What a NJ Foreclosure Defense Attorney Can Do for You


Unfortunately, New Jersey has the dismal “honor” of being the state with the highest number of active foreclosures. To say that NJ has a bit of trouble with foreclosures would be a massive understatement.


Are you in the process of going through foreclosure of your home? Perhaps it’s just a “potential foreclosure” looming at this point. You’re probably trying to decide whether or not you should attempt to go through the foreclosure process alone or whether you should invest in a foreclosure defense attorney. Are you looking for more information regarding how an attorney might make the process easier?

To begin, let’s cover a few basic points about foreclosure. A foreclosure occurs when the bank or lender takes possession of your home or property if you fail to make the required mortgage payments. Typically, if you do not make 3 mortgage payments, the bank or lender will issue a Notice of Intention to Foreclose. Before issuing a Complaint, they are required to send the notice at least 30 days ahead of time. As soon as you receive the notice, you should contact a foreclosure defense attorney, as you only have 35 days to respond and 60 days to request foreclosure mediation.

It may come as a surprise to you that lenders don’t actually want to take your property from you; they would much rather you be able to make the monthly payments. If you are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, a foreclosure defense attorney can help you fight to lower your monthly payments and allow you to keep your home.

Your foreclosure defense attorney will strive to:

  • File a Notice of Appearance (NOA) – This is filed with the court or bank to allow the attorney to enter into the case and fight for you. Following this, the bank will send all information to the attorney rather than force you to act as an intermediary.

 

  • Decrease the original amount of your loan – For example, your attorney could potentially lower your original loan amount from $500,000 to $450,000. It’s possible that the lender may be willing to take a small loss in place of you ceasing to make any mortgage payments.

 

  • Assist in acquiring a loan modification – This may be the only way to permanently keep your home. The positive here is that there are no costs associated with modifying your loan, but it can be quite difficult to obtain one on your own. Your original mortgage may have had a high interest rate (10%), but lowering it to a rate of 6 or 7% will significantly reduce the amount you pay in interest over a lifetime.

 

  • Apply foreclosure defense techniques – It’s possible that he or she will argue that the plaintiff has an unrealistic mortgage assignment and lacks the appropriate standing to foreclose. In addition, the attorney may argue for unfair lending practices. Various strategies have been known to delay foreclosure for years.

 

  • Eliminate late charges – As you might already know, penalties and late fees accumulate quickly, but your attorney will attempt to wipe your slate clean. This will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of a hole just to get back to your baseline.

 

  • Extend the life of your loan – Your attorney may be able to lengthen the life of your loan, say from 20 years to 30 years, which will lower the monthly payment.

An attorney may also be able to prolong the amount of time you’re able to stay in your home. You could potentially enter into a foreclosure avoidance mediation program, which would be an alternative to foreclosure. With the help of mediation, you may be granted a short sale, loan modification, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Normally, the foreclosing party is required to send you information on a mediation program, but an attorney can provide guidance through the process.

 


A foreclosure defense attorney can be extremely helpful in this daunting process, so don’t be afraid to reach out and contact a professional.


 

NJ Mortgage Down Payment Help: The Family Gift Option

You’re ready to buy your first home but lack a sufficient down payment. With a stable income and a solid credit score, your lack of a down payment need not prohibit you from purchasing a home. There are several feasible financing options available, including a few you likely haven’t yet considered.

In addition to certain conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans are programs that offer very low down payment options. It is also a common misconception that most conventional home loans require a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price of the home. In most cases, you will still be able to purchase a home without the 20% down payment. The caveat with most conventional loans is that you may be expected to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) to help protect the lender until you have obtained 20% equity in the home.

FHA and VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance and have low down payment options, but have more specific eligibility requirements. If you have parents or relatives who are financially secure and willing to help you with a down payment, consider asking them to gift you the funds. This may be the most convenient option of all. It is relatively simple and efficient to incorporate the family gift option into the processing of your mortgage.

Many different mortgage programs allow for a family gift option in the financing of your home as long as a few basic requirements are met. Conventional loans and FHA loans both typically allow for the family gift option.

