5 Mistakes to Avoid After NJ Bankruptcy

NJ bankruptcy

After your NJ bankruptcy, a common concern is how to re-establish your credit score. The real challenge is creating new financial habits so you don’t find yourself back in the same hole all over again. At Veitengruber Law, our holistic approach to financial health means our job doesn’t end after the bankruptcy is closed. We work with you to repair your credit and create healthier financial habits.

 

Top Mistakes to Avoid After a Bankruptcy Discharge:

 

1 – Ignoring your credit report

When rebuilding your credit subsequent to a bankruptcy discharge or reorganization, you will want to be very attentive to your credit report. Your creditors are supposed to report any discharged debts included in the bankruptcy to the credit bureaus. These reports should show a zero balance and include a note indicating the debt has been discharged. It is crucial to follow-up on this and ensure that all creditors are reporting to credit bureaus correctly. If discharged debt is being wrongly reported—as either a charge-off or an open account—late or missed payments can continue to show up on your credit. This can further damage your score and make it more difficult for you to get new credit.

2 – Applying for multiple new credit lines

It can be tempting after bankruptcy to rush out and apply for a gaggle of credit cards or loans in an attempt to quickly repair credit. However, it is important to give your credit score time to rebound before applying for new credit. The impact of a bankruptcy is strongest in the first year after filing, although it can stay on (and affect) your credit report for up to ten years. Instead of rushing into opening several credit lines at once, be patient and take the time to research your best options.

3 – Failing to read the fine print

When you do start applying for credit cards, it is important to remember that not all credit cards are created equally. Some credit cards will be more helpful to those rebuilding post-bankruptcy. A secured card, for instance, allows you to deposit cash as collateral up front to create a line of credit. That way, you are not able to charge more than your initial deposit. With any card you choose, it is important to read the fine print of your terms to make sure the card will work in your favor.

4 – Falling for credit repair scams

Many unethical “credit repair companies” make big promises about performing miracles to improve credit scores, but they rarely ever deliver the results promised. These companies rely on misinformation to scam those that don’t know much about how credit works. Some of their tactics may even be illegal. Keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

5 – Making things too complicated

Ultimately, when it comes to rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy, you need to go back to the basics. What bad habits caused you to file for bankruptcy in the first place? An unflinching assessment of your spending habits will help you determine which factors led to the bankruptcy and determine where you need to make changes. Figure out what your credit-bingeing triggers are and work toward setting spending limits for yourself. Simple things like making on time payments, keeping debt to a minimum, and sticking to a healthy budget are excellent foundations of any financial strategy and will get you on the road to financial health quickly.

You’ve been through the hard-fought financial battle of bankruptcy and come out victorious on the other side. Now is the time to think positively about your financial future. Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy takes time and patience, but you can use the knowledge and financial savvy you’ve learned along the way to move forward to a brighter future. Veitengruber Law is here to help. We are skilled in advising clients and creating easy-to-follow strategies to rebuild credit. Call for your free consultation today.

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Getting Nowhere with Your Debts? You Need a Debt Resolution Plan!

Debt Resolution

If you find yourself burdened with unmanageable credit card debt and struggling to make minimum payments each month, Veitengruber Law’s debt resolution services may be the perfect option for you. Following a debt resolution plan can be an effective strategy for anyone who has experienced a financial hardship like divorce, job loss, a significant reduction in household income, or medical debt resulting from serious accident or illness. Our team is experienced in debt management solutions and creating effective debt resolution plans.

George Veitengruber is an attorney with a strong focus on finances. All of our team members understand the personal heartache people can experience from overwhelming debt. We work toward real and appropriate solutions that provide relief and peace of mind for our clients. We will sit down with you to review your income and expenses and evaluate your debt to get a blueprint of your finances. No two people have the same debt issues and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to debt issues. We provide individualized advice for each client. Bankruptcy is not the only option for people seeking debt relief, and we will never push you into bankruptcy if that is not your best option.

Debt resolution can be an excellent alternative to bankruptcy or debt settlement. After we sit down with you to get a clear understanding of your financial situation, we can create a comprehensive budget that will allow you to get a handle on your debt. We will also use that budget to negotiate with creditors on your behalf. We will work to settle on new payment terms with each individual creditor, negotiating to eliminate penalties, reduce interest rates, and secure lowered monthly payments. The goal of a debt resolution plan is to resolve your debts for less than what you owe on your outstanding balance and to create a payment plan you can more easily manage.

