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The law wants you to keep your home

Debt struggles can arise for many reasons. Perhaps the loss of a job has put your family in a debt cycle that seems impossible, and you are worried about losing your home. In other cases, a sudden medical emergency can derail all your plans, making it difficult to keep up with payments each month. While these situations are facts of life for many, here's another, more positive, fact: The law has provisions that might help you keep your home amidst the struggle.

A few weeks ago, we talked about a proposed federal law that would help protect certain benefits if your student loan debt becomes an issue. In the same way, a law that exists on Florida's books helps to protect your home if you must file for bankruptcy. The law requires certain lenders -- including mortgage lenders -- to work with debtors to create plans and payment schedules that allow families to remain in their homes.

The laws, along side certain federal laws, require mortgage lenders to offer arrangements such as mortgage modifications. You don't have to file for bankruptcy to obtain a mortgage modification; each lender has a different process for these considerations. Usually, you have to contact the lender, let them know you are struggling to make payments and complete an application for the modification.

The lender reviews the application, taking income and expenses into account, and creates a modified loan that might move payments up so you aren't past due, lower interest rates or change monthly payment amounts. Because modifications don't reduce the amount you owe, they aren't always the only debt relief required. Working with a bankruptcy attorney can help you understand how much relief you need and where to seek that relief.

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