Solving Your Financial Puzzle – One Piece at a Time

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Here at Veitengruber Law, we’ve made it our mission to solve your financial puzzle. We realize that the hardest part of getting your finances under control is taking that first step – asking for help. Many people are simply afraid to contact an attorney. We want you to know that when you contact us, we immediately take on the responsibility of not only finding all of the missing pieces to your financial puzzle, but solving it as quickly and effectively as possible.

Because we know that contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, today we are sharing a brief video of Mr. Veitengruber himself so that you can get a feel for how seriously he takes his job of helping others. George is a warm-hearted guy with a penchant for getting things done. He also describes what your experience would be like in an initial consultation at Veitengruber Law.

We want you to know that it’s okay to have a million questions! It is our duty to you to answer any and all questions that you may have about your financial situation – whether you are at risk of foreclosure, bankruptcy, or need help with a loan modification or getting creditors off your back. There are no stupid questions! We also accept challenge questions and will rise to the occasion to address all of your concerns.

Are you afraid to admit that something’s wrong? That’s normal! We’re here to put your fears at ease, and when you come into our office for a consultation, it becomes our mission to get you past the fear that brought you to us in the first place.

We are ready and willing to create multiple game plans that will take into consideration all of the variables that could possibly affect your ultimate outcome, which is financial stability. Mr. Veitengruber is an expert puzzle solver, and is extremely adept at analyzing even the most complicated financial situations.

Take several minutes to watch this video to see what you could expect in a consultation with Mr. Veitengruber:

Confession: although we work hard for all of our clients, Veitengruber Law can’t do everything. With that being said, don’t be afraid to contact our office if you have a question that seems outside our areas of expertise. We have a huge professional network and are more than happy to refer you to someone who can handle your issue.

Have you found this page because you’re a strong networker in Ocean County, NJ? We want to talk to you, too. Whether you’re making a personal inquiry, or would like to reach out professionally, please give our office a call, and bear in mind that we see clients in Bordentown, NJ, too. Let’s see how we can help each other!

Is Your Home ‘Under Water’?

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The loss of 1,300 jobs in New Jersey this March, means that New Jersey’s job market is once again in a slump. When compared with New York, New Jersey has had a very weak recovery from the recent recession. NJ lost around 258,000 jobs during the recession, and has only been able to recover around 36% of those jobs.

Because of this and several other factors, many New Jerseyans continue to struggle financially, with some families living off of unemployment checks or much lower salaries than they were accustomed to before the recession hit. The financial struggles faced by many new Jerseyans means that they are struggling to pay their bills and make good on their debts.

Reports now show that almost 20% of New Jersey homes are considered ‘underwater’ in terms of equity.

What that means is that more homeowners are falling behind on their mortgages, unable to keep up with the high payments due to the “economic pause” that’s occurring in our state along with several other states in the US.

Those homeowners who feel like their house is “underwater” regarding equity, are forced to consider losing their home to a foreclosure. However, because foreclosure is so devastating to a credit score, other options should be considered before going down that road.

Two good options for struggling homeowners are: deed in lieu of foreclosure and short sales.

A deed in lieu of foreclosure involves the homeowner voluntarily relinquishing their home to the bank or lender in order to have the loan canceled. The bank takes ownership of the home and does not pursue foreclosure proceedings. Additionally, if any foreclosure proceedings have already been started, the lender in this case agrees to put a stop to them. In a deed in lieu of foreclosure, some lenders will forgive deficiencies (overdue or late payments), and some will not.

Another option for homeowners who are trying to swim to the surface and get ahead of their debts, is to sell the home as a short sale. A short sale must be done with the permission of the bank or lender, as they will be agreeing to take less money than is currently owed on the property. Often, the difference is forgiven, allowing the homeowner to walk away after the short sale, and work on rebuilding their credit without an overly expensive mortgage hanging over their heads. It is an important to make sure that you are clear on all of the terms of your short sale before you sign any documents. Homeowners must be sure that the deficiency balance is not going to be their responsibility.

Remember, there are options that can help you get out of the unfortunate situation you may have found yourself in. At Veitengruber Law, we can help you decipher the differences between a short sale and a deed in lieu of foreclosure so that you can make the best decision for your life and circumstances. We negotiate with your lenders for you. Get out from underneath a sinking property now! Give our office a call – we’ve helped many like you and we guarantee that we can help you as well.

Help! I’m Being Followed by a Debt Collector!

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If you’re being “followed” by a debt collector, you’re not alone. Harassing phone calls and many other actions committed by some debt collectors are illegal and should not be tolerated.

