Am I Responsible for the Ambulance Fee if I Refused Transport?

2815114559_49c508e852_z

The cost of being transported to a local hospital via ambulance can make anyone’s jaw drop. Even a short, one block drive wherein they provided no EMT assistance can easily be billed at $750+. While it’s true that most insurance companies do cover ambulance transport, high deductibles and lack of adequate insurance coverage often leave patients responsible for the full amount.

Imagine the following scenario: You were involved in a minor accident, whether automobile or otherwise. Finding yourself either without injury or having sustained only minor injuries, you decide to make your way to the hospital on your own. Bystanders, other drivers, or security personnel who witnessed your accident, however, may have deemed it necessary to call 911 on your behalf. What happens, then, when you’re surprised by the arrival of a bleating ambulance that you feel you never even needed?

Many patients have reported being informed that they could not refuse transport via ambulance in NJ. One man was essentially strapped down against his will (he had a broken arm and was unable to resist) and driven to the hospital. The drive took 2 minutes, and no treatment was given throughout his ride in the ambulance other than stabilization of his arm. A week later, the man in this scenario was billed almost $1000 for the ambulance service.

Another scenario played out like this: After a minor fall at work, a woman found herself with a minor abrasion on her leg. It was a surface abrasion, and she had it cleaned and bandaged by her company’s in-house nurse. A security officer witnessed the accident (it was a minor trip and fall that the patient acknowledges was no one’s fault but her own) and called 911. The woman was already back at her desk working when she was surprised by the arrival of an ambulance. She refused transport, but it wasn’t easy to convince the emergency medical team members that she did not need treatment. They eventually left without her, but she too received a bill for an ambulance ride that she never even took.

Who is responsible in these (and similar) scenarios? Finding yourself with a hefty medical bill that you can’t afford can be overwhelming – but what should you do if you feel that you’re not even responsible for the bill?

In every situation where you’re faced with a medical bill that either isn’t covered by your insurance, or is still more than you can afford even with insurance coverage – the best course of action is to negotiate. Almost every medical bill can be negotiated, either before treatment occurs, or after it has been administered, and this includes ambulance transportation.

If you don’t want to deal with a huge hassle and you did actually receive transport via emergency vehicle, you can call the provider and tell them what you can afford to pay. Many times, you will find that they are happy to receive at least a portion of the billed amount. They may also work with you to set up a payment plan so that you can pay the bill off in installments.

However, if you refused emergency transportation altogether and are still being aggressively billed (with no sign of them backing down), you should schedule a free consult with a New Jersey debt resolution attorney. If you decide to retain their services, you will very likely pay the attorney much less than you would have paid the ambulance service, and you will have the satisfaction of not paying for something that you didn’t receive. Additionally, taking proactive steps to resolve the matter will prevent the ambulance bill from dinging your credit report.

Image credit: Lauren Siegert

Evicted with No Lease in NJ: Will it Damage My Credit?

143077094_4d230b750f_z

If you’re a renter in New Jersey, you may have signed a long and detailed lease with your landlord. Rental leases are used to set out specific terms that must be adhered to by the tenant(s) as well as the landlord (property owner). Signing a lease can give renters the security of a guaranteed place to live for a specified length of time. A lease also stipulates the amount of monthly rent to be paid to the property owner throughout the duration of the contract.

Can I move in with my friend without signing his lease?

Oftentimes, a rental lease specifies whether or not the tenant may take on a roommate during their stay in the rental property. Some leases require that any new roommates sign their name to the lease; however it is more commonly found that tenants can obtain a roommate without having them sign anything.

If you are a roommate who has been living in a rental without having signed any lease paperwork, you may have questions about your rights. Since the original tenant signed the lease, he or she has a clear understanding of their renter’s rights. Although you don’t have the benefit of a written lease, since you are renting in New Jersey, you have what is known as a verbal lease.

Non-leased renters in NJ who are staying in a rental unit with the permission of the property owner are granted an automatic 30-day verbal lease. The oral agreement you and the original tenant formulate with your landlord constitute the contents of your verbal lease. Naturally, verbal leases are much more difficult to uphold, and tend to be quite problematic.

