I would like to take the opportunity to welcome you to my Website. I am an attorney practicing law in Stuart, Port St. Lucie and Jupiter, Florida. My practice focuses on Bankruptcy, Civil Litigation, Business and Corporate Law, Foreclosure Defense, Real Estate, and Wills Trusts and Estates. I am also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Appellate, Circuit Civil and Family Mediator. I am admitted to the Florida Bar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the U.S. District Court, Southern District, the U.S. District Court, Middle District, the U.S. District Court, Northern District, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, Bankruptcy, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District, Bankruptcy, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District, Bankruptcy.
I believe in the hands on approach when working with my clients. You will find this out when you make your appointment to come and see me. If you are facing a legal dilemma and would like to schedule a free consultation, please give my office a call.
I know every situation is unique and it is important to achieve the optimal outcome. Exploring and explaining your legal options, gives you an opportunity to better understand your legal circumstances. The Goal is problem solving: Providing the Legal Solutions that are resourceful, intelligent, and practical. I also believe a Lawyer should be candid. Clients need to know how I honestly appraise the situation.
If you would like to send us an email, please click here.
As an introduction to this site and to assist you in navigating, this narrative and the internal back links here to address specific concerns you may have. I have tried to make this as easy as possible. If you would rather go through the menu items, please be my guest. If you have questions, please give my office a call. The narrative will breakdown the specific areas of practice and provides a brief synopsis of what is contained within the site. It is my hope that you find this helpful.
As you can see from my menu, my primary areas of are Bankruptcy, Civil Litigation, Business and Corporate Law, Foreclosure Defense, Real Estate Law, Mediation, and Wills, Trusts, and Estates. I have offices in Stuart, Port St. Lucie and Jupiter. I have been an area resident for over 10 years. As a lawyer and a community member, I am in touch what happens in the area. I am on the Board of Directors and the Lawyer for St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity, which serves Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce and all of St. Lucie County.
This narrative is on-going in nature. I will continue to add sections as I add pages and videos detailing additional sections above.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter FL
Bankruptcy has always had terrible connotations. It stirs feelings of anxiety and fear. Unfortunately, many people wait too long before even considering this option because of these fears. They deplete IRA’s and other potentially exempt assets before making a decision to even contact an attorney. This is a big mistake. It is important to understand both sides of a bankruptcy. Although there may be many fears, with proper legal guidance, most, if not all, you will discover were irrational. Further, the phone calls will stop. You may be able to keep your car and depending on your circumstance, you may be able to keep credit cards. It just depends on you individual circumstances. If you are in hole and cannot find a way to get out, don’t ask for another shovel. Call my office.
Bankruptcy for consumers is usually either a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (there are instances where a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can be used, but we will not go into that here).
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy. In general, what this means is assets are liquidated in Bankruptcy to satisfy creditors. Not everyone can file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. First, the debtor must be able to pass the means test. The means test is an income evaluation. If a debtor falls below the Median income, or passes the means test, they will be able to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
Another consideration, when deciding whether or not to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the value of your assets. If the debtor has many valuable assets, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may not be the appropriate solution. Every case is different. It is important to know the value of your assets and how to value your assets in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
Once the value of the assets is determined, the debtor will need to know what exemptions are available in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. There are also additional Statutory Chapter 7 Bankruptcy exemptions available which should be reviewed with you by your attorney to protect as much of your property as possible. In the event not all of the assets can be protected with the exemptions available in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the Trustee will negotiate with the attorney for the value of the asset, liquidate the asset, or abandon any interest in the asset.
There is also credit counseling and debtor education that must be completed when filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The credit counseling must be completed before filing and the debtor education after filing. Once the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is filed, the 341 Hearing/meeting of creditors is scheduled between 20 and 40 days from the date of filing. The Bankruptcy discharge is filed, barring any unforeseen difficulties, 60 days from the date of the 341 hearing. The answer the question,”How long does it take to complete a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?; approximately 90 days from the date of filing subject to individual circumstances.
If you find yourself in debt in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, or Jupiter Fl, and need to discuss your situation with an experienced hands-on Bankruptcy lawyer, give me a call at my Stuart Law office number or call and schedule a free appointment. It is not the end of the world, it can be a new beginning.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter, FL
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is planned bankruptcy which can be used in the event that you do not qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or if you wish to retain property which could not have been otherwise protect in chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
It is important to determine what your “disposable income” is. Under a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan, the debtor is required to pay his/her/their creditors at least as much money as the creditors would have received if the debtor(s) had filed a Chapter 7 petition.