There are some major incentives to working with an attorney to create a debt resolution plan over other debt settlement services or trying to manage debt alone. While your overall score will still likely drop at least slightly, our debt resolution services have the potential to limit damage to your credit score. Because you can continue to pay creditors throughout the negotiation process, there is little opportunity for late payments to further decrease your credit score. Veitengruber Law can also negotiate with creditors in how they report the payment of the debt, working with creditors to ensure your credit score is impacted as minimally as possible.

Another major benefit to debt resolution is the support you get from a qualified, experienced attorney. Our legal team can use their knowledge of the financial world to negotiate on your behalf. Creditors are more likely to take an attorney seriously and an attorney can assure your creditors are working in your best interest. We know all the tricks of the trade and how to work the situation in your favor. When you work with us, you know you will receive the quality know-how and financial expertise you deserve. Our advanced knowledge and years of experience also means less time spent negotiating with creditors, ensuring that you will start paying off debt sooner rather than later.

Don’t wait to start working on a solution to your debt troubles. Call us today to arrange a free consultation with a debt negotiation lawyer. Our comprehensive approach to debt resolution will allow you to breathe easier again. We can work with you to create an individualized debt resolution plan that works for you, helping you tackle unmanageable debt and avoid further financial troubles.

Reduce Debt NOW Rather than Later and Save Thousands

reduce debt

The average American household is leveraged with $137,000 of debt. That’s a crushing number. No matter what your debt looks like, you can (and should) take steps now to eliminate years of payments – potentially saving you thousands of dollars. Following are four of the most common kinds of debt weighing Americans down, along with debt-reduction tips for each type of debt.

Mortgage:

A mortgage is one of the largest debts most people will take on in a lifetime. With a minimum down payment, you will pay thousands of dollars in mortgage insurance (PMI), which is basically wasted money. If you can’t put down 20% to avoid PMI, you should refinance as soon as your home value increases enough that your equity is the equivalent of 20% or more.

Pay attention to comparable home values in your neighborhood and refinance your mortgage as long as the interest rate is low. If you began with a 30-year mortgage, try to refinance to a shorter term. You will pay much less interest over the course of the loan. Choose a 20 or 15-year mortgage and spend your later years without a mortgage payment!

Another effective way to reduce mortgage debt is by making bi-weekly payments instead of monthly payments. This means you will make 13 payments per year instead of 12 and most people won’t even notice the difference.

If you are unable to pay your mortgage or are behind on payments, address it before it gets out of control and you lose your home.


Student Loans:

One of the worst kinds of debt is student loan debt. It will often survive even if you declare bankruptcy. Your wages can even be garnished if you fail to pay your student loans back. Look to consolidate your loans into a low interest rate. Refinancing federal loans with a lower interest private student loan lender is another great option. Veitengruber Law can help you reduce your student loan debts once we meet with you to discuss the specific details of your debt(s).

 

Medical:

Debt from medical bills is one of the “best” kinds of debt to have. You can often negotiate an interest-free payment plan with the provider. Be careful not to ignore these bills and let them go to collections, though. Having any kind of debt in collections can ruin your credit and prevent you from making future important purchases.

 

Credit Cards:

If your credit card debt is out of control, you need to stop adding to the problem and put away the cards. Don’t close the accounts – this will negatively impact your credit score. Put the cards in safe place where you won’t be tempted to use them, and start using a debit card or cash only.

Because the interest rates of most credit cards are so high, repaying significant credit card debt can take years. Always make more than the minimum payment so you are impacting the balance and accruing less interest.

If your credit score is still good, transfer your high-interest card balances to low or no interest introductory period credit cards with no balance transfer fees.*

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Read the fine print before you do this. Credit card companies are cracking down on consumers moving money from card to card to avoid paying interest. You could be hit with a very high rate at the end of the introductory period, or with retroactive interest fees if you move the debt a second time.


There are several strategies you can use to pay down your debt; read our blog post entitled “Snowball vs Avalanche: Digging Your Way Out of Debt” to find the strategy that works best for you and stick to it.


Allowing any type of debt to get out of control can have disastrous effects on your life. The stress of debt can lead to depression, anxiety, physical health problems, relationship problems and more. You may also find yourself in small claims court, civil suits, foreclosure proceedings and bankruptcy court. Your assets like televisions, computers, phones, and cars could be liquidated (sold) in order to pay your creditors.