It is recommended that you get some kind of written agreement from your landlord so that you don’t end up in court over what may very well be an inconsequential issue. Landlord/tenant disputes can turn into bitter court battles, and without anything in writing, you’ll have a much harder time defending yourself and your position as a non-leased renter.

Can a landlord evict a tenant who doesn’t have a written lease?

Property owners can definitely evict tenants without a written lease in place, but the process is a lot messier for all parties involved. Whether you moved in with a leased renter or if you were simply granted verbal permission to stay in a property with no lease, you are not safe from eviction.

There are a myriad of reasons that justify evicting a renter of any kind, including:

  • Violation of health, safety or conduct laws
  • Damaged property
  • Missed or habitually late rent payment(s)
  • Illegal activity (drug use, assault) in the rental property
  • Theft or destruction of landlord’s property
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Decision of property owner to stop renting

Even if you did not sign a written lease, you can be evicted for any of the above reasons.

Will an eviction damage my credit score?

Generally, being evicted in New Jersey will not be indicated on your credit report. However, unpaid rent or lawsuits that were filed against you by the landlord may show up on your credit history. Additionally, the next time you apply to rent an apartment in NJ or elsewhere, your new landlord or property manager is likely to perform a background screening, during which they may discover that you’ve been evicted before.

Image credit: Angela Rutherford

Did I Spend Too Much to File for Bankruptcy?

4111105296_cd48ab819a_o

Like so many Americans, you’re realizing that you overdid it yet again this Christmas season. “Over-gifting” has become commonplace, and leaves us feeling like we have to outdo ourselves year after year after year. Common lines of thinking include:

“I bought three gifts for each of my nephews but only two for my niece. She needs another gift!”

“Last year, the pile under the tree was so impressive. I want to do that again so my kids aren’t let down.”

If you’ve caved in to the pressure of over-gifting, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans spend more money than they actually have around Christmastime, charging hefty sums to their credit cards. For some, paying off their excessive December expenditures in the new year will be doable.

However, if you were already struggling to make ends meet before this year’s holiday season rolled around, you had an error in judgement if you decided to go ahead and over-gift anyway. The Veitengruber Law mantra for all of our beloved clients is: “Do not spend more money than you have.” Keeping up with the Joneses is so….expensive.

Can I file for bankruptcy? I can’t possibly pay back what I charged to my credit cards this season!

December is often the tipping point for debtors. Once January blows in and those credit card bills materialize, panic emerges. Looking back and forth between your bank account and your credit card bill(s), you realize that you can’t even pay your new monthly minimum payments. THAT is a scary moment, and it is completely understandable that you’re now reaching out for help.

Here’s the deal. Bankruptcy laws have been put into place to prevent debtors from racking up a ton of credit card debt that they actually have no intention of paying. Therefore, if you’ve charged more than $500* on a single credit card within the past 90 days, a bankruptcy judge is going to assume that you’re trying to pull a fast one. Any large sums charged recently (within the 3 months leading up to your filing date) are likely to be considered nondischargeable. That means you can’t wipe them out in bankruptcy, and you will need to pay them back in full.

Even if you never seriously thought about filing for bankruptcy until after you finished your holiday shopping, the bankruptcy court has no way of reading your mind, so they have to make presumptions in order to prevent bankruptcy fraud.

If I charged too much and can’t file for bankruptcy, what can I do?

The best course of action is to wait to file for bankruptcy until the presumption period (ask your attorney how the presumption period applies to your unique case and debt amount)* passes. If you charged an excessively large amount to any one credit card, it’s possible that the credit card company may still object even beyond the presumption period, but the chances are much lower that they will do so.

If you consulted with a bankruptcy attorney prior to your shopping spree, the court will take that as a sign that you intended to file for bankruptcy before you made the charges. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to wait until the presumption period ends to consult with a bankruptcy attorney and attempt to make at least some kind of payment(s) toward the debt. Taking these steps will lower the chances that your credit card debt will be deemed fraudulent and nondischargeable.