Proof of relationship

While the funds gifted to you don’t necessarily have to be from a family member, if they are not from a close relative, you may have to prove that the relationship is a close one in order for the lender to accept the plausibility of them gifting you the funds. Make sure the contributor of your funds understands that they may be liable for a gift tax depending on the amount of funds they are giving away. It is always wise for your donor to obtain legal advice in this situation –  especially when gifting a substantial sum of money. When handled properly, they may actually be able to avoid any tax liability.

Signed proof of gifted funds

The lender will also require a legal document (this letter is customarily provided by the lender) to be signed by both parties that states that you will not be expected to repay your family member for any of the down payment funds gifted to you, and that it is truly a gift and not an interpersonal loan of any kind. This letter helps protect you immensely as a buyer.

Obtain funding from family

Once you have met with your lender and consulted with a NJ real estate lawyer to determine your best options, your donor will need write you a check for the funds to be deposited into your bank account. The mortgage underwriter will then make sure the funds provided by your family member are well-documented and that you can proceed smoothly with the rest of the financing process.

If you are fortunate to have generous family or friends to gift you a down payment, please let them know just how grateful to you are. It may be the most valuable gift you ever receive from a monetary standpoint, as well as a gift that will help to establish your financial security for the rest of your life.

How To: Overcome Financial Stress and Get Your Finances in Order

Before the Great Recession, financial stress was the number one worry of over 70% of Americans. Since the Great Recession, money issues have become increasingly depressing for some people. With the loss of a job or a decrease in income, many people can have a prolonged stress that sits like a ton of bricks upon their shoulders. This chronic financial stress is extremely detrimental to the body, and you will begin to affect the lives of those around you. Before you know it, you may start to rely on bad habits to relieve your stress. How can you get a foot in the door of overcoming your financial stress and straightening out your money matters? Well, it obviously doesn’t happen overnight, but if you keep reading, you may gain some insight as to how you can begin.

Setting Goals. 

Though you can’t control all of your circumstances, you can initiate steps towards improving them. One of the most important first steps is setting a goal. This might sound simple, but that’s because it is! Before you can even think about your goals, you need to take a step back and review your finances. Doing this on a monthly basis could be beneficial for you, and don’t forget to check out your budget to know where exactly your money is being delegated.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over and get really familiar with your debts and income, set some goals. We are always setting goals in life – (financial, fitness, education, etc) and this goal is just like the others. It should have a purpose and a particular plan of action that will help you to attain the goal. Rather than setting a broad goal, attempt to set specific goals. Maybe your goal is to have $5,000 in your bank account within the next 2 months. You can break that broad goal down into smaller goals, like making yourself more valuable to your employer or improving your business plan. No matter the goal, review your financial state, set a goal, and clearly define the parameters and steps needed to reach it.

Make it measureable.

As covered in the last paragraph, clearly defined goals will be of more benefit. A goal such as “having a lot of money” does not have clear parameters. Some financial professionals suggest keeping 3-6 months of expenses in your bank account. Rather than setting a goal of “I want to always have 6 months of expenses in my account, sit down and put an actual value to that 6-month amount. This will focus your mind on a specific number instead of a vague sum.

Realistic and Reachable.

When you are setting your goal, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s one that you can actually attain. If you don’t have a good chance of reaching the goal, what was the point in setting it? Since you’ve already reviewed your finances and budget, you know whether or not a goal is realistic. If the goal is realistic, in your mind, you know that it’s attainable. Maybe your goal is adding $500 to your savings account each month. If you’re currently struggling to pay rent and have a low income, that goal may be a little out of reach. Work with what you have.

Deadline.

If you have no time limit on your goal, it might take you forever to reach it, which in turn makes setting the goal a waste of time. Part of defining a goal is listing a deadline so that you are able to separate your one big goal up into smaller chunks. Focusing on reaching your goal week to week can be mentally easier than seeing a huge number in front of you and stressing about how to climb that mountain.