Take steps now to gain control before your debt becomes an insurmountable mountain. Need help getting started? Call Veitengruber Law for a free consultation.

 

 

Involved in a Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Accident? Go to the ER!

personal injury NJ

Pedestrian accidents have dramatically increased in the last 2 years. In 2016 and 2017, accidents involving pedestrians reached a 25-year high. Each of those years saw 6,000 deaths of pedestrians in motor vehicle accidents. There has been a convergence of contributing factors.

 

  • Distracted drivers—Drivers can be distracted by anything: turning on the air conditioner, taking a bite of a sandwich, rolling down their window, talking to other people in the car. These tasks typically only take a few seconds, but texting while driving takes drivers’ eyes away from the road for longer periods of time and is the cause of 1 out of every 4 car accidents.

 

  • Distracted pedestrians—Pedestrians eliminate two of their crucial senses when walking in traffic with their phones: sight (by looking at the screen), and hearing (by wearing headphones and listening to music.) While pedestrians have the right of way, they become a hazard when they aren’t paying attention.

 

  • Legal marijuana use—The availability of legal marijuana in some states has contributed to a slight rise in motor vehicle accidents.

 

  • Illegal and/or prescription drug use—The opioid epidemic has meant an increase in drug abuse, and since it is harder to test for, driving under the influence of opioids and other medications has led to more accidents.

 

All of these have contributed to a 46% increase in pedestrian accidents which means that more people than ever are at risk.

If you are a pedestrian involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is crucial to know what to do. Without question, you must seek emergency care. Whether you believe you need treatment or not, insist on transport or travel to the ER yourself.

 

Why it’s important to go to the ER

When you are involved in an accident, your body and your brain go into protective mode. Your adrenaline goes into action, your heart starts blood pumping faster, and you become excited. Your injuries may seem minimal or non-existent. You may leave the accident feeling fine and decide not to seek medical treatment. Eventually, whether minutes or hours later, the body’s fight-or-flight reaction calms down and the effects of the accident become more evident. Your injuries may have been more extensive than you originally thought. You may have even made your injury by waiting to seek care.

Any delay in seeking medical treatment can be used as justification for an insurance claim denial. It is important to go to the ER immediately to get an accurate record of all of your injuries, no matter how minor. The medical record will be used as evidence for your insurance or personal injury claim.

 

What to do when you get there

  • Make it clear that a motor vehicle was involved. This may seem like an obvious point, but if this information is missing from the medical report it will make your auto insurance claim difficult to prove.
  • Report all of your injuries — even minor ones. While you may be more focused on broken bones or abrasions, don’t forget to report soreness, stiffness, headaches, neck or back pain, and even slight sprains or bruises. Any injury can become serious, and if it is missing from the initial medical report, an insurance adjuster will argue that it is unrelated to the accident.

 

Should you go to your PCP or urgent care center?

Primary care physicians typically do not have the ability to see patients immediately and the sooner you seek treatment the better for your health and for any claim you may make in a case. They will also likely send you for testing at another facility with X-ray, MRI, CAT Scan, and send you for blood work. Rather than chasing all of those things down separately, the ER is much better equipped to treat your needs. An urgent care center will be able to perform more tests than your PCP, but if your injuries are extensive and you need to be admitted you will have to go to the hospital anyway.

After your accident it is important to seek legal counsel. At Veitengruber Law, we have the knowledge and experience to fully and thoroughly evaluate your case. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOUR CONSULTATION WILL BE FREE OF CHARGE.

We will then refer you to the best personal injury attorney for your situation. Our professional network allows us to reach out to a number of very talented and caring personal injury NJ attorneys. Seek legal representation as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that your case gets the proper attention and results.

Wallet Full of Plastic: Do You Need Credit Counseling?

credit counseling

Many people enjoy the flexibility of credit card spending, but the more credit cards you have, the easier it is to develop destructive spending habits. The convenience and ease of credit spending can be a slippery slope to overspending and unmanageable debt. If you find yourself with a wallet filled with plastic, it might be time to seek credit counseling to get expert advice on debt management and credit repair. At Veitengruber Law, our credit counseling team can work with you to improve your individual financial situation and help you gain control over your money and credit.

Credit counseling is a great way to receive expert financial advice and support to help manage your debt and organize your finances. It is important to make sure you are getting advice from true experts and not financial scammers. Our legal team provides debt management and credit repair services to get you back on the road to financial health. Many of our clients developed unhealthy spending habits over time, slowly building debt until suddenly finding themselves overwhelmed with payments. Out of control credit card debt can seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone.