Determining the value of your assets, the equity you may have in those assets, and ultimately the liquidity of your assets is extremely important when examined against your available exemptions.
If you are uncertain about bankruptcy and need assistance, please give my office a call.
Supplemental Web pages are under construction and will be added with the supplemental text in the near future.
Civil Litigation Lawyer Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter, FL
Civil litigation is a broad area and incorporates actions between individuals, organizations, partnerships, corporations, LLC’s, and any other legal entity which may be able to establish legal standing to bring or defend an action. The causes of action can range from Breach of Contract and Tortious interference with a contractual relationship to Fraud or personal injury. If you have questions as to whether your legal rights have been violated or are being sued and need a diligent advocate, contact my office.
In Civil litigation, there are myriad of strategies employed to move a case in a positive of direction. Clients are surprised when they learn that the burden of proof (the duty of providing a fact which is in dispute), the burden of moving forward, and degree of proof can shift and change as a case progresses.
It is vitally important to determine the underlying facts and to preserve the supporting evidence at the beginning of dispute which may result in a legal action. Contacting an attorney may be the last thing on your mind when you are involved in an accident, but it is important to make sure the incident and factual circumstances surrounding the incident are properly investigated and preserved. Many Civil Lawsuits are won or lost based upon the integrity of the evidence. Witness memories fade, documentary evidence gets lost or destroyed, digital evidence deleted. If you live in Martin County, Palm Beach County, or St. Lucie County and need help in any civil litigation matter, please don’t hesitate to call and schedule a free consultation. We can discuss your situation over the phone. Please give me the opportunity to be your lawyer in Port St. Lucie, Stuart, or Jupiter.
Products Liability Lawyer Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter, FL
As mentioned above products liability cases or lawsuits are a type of civil action. Many people associate products liability actions with class actions, which may be true in some product liability actions but not all. A defect in the design of a mass marketed product which could have an impact on a large number of victims could result in a class action. A class action could also arise out of a breach of the duty to warn about hazards associated with a mass marketed product. However, there are also situations in which a single product was defectively manufactured which resulted in a injuries. This too would be grounds for a product liability action.
If you live in Stuart, Port St. Lucie or Jupiter Florida and have been injured by a product as a result of a defect in design, manufacture or failure or inadequate warning, please give my office a call and schedule a free consultation.
Foreclosure Defense/Loan Modification/Short Sales/Deed in Lieu:
This area of practice grew out of the economic recession. Ten years ago, these activities rarely occurred. Today, especially in Florida, these methods are now commonplace when determining how to effectively address a financially distressed property owner. What I want the reader to know here is some general information. Every situation is fact specific. If you live in Stuart, Port St. Lucie or Jupiter and need a lawyer, please call my office.
What is foreclosure defense? When a homeowner/property owner falls behind on their mortgage payments, they potentially breach the terms of the mortgage and note used to finance the purchase of their property. The mortgage is the security instrument and the note is the promise to pay. In the event the Homeowner falls behind and the holder of the note and mortgage move forward to exercise their interest (i.e. filing a complaint for foreclosure), the homeowner can avail themselves of any defenses. These defenses may be statutory, a breach of the note or mortgage documents, improper execution of the documents, or other defenses.
There have been many errors in how cases were prepared and many foreclosure actions were conducted improperly (i.e. robo signing, missing notes, improper standing, improperly verified complaints, etc…). Surprisingly, these issues still arise today. In order to foreclose, the bank needs to make sure it has properly complied with the law. Banks have been penalized for these practices.
One of the opportunities which have arisen as a result of the foreclosure crisis is the federally sponsored programs to modify home loans. Financially distressed homeowners have been able to modify their mortgages under HAMP (Home Affordability Modification Program). Many Lenders have also put together in-house programs for homeowners that do not qualify for HAMP.
