The Truth About Home Loan Modifications And Is It Right For You?

Like going into a car dealership, many times the first question you hear is “what do you want your monthly payment to be?”.  Anyone that understands finance knows such is not the right question when it concerns your wallet.  The real question is “how much do you want to pay for the home?”.   In other words, after all the interest and after making all the monthly payments how much did you finally pay?  That is the real question and what you need to ask your self when considering a loan modification.

 For example, let’s say you are not current on your mortgage because you like many other Americans have fell upon hard economic times and that you owe $300,000 on your mortgage and the property is currently worth $100,000.  Does it make sense to modify you home mortgage with a loan modification? – Probably not.   You are most likely not going to get a principal reduction or an interest reduction.   There are many attorneys or so-called loan modification companies [now not allowed unless operated by an attorney] that claim they will get you principal reductions or interest reductions but the chances of accomplishing this is very slim.  We like to think of it like a lottery ticket – while it could happen, your chances are slim.  Banks are not in the business of giving things away.  We advise our clients with the truth to attempt to save you money.  Now in some cases a loan modification on your home might be the perfect solution.  Everyone’s case is different.  If you are a senior citizen maybe the monthly payment being lowered is all you truly care about and such is understandable.  Or, in some cases if your home is worth more than what you owe where you have equity, a loan modification makes sense.  In the first example above, most should not consider a loan modification. 

Foreclosure Tips

Dear Homeowner/Client:

It’s no secret that the economy has hit every household directly. Incomes are not keeping pace with market costs, mortgage loans continue to accelerate, while property values decrease dramatically. The Federal government did fix the banks’ pending mortgage crisis; however, many people nationwide are up in arms not knowing where to turn for the “homeowners’ bailout.” Daily we get numerous calls and e-mails from clients, asking…”just how do we participate in the mortgage crisis bailout?” Sadly, that was not part of the bailout that was designed to keep the banks stable due to the large number of defaulted mortgage loans.

The only available solution to fixing the mortgage loan problem is attacking each issue and problem one household at a time. There has not yet been created a Congressional plan, and there is no current blanket program, that covers every household. Each problem must be resolved individually, and repaired on a per case basis.

What the Federal Treasury has created as of March 2009, now popularly known as the “Obama Plan,” is a means for responsible homeowners to get some relief on their mortgage loans. Katz & Associates Law Firm has handled several cures under the “Obama Plan” and to date many homeowners are able to see light again. Not every homeowner qualifies. Of the 13-million homes needing loan modification, less than 500,000 have been helped thus far. The reason for the low number in just five months, too many homeowners attempted their own adjustments or sought help from unlicensed and under-qualified loan modification services. Only an attorney can get mortgage rates and terms re-qualified legally and properly. For this purpose alone, banks prefer to deal with the attorneys to lessen the banks’ own liability. Without legal representation, many do-it-yourselfers are immediately denied/turned-down by banks, so not to create banker liability.

Katz & Associates is part of a handful of attorneys in a national program (Default Mortgage Modification, “DMM”) endorsed by the U.S. Treasury’s U.S. Trustee’s Office, and Federal District Court, to work directly with the Nation’s mortgage lender’s top level legal departments and management departments to expedite the slow process of mortgage loan modification. Due to the electronic processing methods utilized in DMM, this has dramatically brought down the costs of legal representation to now make it affordable to all homeowners, to legally aid in curing the individual mortgage problems of many homeowners. Update: In addition to the current popular “Obama Plan” and still widely utilized “Bush 7/2008 Hope for Homeowners”, there are several State programs that are being put into effect ot help homeowners, such as yourself, to keep their homes. The Bar Association Fund (contributed funds from member attorneys) also have some relief and aid programs put into effect that can be tapped into as a valuable resouce to assist many homeowners on a local basis. Legal Aid Society is another valuable resource. Katz & Associates utilizes each and every resource as a benefit to assisting our clients. Contact Katz & Associates for a Free Consultation.

Contact Katz & Associates by reply email to: in order to have your own mortgage loan situation evaluated for representation for modification.


Katz & Associates, PLLC


Short Sales


Many clients ask about Short Sale. A Short Sale takes place when your mortgage loan lender pre-approves and qualifies the homeowner (Seller) and the property for a discounted sale. The lender is taking a write down from the original loan or outstanding loan balance to a much lower sale price. It is very important for Clients to be aware that a borrower cannot randomly decide to sell their property, unless the rigorous legal approval process is first approved by your lender. Without that approval process, the sale and transfer may not be legal, as in almost all states. We deal directly with the legal department of the lender source and their supervisory management levels, not with the collection departments. If you want to consider Short Sale, please contact us for a free evaluation and free consultation to understand the qualification process clearly.

Another issue in regard to Short Sale is the tax liability. For almost all Sellers under Short Sale, there is no tax liability. Prior to the end of the Bush Administration, July 2008, the taxation of the bank’s loss in the write down was charged to the Seller. Since 2008 the Federal Taxation is now a non-event in almost all cases; however, some states do have different taxation policies. A Short Seller should always verify their particular taxation exposure.

Other important legal details regarding Short Sale may include further exposure to direct liability in the form of Mortgage Insuror exposure. Unless an attorney reviews, for your own behalf, all required releases in regard to the Short Sale, the Seller may be exposed to a future liability and expense that can lead to a future judgment and lien on other assets.

Katz & Associates is well-versed in all areas of real estate, banking and finance, and stop foreclosure. Call or e-mail our law firm for a free consultation if you are considering Short Sale.