Image credit: Alberto Cerriteño

 

$40,000 in Credit Card Debt – What Should I Do?

5857473535_1c45228777_z

Especially around the holidays, coming to terms with the fact that you’re drowning in debt is definitely a humbling moment. The good news is that you have acknowledged that the problem exists and that you need to take steps to get out of debt. Many people who are deep in debt feel that they have “no way out.”

A common phrase heard from severely distressed debtors (owing tens of thousands of dollars or more) is that they cannot afford to hire an attorney. Oftentimes, debtors have ignored creditors for a long time without making any payments on the debt they owe. This, in turn, causes the total debt amount to rise even higher due to interest rates and late charges.

By the time you have reached out for help and have landed on this page, you could very well be swimming in the amount of debt you’ve amassed. Overwhelmed, afraid, embarrassed and helpless, you probably have no idea how to get out of this dire situation.

“I absolutely cannot afford a lawyer.”

This line of thinking is one that we would like to abolish – not because we want more clients, but because we are here to help you. The misinformation that NJ attorneys are simply “too expensive” to even consider is nonsense, and here’s why:

There are New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys who will work with you when it comes to their fees. The most important takeaway is that you will be better off financially in the end if you work with an experienced attorney. Free consultations, payment plans, and other negotiations regarding attorney fees are available, if you look for them.

“Maybe I can take care of this on my own.”

If you are being sued by a creditor for a significant sum of money, the very last thing you ought to be doing is going into court to represent yourself. Pro se defendants are not successful in court, and no judge will show you “mercy” because you didn’t hire an attorney. The truth is: you cannot defend yourself against a mountain of debt that you’ve simply failed to pay. You need a legal strategy to get you out of the mess, or everything you own will have a lien against it, your wages will be garnished, and you will end up with nothing.

Change your line of thinking from “There is no way I can afford an attorney,” to “Can I afford to NOT hire an attorney?”

NJ bankruptcy attorneys who actually want to help you find a way out of your mess DO EXIST. If you’re embarrassed and think we’ve never seen anyone with as much debt as you – think again. We’ve seen it all before! And not only have we seen it, but we’ve fixed it and saved thousands of people from losing everything.

You do have options! No matter how unbelievably bad you think your money problem is, there is always a solution, and you won’t find it without an experienced NJ attorney’s help.

While it’s understandable that you think you can’t afford to hire an attorney, the reality is that you can’t afford NOT to.

Call, write, or read about your options. It may not seem like it now, but there is a way out of even the worst kind of debt.

Image credit: Images of Money

Does my NJ Will Have to be Notarized?

9237786653_5c7e7b0a81_z1

The laws surrounding estate planning differ from state to state regarding the signing of your will, how many witnesses must be present, and what conditions make your will complete and valid. It’s true that anyone can print up their own will – or hand write one if they prefer, but it must be in some written form to be legal. There are several qualifications a testator (person creating his or her will) must fulfill in order to execute their will without the help of an estate planning attorney:

  • 18+ years of age: In the State of New Jersey, you must be at least 18 years old in order to write your own Last Will and Testament.
  • Of sound mind: To be of sound mind means that you are able to reason and understand things on your own. You may have been found to be legally incompetent in a court of law if you’ve suffered a brain injury or other mental disability .  If you have been found to be incompetent, you likely have a guardian who was appointed by the court. That guardian can help you draft your will.
  • Two or more adult witnesses: NJ law requires that all wills be signed by the testator in front of at least two witnesses who are both 18+ years of age and are of sound mind. Your witnesses validate your will by agreeing that you are who you claim to be and that your signature is authentic. If a disability prevents you from signing your name to your will, you can authorize someone else to sign for you. This act must also be affirmed by your witnesses.
  • Signed by witnesses: Along with attesting your own signature on your will, the witnesses will also need to sign their names as official acknowledgement of your signature and their presence when you signed.