Financial stress can take a toll on your mental, physical, and emotional state, which is why it’s so crucial to alleviate at least a small portion of that worry. Now that you have a few pieces of advice on how to overcome your financial stress, don’t wait until you find yourself in a desperate financial state. If you aren’t sure how to go about everything on your own, don’t hesitate to get in contact with a professional debt resolution/credit repair expert. They will be able to help you in setting a proper budget as well as raising your credit score and negotiating with any creditors to whom you may owe outstanding payments.

Self-Employment Income Taxes: The Basics

It’s time to file taxes: everyone’s favorite time of year! Taxes are collected by the government each year in order to pay for public services and goods. You may have heard of the Internal Revenue Service, also known as the IRS, which is the nation’s tax collection agency. For many individuals, their taxes are paid through withholding, meaning that the money is taken out of each paycheck. For other individuals, specifically the self-employed, this is not the case.

You are considered self-employed if you meet any of these requirements. If so,  it will be necessary for you to file self-employment income taxes.

·        You own or operate a trade or business as an independent contractor or sole proprietor

·        You are a partner or member in a partnership that runs a business or trade

·        You are in business for yourself (this includes part-time business)

·        You file a business tax return through Schedule K-1

Self-employed individuals are required to pay an income tax as well as a Social Security and Medicare tax. The Social Security and Medicare taxes are similar to those withheld from the paycheck of normal wage earners. You might be asking: exactly what is the self-employment tax rate? It is currently 15.3% on net earnings, but a limit is set as to how much can be paid into the Social Security portion each year.

To know if you have to pay self-employment tax and income tax, you have to calculate your net earnings and net loss. This step is simple: subtract your business expenses from your business income. If your answer is positive, congrats, you made a profit. If your answer is negative, you lost money. If your overall earnings were over $400, you are required to submit an income tax return form. Even if your net earnings were less than $400, you have to submit the form if you meet any of the requirements in the Form 1040 instructions.

The IRS will require you to submit quarterly estimated taxes if you plan to owe more than $1,000 in taxes when you file the return. These taxes are submitted April 15, July 15, September 15, and January 15, or each quarter. If you do not file these taxes, the IRS can fine or penalize you for underpayment. To submit these taxes, you will fill out Form 1040-ES, which will assist you in figuring out if you have to pay estimated taxes and also calculating the amount you owe for estimated taxes. You will need your annual tax return from the previous year to fill out Form 1040-ES. Though the IRS does not require this form to be turned in, it is recommended that you keep it on record. Form 1040-ES contains vouchers that can be completed when you send in your quarterly payments or you can submit the payments online using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

The type of business that you own will also play a factor in determining which form you need to complete. Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and S corporation are the most common forms of businesses. A Limited Liability Company is also a business structure that has recently been allowed. Each type of business requires its own specific forms to be submitted, so be sure that you are aware of this.

These are only the basics of filing for self-employment income taxes. If you are new to self-employment, it may be helpful to meet with a professional to find out more information on paying taxes. A professional will also make sure you are completing the correct forms and filing at the necessary times. Veitengruber Law can direct you to a trustworthy and experienced tax professional – we’re happy to connect you! Don’t let the details scare you away, being self-employed can be a great opportunity to explore a passion and make a difference in the community around you.

Getting Back on Your Feet After Bankruptcy

nj bankruptcy

You’ve finally crawled out of the deep, dark, seemingly unending hole of debt. After this exhausting journey, you’re more than ready to get back on your feet. Many people wonder how exactly how to get back to “normal” after bankruptcy. If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your debts were discharged, or you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you developed a payment plan, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now you have a fresh start, but before you get too excited, you need to be aware that it does take effort on your part to make sure you stay on the right path for good.

The state of New Jersey requires all individuals that receive a bankruptcy discharge to take a debtor education course that focuses on personal financial management. A bankruptcy discharge will not be given unless the debtor completes this class. The course must be done through a certified counseling agency and an Official Form 23 must be filed when the financial management course is finished. If a married couple files for bankruptcy, both individuals must attend counseling and submit an Official Form 23.

Here are a few post-bankruptcy steps you can take that will get you standing on two feet in no time.