At Veitengruber Law, we understand how the credit industry works. We strive to instill in our clients a holistic understanding of their finances and how the credit system works. Our team can give you the tools and insider advice to take control of your credit. In your individualized consultation, we will provide easy-to-follow strategies to rebuild your credit, even after major financial set-backs. Our attorneys can also help you establish a realistic and manageable budget by looking at your monthly bills, expenses, debts, and income and devising the best plan forward. We can give you the knowledge to negotiate better terms on your credit cards to make your payments more impactful.


You may be surprised by how much a few budget changes can massively improve your financial situation.


It is important to note that you don’t have to be in dire straits to seek credit counseling. Maybe you have a decent credit score, but making payments on time has recently become a struggle. Don’t wait to address your financial situation until debt collectors are knocking at your door. If your current budget isn’t comfortable or you find yourself struggling to make your payments, it might be time to reassess your financial situation. If you are feeling overwhelmed, be proactive about your debt and address your problems before they become emergencies. Credit counseling can help you avoid future financial woes like bankruptcy.

IMPORTANT FACT: Credit counseling and debt management are excellent alternatives to bankruptcy and can often even prevent it.

Even novice consumers can benefit from credit counseling. Seeking advice from experts when you first start living on your own is a great way to make sure you are starting on the right foot as you make plans for your financial future. We offer individualized counseling to help you understand how credit scores work, financially healthy ways to build credit, and how to make the most out of your credit right now. Establishing healthy spending habits and formulating a budget early on will set you on the path for a healthy financial future.

It’s our goal to help you become a stronger financial consumer. From helping clients out of extreme credit card debt via NJ bankruptcy to keeping homeowners in their homes via mortgage modification, and even simply offering advice to struggling novice consumers, we can get you back on track. We care about your financial future.

Collecting on a Debt: When Small Claims Court Isn’t Enough

collecting on a debt

Small Claims Court handles cases in which someone wants to sue another individual or business to collect a small sum of money they believe is owed to them. Often, small claims include cases like breach of contract, property loss or damage, consumer complaints, payment for work performed, claims on bad checks, renter’s claims, and more. Small Claims Court allows ordinary people the opportunity to resolve disputes at a low cost and without a lot of legal complications.

However, there are very specific rules you must follow in order to file in Small Claims Court. Small claims include cases wherein the individual is suing for no more than $3,000.00, or $5,000.00 in the case of a return of the tenant’s security deposit. In Small Claims Court, you can typically file and present your case relatively quickly and inexpensively.

Most individuals choose not to have legal representation in Small Claims Court because of the simpler nature of the small claims process. But while Small Claims Court can be very convenient for those seeking to recover a small sum, there are instances where small claims court is not enough.

It is crucial that you choose the correct court through which to file your claim. If the amount you are trying to recover is more than the Small Claims Court monetary limit but less than $15,000.00, you can file in the regular Special Civil Part. If the amount you are owed is more than $15,000.00, you must file in the Civil Part of the Law Division of the Superior Court.

It is also important to note that if you believe you are entitled to more money than the limits that Small Claims Court allows but still choose to file in Small Claims Court, you will forfeit your right to recover any damages that exceed the monetary limits. Any additional money cannot be claimed later in a separate lawsuit.

There are also specific instances in which you cannot file a claim through Small Claims Court. The following claims are more detailed and would likely require a legal preceding more complex than Small Claims Court:

  1. Claims arising from professional malpractice (Example: alleged malpractice by a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, etc.).
  2. Claims for support or alimony from a marital or domestic dispute
  3. Claims arising from a probate matter, such as a will

collecting on a debt

In order to follow a simplified process that allows plaintiffs to present their own cases, Small Claims Court is typically not equipped to handle more complex cases, like the ones listed above. Cases that involve conflicting testimonies, disputed evidence, or other difficult legal issues should not be processed in Small Claims Court.  Keep in mind that Small Claims Court has specific rules and limitations to the kinds of cases it can handle. In some more complicated cases, or cases with a high recovery amount, you may be best served by hiring an attorney and taking your case outside of Small Claims Court.

A note about personal injury lawsuits – many cases are resolved in settlement instead of the courtroom. By resolving the suit through settlement, you save yourself valuable time and avoid the hassle of any court proceedings. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you through the settlement process and provide advice on how and when to negotiate with the other party. You could get the outcome you desire without ever setting foot in the courtroom. In the even that your case does make it all the way to court, an attorney will be able to provide the legal expertise to help prove your claim.