Does my New Jersey will have to be notarized?

Legally, you are not required to have your NJ will signed by a notary as long as you have met the above listed requirements. However, if you want to make the probate process significantly easier on your loved ones after you pass away, you’ll definitely want to have your will notarized. Your witnesses need to be with you when the will is notarized so that the public notary can attest to their identity.

Wills signed by a notary are considered to be ‘self-proving’ in New Jersey. A self-proving will is one that will move quickly through the probate system after the testator has passed away.

When a decedent has failed to have their will notarized, it means a whole lot of a headaches for their beneficiaries at a time when they are already undoubtedly grief-stricken and overwhelmed.

Additionally, self-made wills often have problems or omissions that lead to intense family disagreements, fighting and potential irreparable damage.

What can I do to ensure that my will is without fault, errors or omissions?

Naturally, you want to save your family members from any strife related to your will after you pass. The best and most cost-effective way to do that is to work with an estate planning attorney. Even if you are reading this page to find out how to execute your will without professional help – we’ll still tell you that your best bet, in this case, is working with an experienced NJ estate planning lawyer.

The cost of having your New Jersey will drawn up by an estate planning attorney is very affordable, especially compared to the exorbitant fees your heirs will end up paying after the fact to fix any mistakes you may make if you go the DIY route. Consultations are FREE at most estate planning firms. Take the time and invest in execute your will with a professional’s assistance. Your surviving heirs will be so thankful that you did.

Image credit: Dan Moyle

My Furniture was Repossessed! Do I Still Have to Pay for it?

4599161799_910034cb7d_z

This time of year can put added stress on your finances, especially if you were already experiencing money trouble before the holidays rolled around. For some struggling Americans, the extra demands of the season can mean complete financial ruin. It’s a horrible time of year to be digging yourself out of a debt pit, but as the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.”

If you’ve reached critical financial lows, you may have had a repossession company pay you a visit.  Anything that you purchased with credit and have since defaulted on (stopped making payments for) can be repossessed. For example, let’s say two years ago things weren’t looking so bad for you in the money arena so you decided to buy new living room furniture.

What nudged you into taking the leap for a new furniture set might have been the incredible (no down payment, no payments for a year) payment plan that was offered up by the salesperson. Some of your self-talk may have sounded something like:

  • “I can save up a little bit every month until the first payment comes due!”
  • “In a year, I will have gotten that raise at work so the payments will be no problem.”
  • “A year is a really long time. This is like getting free stuff!”
  • “I’ll worry about this later.”

It is frightfully easy to take home expensive items with generous lease-to-own or no money down payment plans. The trouble naturally will catch up to you, when the payments come due. If you’re not prepared and fail to make your payments on time (or at all) – what can happen?

Failure to hold up your end of the payment agreement for items like furniture, vehicles and other big purchases often leads to the company repossessing the item(s) for which you have not as of yet made any payments. Repossession is exactly what it sounds like: the company to whom you are indebted will hire a repossession firm to come to your home where they will take back the furniture that you haven’t paid for.

What happens after repossession?

The business that sold you the furniture will attempt to re-sell the (now used) pieces to recover at least some of the money they lost. You have no further rights to the furniture once it has been repossessed.

Will I still be liable for the payments?

After your furniture has been repossessed and sold, it is very likely that you will be charged for the difference between the used furniture’s sale amount and how much it was originally worth. This is called a deficiency. At that point you will be responsible for making payments on assets that someone else owns. This is not a desirable situation for anyone.

How will this affect my credit rating?

A repossession, or “repo” listed on your credit report can be quite detrimental to your credit score, so taking action now is imperative. You may have several potential defenses that a credit repair attorney can use to eliminate or reduce your deficiency liability. Filing for NJ bankruptcy is also an option that can help you turn things around if you don’t have any defenses (good reasons) for defaulting on your payments.

Image credit: Paragon Apts

Help! My Bankruptcy Case was Dismissed!

