Where can I find free legal counsel to help us with an...

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Where can I find free legal counsel to help us with an attorney who is in the middle of scamming my family out of a home?

We found and interviewed a company that claimed they specialized in loan modifications. They guaranteed nothing and said the first step is a forensic audit of our finances. They were backed by attorneys and they made no exaggerated promises. Their retainer fee was more than we could afford, however Country Wide stubbornly refused a loan modification. Our home loan is a no interest ARM, which will soon become variable rate. Over a year ago, I was laid along with a few divisions of people. I found a job, however my new salary would not keep us for too long. Country Wide explained that the private lender funding our note did not believe in loan modifications. We began a search for help. Neither Country Wide nor the company we found referred us to the HUD resources or project HOPE. My wife and I thought we found a way to keep our children in a home.

(I wish we new about the services offered by HUD and project HOPE. They are my next phone call after posting this message.)

After making thousands of dollars of payments, the loan modification company then transferred our case to their attorney. We were told by the attorney never talk to the lender (WHICH IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE WE EVER MADE). The attorney seldom responded to our requests for status. When his "team" responded, they talked without disclosing any real status. Eight months have passed, and we are now unable to make mortgage payments. When we started this process we had enough saved for a few more payments. Now we are past desperate, we are sinking fast. This week we found blogs on the internet about own attorney. He seems to have a pattern where he does not break the law, but he drags his feet until his clients are so behind that their only option is a short sale. The attorney meets his contractual obligations and his clients' are losing their homes.

Last week we received a notice to accelerate to foreclose, and our lender confirms that there is a loan negotiation active. I need an attorney that will help me revoke the current power of attorney we've signed to this lawyer, and I need someone who can help me salvage my home. I fear my lawyer is short selling my home. I'm not sure if saving my home is even still possible, but I need someone I can trust representing my family. My three children are all under six years old, and I just found out that they will be homeless in two weeks. We have no more resources. We borrowed the max amount from our 401K to pay for the attorney a one more mortgage payment. So my paycheck is now that much more reduced. On paper, our expenses are now terribly heavier than our income.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.


Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

I am sorry to hear that you were first betrayed by unfair lending practices by the mortgage holder, and second, by a mortgage scam of so-called "relief" efforts. I am not sure that it is possible at this last minute to find free legal advice in time to do you some good, but you must try. If there is a Legal Aid office in your county, this is generally a reliable place for a low income person to get help, or a reliable referral, at least, to try to delay the foreclosure proceedings. Call right away. Ask for someone who is doing foreclosure relief work. Check out the lawyer with your state bar to see if there is a record of discipline. Any lawyer can say he or she does mortgage modification, but you have no way of knowing if that is true unless you check out the lawyer, perhaps talk to clients who have gotten good results, and get recommendations.

The American Bar Association has made efforts to develop a program of pro bono attorneys who will help, but I do not have any further specific information, other than a suggestion to call their administrative offices and ask for a referral to any program the ABA has set up to assist families like yours. I am very sad to hear that a lawyer has let you down after you put your trust in this person. You can also report him or her to your state bar for discipline. Failure to do what a lawyer promises to do and to practice within the standards the state requires can result in the lawyer being disciplined or losing his or her license. In the meantime, keep working to get help. If the above suggestions are not working, try your county bar association (usually online with a directory or website, or both) and look for lawyers specializing in real estate, fraud, or loan modification. You have to check each one out before putting the matter in his/her hands. If the lawyer you had helping you to this point has indeed not provided representation as promised, you may have the right to make a claim against him for legal malpractice. Ask another lawyer about that, too, while you seek help for your pending foreclosure. It is my sincere hope that you get the help you need.