When you reach out to Veitengruber Law to help you recoup money you are rightfully owed, you’ll find an experienced team who walks confidently through debt settlement cases. We can help with everything from case management and settlement negotiations to court proceedings. If your claim exceeds the monetary limitations of Small Claims Court or requires a more complicated legal understanding, our attorneys can help. Our dedicated legal team will work hard to make sure you are fully compensated for the money you are owed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Veitengruber Law does evaluate personal injury cases. We have a strong team of PI attorneys in New Jersey to whom we refer clients after we evaluate your specific needs.

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Finances

improve your finances

  1. Start saving
    It seems obvious, but many times it also seems impossible. By the time you pay your bills and have some spending money, every paycheck seems to fly out the window. The easiest way to save is to make sure you never have the chance to spend those funds in the first place. Most people have direct deposit these days; set up an automatic transfer of 10% of your net pay into a separate savings account each pay period. You won’t miss it, and it builds up pretty fast. When you get a raise, try redirecting the entire difference in your net pay over to savings. Your net pay will seem unaffected on your end, but your nest egg will grow that much quicker. You will be prepared for an unforeseen expense like an emergency car repair or for a “rainy day” when you want to take a long weekend out of town with friends.

 

  1. Make a budget – and be realistic
    Determine your starting point by keeping track of every dollar spent in a month. Now separate each expenditure into a category: utilities, housing, food (groceries), eating out, entertainment (movies, clubs, golf, etc.), childcare, transportation, car payment, and so on.Where are most of your discretionary funds going? See if there is anything you can cut back on or cut out altogether. If you have a wicked Starbucks habit, you might decide you can do without that daily grande latte after seeing that you are spending over $80 a month on coffee. Don’t want to quit your Starbucks habit cold turkey? How about only getting that latte once a week (say only on Fridays or Mondays) instead? Your $80 a month expense just went down to $16. You can’t decide to live on canned soup five days a week – you know it’s not going to happen, so don’t set yourself up for failure. Look at where your money has been going versus where you want it to go.

 

  1. Little changes can make a big difference
    As you saw, coffee can be a bigger expense than you realize. There are a lot of those little things that can suck money out of your wallet. Limit your dinners out each month. Make the transition less painful by allowing yourself one or two fancy dinners out, but eat at home the rest of the time. Pack your lunch. Join a carpool. Use a filtering pitcher, such as Brita ™, instead of buying bottled water. Feed a meter instead of using valet parking. Shop for clothes at consignment and second hand stores; you might even find higher quality items than in a big box store! Cigarette smokers spend hundreds of dollars a month on a product that they literally set on fire. That type of savings might make a lifestyle change a real incentive. It all adds up.

 

  1. Lower your existing monthly bills
    If you’ve always made payments on time, call your credit card company and see if they are willing to lower your interest rate. If you haven’t reviewed your cell phone plan in a year or more, it’s time to compare new deals and potentially cut your costs in half. Consider whether you really use that gym membership. If you barely go, it’s time to cancel it. Consider workout alternatives like YouTube videos or running groups. If a brick and mortar gym is where it’s at for you consider this; membership deals are generally better in the summer when everyone else would rather exercise outside. You could get those initiation fees waived or get a lower monthly rate.Shop for cheaper car insurance. Lower your electricity bill by using timers and power strips, and your water bill by checking for leaking faucets or toilets. Look into local weatherization programs that can troubleshoot conditions in your home to prevent wasting money on heating and air conditioning. Many times these programs are run by your utility company or local government and are free.

 

  1. Set goals
    Hard decisions are easier when you see the payoff at the end. Want to take vacation? Set up a retirement portfolio? Send your kid to college? Keep that in mind when you’re setting up your budget, or deciding if it’s really worth it to go to Olive Garden tonight, or if you really need yet another pair of black shoes.

 

  1. Check your credit reports
    The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You are entitled to a free report annually or whenever you are denied credit directly from all three agencies. Look for mistakes and dispute them! This is even more important if you have a common name or share a name with someone else in your family. Check your credit report for bills you forgot about or never received. Maybe there’s an old bill from a dentist that got lost in the mail or never got forwarded when you moved. Even a small bill that went to collections stays on your report for 7 years after it is paid off. A low or lower credit score can mean increased interest rates or outright denial of credit when you need it most.

