property is fully protected. In this case, the property if fully protected.

For more information regarding bankruptcy, read the entire pamphlet entitled “Bankruptcy” from the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Remember, the law often changes and each case is different.  This information was meant to give general information and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice.

A decision to file bankruptcy should be made only after determining that bankruptcy is the best way to deal with your financial situation.  A consultation with an experience bankruptcy attorney can help.  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association today for a referral at 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

 

May Is National Moving Month – Don’t Get Scammed!

May is National Moving Month – the busiest time of the year for people changing residences.  It’s also a busy time of the year for unlicensed movers and scammers.  For tips on how to spot con-artists and avoid scams, check out this video by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

 

 
If you have been scammed by an unscrupulous moving company, contact the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association for a referral to a licensed and insured attorney who represents consumers.  Call (603) 229-0002 or request an online referral.

 
 

Bullying in the Workplace

bullyfree_fcc_Eddie~sThe issue of bullying is currently a hot topic in the United States, and it’s not just schoolchildren who are the targets, or offenders. More and more advocacy and law enforcement agencies around the country are receiving inquiries from folks wondering if bullying and/or harassment is a legal cause of action.

According to a recent article in The Employment Discrimination Report, in a recent New York federal court case, the pro se plaintiff, a college lecturer, attempted to bring an action “regarding the bullying and harassment by (his department’s) current Chair.” He told the Court “that he was not alleging that his Chair’s hostility was motivated by his race, sex, age, or national origin.” The federal court held that:

 

“Bullying and harassment have no place in the workplace, but unless they are motivated by the victim’s membership in a protected class, they do not provide the basis for an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2 (“Title VII”), and any complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) based on them does not constitute “protected activity” under Title VII.”

The Court went on to say:

“Victims of non-discriminatory bullying at the workplace, like those treated unfairly for reasons other than their membership in a protected class, must look outside Title VII to secure what may be their fair due. The Court does not condone bullying, but it cannot read Title VII to protect its victims unless the bullying reflects discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Read the entire article by Richard Cohen.

On July 28th, 2014, NH’s Governor vetoed an anti-bullying bill, HB 591   Read Governor Hassan’s Press Release regarding the veto.

So what is an employee to do when he/she believes she is being subjected to bullying behavior?  How can an employer protect itself against legal action while maintaining a safe, professional working environment?

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can help with referrals to competent and insured labor law attorneys who represent employees and/or employers.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Requesting Child Support Orders from the Court

Provided by the Domestic Violence Emergency (DOVE) Project of the NH Bar Association, this is a video presentation to assist pro se litigants (people representing themselves) with requesting child support orders within divorce, parenting rights or domestic violence restraining order cases. The presenters provide a “nuts and bolts” review of the court forms utilized to obtain child support orders.

•Financial Affidavit
•Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
•Uniform Support Order.
The video is a component to the Resource Handbook for Victims of Domestic Abuse, a compilation of resources for library patrons who are navigating the legal system in ongoing family law cases. This program is for informational use only and does not constitute legal advice. To review a copy of this handbook please visit your local library. If you are a victim of domestic abuse you may want to contact a local domestic and sexual violence crisis center at 1-866-644-3574 (24-hour service) for help. If you are in immediate danger you should dial 911 for emergency response.

 


 
Presented by Cathy Shanelaris, Chanelaris and Schirch, PLLC, Nashua, NH & Mary Krueger, NH Legal Assistance, Claremont, NH.

Representing yourself in court can be quite overwhelming. Hiring an attorney to assist you on a limited basis is an option. The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can make referrals to competent and insured attorneys who may provide “unbundled” or “limited scope representation” for child support and other family law matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

 

Does Forced Decryption Violate the Fifth Amendment?

Can the government force a suspect to give up the encryption keys to his/her computer hard drives, to provide evidence to convict the suspect with? Does this violate the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination? This issue hasn’t yet been directly addressed by the Supreme Court.

“Federal prosecutors have formally dropped demands that a child-porn suspect give up his encryption keys in a closely watched case, but experts warn the issue of forced decryption is very much alive and is likely to encompass a larger swath of Americans as crypto adoption becomes mainstream.”

Read the entire story at Wired.com

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, a consultation with a competent and insured Civil Rights attorney can make all the difference.  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association for a referral at 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

 

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Photo by woodleywonderworks at Flickr Creative Commons

Jury Disregards Medical Malpractice Panel Findings

For the first time in NH, a Hillsborough County jury ignored the unanimous decision of a medical malpractice panel, and sided with the family of William Landry Jr., a 36 year old factory worker who died from heart disease in 2005.

Previously, Landry had visited his cardiologist three times after fainting spells and was told there was nothing wrong with him from a cardiac stand point. An autopsy revealed lesions on Landry’s heart and the Medical Examiner estimated that he had developed heart disease in 2004. The lawsuit charged that the cardiologist didn’t perform the right tests.

Medical malpractice panels are made up of a retired judge, physician and a lawyer. They hear the case in secret and the decision is non-binding. If the decision is unanimous, the jury can be told about the decision if the plaintiff decides to go forward with a trial. The process is designed to encourage the parties to settle; however, the lawyer for the cardiologist didn’t offer to settle once the panel gave it’s decision.

Ultimately, the jury disregarded the findings of the review panel and awarded the family $1.5 million.

Read the entire story by Mark Hayward, for the Union Leader.

If you have sustained medical injuries due to the error of medical professionals, a consultation with an attorney experienced with Medical Malpractice matters can make all the difference. The Lawyer Referral Service has specific standards for attorneys who receive these referrals from LRS. Call 603-229-0002 or fill out the online referral request form.

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