Often loan modification efforts go hand-in-hand with foreclosure defense. The homeowner wishes to gain additional time to file and update the paperwork necessary to qualify for the program. It is very important to note that the application for a modification will not stop an existing foreclosure case. The two activities run concurrently. It is equally important to know that the modification programs are simply that. They are programs. A homeowner is not entitled to a modification simply because the application was submitted. The Lender can deny the modification and continue with the foreclosure (which has been moving forward simultaneously).
The paperwork…this is stated with a capital P. The paperwork for the modification is the most arduous task associated with the process. Why? The paperwork has to be completely and properly filled out. The supporting documentation must be included and any supporting documentation which may change from month to month will need to be updated and submitted at least every 30 days (pay stubs, bank statements, etc…). It is important to work with a lawyer familiar with the process. Many qualified borrowers have been turned-down due to paperwork deficiencies or incomplete applications.
Also, many homeowners only want a loan modification if there is a principal reduction. Principal reductions have occurred, but are an exception rather than the norm. If you need a lawyer extremely familiar with the loan modification process in Stuart FL, Port St. Lucie FL, or Jupiter FL, please give me a call.
What are a homeowner’s options when the Lender overcomes the defenses, a loan modification is not viable, denied or unaffordable? This is where a short sale or a deed-in-lieu may help a homeowner mitigate liability. The short sale is where the homeowner sells the property for less than what is owed. How? First, if you are not in a foreclosure process and do not have an attorney, I recommend hiring a lawyer.
You will need a real estate agent familiar with short sales to complete CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) or a BPO (Broker Price Opinion). A CMA/BPO will determine the approximate value of the property. The property needs to be listed for the approximate value to be an effective short sale. If the property is listed too low, the lender will most likely not approve the sale or may counter-offer at a price which the buyer is unwilling to accept.
The homeowner will need to provide the lender with the requisite short sale paperwork which will accompany a contract to purchase (i.e. an accepted offer). This paperwork is submitted to the lender for review. This process can take quite some time. The lender will accept, reject, or counter-offer. Again, as with a modification, while the bank is reviewing the short sale, continue to update your documentation which may change at least every 30 days (pay stubs, bank statements, etc…).
During the review process and so long as the program is available, the homeowner may be eligible for HAFA (Home Affordability Financial Assistance) funds. These funds may be available provided the homeowner meets the eligibility requirements. There is a separate review for this program. This is a program not an entitlement. Several homeowners have applied for this program, waited an even longer time for the HAFA review and have been denied funds or have had the buyers walk away from the deal or both. Others have received significant funds. It is a gamble you should discuss with your attorney. The delays created by the application and approval process for HAFA funds could result in a foreclosure before you receive bank approval for your short sale.
Short sale counter offers usually ask for more money from the buyer. The lender’s primary concern is what it will net from the transaction. Lenders have also asked the seller to sign an unsecured note to pay for part of the deficiency (the difference between the money owed through the note and the sale price of the home), cut commissions for the realtors involved, shifted closing costs, etc…Again, the bottom line the lender wants to know is what are they going to receive.
It is important to note that while the lender is reviewing the documents for the short sale, if the property is involved in a foreclosure action, it may be foreclosed upon before the lender finishes the review. As with a modification or a deed in lieu, a short sale submitted for review by the lender does not stop the foreclosure action in court. They occur simultaneously on parallel tracks.
If the residence is a primary homesteaded residence, the homeowner falls under the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 through December 31, 2013. It is important to discuss this with your attorney. If you have any questions, please give me a call.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
If there is no interest in the home (by that, I mean there are no offers on the home), the homeowner can request the lender grant a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The lender is not obligated to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, but many lenders will, provided the homeowner is eligible. There are also HAFA funds available to qualified homeowners. Again, this is not a guaranteed program. The lender does not have to give the homeowner a deed in lieu or cash for keys.
The lender will usually require the homeowner to submit the same paperwork for a short sale. Lenders usually like to see the property listed on the market for at least 3 months before considering a deed in lieu of foreclosure. There is the same review process and the lender can either grant a deed in lieu of foreclosure or foreclose on the property
If you are facing financial difficulties and need a lawyer in Stuart, Port St. Lucie or Jupiter, Florida, please give my office a call.
Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Benjamin Franklin’s adage: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” is as profound as it is simple. In the inevitability lies the ability to plan. Estate Planning through a review of your assets and determining what you would like to accomplish is actually a very rewarding exercise. A failure to plan will result in the decisions made by the State of Florida. This could end up costing your loved ones quite a bit of emotional and financial distress. Many times this distress could have been avoided with even a simple will.