 

  1. Don’t pay full price – for anything
    Clip coupons; look for online deals, shop sales. Get discount codes from places like ebates.com, retailmenot.com, or slickdeals.net. Look for Deals of the Day on Amazon. Utilize discounts for services or experiences by using Groupon and Living Social.

 

  1. Change where you bank
    Many banks are rife with fees. Fees for less than a minimum balance. Fees for ATM use. Fees per check. Shop around, find a bank that values your business and doesn’t drain your account when you want to use your money. Veterans and business owners can often get even more perks, such as free certified checks or safety deposit boxes.

 

  1. Utilize employment benefits
    Your benefits package at work can offer a lot more than you think. Does your employer offer matching incentives for retirement account deposits? Flexible spending accounts? Free counseling or other wellness support programs? Take advantage of everything you can.

 

  1. Make sure you are financially informed
    Understanding basic concepts when it comes to investing, spending, saving, interest rates, etc. will benefit you (and your bank account) in the long run. Find out if your employer offers programs on these subjects, or seek them out yourself through online videos or books by consummate professionals in the field. If you have a personal accountant or financial planner, ask questions and ask for advice and heed it! You can’t make good choices if you don’t have the background information needed to make them.

Seeking Legal Counsel When You’re Out of Money and Out of Time

nj bankruptcy attorney

 

You have reached that critical point; you can no longer keep up with your bills. You might have a mountain of credit card debt, a house going into foreclosure, a looming sheriff sale on your property, shut off notices for services, a garnishment or repossession on a vehicle, or all of the above! Perhaps you are considering bankruptcy. The point is that you need the help of a legal professional. You need it done well, you need it now, AND you need to find a way to pay for it.

 

How Can You Afford It? (How Can You Not??)

You’re going to have to spend money to save money.  HOWEVER, you’re going to save your peace of mind and hopefully some assets too.

 

  1. Take advantage of a free consultation. A qualified attorney can give you your options. Is bankruptcy right for you? Is your situation ripe for credit consolidation or negotiation? How far along are you in the foreclosure process? Is it possible to stop a pending sheriff sale? Be honest and you’ll receive realistic expectations for your individual circumstances.

 

  1. Use Your Tax Refund. Uncle Sam has been holding on to your money, but now it’s the perfect nugget of cash infusion to save you bigger money in the long run.

 

  1. Ask family and friends. It’s difficult to swallow your pride, but you never know what your support net is until you ask. If it’s a gift, then that’s great. If it’s a loan you can let your loved one know that he or she will be listed as a creditor if you file bankruptcy. For other situations; set up a plan of when and how much you can realistically repay. It’s much easier to keep your job if you have stable housing and a solid financial plan under your belt.

 

  1. Stop Paying Your Unsecured Debt. If, after your consultation, bankruptcy is in your future, stop making payments on credit cards or other unsecured debt. The total owed will be dealt with as part of the bankruptcy, so those monthly minimums can now finance your legal fund.

 

  1. Reduce your expenses and minimize outgoing expenses. Fancy coffee every morning, premium cable channels, gym membership, daily lunches “out” – all gone. It adds up fast!

 

  1. Try to earn some extra money aside from your primary occupation. Sell old electronics or find a temporary part time job. Go through your attic or basement and have a yard sale, or hit eBay. Lighten your load while filling your wallet.

 

  1. Request a payment plan. Your bankruptcy attorney may allow you to list them as a creditor in a Chapter 13 filing, thus allowing you to pay them over a period of months. Chapter 7 fees can be paid over time as well, although without the federal court supervising. (Keep in mind that you must be paid in full before your attorney will file the case.)

 

  1. Withdraw from your retirement account. Only do this as a last resort. Those funds are otherwise protected, but you could be facing a large tax consequence if you withdraw early. That being said, in some circumstances it may be the best option. Also, consider options where you essentially “borrow” the funds from yourself and replace them with a payroll reduction each pay period going forward.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: Always discuss this option with your credit repair attorney BEFORE taking any money from your retirement fund(s).

nj bankruptcy attorney

How to Find the Right Attorney

You want someone with a proven record of results who can and will act in a timely manner. You could call your local bar association or attorney referral number. You could get a referral from a friend. Or, you could count one problem solved and realize that you already know a top legal representative for all types of financial duress – Veitengruber Law.

 

Don’t represent yourself.

