USLegal, Inc. Newsletter – December 2007

2007 Legal Year in Review

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As the end of the year draws near, USLegal looks back at five of the top legal stories of 2007 which had the greatest impact on consumers and which offered reminders about the importance of organizing legal affairs.

New Passport Law – In January, a new passport law took effect. All air travelers including U.S. citizens are now required to present a valid passport or other WHTI-compliant documentation as proof of citizenship to enter and reenter the United States from neighboring countries including Canada and Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. Additional requirements for land and sea ports are scheduled to take effect in January 2008. If you need more information on passport requirements, visit the Department of Homeland Security website at To help keep your legal affairs organized while traveling see:

Anna Nicole Smith Will Controversy – The death of celebrity Anna Nicole Smith in February raised many legal issues including the importance of stating burial preferences in a will. In addition to executing a valid will, you should update it periodically if you change your mind about who you want to inherit your property or if you experience a major life event such as birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse or family member. For more information on wills and to make your will today, see the following links:

Recalls – In March, more than 90 brands of pet products made by Menu Foods were recalled after the Food and Drug Administration determined the pet food was tainted with ingredients that has been imported from China. In August, Mattel, the nation’s leading toy-maker, recalled more than 10 million toys after concerns that the products, which had been made in China, contained excessive amounts of lead paint. To learn more about consumer rights and protection see:

California Wildfires

– In October, Californians experienced one of the worst string of fires in state history. Thousands of residents evacuated their homes with little time to take personal belongings. The event highlighted the need to maintain a file of important legal papers as part of a personal emergency preparedness plan. To learn how to create a life documents file of important legal papers and to organize your legal life with essential legal documents including a will, living will, and power of attorney see the following: For more information on agencies which assist during natural disasters see:

Foreclosures – The number of home foreclosures in the United States hit record highs this year prompting government intervention. Earlier this month, President Bush released details of an agreement between the government and the lending industry to freeze some sub prime mortgages for 5 years. It is hoped the agreement will head off a growing number of foreclosures which have the potential to curtail the US economy. About 1.2 million homeowners with variable rate loans are expected to benefit from the plan. For more information on US foreclosure law, see legal definitions below and law digest link here:

Featured Products of the Month

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In Brief

All of us at USLegal wish you and yours a safe and Happy Holiday Season! We are committed to the legal well being of our customers like you. Please help spread the word.

Looking for legal information? USLegal’s Law Digest contains summaries on hundreds of legal topics including automobile, banking, bankruptcy, business law, civil rights, criminal law, education, employment, and estate planning to name a few.

See for topic directory.

Law and Legal Definitions

Foreclosure Law and Legal Definition

Foreclosure is the procedure by which a party who has loaned money secured by a mortgage or deed of trust on real property (or has an unpaid judgment), forces the sale of the real property to recover the money due, unpaid interest, plus the costs of foreclosure, after the debtor fails to make payment. The lender must serve a notice of default on the debtor after a certain time period from when the payment becomes past due, which varies by state. The notice will give the borrower a certain time period and amount necessary to be paid in order to “cure” the default and avoid foreclosure. If the delinquency and costs of foreclosure are not paid within this time, then the lender (or the trustee in states using deeds of trust) will set a foreclosure date for selling the property at public sale. The property may be redeemed by the borrower by paying all delinquencies and costs, up to the time of sale and in some state, for a period after sale.

There is also judicial foreclosure which is used in several states with the mortgage system or in deed of trust. This procedure is used when the amount due is greater than the equity value of the real property, and the lender wishes to get a deficiency judgment for the amount still due after sale. However, some states give deficiency judgments without filing a lawsuit when the foreclosure is upon the mortgage or deed of trust.

A buyer who makes less than a 20% down payment will typically have to pay for foreclosure insurance, called private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will pay the bank if the home gets foreclosed on. Some of the leading causes of bankruptcy have been cited as overspending, loss of employment, predatory lending practices, divorce, and medical emergencies.

It is suggested that a person in risk of foreclosure try to work with the lender to prevent the foreclosure. The lender may be willing to give the borrower extra time to pay, or may suggest debt counseling to restructure or consolidate the debt. It may be possible to create a trust account to protect the debtor’s assets, or rework the loan for an extended period of time to lower the monthly payments. The past due amount could be added into the new loan. A debtor will sometimes sell the home to pay off the delinquent amount. A voluntary foreclosure involves selling the home to the lender. Voluntary foreclosure may be pursued to minimize the damage to the debtor’s credit record associated with involuntary foreclosure. In a voluntary foreclosure, the debtor not be held liable if the home sells below the debt amount. Due to the loss of financial control and credit damage involved, bankruptcy is generally viewed as a last resort to avoid foreclosure. In bankruptcy cases, the lender is entitled to apply to the court for relief from the automatic stay to allow it to continue foreclosure proceedings.

For more legal definitions, please visit our free online legal dictionary at

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