Contact Katz & Associates by reply email to: in order to have your own mortgage loan situation evaluated for representation for modification.

Katz & Associates, PLLC


Welcome to the new Katz & Associates Law Firm Blog.

Read about some of the different areas of law we handle.


Miami Office
701 Brickell Ave., Suite 1550
Miami, Florida 33131
Office – (305) 728-5349
Fax – (305) 749-8953
Direct – (305) 302-4241

Broward Offices
[Sunrise and Fort Lauderdale]
1580 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway #130
Sunrise, FL 33323
Office – (954) 753-6427
Fax – (321) 281-6015

500 E Broward Blvd #1710
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
Office – (954) 753-6427
Fax – (321) 281-6015

Palm Beach Office
777 South Flagler Drive
Suite 800 – West Tower
West Palm Beach, FL, 33401
Office – (561) 705-7246
Fax – (321) 281-6015

Stuart Office
49 SW Flagler Ave., Suite 301
Stuart, Florida 34994
Office – (772) 933-5289
Fax – (321) 281-6015


Short Pay – another option to save your home.




There are many attorneys in South Florida helping lots of people today with defense of foreclosures and attempting loan modifications. There are lots of newsworthy articles in the press and on the TV news about the woes in our national economy related to the mortgage crisis and foreclosure. But very few attorneys and very few news stories seem to deliver what homeowners want to learn and need to know – How to cure the problem of being upside down or underwater on your mortgage? If the news anchors would stop looking for sensationalism in the foreclosure crisis and instead give more insight to curing the problem, then just maybe this negative economy can turn itself around again. Another issue is that the banks really have no incentive to help the consumer. So, as attorneys we must take the helm for each client and guide them into safe waters.

When was the last time you heard from an attorney or even a news anchor’s story that an underwater homeowner mired in mortgage debt with a devalued home property could be helped and the mortgage could be re-evaluated under a refinance? No one talks about it, and very few attorneys, even those of late who are doing foreclosure defense and loan medication know anything about it.

Here’s the scenario. You bought your home or refinanced your home in the past ten years based on the artificial inflated real estate values that hit us in South Florida since 2002. Today that home you bought or refinanced is worth maybe 35% to 50% of what the estimated values were in 2002 or since. Every month, like clockwork, you pay your mortgage, even though you know you are paying for something that is worth far less in value. Your neighbor down the street stopped paying his/her mortgage and went into foreclosure because the bank told them if they continue to be a current paying bank customer they do not qualify for a loan modification. STOP!! If you don’t pay your mortgage your credit could be ruined for years. STOP!! If you do not pay your mortgage the bank could sue you and ultimately could foreclose on the property. Of course there are ways of defending such foreclosure lawsuit against you – to be discussed in later blogs. FACT: True, the bank cannot and will not even consider you for modification unless you stop paying your mortgage and only after 90 to 120 days could you then possibly qualify to be considered for modification and then what happens? The bank usually does not properly process your request. You, on the other hand continue to pay your mortgage on time and what can you do to get your mortgage modified? Who will help you? The bank won’t, they want your timely monthly payments, so why would they want to give you any help to lower your mortgage payments? They won’t. WE MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU (if you qualify).

As defense counsel to foreclosure issues we are very much aware as a law firm as to where the market is and where it should be. Right now the new Congress is considering revamping the National plan to shore-up the major deficiency that bank management has today that is totally a negative impact on all financial markets, and especially here in South Florida. The negative issues are the a) warehousing of repossessed foreclosed homes called REOs (Real Estate Owned Properties) by major mortgage lenders; b) no incentives for the lender banks because of the misguided TARP bailouts that still exist; c) lack of respect by most mortgage lenders who will not accept the true blame for the inflation in the market caused by the same bankers with prior very bad lending practices who now levy blame on their borrowers.

Most borrowers, and thank goodness for that, are very responsible homeowners and some have been hurt financially with the artificial inflation over the prior 7-years when prices topped $1-million on properties that were only worth $375,000 to begin with. Now, the market has receded and the buzz word is “Short Sale.” So what is a SHORT PAY???

At KATZ & ASSOCIATES LAW FIRM, we firmly believe that the new and upcoming buzz word in 2011 will be the Short Pay. Short Pay basically is a refinance at a realistic value by a new lender to take over the existing lender’s loan position at a discount of the grossed-up mortgage. The same day when you originally Closed on your loan, or refinancing, that loan and mortgage was immediately sold by the lender bank to investors and now the lenders are actually loan servicers in most cases. The investors want the value in “current money,” not “future money.” That economically makes sense to an investor with actuality when we do a “Short Pay”. We create an incentive to discount the loan in order to have it bought out at current value where the investors are paid now, instead of the future when there may be a total loss to the investor.

What is a Short Pay?
A Short-Pay, or also known as a short-refinance, is a transaction, where a current lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed to them. This process is similar to a short sale but instead of selling the home to a third party, the homeowner keeps their home by refinancing with a new lender with a new loan based on the current market value of the home. The Short Pay allows the homeowner to keep their home and avoids a foreclosure or possible bankruptcy.

Why a Short Pay?
Homeowners that want to keep their homes, but don’t have sufficient equity to refinance their loan through conventional methods, should use the Short Pay option as a tool. The lender considering the Short Pay would have to be willing to accept a short payoff on the existing loan or hold a second mortgage to make up the difference needed to payoff the existing mortgage at the home’s current value, and the homeowner must qualify for the new loan.