This isn’t small claims court, or a traffic ticket. This is your entire financial future. Your chance of successfully completing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy without legal counsel is less than 1%; the chances of completing a solo Chapter 7 is less than 50%. Besides, you might end up losing more money trying to navigate your financial issues alone than you would have spent on legal counsel in the first place.

 

You wouldn’t ask a podiatrist to work on your car, or the babysitter to fix your plumbing. You need the right person for the job – you need an expert! When you’re looking for a NJ lawyer with experience who you can trust, you need Veitengruber Law.

Bankruptcy Balderdash Basics: Know the Lingo

bankruptcyNew Jersey is a great place to live. We have mountains and beaches and lakes, great sports teams, attraction such as Six Flags and Atlantic City, and we are conveniently close to Manhattan and Philadelphia. That being said, we also have one of the highest costs of living in the nation. That amounts to our residents having more debt than most of the country. Average credit card debt is the second highest in the US, and don’t forget student loan debt, higher property taxes and longer commutes. All of these factors contributed to nearly 27,000 NJ residents filing for bankruptcy between October 2017 and September 2018.

 


Just the word BANKRUPTCY can loom large. It’s without a doubt a very overwhelming concept to contemplate.


 

Ultimately, though, the process can provide help on many fronts such as relief from hounding creditors, stress, and uncertainty. Bankruptcy is a complicated process, and you should avoid trying to navigate it without a consummate professional by your side.

 

Going into your first consultation with a debt management attorney can feel almost as daunting as the bankruptcy process itself. Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter what?! Trustees, claim forms …. before you know it, you’re swimming in jargon. Veitengruber Law wants you to feel at ease from the very beginning. Alleviate some of that apprehension by understanding the bankruptcy balderdash and get to know the lingo.

 

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Also known as a straight bankruptcy, it provides protection from creditors to individuals (or companies) who legally file for bankruptcy, providing for sale of certain assets to pay debts. Only certain possessions, up to specific dollar limits, can be kept when you file for Chapter 7. It’s an option for people with limited income. Chapter 7 is basically a liquidation of most of your assets – the proceeds of which are divided up among your creditors. Then, any remaining debt is “forgiven,” and you financially start anew with a clean slate. Keep in mind that you will be debt free at the end of the process, but the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report, making you a high credit risk for the next 10 years. That may be a more desirable outcome than drowning in debt, but you have to consult with legal counsel to have your personal circumstance evaluated.

 

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – a reorganization bankruptcy, similar to Chapter 13, but used primarily by businesses and corporations.

 

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – This option allows you to keep key assets such as your primary residence and your vehicle. Under this plan, the court gives you a repayment plan to satisfy your debts.  You’ll have between 3 and 5 years to pay off that debt by sticking to the plan. You are expected to keep to the repayment plan and be current with all of your debts through the end of the plan. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 7 years.

 

Exemption rules – New Jersey has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a residence, vehicle, retirement accounts, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You may use either the NJ state exemptions or the federal bankruptcy exemptions. You are not allowed to mix and match from both lists. If you choose to use the New Jersey state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions. Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in New Jersey, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. The lingo for that is “doubling.” (You can see how it gets complicated quickly, and why it is vital to have expert counsel to guide you.)

 

Examples of New Jersey exemptions: burial plots, household goods up to $1,000, stocks valued up to $1,000, pensions, certain life insurance proceeds, some disability and health benefits.

 

Examples of Federal exemptions: homestead, jewelry up to $1,600, health aids, lost earnings payments, public benefits, alimony and child support.

 


This is by no means an exhaustive list, and each exemption has caveats, so be sure to discuss the best option for you with your legal counsel.


 

Proof of Claim – a form that creditors file with the court to prove that they have a valid claim against the bankruptcy estate. Before a creditor can get paid through your bankruptcy, they must file a proof of claim. When you file for bankruptcy, all creditors listed in your schedules receive notice of your case as well as a deadline to file their proof of claim. If a creditor doesn’t file a proof of claim, they can’t get paid through your bankruptcy. The debtor can also file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor who has not done so on their own. This usually happens if the debtor specifically wants to pay that creditor through the bankruptcy. (Proof of claims must contain certain requirements, and are not always required in certain types of Chapter 7, so if you are in doubt, consult with an expert.)

 

Repayment Plan (Chapter 13 only) – a plan which lasts from three to five years, whereby you pay off some debts in full; other types of debts are paid in full or part depending on how much disposable income you have. Putting together a plan that the court will confirm, with the assistance of counsel, is key to your Chapter 13 bankruptcy’s success.