6489731323_3bcc57a21a_z

In New Jersey, your chapter 7 or chapter 13 individual bankruptcy can be dismissed for a number of reasons. If you decide you no longer wish to move forward with filing for bankruptcy (perhaps your financial situation changed or you have learned that most of your debt cannot be discharged via bankruptcy), you can request that your case be dismissed. This is called a voluntary bankruptcy dismissal.

On the other hand, if the court dismisses your bankruptcy case, it’s called an involuntary dismissal, and the reasons behind the court’s decision are typically errors in the filing process. There is nothing short of a plethora of paperwork involved in filing a proper bankruptcy case, and every document has a date that it must be received by the court. If you fail to submit items on time, for any reason, your bankruptcy case can be dismissed*.

Let us be the first to say that we fully understand that there is a LOT of information gathering associated with bankruptcy, and that it can indeed be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never filed for bankruptcy before. Quite honestly, it can be very easy to miss due dates or to omit required forms and copies — IF you’re filing for bankruptcy on your own.

Almost all NJ bankruptcy dismissals involve defendants who are representing themselves, and the dismissal reason comes down to a basic misunderstanding of the bankruptcy filing process.

We get it: cutting the bankruptcy attorney out of the equation seems like a good idea at first. Most people have a lot of faith in their abilities to take care of business when push comes to shove. In fact, if you had a significant chunk of free time to practice and study up on NJ bankruptcy laws and procedures, you may be able to forego hiring a professional to represent you.

The problem, therein, lies with those people who simply don’t have the practice and experience that a bankruptcy attorney can offer. The best news here is that you can find a NJ bankruptcy lawyer who won’t charge you an exorbitant amount of money to ensure that your case is handled appropriately!

If you want to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed and closed by the court (you’ll have to wait at least 180 days to refile if your case is closed) – leave the worry about meeting filing deadlines to someone who has been through the process hundreds of times.

There isn’t a bankruptcy scenario that we haven’t handled before. Helping people like you get a solid financial foothold is what we love about our jobs. In fact, we even have a bankruptcy specialist on our team who works in tandem with our highly successful bankruptcy attorney! (And, no, we don’t charge more than other attorneys because our team is amazing.) We aren’t in this field to get rich; we’re in it to help people. Give us a call. We’re 100% sure you’re going to like what we have to say.

 

*If you have already filed for bankruptcy without an attorney and your case has been dismissed, we can help you get it reinstated so you don’t have to wait six months to re-file. (732) 852-7295

Image credit: Steve Garner

Keeping the Peace When Estate Conflicts Arise

1247663055_67074e2844_z

If you have been named Executor in one or both of your parents’ will(s), there are probably a multitude of reasons why you were selected for the duty. Undoubtedly, your parents (and likely the rest of your family) recognized that you possess certain personality traits that make you an ideal candidate for the job. Most people name executors who exhibit the following qualities:

Honesty
Resourcefulness
Book smarts
Responsibility
Reliability
Solid organizational skills
Confidence
Control
Ability to be impartial
Fairness
Authenticity
Loyalty
Safety
Trustworthiness
Sound-mindedness

Naturally, when establishing an estate plan, every decision is taken very seriously, especially when it comes to appointing the executor. If conflicts arise after their passing, the decedent can rest peacefully knowing that you were left in charge of their estate.

Unfortunately, there are entirely too many cases that make their way through the NJ probate system wherein at least one of the beneficiaries (heirs) is unhappy with all or part of the details of the will. This understandably can lead to irreparable damage within a family. Because you are the chosen executor, you must now live up to your reputation that got you the job.

As negotiation may be one of your natural instincts, you may make attempts to reason with the disagreeable beneficiary, hoping that they will come to their senses. However, as these issues tend to date back to unresolved feelings of “favoritism” or other familial conflict, it can often be next to impossible to talk sense into your sibling, especially when emotions are already running high so soon after the death of a parent.

Your best plan of action as estate executor is to follow your legal duties to the letter of the law. Become as familiar as possible with what is expected of you as executor. If your parent worked with an estate planning attorney when they established their will, get in touch with that attorney and bring him up to speed on the current difficulties you are facing.