If you don’t know where to start or do have a plan but don’t know how to execute it, please give my office a call. I am a lawyer willing to sit with you and see what we can do to make sure your requests are met.
The information on the Law offices of Randall A. Fischer/RAFischerAttorney.com website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
The Meeting of Creditors, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter Florida
When filing for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, there is a meeting of creditors or the 341 hearing. The meeting of creditors meeting is administered by the trustee. The Trustee is assigned to you case when filed. The Trustee reviews your petition and schedules to make sure the information is accurate, truthful and complete. The Trustee is attempting to recover any nonexempt property which can be liquidated, if necessary, and used to repay the creditors. This is quite an involved process.
The petition and schedules are submitted the day you sign them in my office and are submitted electronically to the U.S. Southern District Bankruptcy Court of Florida. At that time, they are assigned a Judge, a Trustee, and a date and time for the 341 hearing.
The 341 hearing is scheduled automatically 20 to 40 days after the date of filing and the petitioner (you) must show up at the hearing and you will need to bring a means of identification and a verification of your Social Security Number. I cannot stress this enough. It is very important to bring your Driver’s License and Social Security card. If you do not have a Social Security card, it would be prudent to apply for a replacement before you see me for the initial consultation. If you do not have these documents to present, the trustee will not conduct the meeting. I have had clients attempt to substitute other documentation other than what the Trustee will accept and have had the meeting cancelled.
As mentioned previously, the meeting of creditors is administered by the Trustee not a Judge. In order to make sure you are on time, please arrive at least 15 minutes early. Currently, the meetings are held at 1515 N. Flagler Dr., Room 870, in West Palm Beach, FL. There is free valet parking when you pull into the building. Take the elevator to the 8th floor and room 870 is denoted by a sign that says Trustee Waiting Room. When you get in the room there is a short questionnaire you need to fill out and bankruptcy information paperwork posted on the wall by the door that you must read (I provide you with a copy when you first come in as part of your bankruptcy paperwork package).
Each trustee has different requirements regarding what paperwork they would like updated. We will let you know what is needed. Generally, I bring the entire file with me to the 341 Hearing. However, there may be some last minute paperwork you will need to provide the Trustee (Bank statements or pay stubs you did not give to us and which were not uploaded to the trustee). We upload all supporting paperwork prior to the 341 Hearing which gives the Trustee and opportunity to thoroughly review your file prior to conducting the meeting.
There may be other creditors represented at the 341 Hearing, but, generally, this is not the case. Usually the only person asking questions in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the trustee. I go over what is expected of you prior to the 341 Hearing. Because this meeting/hearing is usually the only formal proceeding in which you will discuss your case with anyone, clients are always very nervous, which is okay. It will be okay.
Depending on the Trustee, the complexity of your financial situation, and how complete and accurate your petition and schedules are, the meeting usually does not last more than 15 minutes and can be shorter. We go over your information with you so thoroughly that when we get to the hearing it should go smoothly. You will know what assets cannot be exempted and the status of your filing. It still may not alliviate your angst, but at least you will know your are thoroughly prepared.
When the 341 Hearing(Meeting of Creditors) begins, the trustee will swear you in. The trustee may have an assistant present. Usually, the trustee will have a monitor, which will have the schedules filed with the court available for the Trustee’s review. The Trustee will ask you many questions about your financial affairs, whether you have read and reviewed the petition and schedules prepared by your attorney and are they true and accurate, what real estate you owned or transferred recently, whether you had previously file for bankruptcy and when, when was the last time you paid creditor and how much, valuations of property, etc…There can be many issues that come up, especially if you own a business.
If there are any issues which require additional documentation or clarification, this is usually handled outside the 341 Hearing. If there is any nonexempt property which the trustee would like to claim, arrangements can be made there or after the meeting.
There may be other issues which could arise as a result of improper documentation and some of these issues could be severe. Therefore, it is important to be honest. Do not lie to me or the Trustee. Bankruptcy Fraud is no joke.
If you are facing a difficult financial situation and live in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, or Jupiter FL, and need a Bankruptcy Lawyer, please give my office a call to schedule a free appointment.