Who may be able to use a Short Pay as another method to avoid foreclosure?
Homeowners that are experiencing financial challenges where a default on their loan obligations may be imminent, are “upside down” on their homes (meaning they owe their lenders more than their homes are worth), have not been late on their mortgage payments and otherwise qualify for an FHA loan refinance (maximum loan amount for Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties is $345,000 since the Rules revision of January 1, 2009) based on the current market value of their homes, should contact us immediately to determine if a Short Pay is a viable solution.


Katz & Associates, PLLC

Foreclosure, Foreclosure…Read all about it.


If you read our local newspapers or even if you watch TV you are then bombarded with news report snippets of information about the housing markets, real estate, and foreclosure activity. There was a time when real estate drove the U.S. economy upward, now it drains our lives! The latest “gossip” on the street, as gathered by the media, has confused many people! Some reporters go the extra mile and actually speak directly to local attorneys to get the heartbeat and/or pulse of the market. An example of poor unverified reporting: Recently a local popular TV news anchor reported, “Foreclosures are down dramatically because Florida banks are no longer foreclosing local homes.” That information was wrong, misleading and incomplete with unverified facts.

FACT IS: It was true the five major mortgage-servicing banks called for a 60-day moratorium in November so they could review their case files for re-submission to the courts. It was alleged by several states’ Attorneys General, including here in Florida, that some local foreclosure bank attorneys were rushing to get as many foreclosures filed as possible to spike-up their law firm incomes by submitting incomplete or false complaints in record numbers of foreclosures. True, there was a moratorium called but only to allow the same bank foreclosure attorneys to correct their files so they can re-file the foreclosure cases and file new cases as soon as possible – as of the first of the year. (This correction process is called; an Amended Complaint, or Amended Petition).

We can anticipate that during this lag time when foreclosures dropped an artificially low 21% in November 2010 that starting as early in 2011 first quarter we will be witness to a flood of foreclosure activity.

Please do not fall into the trap-thinking that your bank will stop foreclosing as you have been wrongly misled in newspapers and TV reports. That is not true in any sense of fact. FACT IS: The banks that had scheduled foreclosures in late 2010 will now be forced by the bank’s investors or owners of the credit instruments to quickly commence to foreclose on all delinquent mortgages that are more than 90 to 120 days late in monthly mortgage payments. Now that the court has had time to re-evaluate many cases, we anticipate that the faulty paperwork that was previously submitted by overly aggressive banks’ attorneys will be corrected and the courts will start to accept amended filings on all former cases that were filed before November 2010 and all new filed foreclosure cases will be corrected to current courts standards.

“Fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy forced lenders and servicers to hit the pause button on many foreclosures while they scrambled to revamp their internal procedures and re-file or resubmit questionable paperwork.” Said James Saccacio, the CEO of RealtyTrac (an independent agency, tracking recorded foreclosures nationally).
A new report from Moody’s (the Wall Street bank rating service) said that this past year’s freeze on foreclosures will delay the time it takes to foreclose on a property by about three months. “We expect that foreclosure activity in December, will remain artificially low” (giving people a false sense of mistaken security). “Foreclosure rates will accelerate during the first quarter of 2011 as the lenders and servicers catch-up on these delayed proceedings.” Rick Sharga, Senior Vice President of RealtyTrac, said.

Bank repossessions, the actual final stage and step in the foreclosure process after a home fails to sell at auction rose, to a historic high 100,000 homes in September 2010. Anticipate much more in January and February and March 2011. In Florida, we have one home in every 262 households that are in foreclosure right now.

So what can Katz & Associates Law Firm do for you? We have always enjoyed a very favorable ability to defend foreclosure and obtain workouts for many qualified homeowners. Banks still, are not very cooperative to the consumer. Any individual who has tried on their own to get a loan modification finds out the loan modification adjustment is worse than what the bank had previously contracted and more costly as it adds costs to the back end where the home can never be sold in the foreseeable future! But there are new plans that go into effect in January 2011. New plans include Relief for Responsible Homeowners (“RRH”) who have never been late on a mortgage and now if they are underwater can get favorable refinancing of the debt by third party lenders. For homeowners that do not qualify under RRH favorable treatment programs, there are also programs through aggressive forms of private mediation. However under private mediation when a homeowner takes the initial steps and expense (costs under $750 to a private independent mediator) many times the bank will reimburse and agree to an experienced court or state approved private mediator who will actually create forensic accounting (not to be confused with forensic defense) needed for a bank to reassess the current market value of the home vs. the loan. Previously, these programs failed. Now banks must listen. They do not have the qualified bank staff or ability to provide in-house creative finance. Banks today are focusing on collections, not in unique creativity. That is why mediation on a private basis provides that creativity element the bank does not have time to create. If it makes sense and if the homeowner agrees to it and if the terms and conditions are mutually accepted by the bank, the mortgage can be revised accordingly for relief for the homeowner. In many of the successful private mediations where the homeowner paid for the initial costs to hire a mediator through an attorney, when a good result is obtained, the banks will normally reimburse costs to the homeowner.

Foreclosure is a legal process – one that requires a good guide. Never enter into any negotiation, contract, or purchase agreement or refinancing without advice of an attorney knowledgeable in these issues.

For a free consultation regarding your legal rights, or how you can repair your mortgage situation, or to safeguard against foreclosure and aggression by lenders, please contact Katz & Associates Law Firm at either of our two offices.