Even if your parent(s) didn’t work directly with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer, it’s a good idea to reach out to one early in the probate process if it looks like you’ll be dealing with ongoing conflict from one or more of the heirs. As executor, you’ll be able to use funds from the estate to pay the legal fees you incur on behalf of the estate (assuming that the decedent possessed sufficient funds/assets when they passed away.) Even if you don’t retain the services of an attorney immediately, it’s in your best interest to bring your attorney up to speed in case you need to retain him later on in the probate process.

The best way to approach an estate conflict as executor is to be kind but firm to the beneficiary who is being difficult. Resist bending any rules and instead remind them about the laws and timelines that surround the distribution of any assets.

By sticking strictly to your duties as estate executor, you will fulfill the duty that you were so chosen for. It is extremely difficult to satisfy someone who feels they’ve been “wronged” by a decedent, as the deceased is no longer around to explain him or herself. If someone is unhappy with the content of the will, they may take issue with your every move. Stay within the law, and refer to your attorney for help if the disgruntled beneficiary becomes more than you can handle.

Image credit: Hans Vandenberg

I’m too Broke to File for Bankruptcy!

7548029082_94a0bd03b9_z1

Nearly twelve years have passed since the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act took effect, which made it more difficult and expensive for struggling debtors to file for bankruptcy. The goal of the Reform Act was to prevent debtors from taking advantage of the US bankruptcy system in order to “write off” debts that they could actually afford to repay.

While good in theory, the hurdles put in place by the Reform Act have spawned a growing group of Americans who feel that they are doomed to live a life permanently broke and indebted.

Stricter qualification standards, mandatory credit counseling courses (on the debtor’s dime), increased homestead exemption restrictions and tougher attorney liability (read: higher rates) all add up to one thing: bankruptcy is now too expensive for those who need it most!

This has led many indebted Americans to attempt to file for bankruptcy on their own without the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The concept of eliminating attorney fees may sound appealing at first, but the unfortunate truth for pro se bankruptcy filers is that the bankruptcy code is extremely complex and rife with opportunities for error. Mistakes on a bankruptcy petition cannot simply be erased or fixed with a simple “do-over,” and almost always cause a bankruptcy case to be dismissed.

What, then, is today’s flailing debtor to do?

If retaining a NJ bankruptcy attorney is cost prohibitive, and filing pro se is bound to lead to dismissal of your case – are there any real options? Living the rest of your life one step away from drowning in debt is not only undesirable; it can cause high stress levels that will prevent you from ever being truly happy.

Solutions for those “too broke” to hire a bankruptcy attorney do exist!

You don’t have to live with creditors breathing down your neck, watching your every financial move and prohibiting you from ever applying for a new loan. You also don’t have to lose your home to foreclosure (unless downsizing is something you want to do). Conversely, if you’re doling out steep rent payments every month, getting approved for a home mortgage does not have to be a mere pipe dream.

Bankruptcy is the fresh start and the only answer to financial insolvency. Despite the constraints placed upon consumers under the Bankruptcy Reform Act, there is help available. You just have to know where to look.

Attorneys, as a group, have a reputation for being solely focused on money. In New Jersey, there are bankruptcy attorneys who truly want to help their clients! For example, Veitengruber Law is a NJ bankruptcy firm that cares more about helping people than about taking their money. When you look for an attorney to help you file for bankruptcy, make sure your attorney is interested in helping you even beyond your bankruptcy discharge.

Attorneys like George Veitengruber will sit down with you for a free consultation to discuss your financial situation. During your consult, a long term plan to repair your credit will be mapped out. Retainer fees and other costs will be discussed, and a payment plan will be set up that actually works for you. We’ll also help you get creative in order to pay your legal fees.

A bankruptcy attorney who cares about your financial future does exist! If you’re looking for New Jersey debt resolution assistance in Monmouth, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester or Atlantic county, fill out our contact form today. We can help.

Image credit: Sodanie Chea