1. Make a budget.

The first step is to track your spending for a few months to get an idea of how much you’re bringing in and where your money is going. Once you do this, you can come up with a monthly spending plan based on your income and the tracking results you gathered. It’s important to also become acutely aware of what exactly you’re spending your money on; if it’s mostly necessities, it’s crucial to have money set aside for that, but if you’re still spending significant amounts on unnecessary items, you’ll need to rethink your budget. Discipline in setting boundaries for yourself is vital.

2. Love cash; like credit.

Once you’ve gone through bankruptcy, it might be a good idea to develop the mindset of paying with cash more often than paying with credit. If you allow yourself to only carry a specific amount of cash in your wallet, you will be able to limit your purchases to necessities. On the other hand, there is no reason to fear credit. Following bankruptcy, it’s crucial to reestablish your credit, especially if you eventually want to purchase a house or car. Future employers, banks, and potential landlords will want to be reassured that you have been able to reestablish a decent credit score.

3. Pay bills on time.

Whether the bill is big or small, make sure you pay it on time. If you have bank fees or are bouncing checks, these will show up on your credit score, which can be detrimental to your financial health – knocking your credit score down incrementally when it needs to be moving upward.

4. Don’t fall into the scam trap.

Be aware of anyone that offers to “fix” your post-bankruptcy credit situation. You are completely capable of fixing your credit on your own, therefore you don’t need anyone else’s assistance. There are a plethora of scammers who will claim to be able to repair your credit overnight, (but for a fee – and believe us when we tell you it won’t be a small fee). Building credit requires time and patience.

If the offer from a credit repair “company” seems too good to be true or they request money upfront, be incredibly careful. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to check with the credit bureau or state regulatory agency. If you’re truly in need of help, reach back out to your NJ bankruptcy attorney – he will be the best source for reliable post-bankruptcy assistance.

Bankruptcy can be a long and trying process, but once you make it through, be assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing how to get back on your feet and actually “doing” it are two different sentiments. Be self-disciplined in working towards a financially healthy state. If you’re feeling unsure or a little bit lost, don’t be afraid to contact your bankruptcy lawyer who can help you after bankruptcy as well as during it.

Broaching the subject of Estate Planning with your Parents

When you were a kid, your parents dreaded having the “talk” with you, you know, that talk. Now that you’re an adult, it’s time to have an even more important talk with your parents. Bringing up the topic of death can be uncomfortable for both parents and children, but when it comes to handling financial matters, the sooner the conversation takes place, the better. Not only is talking about the prospect of your parents’ deaths dreadful, but it can be just as awkward to talk about their money and where it will go when they pass.

Starting the conversation

Though it may not be obvious, there are various financial and personal benefits to having sensitive conversations with your parents about the future. Ideally, it’s helpful to have this kind of conversation before your parent(s) require help with managing their money. Remember that this discussion is about your parents and their money. Chances are, they want you to be involved in some way, so make sure to listen carefully in order to understand their desires and needs. You may have a few suggestions for them. Bring them up when the timing is appropriate, but know ahead of time that they may not take your suggestions. One of your main goals should be ensure that your parents will be properly taken care of as they age.

With an open dialogue, you and your family will have a sense of empowerment, knowing that you have discussed and began planning for the future. By discussing these matters together, you will be forming a way in which your family legacy and values can be continued through generations. Initiating this conversation early will be beneficial if by the unfortunate chance one of your family members was to become ill or incapacitated before expected. Finally, you, your parents, and your children will develop a stable plan that will bring a sense of comfort and resolve.

How do you bring up the topic of money and death? In reality, there is no easy answer, since this is difficult for even the most open families.

  • Find a comfortable environment during a calm(er) time. This would not be a subject to broach during a disagreement or crisis; make sure everyone is emotionally stable before you start the conversation.
  • Be open and sincere about your plans. Make sure your family knows that you have good intentions about developing a plan that will guarantee care for them in the future. Be transparent, accept constructive criticism with grace, and offer any suggestions that may be helpful.
  • Emphasize the significance of the conversation for all individuals involved. Show your family an example of another family and estate that was not handled properly and as a result caused hurt feelings, confusion, and a financial mess because family members did not have this conversation.