 

Trustee – a person appointed by the court to administer and oversee your case. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy paperwork (and supporting documents) to gauge accuracy in your petition. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, the trustee’s primary responsibility is to find and sell your nonexempt property to pay back your creditors. In a Chapter 13, the trustee does not sell your assets but reviews your repayment plan to make sure it is both realistic for you and fair to your creditors. After approval by both the trustee and the court, you make one monthly payment to the trustee, and he or she distributes your monthly payments to your creditors pursuant to your plan. Depending on your situation and the type of bankruptcy you file, you may also be required to attend certain hearings, in which your trustee will preside, before your case is completed. These can include: Confirmation Hearing, Meeting of Creditors, Reaffirmation Hearing, Hearing on Creditor’s Motion, and others.

 

Automatic Stay – the simple request for bankruptcy protection automatically halts most lawsuits, repossessions, foreclosures, evictions, garnishments, attachments, utility shut-offs, and debt collection activity, by way of injunction. There are numerous provisions and exceptions to the automatic stay.

 

Credit Counseling – required before a debtor may obtain bankruptcy relief under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. It involves education in personal financial management, and an overall assessment of your financial situation to see if bankruptcy is your only option. The process is used to help individual debtors with debt settlement through education, budgeting and the use of a variety of tools with the goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate debt, rather than discharge it through the court.

 

As you can see, there are a lot of choices to be made, and even more questions to answer. Don’t risk a misstep that could affect your entire financial future.  Call Veitengruber Law today for your free consultation.

 

How Important are NJ Attorney Reviews?

NJ attorney


The time you invest encouraging client reviews is the best investment you can make in your firm.  Prospective clients will look online for referrals and reviews before they ever pick up a phone. When they search for your firm, these are the types of reviews you want them to see:

 

The knowledge and expertise of George and his team are extraordinary.– P.S.

 

Excellent team of people ! Always get right back to you. George has a way of making you feel better in very difficult situations. He is a gem. The staff is also very effective at what they do. I highly recommend them.  –S.C.

 

Best lawyers in the area. Hard working, attentive, very knowledgeable, ethical. You can’t do better.–A.G.

 

I have sent many people to George to help them with foreclosures and bankruptcies. He has always delivered and went out of his way to make sure they were satisfied.  I highly recommend him and his firm. –P.A.

 

Every business must inevitably endure negative reviews.  It is a challenge to maintain a positive online review presence because leaving a negative review is a much more motivated process than leaving a positive review. A positive review, while it reinforces the client’s good experience, is not at the top of anyone’s to-do list. Moving clients to share their positive experiences can make a key difference in your online marketing. How do you go about tactfully asking for a review without turning the client off?

 

  1. Ask in person: At the end of a service, it is an important step to ask how the client felt about your work. This serves two purposes: you can learn the client’s feelings about how you did, and you get one last chance to uncover any unmet needs. While you may hesitate to ask because of the fear of an unhappy response, it is important to move past your own discomfort. It helps to keep it light-hearted; something like: “You’re the boss, how did I do?” brings the client’s guard down. Once you know how they feel, let them know that you would appreciate if they would leave their comments online. Let them know that you will be sending a survey or link so they know to look for it. If the client has already shared their thoughts with you they will be more ready to craft their response once they receive your review request.

 

  1. Send a digital message: Choose whatever method the client previously preferred to communicate with you (email, text message, or social media message) but do not overload them with reminders. Send your first message within the first week after your business is concluded. Send a second reminder the following week. Include links to your survey or review locations. Don’t use a form email.  Personalize your message for the client. They will appreciate the time you spent to write to them and feel better about spending their time writing a review for you.

 

  1. Send a physical reminder: A letter in the mail goes a long way. It may seem old-fashioned, but a letter asking for a few comments with a stamped return envelope has a good chance of being answered. Bonus points if you include an actual handwritten note.

 

  1. Keep it short: If you choose to use a tool like surveymonkey, keep your surveys short — no more than 1-3 questions with a comment area should suffice. Very few people are likely to fill out a long survey or read long emails seeking reviews.

 

  1. Offer incentives: It is common practice to offer incentives for referrals. Why not offer an incentive for returning a review? Advertise that reviews will be randomly chosen to win a gift card or a discount on future firm services.

 

If your positive reviews far outnumber the negative reviews, prospective clients will determine the negative reviews to be aberrant. This is a very effective way to build a strong online presence while simultaneously increasing your client base.