Naturally, the first line of advice we give our clients is to stay as far away from debt collectors as possible by staying current on all of your debts. However, if you’ve found yourself burdened with unmanageable credit card balances, past due loans, compounding medical bills or other unpaid debt that has been sold to a third-party debt collector, here’s what you need to know to find your way out of the situation:

  • Don’t ignore the problem. Keeping your head in the sand while your debts pile up around you is the most irresponsible way to handle this situation. You may only have a very limited amount of time to make communication with a creditor before everything becomes even less friendly than it already is. Another good reason not to toss those notices onto the floor or straight into the recycling bin, is that you need to verify that the debt is actually yours. You will have only 30 days to request verification of any debts before debt collectors can start putting negative marks all over your credit report. Guess what? If the debt ISN’T EVEN YOURS in the first place, it won’t matter once it’s left its mark on your credit report – and that mark can hang around for seven years.
  • Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has great information to help consumers understand their rights regarding harassment by debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has made it unlawful for debt collectors to harass or threaten consumers. Although you still need to deal with the situation, illegal behavior on the part of a debt collector should be reported immediately to The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Don’t be talked into a large initial payment. Most debt collectors who work through an agency get paid through commissions. They are motivated to convince debtors to make a big upfront payment on the debt that is owed, so they can take home a percentage of your money. You do want to get a payment plan in place, but there is no large initial payment required.
  • Find an attorney who specializes in credit repair, bankruptcy or other financial matters. This is especially pertinent if you have been served with a lawsuit by one of your creditors. Additionally, a credit repair attorney won’t simply get the creditors off your back; he will continue working with you so your credit score can gradually return to a good place.
  • Avoid giving out your personal information. It’s never a good idea to give your bank account information to a debt collector. Your attorney can help you decide the best method of payment to get your debts back under control, but you may consider using money orders so that debt collectors don’t get their hands on your bank account number and routing information.

An attorney experienced in credit repair matters will be able to assist you with: effective negotiation with creditors and debt collectors, reaching out to other people or companies to whom you owe money (utility companies, etc), bringing down your interest rates on any applicable loans, checking your credit report for any errors, streamlining all of your outstanding debts and working with you to establish better spending habits and a better credit rating in the future.

Last Minute (Legitimate) Tax Hacks

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As Tax Day 2014 creeps closer and closer, there are still many people who have not filed their tax returns. As a matter of fact, plenty of people wait as long as humanly possible to either e-file or “snail mail” the necessary paperwork every year. Whether it’s due to fear, being too busy or procrastination, if you are one of the “later filers” – we’ve got some tips that you can still take advantage of this year.

And, while less than 1% of tax returns end up being audited, it’s always best to do everything possible to avoid being selected for “further review.” So, even if your filing right at the deadline (or if you’re thinking of requesting an extension), take our word for it when we say that these are definitely things to pay close attention to:

Get the most out of your health savings accounts – In 2013, individuals with high deductible insurance plans were able to contribute up to $3250 of tax-deferred money into their account (individual). In addition, they were able to contribute up to $6450 (family plan). Healthcare savings contributions have a deadline of April 15, 2014.

Be on the lookout for illegitimate tax preparers – The best way to have the most control over your tax return is by preparing it yourself. This is a good idea for individuals who make less than $52,000 a year and don’t have a lot of deductions. However, if you are planning to hire a tax preparer, choose carefully. Plenty of tax preparers make false claims and in order to come through on those false claims, they may indeed falsify your taxes. Steer clear of anyone who states that they can obtain a larger refund than anyone else. It’s also a good idea to walk away if a preparer charges you a percentage of your tax refund. Always do a little snooping about the preparer’s credentials – asking your friends for a referral to someone they trust is a good way to ensure that you’ll be working with someone above board.

If you are married, file jointly – Filing together with your spouse is a great way to take advantage of tax savings such as more exemptions, dependents, IRA contributions, child tax credits, earned income tax credits, and itemizing deductions. Additionally, any health insurance policy that you have purchased for your spouse through your place of employment gives you tax-deductible premiums. What’s really cool is that if you were already legally married in the years 2010 through 2012, you can actually go back and make amendments to those tax returns based on new tax laws that have come into play since then.

Get your deductions in a row

  • In the age of entrepreneurship, freelancing and working from home, deducting your home office just became a whole lot simpler! If you qualify, you can deduct $5 per square foot of the size of your home office, with a maximum of 300 square feet.
  • If you itemize: you’ll have the choice to either deduct your state and local income taxes OR the total amount of state and local income taxes that you paid the previous year.
  • Did you switch jobs last year? If your new job required you to relocate, you may be able to deduct your costs of moving for the job. This includes: the cost of driving your car to your new location, parking fees, tolls, the cost to fly to your new location, and temporary lodging costs during travel.

If you have a lot of questions about the complexity of federal tax codes and how they relate to you, be aware that you do have options regarding who you pay to help you! You want to pay for advice and knowledge rather than a typist. A storefront tax agent will get the job done, but a certified CPA or accountant has more knowledge and will be available to answer your questions at any time throughout the year. You can also have a tax attorney help you file your taxes. Naturally, the more experienced professionals (CPAs and attorneys) are going to be more expensive, but it may very well pay off because of their sweeping knowledge of constantly changing tax trends and tax laws. Oh, and if you itemize, you may be able to deduct any fee that you pay someone to prepare your taxes on next year’s tax return.

Need help deciding who to hire? Send us a message at Veitengruber Law and we’ll put you in touch with a respected and trusted member of our network!