Katz & Associates, PLLC

Family Law

Katz & Associates Law Firm represent clients in all areas of Family Law. Issues that arise in this area require both the legal knowledge to protect your rights and a sensitive approach to handle what is often very emotional and sensitive matters in the lives of those facing these issues.

Our Firm prides itself on the personal attention it provides to clients in the areas of:

  • Divorce
  • Uncontested Divorce
  • Child Support [including modifications]
  • Child Custody
  • Paternity
  • Prenuptials and Postnuptials
  • Modification
  • Enforcement Proceedings
  • Alimony
  • Temporary Restraining Orders


A typical dissolution of marriage case involves many aspects that affect your rights with respect to the marriage, for example, child support, timesharing, division of property and debts, alimony among other issues that may arise. Florida remains a “no fault” state, which means that it has done away with fault as grounds for divorce. Florida follows an Equitable Distribution Model for dividing the property and liabilities acquired by both parties during the course of the marriage. Using this model, courts tend to favor dividing marital property on an equal basis unless there are certain circumstances that warrant dividing property on the basis of an unequal distribution. In addition, a typical dissolution of marriage case involves the calculation of child support, the negotiation of timesharing arrangements between parents, along with the determination of alimony should it be applicable to the spouses. As a result, a divorce case can quickly find someone who has decided to handle their own divorce overwhelmed and often at a disadvantage due to their lack of knowledge as to their rights. Katz & Associates, therefore, follows a comprehensive approach. As a result, the attorneys at Katz & Associates Law Firm strive to work in an efficient and effective manner to provide quality services which will maximize the ability to represent its clients from start to finish in what is usually a complex manner.

Divorce FAQs

§  What happens when I am served with divorce papers? If you are served by a process server with divorce papers, you are given 20 days to respond to the Divorce Petition. Failure to respond can result in a default judgment being entered against you, which may result in your rights not being enforced protected. Therefore, it is important, upon service of divorce papers, to immediately contact an attorney for a consultation as to what your rights are as a result of the marriage. Katz & Associates provides a free one time initial consultation where you will receive an overview of how the divorce will affect certain aspects of your life along with informing you as to your rights.

§  What happens if I do not respond to the divorce petition? Depending on the case matter, you may still have an opportunity to have your day in court. A divorce is not finalized until a final judgment is entered by the court.

§  Does being the Husband or Wife provide an advantage in a Divorce case? In the past, case law in Florida and across the nation tended to focus on favoring the Wife with regards to certain aspects, like Child Support and Timesharing between parents. However, presently, courts have shifted to a more balanced view which acknowledges the importance of both Husband and Wife to be treated equally under the law with respect to Divorce. Therefore, Courts encourage children belonging to the parties to have equal opportunities to foster a relationship as having both parents in the life of the child is considered to be in the best interest of the child according to Florida law.

§  If I do not have money to pay for an attorney to handle my divorce, could I have my spouse pay my attorney’s fees? Some circumstances allow for a spouse to obtain a court order requiring that the husband or wife pay his or her attorney’s fees. This is based on what the wife or husband’s needs are and what the financial ability of the husband or wife is. This is usually awarded in cases where one spouse has a superior financial earning ability over the other spouse. In order for our attorney’s to work on your case, attorney’s fees must be paid before an order awarding attorney’s fees is entered. If the court award’s attorney’s fees, those fees are reimbursed to the party requesting the fees to be paid.

Uncontested Divorce

An Uncontested Divorce is when both parties agree on absolutely everything such as child support, custody, visitation, division of property and debts and alimony, if any. However, an uncontested divorce may turn into a contested divorce and involve many complex issues, once both parties begin to analyze the issues involved. Family law matters usually carry an emotional aspect, therefore, it is important to seek the advice of counsel to advise you on a one on one basis so that you are informed as to what your rights are and how you will be affected by the dissolution.

Uncontested Divorce FAQs

o   What if my Husband/Wife and I want to have an attorney represent us both? Due to Professional Rules of Ethics, mandated by the Florida Bar, an attorney is not allowed to represent both parties in a legal action due to conflicts of interest.

o   What if I cannot contact my spouse due to him/her leaving the country or state? You are still able to obtain a divorce, however, due process requires that you attempt to, in good faith, locate your spouse  for service of the dissolution of marriage papers. However, if a good faith attempt is unsuccessful, service can be made by publication in a local newspaper which would serve to ensure compliance with Florida Law.

Child Support

Parents have an obligation to provide financial support for the health and welfare of minor children. Child Support is calculated in Florida by the Florida Child Support Guidelines outlined in the Florida Statutes. Child Support is calculated by using the net income of each parent and takes into account the number of children in the household to determine a fixed amount. The term “net income” is defined differently than the net income used for federal tax purposes. Child Support


A modification can be made to the final judgments regarding the terms relating to Child Support, Alimony, Timesharing outlined in the Final Judgment.  The Petitioner, who seeks modification, must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances to warrant modification of a final judgment.

Temporary Restraining Orders/Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence

This type of remedy offers immediate relief to a person who believe that they may be in imminent fear of becoming the victim of domestic violence. Should you have a reasonable cause to believe that you are in fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence, the local court in your area usually provides a division dedicated to providing emergency relief for your protection.


§  What if I was served with a Temporary Restraining Order? Usually you will be required to attend a hearing allowing you the opportunity to answer to the allegations. A Temporary Restraining Order, also called an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, is a very serious matter that can negatively affect many aspects of your life. Some of these may include, loss of employment, denied access to enter into your home should the alleged victim continue to reside in your residence, child visitation/time sharing restrictions.

