We owed *way* too much on our house - $96K for 10 acres and a 30 year old mobile home that was literally falling down around our heads. Steve had started the whole "we need to move soon" dialogue...he said that the house needed too many repairs and civilization was moving too close for comfort. I didn't necessarily agree, but in the name of marital harmony, I went along with it. Then he threw me a curve by refinancing the house...in May 2002. He was killed July, '02...and the mortgage company had totally screwed up the legal work, and only included 2 acres in the mortgage. I kept being hit by the taxes for the other 8 acres.
So, when the mortgage company finally got it figured out, we owed *2* years of property taxes (due immediatly, of course), and they doubled the mortgage payment. Makes perfectly good sense to me, of course - I had only been nagging them about this for 2 years.
There was no way I could afford a $1500/month house payment - especially not on *that* house. When we finally got the death certificate amended, I started looking at my options. The house needed too much work - the settlement wouldn't even begin to cover what needed to be done (it needed the carpet ripped out and the subfloors replaced (dry rot and mold), Himself's room needed to be gutted and redone (lots and lots of water damage - which set off his asthma and almost killed him), the kids' bath needed to be gutted (tub had a hole in the bottom - yes, a hole - and lots of mold) and the siding needed to be replaced. I never did look at the roof - the porches needed to be recemented and jacked up - lots of wood rot going on. I looked at new mobile homes....but wasn't really thrilled at that. Plus, since I didn't have clear title on the land, I couldn't buy a new mobile home - I'd have to buy a repo'd one, and I'd be back in the same boat I was already in.
So, the decision was made to find my own property and start over...which is what we did. The house came out right about 20K more than a brandy-new Palm Harbour doublewide...and it's on a slab foundation. And lots bigger (yes, size really *does* matter!) But - what to do with the current property?
Nobody would even look at it with what was owed on it. So, one of the attorney's I was working with suggested I file chapter 7. It took her a bit of persuasion - I didn't want to do it. But, she was right - I really had no choice.
So, 18 months later, here I am. Pretty much debt-free - I only owe on this house, the van and the tractor. It was relatively painless - my attorney had told me it wasn't a big deal and I shouldn't be worried, but still. Having to appear in a courtroom, in front of a Trustee...it *is* a big deal. The Trustee was very nice, to me, anyway - we had to sit in the courtroom while he worked his way thru the docket, and he got a little miffed at some of the people because they weren't fully prepared, or who were filing because of credit cards (he was not sympathetic at all about that - he warned them Not to do that again).
When I told him I was filing because of Steve's death, he got really quiet, then - nice, somehow. It's hard to explain; it's like he dropped the professionalism for a moment. I didn't expect that - I just told him the truth. He then asked what the insurance proceeds went for, and I told him the house and the attorney fees to change the death certificate....which I then had to explain. *That* went over like a load of bricks. He got quiet again, then said, under his breath, oh, man. My attorney caught my eye and nodded - she said later that that was when she knew we'd be approved - for sure. *She* had no doubts, but had told me that he was the strictest Trustee in her county, and we might have problems keeping all my horses.
When she started asking me the required questions about them, he just sort of shook his head and said, no problem. Whew - I didn't know what I would do if he had ordered me to sell one or more of them - they are part of the family.
After it was signed off, I went to the in-laws for lunch. MIL was relieved for me - she understood why I was doing this, and was very supportive. FIL was quietly supportive - he understood, and also knew I didn't *want* to go this route, but had no choice. My family...well, they're not too thrilled. All of them are against it, but hey - I didn't see any of them offering to help pay the bills.
It's still going to be a struggle, but now I don't have the old house hanging over my head. My payments now are 1/2 what they were...and it's a new house on more managable acreage...and no stalker!! Things are starting to look up!
And now, I must go and work out - my assistant is nagging me to put in the DVD and belly dance, so I better get cracking!