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.

 

 

Qualities Every Good & Ethical Lawyer Should Possess

best attorneys in NJ

At Veitengruber Law, we take our profession and our service to our clients very seriously. A lawyer and legal team guide you through some of life’s most challenging experiences. You want someone who is going to provide you the best quality service, and work hard to get you the best outcome possible.  When considering a lawyer to represent you and your best interests look for the following attributes:

Solid Communication Skills

Laws and regulations are complicated, and often when dealing with financial matters, things can get emotional too.  Look for a lawyer that is willing to take the time to not only walk you through the process so that you understand, but can also communicate with the other people at the table.  Pay close attention to how he or she communicates not only to you, but staff members as well. You want an attorney who is personable – and you also want a legal team that works well together.

Affable personality

When working with a lawyer, you want someone you can trust. The best attorneys possess good people skills. Is your attorney friendly, clear, and a good judge of character? Your attorney should have values that you can agree with. Not every lawyer is right for everyone, so be willing to interview, ask questions and trust your instinct.

Discernment

Often, by the time realize you need an attorney, you are navigating substantially difficult life events. Things may be uncertain and even risky. The purpose of working with a lawyer is to help you determine what can be done to mitigate those difficult situations. At Veitengruber Law, we specialize in financial justice. We are able to take your concerns, cut through the noise and provide clarity. We can be a guiding light during a difficult time.

Methodical planning skills

You want a lawyer with strong analytical skills. A good lawyer must be able to take a large volume of information and synthesize it into a concise and solvable situation. Situations vary from person to person and you need someone who can look at your situation from an objective perspective. This will serve you well as you go through your legal proceedings. The best legal teams work together to build on their past experience to find the best strategies for your unique situation.

Investigative grit

You need a lawyer who will do their homework. Research is crucial to finding a legal strategy to your situation. The best NJ attorneys know to look at the the needs of the client, and how to quickly identify the resources available. Most of all, they need to be able to do this efficiently to get the client answers as efficiently as possible.

A Never Quit Attitude

In all situations, there can be a solution. However, some solutions are easier to find than others.  The right lawyer will persevere though the adversity and keep you in-the-know throughout the whole process. More importantly, they will provide encouragement and an optimistic attitude to their clients, even if their case proves challenging.

Innovation and Creativity

The world is changing at an ever increasing rate. When dealing with difficult financial situations, you need someone who thinks outside the box. There is often a solution to be found, but it may not be the first thing you consider. At Veitengruber Law, we often deal with families in distress and at risk of losing their homes. Not only are we able to save, on average, 60 families a year from foreclosure eviction, we also turn that into a learning opportunity for our clients. We continue to work with them on budgeting and other financial planning, so they do not have to live through that stress again.

When you are looking for a lawyer to represent you, please consider these characteristics.  You will be well served by them if you do.  At Veitengruber Law, we do our best to embody and practice these values every day with all of our clients.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

deed in lieu NJ

 

It happens to a lot of people in New Jersey these days – the high cost of living finds you over extending yourself. One minute you’re keeping your head above water with utility bills, unsecured debt, and mortgage payments.  Then something happens; an unexpected illness, a layoff, a divorce – and suddenly you’re too far gone. Once you have consulted with your accountant and an attorney specializing in credit repair you may find that your best decision is to extricate yourself from your property. One option in this scenario is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure (also called a mortgage release by some lenders).

 

Essentially, a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is when the borrower surrenders the property in question to the lender, and the parties execute a title-transferring document stating that the surrendered property satisfies any remaining debt on the mortgage note. This document will have to be notarized, and will eventually be recorded in much the same way as any other deed. There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement.

 

Advantages

  • Borrower avoids any (perceived) public embarrassment from a full foreclosure proceeding and/or sheriff’s sale of the property.
  • Borrower may receive better terms and conditions than would have been available in a more formal foreclosure.
  • Immediately releases the borrower from responsibility of the debt of the mortgage, and any associated collection efforts such as letters, phone calls, or court proceedings (not to mention stress)!
  • Deed in Lieu has much less of a negative impact on one’s credit score than a foreclosure. (When in doubt, call one of the three major credit bureaus and ask.)
  • Reduction in time and anxiety as compared to forcing the lender to take possession of the property, or executing a short sale.
  • You are not required to find a buyer for your property; you are only required to attempt to sell the property.
  • Sometimes the lender will grant certain limited occupancy or other property rights back to the borrower, such as a lease of all or part of the property, an option to purchase later, or a right of first refusal should someone else make a reasonable offer once the Deed is executed and recorded. (Don’t expect this though. In general, lenders want the property with clear title and without any encumbrances.)