Topics of Discussion

A few important things that you need to know include:

  • Where to find your parents’ will
  • If they have a power of attorney and who it is
  • Whether any health care plans or trusts are set up.

Also, find out if they have a life insurance policy or other assets, and how you can gain access to that when necessary. Make sure you gather or know the location of the passwords to their bank or online accounts and have a list of their debts. If your parents are retired, find out information regarding their pensions, IRA withdrawals, Social Security, and how they’re supporting their retirement.

If by chance, your parents are unable to manage their own finances, you need to seek out a power of attorney. A power of attorney will legally help you manage financial transactions. For example, if your parents need to enter a nursing home, but need to sell their home in order to afford care, a power of attorney will assist in this process.

Finally, there is a possibility that your parents will not have any of their financial matters sorted out and will have no idea as to how to deal with major financial decisions regarding their future. In this case, it may be best to meet with an estate planning lawyer.

Sorting through finances and developing a plan for the future is intimidating for both parents and children, but it’s a crucial step in the process of aging. It will be comforting to know that your parents are in a stable financial state and have all financial matters sorted out. When you feel the timing is appropriate, reach out to your parents and initiate the conversation.

How (and when) to Appeal Your NJ Property Tax

Each year, homeowners in New Jersey are required to pay property taxes, but when the time comes for you to make that payment, you may be in for a shock. If you have an understanding of how your property tax is calculated, you will be able to investigate whether you’re paying too much, depending on the assessment of your home. The good news is that the taxable value of your home may be sky high, but there are steps you can take to decrease that value and save a few bucks on your property tax bill.

Before you can move further along in the appeal process, it’s helpful to know how your property tax is actually calculated. In NJ, there are two aspects of your tax bill: first, the taxable value of your home and second, the tax rate. Normally, the municipal tax assessor will review your home to determine the taxable value. The taxable value is 100% of the home’s “worth” or the amount it would be sold for on the open market. The taxable value will be multiplied by the tax rate to decide the property tax. Unfortunately, local officials set the tax rate, so you don’t have much control over that. You may be able to get the taxable value reduced if you believe it is set too high.

If you’re planning to appeal your property tax, one or more of the following must be true:

  • The tax assessor determined your property tax bill using inaccurate information. For example, the official may have assumed your home is 3,000 square feet when it’s actually only 2,500 square feet.
  • The current market value of your home is lower than what was actually concluded by the assessor.
  • Compared to similar homes in your community, the assessor may have determined the taxable value to be too high. It’s important to know whether or not your home is over-assessed, as some municipalities do not evaluate properties at 100% of the true value. If the assessment on your home is 15% higher than the market value, this would be a case in which an appeal would be acceptable. Before filing an appeal, contact your local assessor if you believe he or she has made a mistake. They will often correct it.

If you’re confused as to exactly what steps to take to appeal your property tax, keep reading!

  1. Request a copy of the card with the details of your house assessment from the local or county tax assessor.
  2. As stated above, know the details of your appeal and be sure that you can provide support. Also, compare your home to similar homes in the community to determine an appropriate taxable value for your home.
  3. Meet with a real estate attorney who has experience with tax appeals. Because each case has its own labyrinth of details, it may be unwise to try to handle it on your own. An attorney will understand the local real estate market and have knowledge of crucial deadlines and regulations specific to NJ.
  4. Collaborate with your attorney to determine whether or not you are going to appeal. Be aware that the appeal must be filed prior to the April 1st deadline. Once the filing is complete, a hearing before County Tax Board will be scheduled. It is crucial to comply with all of the deadlines and regulations to have a successful appeal. If you miss the date of your appearance before the Board, you will have to wait until the following year to refile.

If you submit your appeal, but do not agree with the final decision, you can take your appeal to the New Jersey Tax Court. If you haven’t yet, it would be helpful to hire a lawyer if you decide to take your appeal for further review. The appealing process can be difficult and involves many intricacies. Make sure that you do your research before making any quick decisions!