§  What if I believe that the Temporary Restraining Order contains false allegations or is an attempt to keep me away from my house or children? Unfortunately, the purpose of a restraining order is to protect true victims of domestic violence. Due to the required emergency nature of the restraining order, which is done ex parte (without the presence of the opposing party), some parties can use this remedy falsely for gain in divorce matters or for other malicious reasons. However, should you believe that the Temporary Restraining Order was filed maliciously and contains false allegations, it is strongly advised to retain counsel to represent you at the hearing in order to assist you in defending this matter. Once the Temporary Restraining Order is issued, should you not be able to properly defend your case, it can extend for several months and can affect any future timesharing or visitation arrangements you may be seeking in a future Paternity or Divorce case.

§  Who has standing to obtain a Restraining Order? Your relationship with the person whom the injunction is being filed against must be that of a spouse, an ex-spouse, a relative by blood or marriage, who lives or has lived with you in the same dwelling as a family unit, anyone who lives or has lived with you in the same dwelling as a family unit, or anyone with whom you have a child, with or without having lived together.

This web site is designed ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING general information. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice AND DOES NOT RESULT IN the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Family Law Resource Links

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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Family Law Matters – The Marriage



By request, and in answer to our many clients’ personal need; and also due to the fact that our economy-driven society requires decisions that many times effects each of us, we hope that this legal sounding board (blog) clears-up some misunderstood issues:

ENGAGEMENT – We all want to think that the engagement between two people is an extension of love when one gallant party on bended knee asks for the hand in marriage of the other party; but, in actuality ENGAGEMENT is a legal period that begins with a commitment by one to the other. In the legal sense the engagement act is an unwritten (for the most part) contract that is usually sealed once the offer is made and the other party accepts the offer and binds it with acceptance of a good faith token (engagement ring) that shows/demonstrates intent to marry. An engagement ring (as is legally recognized in almost all jurisdictions, universally) is more than just a symbol of love, it is a binding and sealing of the (unwritten) contract and is given in good faith that the accepting party guaranties fulfillment of the agreement to marry. If in fact, the parties never marry and ‘break-up’ the engagement ring is then to be returned to the giving party as that is the giver’s property and the party returning the engagement ring did not fulfill the promise to marry. Many would-be brides are under the impression that the engagement ring is a ‘gift’ wherein fact it is a legal symbol worldwide recognized as the binding acceptance of intent to marry. If the marriage never takes place, the contract was broken and the original ring giver is entitled to the return of the engagement ring.

In the event where the marriage was consummated the engagement ring is normally not returned to the ring giver, unless for some reason that is included in the divorce (Dissolution of the Marriage Agreement) where it specifies the return of the engagement ring to the giver; otherwise, since the bride fulfilled the obligation by marrying, the ring then-after belongs to the receiver of the engagement ring (spouse).

Many divorcing parties have argued over rights of possession; however, by legal fact, the engagement ring always belongs to the giver until the marriage is fulfilled, as of the date of marriage. Then after the ring belongs to the receiving spouse in fulfillment of the contract between the parties to marry; unless, the giver gives up the right to the ring, willingly.

Another ENGAGEMENT issue is in regard to PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS. Because, in our society today, only 45% of marriages survive and succeed as actual long-term commitments, therefore marriage should never be entered into lightly and without consideration of its legal and financial implications. Every state (and especially in Florida) PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS are a very sound and very ethical instrument of love between the parties. As attorneys, we craft or design a legal agreement between a couple during the engagement period to bind in an agreement and understanding of what is to be shared going into the marriage, and if the marriage should fail in the future or one of the couple parties should become disabled (due to mental or physical calamity) or unable to perform in the marriage, how there is to be a separation or division of assets acquired in the marriage or that existed before the marriage. This instrument (‘PRENUP’) is never designed to alienate one party from the other, it is designed to protect or insure the marriage understanding and agreement between the parties. Elements within the prenuptial are: a) assets of each individual party; b) liabilities of each individual party; c) anything anticipated to be bestowed upon, or inherited, by each individual party then or in the future; d) children of the individual parties other than children of this particular union of the couple; e) how assets are to be acquired in the future after marriage is consummated; f) how assets are to be divided in the event the marriage fails for any reason; g) obligation of one person to the other during the marriage and after it should end in dissolution, or otherwise; h) how debt is to be decided and how responsibility is to be divided or shared; i) and any special needs, medical or healthcare or special needs, any consideration or future anticipations of the parties, one to the other or jointly shared. As one can see from this categorical detail, and in consideration of wise forethought, a prenuptial is sound legal advice for any person entering into marriage no matter what the current personal financial standing. It gives a basis of an agreement that can actually prevent future arguments or misunderstandings.

MARRIAGE – Is the legal fulfillment of a commitment of the couple. How each party treats or treasures the spirit of that commitment is to be determined over time, short term or long term. The vows exchanged in the wedding ceremony itself may also be considered part of that original contract of marriage, to HONOR, OBEY, BEFRIEND, AND CARE FOR until death do part. Marriage is a very serious contract and by its nature forever obligates one to the other until like all contractual relationships, is legally ended. The original obligation of the marriage continues indefinitely unless defined otherwise in a PRENUP or by Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) by a judge.

