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Florida widows more at risk of bankruptcy, losing their homes

The current housing crisis is making foreclosure activity in Florida among the worst in the country. Record amount of families are losing their homes or facing bankruptcy. Sadly, among the most vulnerable to losing their family homes are widows, due to lenders' refusal to negotiate terms they can work with.

One example is that of an elderly woman, widowed two years ago, who received a letter from Wells Fargo addressed to her husband that offered help if he had a change in his circumstances. When the woman called the bank to see if she could renegotiate her mortgage payments of over $2,000 to something she could afford to pay, bank lenders told her it could not be done. Both their names were on the title, but since only her late husband had signed on the loan, Wells Fargo told the widow they were unable to work with her.

Several women in Florida are being forced into foreclosure as simple paperwork problems are preventing them from taking control of their finances after their husbands' deaths. A great number of widows are also facing unforeseen financial challenges when the condition of the housing market makes it more difficult for those with limited income to refinance.

Bankruptcy lawyers are seeing more and more cases from widows in these situations. Some lenders are more willing to work with widows to transfer loans into their names after their husbands' deaths; for others whose lenders are less flexible, they might be more likely to get a bank to listen when they're backed by an attorney.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Widows face foreclosure due to mortgage Catch-22," Drew Harwell, Dec. 28, 2012

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