David Gorka, head of Black & LoBello’s Submission and Processing department, answers some common questions clients have regarding the document submission process when dealing with a short sale and the lenders involved.

National Mortgage Settlement — You May Be Eligible for a Distribution

Nevada’s Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection, is contacting Nevada residents who are eligible to receive a portion of the settlement reached by Nevada with various mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, GMAC, Allied, and J.P. Morgan Chase.  If your mortgage was serviced by one of these institutions, and you lost your primary residence to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, you are likely eligible to participate in the Settlement.

The Attorney General’s Office is contacting claimants by mail.  If you have not heard from their office and believe you may be eligible, you should visit ww.nationalmortgagesettlement.com to inquire.  To participate and receive the payment as part of the settlement, you must file a claim by January 18, 2013.

John D. Jones, Esq. of Black & LoBello has written an article regarding alimony in Nevada which has been featured in the Nevada Family Law Report.  Click here to read the article.

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Attorney at Law Feature

Be sure to pick up the latest edition of Attorney at Law Magazine featuring Tisha and the rest of the Black & LoBello team. In addition to an article feature by our very own Andras Babero, Esq.


The nationwide mortgage settlement will mean $1.5 billion dollars is headed Nevada’s way. But once that money is divided, will it help underwater Nevadans stay in their homes?

via Nevada’s Attorney General Talks About Mortgage Settlement.

How To Keep Emotion Out of Divorce

When planning a divorce, a good family law attorney should help the client set aside emotions and develop a strategy based on common sense and the legal reality.  For example, children and money are normally a source of emotional anxiety and, in a divorce, both parties may have differing ideas of “what’s right”.  If each party has a different idea about how to share custody or to resolve finances, a divorce can take much longer than necessary and cost far more than it should.  In every scenario, the sooner you consult with an attorney, the better you will understand your situation and what is realistic. Nevada is a community property, equitable distribution state which means assets accumulated during the marriage must be divided so that each party receives 50% of the net community estate.  In the case of child support, Nevada has comprehensive formulas and legislation for calculating payments with relative ease.  Conversely, there is no formula for alimony, so decisions on that issue can vary from courtroom to courtroom.  Child custody problems may arise if one parent has competency issues but generally, joint custody will be granted.  Nevertheless, every family is different.  Consulting an attorney to discuss your particular situation will keep you grounded when forming an expectation as to the outcome of the divorce.

Michele T. LoBello, Esq.

Nevada at the Forefront

Nevada may be leading the fight to bring banks to task for their role in the current mortgage crisis.  However, since so many people do not fully understand the facts, this fight will probably be hard fought until more people and states come on board.  There has been so much bank chicanery it seems just as one problem is dealt with, eight more come to light.  Many states that haven’t been as hard-hit by the mortgage crisis either don’t have the resources or the inclination to get as deeply involved as Nevada.  To date, Nevada  is the only state to file a criminal prosecution against anyone related to a bank for foreclosures.  Furthermore Nevada is only one of two states to file complaints against Bank of America and the only state to file against Lender Processing Services.  Las Vegas has benefited from excellent reporting on the mortgage crisis as well with Channel 8 I-Team George Knapp and Colleen McCarty’s report, Desert Underwater, which has distilled so much information and detail down to the root causes of the problems.  So while Nevada may be leading the charge to right the wrongs of the mortgage industry, the biggest relief can only come once more people and states get educated on what can and should be done.  They might do well to learn from Nevada and its efforts.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Life After Bankruptcy: Credit Repair

You filed bankruptcy, received your discharge and now want to start life after bankruptcy.  Step one of life after bankruptcy should be to repair your credit and start building a positive credit history.  In order to begin building a positive credit history you need to adhere the following steps:

  1. Make sure all of your debt that was included in the bankruptcy is being properly reported to the credit bureaus.  All debt that was included in the bankruptcy should be reported as “discharged in bankruptcy” with a zero balance.  If you have any accounts still showing a balance, or still reporting missed payments after bankruptcy dispute such information with each credit bureau to correct this misreporting.  If the credit bureaus will not change the reporting as “discharged in bankruptcy” you could sue them in bankruptcy court for violating your bankruptcy discharge.
  2. Establish a realistic budget.  You have a habit of spending more than you make, i.e., you have filed bankruptcy.  Thus, to avoid falling into the very same habits, develop a realistic budget and stick to it.  Cut off unnecessary purchases while accounting for the miscellaneous expenses.  Every budget should include at least 15% of an entire budget for miscellaneous expenses.
  3. Apply for new credit.  Believe it or not but the easiest and fastest way to begin improving your credit is to obtain new credit.  Credit card companies want you to demonstrate to them that you are able to handle debt again.
  4. Avoid accepting too many credit card offers.  Remember what got you into to this mess, credit cards.  The more credit cards you have the more likely you are to over spend.  Thus, take two to three new credit cards and limit all activity in the first month to credit card #1, the second month to credit card #2 and so on.  By limiting the spending to one credit card you can better understand, appreciate and BUDGET for your spending.
  5. Pay off all credit card debt in full every month.  Again, remember what forced you into bankruptcy, a mountain of credit card debt.  Any new credit card offers you receive after bankruptcy will include very high interest rates, some as high as 35-40% APR.  Thus, if you do not pay off the balance in full every month the credit card bills will be impossible to pay down.
  6. Do not fall for the “teaser” rates.  The local electronics store is offering no interest for one year on purchases over $1,000.00.  You want a new television and it is $1,800.00.  You figure you can pay off the television for only $150 per month for the next 12 months.  However, you are unable to pay the television off during the 1 year period and you get hit with $500+ in interest.  Do not fall for these teasers.  If you do not have the cash, do NOT buy the product.
  7. Pay all your bills on time.  While this might seem obvious, this factor is the most important factor in building your financial and credit future.  Your credit after bankruptcy is like a fragile egg.  Any sort of harsh movement could cause a crack.  As a result, any late and/or missed payments will send your credit in a downward spiral you might not be able to recover from.
  8. Set up all bills on automatic payment.  Make sure all of your bills, from mortgage, car payment, electricity payment to minimum payment on credit cards, be placed on automatic payment.  By having all bills on automatic payment you save yourself the risk and stress of ever missing another payment.
  9. Call your creditors before missing a payment.  If you can’t pay a bill call your creditor to ask about another possible solution other than the required payment.  Most creditors will work with you until you get back on your feet again.

In closing, there is life and credit after bankruptcy.  However, to increase your chances of success, follow the above outlined steps.

Randy M. Creighton, Esq.

LPS Releases Dismal Mortgage Statistics

Lender Processing Services (LPS), the largest mortgage servicer in the United States, recently released its “Mortgage Monitor,” a comprehensive study of the status of U.S. mortgages/foreclosures.  The study found the national average of delinquent mortgages at about 12.45%. In other words, nearly 4.1 Million loans are either delinquent or currently in foreclosure.  The research further shows that the average loan in foreclosure is delinquent 599 days, which is more than double that of 2008.  It comes as no surprise, then, that over 40% of loans in foreclosure have not paid in excess of one year.  These numbers are dismal and suggest that recovery is lagging, even against some of the most pessimistic projections.

LPS’ study also showed that, not surprisingly, foreclosures in non-judicial foreclosure states like Nevada are complete in nearly 1/3 of the time as judicial foreclosure states.   The difference between the two is paramount as foreclosures in non-judicial states, like Nevada, are not processed through the courts, and, thus, are subject to higher risk of errors or improprieties.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 29th, 2011. Christopher Phillips, Esq. hosts with guest lawyer Michele LoBello, Esq., fellow partner at the law firm Black & LoBello in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Mrs. LoBello and Mr. Phillips talk about what one should consider before getting a divorce, obtaining legal guardianship of another family member’s children, trusts for children, child custody out of state and transparency of the probate process.

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” everyday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 22nd, 2011.  Christopher Phillips, Esq. hosts with guest lawyer Michele LoBello, Esq., fellow partner at the law firm Black & LoBello. Mrs. LoBello talks about the effects of the economy on trends in divorce and custody,  tips on pre-nuptial agreements, adoptions within a family and drug testing to determine custody.

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” everyday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

SB 58 Penalizes Employers’ Fraud

Senate Bill 58, a workers’ compensation Bill, amends Chapter 616D of the Nevada Revised Statutes. Chapter 616D addresses prohibited acts, the penalties for such acts and what offenders can expect with respect to prosecution of such acts in the context of industrial insurance fraud.

As in many states, Nevada has included the prohibited acts/penalty section, dealing with fraudulent acts of employees and employers in the context of either an employee lying about a material fact to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for an alleged industrial injury or an employer lying about a material fact to avoid providing coverage to an injured employee.

SB 58, which will become effective on October 1, 2011, specifically makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to knowingly make a false statement or representation or conceal a material fact regarding the eligibility of a person claiming industrial insurance benefits of less than $250 and a category D felony if the fraud regards benefits of $250 or more.

Existing law already penalizes employers for fraud with respect to making false statements or concealing facts regarding the amount of payroll upon which their premiums for workers’ compensation coverage were based. In essence, SB 58 adds the same penalties for employers for fraud regarding employee eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits as already exists for employees who act fraudulently in claiming eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage. Among other things, the act protects whistleblowers who report employer fraud, allows the Attorney General and the Division of Industrial Relations to share information regarding such employer fraud and authorizes the Attorney General to prosecute employers for such fraud and requires all employers to allow inspection of their books and records by the Attorney General when investigating such potential fraud.