Some parties who never entered into a PRENUP consider POST NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS, which basically is the same device as was discussed in the Engagement section above and meets the same goals; however, it is designed and created AFTER the marriage is legally consummated or during the term of marriage, at any time elected by the couple. Some couples going through marriage counseling actually seek an attorney’s assistance in creating a POSTNUP during that counseling period so that it lessens some strains during counseling in regard to individual legal obligations of the parties. Again, the POSTNUP is designed to fortify a marriage and reduce any barriers, and so there is openness of the couple.

DIVORCE – The legal cessation or end of a legal marriage contract. Many states (as in Florida) legally refer to this as Dissolution of Marriage, and as it says in its name, the marriage ceases or ends forever! Divorce is a very difficult matter to resolve and it also must never be taken lightly or without consulting an attorney. Even though the state permits individuals who do not own property jointly, or do not have children together from the same marriage, to do what is known as Simple Dissolution, even-so that too should never be done unless those individuals seek advice from an attorney to get detailed legal facts to prepare for divorce. Many couples have completed their own divorce package online or at the courthouse with the Clerk (who legally does not assist or give legal advice) have later regretted not spending a few dollars to later save thousands of dollars where a mistake was made and not realized until years later. Weekly we see a new client who obtained a Simple Divorce years prior and now finds out later a major error was made. Those mistakes or errors in good judgment later did not permit them to obtain life insurance, social security benefits were lost, pension money was lost, and death benefits were given to the wrong party. Just recently, this week, we had a client who did a self filing for divorce at the courthouse who was denied his U.S. Citizenship by the INS Hearing Officer because of a minor error in the original filing of the self filed form years ago; he then, had to hire new immigration counsel and pay for us to go before a judge to have the Dissolution of Marriage altered to correct his errors. Not only has this caused this new client major expense, he also lost his timely U.S. Citizenship approval standing that he has waited for almost six years for approval and now must start over again (this example is used only as an actual demonstration of a need to always seek legal advice). To fix those mistakes can cost thousands of dollars in legal and various court fees. Some of these same people come to us admitting they only wanted to save money and did not want to hire an attorney. Divorces are legal issues and require legal opinion. Most attorneys will give a free consultation in regard to divorce issues and at Katz & Associates Law Firm we encourage use of at least one free consult to better understand your legal obligations and rights. When there are children involved, or when there is property or joint debts or legal obligations of the divorcing couple, it becomes a very serious matter that requires serious planning and consideration so there are no warring parties later. Divorcing from a spouse may not end many legal issues or legal responsibilities. A true dissolution requires certain elements: a) Marital Settlement Agreement; b) division of assets and liabilities; c) handling of alimony or support or resettlement of the other spouse; d) visitation of any children or timesharing or custody, education and healthcare issues; e) any special situation needs to be considered. Just as entering into marriage is a legal contractual obligation, so too the divorce is a legal obligation that a judge must determine is properly and legally agreed between the parties in order to get a final end and resolve.

KATZ & ASSOCIATES LAW FIRM provides all clients with free consultation on any FAMILY LAW MATTERS. Call, to arrange for an appointment to make us part of your family planning and your financial welfare and legal safeguarding of assets and legal rights.

Are you aware that we have created an online free and live chat line? YES, now you can chat live online and in real time with a Katz & Associates attorney regarding any legal or estate matter. We have created a secure chat line on our website. Log on anytime any day of the week to chat and get answers to any legal question you may have. It is totally free and totally confidential and very secure.

LOG ON TO OUR WEBSITE:  [for Miami & Broward] or [for Treasure Coast & Palm Beach] In the upper right hand corner, click on CHAT. Fill in the data request so your chat is directed to a Katz attorney on duty to respond in your area of concern or interest. Chat about mortgage matters, loan issues, credit issues, estate planning or business related matters, family law, bankruptcy. GET IMMEDIATE LIVE ATTENTION.


Katz & Associates, PLLC

LEGAL BLOG: Debt/Credit Card Settlements


It’s that time of the year when we have the Holidays and gift giving to consider; but, it is also the end of the fiscal tax year and this is also the best time to plan your financial budgeting and wealth protection right now!

Many people do not think of an attorney in budget planning; however, in this particular crazy economy it is vital. Your estate (the assets you own); large or small, must be protected at all costs to shelter you and your family against loss. Be aware that only a judge and a court order stand between the safekeeping of your home, your vehicles, boats, jewelry, clothing, job and investment income, bank accounts and the relief sought by any creditor. Credit card delinquencies are huge in this country because for the past ten historical years we all relied on the leverage we had from easy credit and now we must pay for it. Credit card balances are at their all time high and the cost of credit also is at its all time high, ranging as high as 32% interest rates for some. That simply translates into long-term debt and risk since you are encouraged by the credit card issuer to pay only your minimum balance. That is your first mistake! If you only pay minimum balance on current outstanding credit card debt it could take as long as 50 years to pay off an average credit card balance of $2,500 at 27.9% interest rate. What is even worse, and we all neglect to calculate the cost of credit when paying only minimum balances on $2,500. If you were to stop charging or adding debt to that credit card today your $2,500 debt is actually valued at over $15,000 – in other words, if you are paying the minimum payment only you will end up paying $15,000 before your $2,500 is settled. Yes, read that again!

As attorneys, Katz & Associates Law Firm has the power of debt and credit structuring whereby we can negotiate directly with your lender for possible settlement of your debts. Many people are not aware that Federal laws have been enacted to further protect each consumer and to also allow credit card issuing banks to reduce debt of credit cards (negotiated settlements), but it must be requested formally. It will NOT be offered to you voluntarily by the card issuer. At Katz & Associates we have always attempted to best represent our clients for the best possible pay off of credit card debt at the lowest cost out of pocket at reasonable terms. We are proud to have enjoyed much success over the years in credit card settlement.

