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Homeowner and Consumer Protection

Woerthwein & Miller’s end-to-end law practice covers several areas to ensure that our clients have the largest set of tools possible. On a very broad level, those tools are foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, consumer defense, and real estate law. Each practice area works with the others, creating a seamless, end-to-end strategy that best protects your interests and rights.

Strategic Plan

Your first steps towards financial freedom begin with a plan. That plan, if implemented strategically, can keep you in your home, eliminate debts, earning you money when your creditors misbehave.  Once your specific needs and goals are identified, there are several tools available to you that can help protect your assets, give you a financial fresh start, protect your credit report, and hold banks, debt collectors, and credit reporting agencies responsible for their bad behavior. Some people may begin their strategy by defending a foreclosure on their home. Others may start by filing a bankruptcy. Some consumers that have received a bankruptcy discharge before coming to Woerthwein & Miller may proceed directly to protecting their credit and holding their former creditors accountable when they violate the law. Like you, each strategy is unique.

Some strategies that have worked for our clients include:

Short Sale
A short sale is when you sell your home for less than you owe on the mortgage. In most cases, the bank will forgive the difference. You might want to speak to an accountant about any potential tax consequences. Short sales often take longer than a normal real estate deal, which gives you more time to get ready to move. Some people prefer short sales because they would rather sell the property than have a foreclosure judgment on their credit report.

Deed In Lieu/Consent Foreclosure
These two remedies allow you to give your property back to the bank. In exchange, the bank agrees to waive any deficiency amount—the difference between what you owe and what your home is worth. In some situations, lenders may even provide relocation assistance in what is known as a “cash for keys” deal.

Foreclosure Defense
If you are facing foreclosure, then there are defenses. If your mortgage is an FHA or VA loan, then the bank must take very specific steps to avoid foreclosure before suing you. If your mortgage has been sold and re-sold several times, you may be able to argue that the bank lacks the standing or capacity to sue you. Quite simply, you’re arguing that the bank doesn’t own your loan. Our experienced foreclosure defense attorneys will analyze your case and develop the best defense strategy for you.

Loan Modification / Loss Mitigation
If you want to retain your home, then applying for a loan modification may be the right choice for you. Many of our clients prefer to make the bank prove its case before applying for a loan modification. Once a judgment is entered in a foreclosure case, there is a 90-day period before the bank can sell your home. Applying for a loan modification during that time is often the best strategy. What’s more, federal regulations prevent the bank from moving its case forward until you receive an answer on your application. Even if you are ultimately denied a loan modification, this can give you valuable time to plan and execute a move to a new home.

Strategic Default
Some homeowners simply stopped paying their mortgages because their homes were underwater. When your home is underwater, you aren’t building equity. You are renting from the bank. Others elect to use the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to sever their liability on their mortgage, giving them a fresh financial start. In any of these situations, a long-term strategy is ideal to ensure that you can gracefully exit your home on your own time table. We can help you design and execute that strategy.

One Successful Strategy
Recently, Woerthwein & Miller defended a foreclosure in which the bank lost the mortgage and note and improperly transferred the mortgage from one investor to another. The assignment wasn’t even recorded in the public record. Considering the size of banks and the numbers of foreclosures they are processing, mistakes like these are incredibly common.

Consumer Defense
Consumer defense law puts you on the offensive against your creditors, debt collectors, and credit reporting agencies. Several federal statutes provide the backbone of this practice.

The Automatic Stay in bankruptcy protects you from collection attempts while your case is pending. Creditors who violate the automatic stay expose themselves to liability under the Bankruptcy Code, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (ICFA). The bankruptcy discharge protects you from the collection efforts of creditors after you bankruptcy case ends. Debt collectors and creditors are forbidden from collecting discharged debts from you. If they do, they expose themselves to liability under the Bankruptcy Code, the FDCPA, and ICFA.

While defending this foreclosure, our client was able to sell their property—the bank agreed to reduce the mortgage payoff by $200,000. Just as importantly, Woerthwein & Miller was able to negotiate an agreement with the bank. It agreed to not pursue a deficiency judgment against our client.

The result: the client is free of the underwater property, the bank is substantially compensated, and the possibility of a costly deficiency judgment was negotiated away. Our client is now able to continue their life without the heavy burden of banks chasing them for the next several years.

If you are falling behind on your mortgage, then it is in your best interest to plan a foreclosure defense strategy. Please feel free to contact Woerthwein & Miller with any questions or to help access your situation.

Woerthwein & Miller does not offer “mortgage relief assistance services” as defined by the Federal Trade Commission. However, the firm provides counsel to clients as it pertains to submissions to lender for lender loss mitigation approvals if ordered by the court or requested by opposing counsel during the loss mitigation phase of the case.

One Successful Strategy

Recently, Woerthwein & Miller defended a foreclosure in which the bank lost the mortgage and note and improperly transferred the mortgage from one investor to another. The assignment wasn’t even recorded in the public record. Considering the size of banks and the numbers of foreclosures they are processing, mistakes like these are incredibly common.

While defending this foreclosure, our client was able to sell their property—the bank agreed to reduce the mortgage payoff by $200,000. Just as importantly, Woerthwein & Miller was able to negotiate an agreement with the bank. It agreed to not pursue a deficiency judgment against our client.

The result: the client is free of the underwater property, the bank is substantially compensated, and the possibility of a costly deficiency judgment was negotiated away. Our client is now able to continue their life without the heavy burden of banks chasing them for the next several years.

If you are falling behind on your mortgage, then it is in your best interest to plan a foreclosure defense strategy. Please feel free to contact Woerthwein & Miller with any questions or to help access your situation.

Woerthwein & Miller does not offer “mortgage relief assistance services” as defined by the Federal Trade Commission. However, the firm provides counsel to clients as it pertains to submissions to lender for lender loss mitigation approvals if ordered by the court or requested by opposing counsel during the loss mitigation phase of the case.

What our clients think of us

Second to None

Mr. Woerthwein’s expertise in foreclosure defense is second to none. Not only does he have great command over the complex legal issues surrounding mortgage backed securities (MBS), he is one of the few Illinois attorneys who can actually claim meaningful success against major Wall Street banks.  His clear, concise and brilliant legal brief filed in the Northern Illinois District court enabled him to prevail in his Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff bank’s foreclosure complaint WITH prejudice for lack of standing.  For the first time since the financial crisis began in 2008, courts across the country are discovery what homeowners have known for some time — most banks foreclosing today don’t have proper standing !

Superb Legal Counsel

Mr. Woerthwein and his team are exceptional. Not only did they handle my foreclosure case, but they did it expeditiously. Ted is head and shoulders above most Chicago lawyers I interviewed because he is well versed on the complex legal issues surrounding Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS)