A federal government agency has issued new rules for home mortgages that will rewrite the way that banks decide who gets a home loan. If you’re thinking about buying a new home, you’ll want to know about these rules, so you’ll know what to expect when you apply for a mortgage and what you can do to increase your chances of getting the loan you want.
The rules officially take effect next January, but many lenders will begin following them as soon as possible.
For a long time, banks have been worried about being sued by homeowners if they make a loan that the homeowner can’t reasonably be expected to pay off. The new rules say that banks can no longer be sued in this way if they make loans that follow certain requirements. These loans are called “qualified” mortgages.
While it’s possible that some lenders will continue to issue “unqualified” mortgages, this will be the exception rather than the rule, because lenders will be facing potential legal liability if they do so. It’s expected that most lenders will try to issue only qualified mortgages.
So, what is a qualified mortgage, and how do you qualify to get one?
The most basic new rule is that a mortgage is “qualified” only if your total debt payments – including not just the mortgage, but also car loans, educational loans, etc. – are no more than 43% of your pre-tax income.
In addition, lenders are required to carefully scrutinize your employment status, income, and credit history to verify that you’ll be likely to be able to repay the loan.
That’s a pretty strict rule. To put it in perspective, of all the mortgage loans that were issued in the U.S. in 2011, only about three-quarters would have been “qualified” under these rules.
However, because today’s real estate market is still in recovery mode, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the agency that issued the rules – is providing a temporary alternative.
That is, even if you don’t qualify under the 43% test, you might still qualify if you would pass an automated mortgage-granting test used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration. It appears that most of the mortgages issued in 2011 that didn’t pass the 43% test (but by no means all of them) would still have qualified under one of the automated tests.
This alternative won’t be around for long; it lasts only until the government’s conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie ends, or in seven years, whichever comes first.
Also, the alternative test can’t be used if you apply for a so-called “jumbo” mortgage. These are mortgages that are larger than the government’s loan ceilings, which are $417,000 in most of the country (but can be as high as $729,750 in certain high-cost markets).
Here are some other important provisions of the new rules:
Ex-wife loses alimony because of hiding assets
When marriages get unhappy and divorce is on the horizon, there can be a real temptation to hide assets to keep them from the other spouse. But tempting as this may be, it’s morally wrong, and it can also get you into legal trouble.
Take the case of a New Jersey woman who took $350,000 from the business she owned jointly with her husband and secreted it away. Clever as she was, during divorce proceedings a forensic accountant discovered the secret stash.
The woman thought she’d be okay in the end, since the divorce judge simply ordered her to repay half the amount, and proceeded to award her $600 a week in alimony.
But husband appealed, arguing that the woman’s actions were so terrible that she should be disqualified from receiving alimony payments.
An appeals court agreed with the husband. In general, it said, the right to alimony isn’t affected by who was at fault for the marital breakdown. But this was a rare case where a spouse “kicked” the couple’s economic security “in the teeth” through embezzlement, and the fault was so blatant that the woman shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it
Medicare expands its coverage for people with chronic conditions
In a major change, the federal government has agreed to provide seniors who have chronic illnesses and disabilities with Medicare coverage for many services … even if those services will simply maintain the person’s present health status and aren’t likely to improve their condition.
This is very important news for people who have diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, arthritis, or the effects of a stroke, among other medical conditions.
Soon, these seniors may be able to obtain Medicare coverage for care in a skilled nursing facility, as well as home health care and outpatient therapy.
For decades, Medicare had a “rule of thumb” that coverage for these services was available only if they were likely to lead to an improvement in the patient’s condition. This resulted in many people with chronic illnesses being unable to obtain coverage for treatments that were critical to maintaining their health, but that didn’t promise a cure or improvement.
According to the government, treatments that weren’t likely to lead to improvement were considered “custodial care,” which Medicare doesn’t cover.
But in January 2011, a group of seniors and some elder advocacy groups brought a nationwide class action lawsuit against the government. They argued that this policy violated their rights, because the “rule of thumb” against covering such services never actually appeared anywhere in the Medicare laws.
The government tried to have the case thrown out, but a federal judge rejected that request and allowed it to proceed. Shortly afterward, the government agreed to settle the case by expanding Medicare coverage.
The settlement is being reviewed by the court, and it’s still unclear exactly when the policy change will go into effect. It’s also unclear whether the change will apply just to future claims or to claims going all the way back to January 2011.
Under the terms of the settlement, seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalizations, may be eligible for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (as long as it follows a three-day hospitalization), as well as up to 100 home visits following a hospitalization. Seniors who are enrolled in Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services, may be eligible for potentially unlimited home visits.
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We value all our clients. And while we’re a busy firm, we welcome all referrals. If you refer someone to us, we promise to answer their questions and provide them with first-rate, attentive service. And if you’ve already referred someone to our firm, thank you!
Will I have to go to court?
While nearly all cases are settled out of court and before trial begins, some are settled after the start of the trial but before the conclusion. Sometimes, if we feel that the settlement offered is unfair we will try your case. We will hold your hand every step of the way. Remember that you can put your trust in us – just look at the results we have achieved in the past. We fight hard to get you results, whether the case is resolved before, during, or after the trial.
Why do you so frequently win favorable settlements?
Because we always deal from strength, never from weakness. We’re always prepared to go to trial. The defendant knows about our years of experience and, sooner or later, understands how well prepared we are. There is no guarantee, of course, but at the right a favorable settlement will be more likely.
Why can’t my other lawyers handle my case?
They know the practice of our firm is focused on personal injury law, on recovering damages for people who are harmed because of someone else’s negligence. Lawyers know our reputation and our record of success. They have confidence that we will serve you well.
Will I have to take the witness stand? Will the other lawyer attack me and try to break me down in cross examination?
You are the victim in the case, and we represent you. The process of winning compensation for what has been done to you should not be painful, and, for the vast majority of plaintiffs- it is not . Courtroom dramas on TV are not real life. They are exaggerated for a dramatic effect. Even actual televisioned trials are often most selected because they are sensational. In actuality there is a plaintiff, a defendant, a judge and usually a jury in the courtroom. If the case is tried, the judge and jury are sworn to do what is right. Jurors are people like you and they do not like lawyers abusing witnesses.
Can I afford your services?
You certain can. We work on a contingency basis. What that means , in simple terms, is you pay no legal fees unless you win and award, either through a settlement or trial. We make the full investment of money and time to win justice for you. If we succeed on your behalf, we are paid a percentage of the award – and that sum is regulated by court rule. We are also reimbursed for our expenses. What is most important is this: We never lost a case for lack of money or professional time. We never will.
If I have been referred by another lawyer or another firm does that mean my case is going to cast more money?
You pay the same contingency fee if we win your case, regardless of whether you were referred to us from another lawyer or if you came directly to us. There are some cases where both firms share the contingency fee, but our clients are not charged additional for that.
Accidents resulting in personal injuries are a common occurrence in our daily lives. In addition to auto accidents, we may suffer personal injuries or property damage in accidents in the home, at business premises, or on streets and sidewalks. Injuries may also be caused by carelessness of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. You can protect yourself by consulting a lawyer if you suffer an injury or property damage as a result of an accident.
EVALUATING YOUR CLAIM
To determine whether you have a claim, your lawyer will consider whether another person’s conduct wrongfully caused your loss. There are three kinds of wrongful conduct - negligence, intentional misconduct, and strict liability.
Negligence is the most common basis for recovery of losses from an accident. The law holds individuals responsible for their own carelessness. For example, drivers who neglect to stop for stop signs or doctors who fail to follow established medical procedures.
Recovery for intentional misconduct may result if someone has deliberately hurt you or your property. For example, if someone has deliberately hit you without your permission, detained you against your will, or made false statements that injure your reputation.
Individuals and companies may be responsible for damages on the basis of strict liability if they have engaged in dangerous activity, such as conducting blasting operations or keeping wild animals as pets, or if they have manufactured a defective or dangerous product.
WHAT IS YOUR INJURY WORTH
Your lawyer can help put a dollar value on your injury. You are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of repairing your property. You are also entitled to compensation for any pain, disfigurement, physical handicap, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, mental distress, emotional pain, and other psychological injuries.
FINDING SOURCES OF COMPENSATION
The time, effort and expense of a lawsuit are not ordinarily worthwhile if the person responsible for your injury does not have sufficient assets to pay for your damages. Your lawyer can help you determine what assets or insurance are available to compensate you. You can bring an action against all those who caused your injury. For example, if a negligent person injures you in the course of working for someone else, that employer is often responsible as well. Other parties potentially responsible for an auto accident may include the owner of a vehicle driven by someone else or even governmental authorities, if defective conditions contributed to the accident.
PRELIMINARY INTERVIEW AND INVESTIGATION
Your lawyer will carefully interview you to learn the facts of the accident, who is responsible, the extent of your injuries and the amount of your loss. After the initial interview, your lawyer will obtain medical records, interview witnesses, obtain police reports, and other information to help prove your claim.
FILING A LAWSUIT
Your lawyer may be able to settle your claim and obtain compensation for you without a lawsuit.
Your claim may also be settled after a lawsuit is filed, or even after a trial. If a lawsuit is necessary, your lawyer will prepare the documents necessary to file your claim with the court and gather the evidence needed to prove your claim at trial. The process of gathering evidence is called discovery. It ordinarily includes the exchange of relevant documents, the answering of written questions known as interrogatories and orally questioning witnesses under oath before trial in depositions. The pretrial discovery process can take many months to complete depending on the complexity of your claim.
If not settled, your case will go to trial after the completion of pretrial discovery. It may take many months or years to set a trail date depending on the court where your lawsuit is filed. Most cases may be decided by a judge if it is required by statute or agreed to by the parties to the lawsuit.
PRESERVING THE EVIDENCE
Your claim is only as good as the evidence that supports it. When an injury occurs, you should take notes on the circumstances of the accident, including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses, doctors, and other medical care providers who treated you. Your lawyer needs this information to determine whether you can provide your claim.
It is often useful to photograph or videotape the evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries and the damage to your property. Photographs should be taken of your bruises, stitches or other visible signs of injury. In the case of an auto accident, the vehicle should be photographed before any repairs are made. After a fire in your home, take pictures of the damage. You can help establish the date of the photos by keeping notes and having someone witness the taking of the photos. These photos can provide valuable support for your claim.
Preservation of evidence is essential to the successful resolution of your claim. If the evidence is lost or destroyed it will be difficult to prove your case at trial. The evidence should be stored in a secure place where it will not be damaged. If the claim involves a defective product, retain, if available, the packaging and instruction booklet as well as the actual product that caused the injury.
Your lawyer may recommend that you keep a daily log of the medical and financial consequences of your injury. In your log, you can keep a record of hospital stays, doctor visits, medical treatments, healing progress, medical bills, time lost from work, lost earnings, and expenses incurred.
Under the law, others may be responsible for your injuries. In the event of such an injury, consult a lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly to preserve your rights to compensation from those who caused your injuries. Any injuries that you receive should be referred to your lawyer. Your lawyer will estimate the value of your claim and help you collect fair compensation for injuries and damage to your property.
COMMON NEGLIGENCE LAWSUIT
We, at Amaral & Associates, P.C., can assist you with your personal injury needs. Please contact us at (617) 539-1010 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.Check out our website at www.amarallaw.com.
Auto accidents can happen to anyone. You can protect your legal rights by doing the right thing after an accident occurs. Here are some of the steps you should take if you are involved in an accident:
STOPPING YOUR CAR
If your car is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. Leave your car as close as possible to the place of impact without obstructing traffic. After stopping, remain at the scene of the accident, protect the scene, report to the police and gather information.
AIDING THE INJURED
If someone is injured, give first aid if you are qualified and call for an ambulance. Remember to note the location of the accident before you call for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance dispatcher the name and number of the street as well as the direction in which the cars were traveling at the time of the accident.
PROTECTING THE SCENE
Protect the scene of the accident to avoid additional collisions. Do not allow your car to obstruct the road if it can be moved. Warn approaching cars by raising the hood of your car and using your car’s hazard warning lights. In addition, for night time accidents, place flares or reflectors on the road.
CALLING THE POLICE
Call the police, particularly if someone has been injured. A police report of the accident will help your insurance claim and any liability claims. Ask the officer how to get a copy of the accident report and note the officer’s name and badge number. If you receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident. Be aware that you may hurt your claim for damages from the other driver if you plead guilty. Consult your lawyer and insurance agent before pleading guilty to any traffic offense.
EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH THE OTHER DRIVER
Exchange information with the driver of the other car. You should get the following information:
DO NOT ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY
When you exchange information with the other driver and give facts to the police, don’t admit responsibility for the accident. Things that you say can be used against you if there is litigation. You may think that you were responsible for the accident and later learn that the other driver caused it or that the other driver was equally at fault.
TOWING YOUR CAR
Before you allow a tow truck driver to pick up your car, be sure to ask the driver how much it will cost and tell the driver where to take your car. Get the name, address and telephone number of the driver and the towing company.
FILING AN ACCIDENT REPORT
In most states, you must file an accident report with state department of public safety or department of motor vehicles. The report must be filed within a few days of the accident if there were personal injuries or if the damage to property exceeded a minimum amount, say $50. Failure to file an accident report may result in a fine and loss of your driver’s license. You should be able to get an accident report form from your local police or insurance agent. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
SEEING YOUR DOCTOR
Both you and your passenger should consider seeing a doctor immediately after an accident. The doctor may recognize injuries, sometimes serious , that are not apparent to you. The charges for a doctor visit and medical treatment may be covered by your insurance. Don’t settle claims from the accident until your doctor has advised you about the extent of your injuries.
NOTIFYING YOUR AGENT
Call your insurance agent as soon as possible after an accident. Your insurance company may have grounds to deny coverage if you fail to give prompt notice of the accident. Follow up the phone call with a written notice and save a copy for your files. The written notice should contain information about the date, time and place of the accident, with names and addresses of the other drivers, injured persons, passengers, and witnesses. If you were at fault, your liability insurance should pay for any injuries or property damages. If the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, your insurance may pay for damages to your car (collision coverage), your medical expenses (medical payment coverage) and even for your pain and suffering (if you have uninsured motorist coverage).
Some states have adopted "no-fault" insurance laws. If you live in a no-fault state, your insurance policy will cover your losses from a minor accident regardless of whether you caused it. The losses covered by no-fault insurance usually include medical expenses and lost earnings. No-fault insurance does not protect you for major accidents since the amount of coverage is limited to a few thousand dollars in most states with no-fault insurance laws.
CALLING YOUR LAWYER
If you have been involved in an accident, or if you have received a traffic ticket, your lawyer can advise you about your rights and responsibilities. The sooner you call your lawyer the better since witnesses may forget the details of the accident. Your lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions from insurance adjusters and help you recover compensation for your personal injuries and damages to your car.
ACCIDENT INFORMATION FORM
1. THE OTHER DRIVER AND VEHICLE:
Name, address, telephone________________________________________________
Driver’s License no._____________________________________________________
Vehicle license plate no.__________________________________________________
Vehicle make, model, and year____________________________________________
2. NAME, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NO. OF PASSENGER IN OTHER VEHICLE:
Name, address, telephone_______________________________________________
Name, address, telephone_______________________________________________
3. OTHER INFORMATION
Date and time of accident______________________________________________
Location of accident__________________________________________________
Were your or other vehicle’s headlights on?________________________________
Were you or other driver signaling a turn?__________________________________
Length of your vehicle’s skid marks______________________________________
Name, badge no. of police officer _______________________________________
Use the space below to diagram the path of the vehicles before the accident and their position after the accident. Use a solid line to show the path of the vehicles. Show any stop signs, traffic signals, or street lights.
4 records found.