So, how does settlement affect you? Many times that is a decision made by the credit card issuer. Some credit card issuers report to all 3 major credit reporting companies that the debt was settled and paid and do not report any negative filing. In other credit card issuer instances we have found some will report that the debt was paid for less than the outstanding balance and report it as a negative reflection. Either way, we are not alarmed. Typically, after at least as little as 7 months or up to 9 months from the date of the settled payoff, your credit history can be revised at your request by the credit reporting agencies and they typically either remove any reference to the delinquent credit, or they will adjust to only read that it was paid in full settlement of the credit obligation.

We have found that no two success stories are the same and no two cases reflect on the next case matter. Like in all things legal, we look at the client’s needs and look to resolve issues on a per case individualized basis. However, it is important that credit be considered in any budget for wealth management and personal protection. All too often we find that unattended credit matters can turn out to be major issues once it turns legal when the banks and credit card issuers get aggressive about collection and payment. If you have any issues about your own credit card and over extended use of credit, please contact us right away for a free consultation so we may review your situation in detail and privately with you to see if we can assist to resolve those issues before they turn ugly or damaging against you. Healthy credit is important for school, for employment, for job promotion, to get a cellphone or watch your TV and get cable or satellite services. What we do is analyze your individual case matter and create all plans toward a self management of your estate. And believe it or not, even if you have a $500 credit card, just out of high school, and earn minimum wage, you still have an “estate” that must be safe guarded and protected. It’s not just an upper income wealthy person issue.

So be very careful this Holiday time of the year. Use your credit but do not abuse it. But if you got in trouble last year or previous years and need help now; or, whenever it should come up by your family or friends, just reach out to us to meet with us confidentially to discuss how we can help build your wealth estate from tiny dollars to wealth management. Other things you may want to discuss with us in private: A) Florida Will; B) Florida Living Will; C) Trusts to safeguard property and income; D) Incorporation to veil and protect assets; D) Partnerships; E) Estate Planning; and F) Elder Care.

Are you aware that we have created an online free and live chat line? YES, now you can chat live online and in real time with a Katz & Associates attorney regarding any legal or estate matter. We have created a secure chat line on our website. Log on anytime any day of the week to chat and get answers to any legal question you may have. It is totally free and totally confidential and very secure.


Katz & Associates, PLLC



Credit and Collections – What you really need to know to protect yourself…

Katz & Associates Legal Blog:
In REGARD TO CREDIT, very few consumers understand that they have legal rights and that they are protected in regard to illegal practices by creditors and aggressive collection agencies (or attorneys) who many times commit flagrant crimes against the general public. These culprits get away with their unscrupulous conduct because people just do not understand the laws that protect them against such improper activities and thereby the crimes against consumers go unreported.
Before getting too deep into the laws that protect you, instead it is important for you to understand as a consumer that you have rights guaranteed to protect you against flagrant abuse by creditors and collection agencies. Many people also are not aware that predatory collection lists includes: banks, collection agencies, and debt collection attorneys/law firms. Just because someone calls and or sends you a letter on bank or law firm stationary does not give them the legal right to threaten or get aggressive against a consumer unless they follow two regulating guidelines: 1) Statutes of the State; and 2) Federal Statutes that protect all citizens’ rights and internally governed by a Federal Watchdog called the Federal Trade Commission (“the FTC”). The FTC was created to protect the consumers of the United States against improper actions of agencies, collection law firms, and or creditors or their agents (collections agencies) from doing unlawful acts against you as a consumer.

Many consumers with creditors receive calls at all hours of the day and night, seven days of the week, regarding late payments, bills, by collectors trying to get consumers to pay for a bill they may not even owe using high pressure techniques. Collectors get paid based on commissions from money they bring in the company. An aggressive collection agent can make a very lucrative living. So, agents will use any tactic in their bag of demands. Some bank customer service personnel also get paid on commission and they too are considered collection agents for their employer. FIRST OF ALL: In this country it is NOT illegal to not pay your bills when they are due! You will NOT be arrested, and you will NOT be put in jail for not paying a bill. We have all seen stories of collection agencies that threaten people with being arrested or jailed. NOT SO! Consumers need to report these kinds of tactics to local police, immediately, if it ever happens to you – and to consider filing a complaint with the FTC and the subject creditor. Get the phone number, from the caller ID or simply ask and get the name of the caller (it more than likely will be a bogus name anyway, so record the time of the call). If you should get more than 3 such calls in succession (and/or calls after hours) you may file a formal complaint with the police and FTC directly and you will need to have all that information available. See
If in fact you are being threatened with a lawsuit and you want all calls to stop right away A) First send a letter by U.S. Mail to the creditor and request that they immediately STOP CALLING you; then, B) you should take measures to hire an attorney, then you can advise the caller(s)/creditor that you have an attorney, then give the caller the name of the attorney and the phone number for your lawyer, then simply hang-up! Do not get into any conversation with a collection caller because any information you may give a creditor or agent can be used against you. By statute, once they are told that you have an attorney, the collector simply must not call you or write you again; however, almost all creditors and collection agencies ignore this statute in violation of a Federal rule. In order for an attorney to prosecute a case against such collection tactics, again you must get the phone number of the caller, the name of the caller (even if bogus) and note the time of the call (and take notes about what the creditor stated on the call). If more than 3 calls in succession are made to you after you have filed the above suggestions, or violations of creditor calling after hours, or creditor failing to make proper disclosures to you after following the above suggestions do you have a claim against the creditor. The Federal Penalty can be charged to the aggressive callers and they may be fined $500 per day for each call, and for each repetitive call, and you may be awarded reimbursement of $1,000 per case if the caller is found guilty as charged. As attorneys, we can obtain records of all calls, to your phone number, and litigate with just cause (generally on sizeable case matters).
At the end of this blog we include a very informative legal statement from Attorney General Bill McCullom. It is important you read the Attorney General’s message so that you are aware of your rights. Also, the FTC has produced a short video (see link below) that is available in English or Spanish to alert all consumers about credit.

With recent Christmas stockings put away for another year now the bills come next! Many clients already are calling and asking if we can reduce their credit card debts without resorting to bankruptcy. The answer is absolutely YES! We work with many clients who qualify for debt settlements where the creditor has agreed to take a portion of the owed debt in a one lump sum payment or in a few payments. In other words, we have seen many creditors take sometimes between 20%-50% off the amount of the debt in exchange for a full settlement. In those cases, many of those clients are concerned that if we do get a reasonable debt settlement if there is a tax liability. Income does include any forgiven debt and it may be reported to the IRS by the creditor and charged to the debtor (you). If such is reported, you will receive at the end of the tax year, a 1099-C, reporting the forgiven portioned amount. Generally forgiven debt is considered income and taxable. But do not be alarmed. Most people with these issues actually do not have to pay taxes on the forgiven debt, despite what you read or hear on poorly investigated news reports or other blogs. THE FACT IS: IF you receive forgiven debt from a creditor (i.e. income) it can be excluded by the IRS in most cases when a Form 982 is filed properly. The Form 982 wipes out the forgiven portion of debt and acts like a credit back to the consumer so no tax liability will be owed on any forgiven debt portion. There are different instances that one will qualify for Form 982 – and the most common is someone who is INSOLVENT. In other words, if you have more liabilities (debts) than assets (money) to pay those liabilities you are insolvent. Once you settle the debt with the creditor for less than what was originally owed you will most likely receive a 1099 from the Creditor for the difference between the originally owed debt and the amount they agreed to settle for. IF you are insolvent or meet other qualifiers, you can file the FORM 982 listed above to have that 1099 zeroed out – allowing you to exempt that income reported on the 1099.

When Katz & Associates is hired to get debt reduced, we go right to work on the basis of those Federal guidelines that control debt-negotiated settlements. It is not a fast cure process and it can take upward of 9-months or longer to get satisfactory results in this current economy since most creditors and lenders and banks are not immediately cooperative and do not want exposure to liability. Some clients have used debt consolidation companies or agencies (who claim to be non-profit) and later find out that the creditors are never paid! The only true means to resolve debt is through an attorney, or do it on your own. Debt consolidation companies charge huge fees and usually take one half or more of the monthly payments as their own fees and less than half to 1/3rd of the monthly money that you pay goes to creditors and with compounding of costs charged for the consolidation service, the debt never gets paid. True negotiated work-out settlements freeze the debt, no added interest is charged and the debt is settled at the lowest dollar, net of settlement in full. And best of all, you control all your money at all times and you approve or reject any offers for settlement on your own terms. You have financial control.
After 7 or more months from the date all debt is settled we can refer clients to an affiliate law firm who will actually work on your behalf to attempt to have all negative credit reporting removed from your three personal credit reporting agency profiles and usually within a year the credit score actually improves based on fully settled debts.
Whether you are looking to get rid of debt in 2011 as your new economic resolution, and personal wealth management plan; or, if you have pressing credit and collection matters you need to know the subject of Attorney General Bill McCullom’s memorandum link below. Watch the video to arm yourself and call on Katz & Associates Law Firm to help you negotiate settlement of debt, or get relief with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protection (your legal right to discharge all debts) or to protect you from unscrupulous collection agencies, lenders, credit card companies, and banks. We are here to help you. Clients do have legal rights, and you are entitled to be protected under the law!
“How to Protect Yourself: Debt Collections”

Source: Florida Attorney General Bill McCullom’s Office:

“A “debt collector” is someone who regularly tries to collect debts owed to others. A debt collector may contact you if you are behind in your payments to a creditor on a personal, family or household debt, or if an error has been made in your account.
A debt collector may contact you in person, or by mail, email, telephone, telegram or fax. However, a collector may not communicate with you or your family with such frequency as can be reasonably considered as harassing. A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows your employer does not disapprove, nor may a collector contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.
A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the amount of money you owe. The notice must also specify the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and what action you should take if you believe you do not owe the money.
You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
If you do not believe you owe the debt, you may write to the collection agency within 30 days after you are first contacted, saying you don’t owe the money. The agency may not contact you after that unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill.
A debt collector may not harass or abuse anyone. For instance, a collector may not use threats of violence against the person, property or reputation; use obscene or profane language; advertise the debt; or repeatedly or continuously make telephone calls with the intent to harass or abuse the person at the called number. In addition, debt collectors are required to accurately disclose their identities to the person at the called number.
A debt collector may not use false statements, such as falsely implying that they are attorneys, that you have committed a crime, or that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt, the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not. Debt collectors may not tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay; that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and has a legal right to do so; or that a lawsuit will be filed against you, when they have no legal right to file or do not intend to file such a suit.”


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