The fact is that this new law will assist the Division of Industrial Relations and the Attorney General in ensuring that if a Nevada employer attempts to lie with respect to covering a valid workers’ compensation injury of one of their employees, both the employee and the state have some recourse.  Moreover, smart Nevada employers will now know with certainty that any attempt to avoid paying legitimate workers’ compensation benefits will result in prosecution.  Such certainty adds to the legitimacy of the entire Nevada workers’ compensation statutory scheme.

Michael J. Ryan, Esq.

Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 15th, 2011 in which Christopher J. Philips, Esq., discusses the benefits of a living will, trustee questions, avoiding unnecessary probate fees, changes to estate planning documents to conform with Nevada Statutes and Nevada’s new Domestic Partnership law as it relates to probate.

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN to hear Christopher J. Philips, Esq., on the “Legal Hour,” every Monday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   He will be discussing legal topics including Probate, Adult Guardianship, Trusts and Estate Planning.  Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

New Custodial Laws for the Military

The legislature has just enacted changes to NRS 125.510, a statute which governs modification of child custody orders. The amendments were designed to protect military service persons (both parents and legal guardians) deployed on active duty. Significant additions to the statute pertaining to the modification of child custody orders are clearly intended to ensure that a parent who serves the United States does not have his or her custodial order and/or relationship with a child negatively impacted by such service.  These amendments protect our military service members in the following ways:

  1. No custody order can be modified by a final order until 90 days after the termination of the service member’s deployment.
  2. In the event the court temporarily modifies a child custody order as a result of a deployment of a parent, the court is now required to consider giving that parent visitation on any period of military leave.
  3. Deployment or the potential for future deployment cannot constitute a change of circumstances warranting a permanent modification of a custody order.
  4. An order temporarily modified due to deployment must specify that the deployment is the reason for the modification.
  5. The court, in issuing any temporary order, must consider issuing any additional orders to ensure the ability of the parent who has been deployed to maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child by means that are reasonably available.
  6. The court has broadened power to hold expedited hearings, either before deployment occurs or immediately upon deployment ending. Courts are also authorized to allow a parent who has been deployed to present testimony and evidence by affidavit or by electronic means.
  7. The court has greater power to delegate a service member’s visitation rights, or a portion of those rights, to a family member of the deployed parent who has a substantial relationship with the child, provided said delegation is in the best interest of the child.
  8. The non-military parent must provide the court and the deployed parent written notice of any change of address during the other parent’s deployment within 30 days of the change occurring.

While there are some other minor changes as a result of the passage of Assembly Bill 313, the foregoing are the most significant modifications of the statute. Probably the most significant change is the specific right of the court to delegate the visitation of a military service person to his or her family members. This has been an issue in Clark County Family Court for years and is a significant deviation from the prior statute. The legislature clearly desires to ensure that the child custody rights of service members are zealously protected.

Michele T. LoBello, Esq.

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Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 10th, 2011 in which managing partner, Tisha Black Chernine, discusses the latest news regarding the real estate market, mediation programs available for homeowners, legal developments in Nevada, landlord/tenant issues and takes callers questions and comments regarding foreclosure.

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN to hear Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., on the “Legal Hour,” every Wednesday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

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Any parent of a teenager in the modern era of instant and high definition technology has concerns about the manner in which their child or children are utilizing this technology.  Although we as parents always hope to raise moral children, it is unrealistic to think that our children will never send inappropriate material via email or text message from their cell phone.  Webcams and camera phones make it so easy.  Prior to the most recent Legislative session, “teenagers being teenagers” could have resulted in serious long-term implications.  The prior law would have resulted in a teenager who sent an adult image of themselves or another minor, to any other minor, to be prosecuted to endure a felony prosecution and be registered as a sex offender. Fortunately, the Legislature recognizing the realities of the technology age in which we currently live, have modified the law to ensure that irreparable harm is not suffered by a teenager merely being a teenager.

The new law established in SB 277 still prohibits a minor from electronically transmitting a sexual image of himself/herself to another person and other related behaviors. The punishment for such transgressions, however, is no longer so onerous and long term. Such transgressions by minors will no longer be felonies or result in sex offender registration. Whereas parents of teenagers can certainly make it clear to our children that the texting of inappropriate images is a serious crime, in the event they do not heed our warnings, there is no longer such far reaching damage.

John D. Jones, Esq.

Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 8th, 2011 in which Christopher J. Phillips talks about adult guardianship, probate, trusts and asset protection.

SB 221 is intended to improve the law relating to trust and estate issues with the following objectives: (a) to simplify the process of transferring assets at death, whether or not probate is required; (b) to clarify the rights of creditors as to nonprobate asset and trust assets; (c) to clarify exemptions from creditors’ claims that do apply; and (d) to improve and update our laws to make Nevada an ideal jurisdiction for probate and trust matters.

Some highlights of the Bill include Sections 73 and 177 which give additional strength to no-contest clauses in wills and trusts and clarify that with certain important exceptions, a beneficiary’s share can be reduced or eliminated if they violate the provisions that a settler or testator has set forth even if that conduct does not constitute a formal contest of the will or trust.

A major new addition to the probate code provides for the Independent Administration of Estates Act which expedites the probate process and reduces the administrative costs of probate by allowing a personal representative to act more independently, involving the probate court only when needed for disputes or significant issues. This Section should allow executors to conduct activity such as selling real estate without the additional court appearances, filing fees and attorney fees currently associated with selling a parcel of real property through the probate court.

Section 196 provides that when a trust authorizes or directs a trustee not to provide an accounting, a procedure exists where the trustee provides the account to one or more reviewers who will determine whether the beneficiary’s interest in the trust is being properly administered without revealing the details of the account to the beneficiary.

Christopher J. Phillips, Esq.

SB 414 Restricts Banks

Senate Bill No. 414 was introduced to address some of the consequences of the downturn in the current real estate market. Section 2 of the Bill was intended to prevent a bank from calling a commercial mortgage loan due if the borrower is not in default.  That section was quickly eliminated by amendment from the final bill.

SB 414 mandates lenders respond to short sale requests within a reasonable period of time.  A “reasonable period of time” is defined to mean a response within 90 days after receipt of the offer, unless the parties agree to a written extension of time.

Section 3 was the gravamen of SB 414.  It prohibits a lender from unreasonably delaying a response to an offer for a residential short sale. It further prevents lenders from obtaining a deficiency judgment against a borrower in certain instances.

The Nevada Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy (the “Committee”) (where the bill originated) was concerned about lenders pursuing deficiency judgments against residential borrowers after they had completed a short sale.  Senator Schneider,  said the following:

“I was concerned about people who are upside down in the mortgages on their homes, cannot make payments anymore, for whatever reason, and they short sell their home. I do not want banks going after the seller for the difference between what the house sold for and the mortgage.”

The Committee sought to remedy this issue by prohibiting lenders from further pursuing the borrower after the short sale has been concluded, if all the parties agreed.

William Uffelman, President and CEO of the Nevada Bankers Association (the “NBA”), testifying on behalf of the lenders, sought to balance the lenders’ very real concern of potentially having to write down or write off loans to satisfy the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or U.S Department of the Treasury, with individuals being forced into bankruptcy or foreclosure while trying to protect their homes.

Typically, lenders that hold first deeds of trust are more willing to forego a deficiency, whereas second deeds of trust holders are less likely to do so. Short sales are often held up because second trust deed holders are more intransigent. Lenders also will seek to take a strategic advantage by delaying responding to the borrower’s overtures for a short sale. SB 414 addressed both issues.

The NBA’s Mr. Uffelman conceded that financial institutions could retain the right to a deficiency judgment right if they responded within a reasonable period of time, and they reserved the right to a deficiency judgment in the short sale agreement executed by all the parties. This allows a lender to pursue a borrower for a deficiency judgment when the borrower makes a “strategic default,” yet it gives most borrowers finality.

As Senator Schneider so eloquently stated, “the concept here is that for all our constituents who are doing short sales, we do not want to leave them hanging there and later have the big bank looking to squeeze more blood out of them.”

Historically, the forgiven or waived portion of a debt is subject to tax as income when all or a portion of a debt has been forgiven by a lender. However, Congress enacted a law in 2007, which does not subject debt forgiveness to tax when the forgiven debt is due to foreclosure. SB 414’s deficiency judgment waiver rules prohibit any debt forgiveness liability under any IRS tax rule changes that may take place after December 31, 2012.

The Committee believed it was not enough for the borrower to depend on a statement of the lenders’ intent to waive a deficiency judgment. The Committee wanted to have all parties state their intentions regarding a waiver of a deficiency judgment in clear and unambiguous language. Thus, SB 414 will require a written, conspicuous statement, acknowledged by the debtor or grantor which states that the lender has waived its right to recover a deficiency and the amount of recovery that is being waived.

SB 414 was approved by Governor Sandoval on June 13, 2011.

Andras F. Babero, Esq.

Mike Ryan, Esq.,  from Black & LoBello was the first to present at the Nevada Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference on August 11, 2011 at the Rio Hotel & Casino.   Along with Hearing Officer Mercer Berens and fellow attorney, Erica Tosh,   Mr. Ryan discussed the recent Supreme Court cases in Workers’ Compensation as well as took questions from audience members regarding issues related to employers, employees and 3rd party representatives.

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