 

Disadvantages

  • A Deed in Lieu does not clear second (or even third) mortgages, and therefore will not allow the lender to take clear title to the property. (These are sometimes referred to as junior liens.) And if the Deed in Lieu is accepted, the secondary lender may come after you for the deficiency.
  • The canceled debt may generate a large tax liability, depending on the amount of the mortgage that was remaining at the time.
  • Borrower loses all equity in the property. Since this is a blanket surrender, if the equity exceeds the mortgage amount owed, the borrower will not receive the difference from the lender as they would in a short sale.
  • If the property is not in good condition, the lender may not agree to a Deed in Lieu if the outstanding note exceeds the current fair market value of the property.
  • This option will not likely be offered by the lender, so the borrower must know about and actively pursue this option. The lender must be sure that a Deed in Lieu is voluntary, and so will wait for a written offer from the borrower.
  • The lender may reject an offer for a Deed in Lieu if the property has equity or the federal government is providing financial incentives to the bank to foreclose.
  • Most lenders will not allow you to buy another home immediately after you have executed a Deed in Lieu. Those lenders that buy loans in the second market (i.e. from other, smaller lenders) will not generally buy a note from a borrower who has been part of a Deed in Lieu arrangement for 4 years without extenuating circumstances – or 2 years with extenuating circumstances. Therefore, smaller lenders will be cautious about lending to you as well, even if you decide to downsize and can prove you can make the payments on your new mortgage. Always check, as these guidelines are constantly changing.

 

As with any property conveyance or complex debt elimination, always consult with an attorney specializing in such areas to make sure you are making the right decision for your situation. Remember that a Deed in Lieu of foreclosure is almost always in the best interest of the lender, but it may not be for the borrower. You want to make sure you are doing the right thing. Contact Veitengruber Law; we can help with the tough decisions.

Can I File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?

NJ bankruptcy attorney

Though filing bankruptcy without an attorney may seem like something you can handle, it’s not necessarily the recommended option. This is not to say that filing for bankruptcy is impossible without an attorney, but it requires serious dedication, time, and self-education. Even with the most extensive research and attention to detail, it’s easy to make a mistake or miss a crucial step in the process. If you’re thinking about filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney, be aware of the common mistakes that pro se individuals most often make. Ultimately, whether or not you decide to hire an attorney is up to you, but as always, Veitengruber Law is more than happy to provide you with stellar bankruptcy representation.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides the opportunity to construct a repayment plan that will help you pay back your debt. In order for your Chapter 13 application to be approved, you need to be able to prove that you have a steady job that provides enough income for you to realistically be able to pay off your creditors within three to five years.

If you’re considering bankruptcy as a solution to your financial struggles, we want you to know that it may not be your best option. Certain forms of debt, known as nondischargeable debt, cannot be relieved by filing for bankruptcy. Related to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets may be at risk if you are unable to exempt them. Knowing these small but significant details will assist you when making the decision to file.

For most people, deciding whether to file for bankruptcy and which type to file depends on: the type of debt they want to eliminate, whether or not they own nonexempt property, if they are able to pay back debt outside of the bankruptcy case, and other details that are unique to their case.

One of the biggest disadvantages of not having an attorney to guide you through the process is that you may not be aware of some of the steps that are imperative to a successful bankruptcy outcome. Just one of these key steps is the credit counseling/debtor education requisites. For any type of bankruptcy filing, it’s necessary to work through credit counseling. If you skip this step, the New Jersey Bankruptcy Court will dismiss your case. To initiate this process, you’ll need to find an agency that can provide an approved credit counseling program. Once you submit your case to the court, you will need to provide the court with proof of counseling completion. Following the submission of your bankruptcy case, you will need to conclude with a debtor education course, also known as personal financial management. If you fail to complete this, you will not receive a discharge from the court.

As with most financial processes, there is a plethora of arduous paperwork to file in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. These include your petition, schedule, statement of affairs, creditor matrix and many other necessary forms. Obviously, if you don’t have an attorney, you may not know which documents need to be completed (along with their deadlines). By choosing not to work with a NJ bankruptcy attorney, you take this responsibility into your own hands.

Believe it or not, bankruptcy court laws are not universal; every state and county court will have their own set of local bankruptcy procedures and regulations that you will be required to follow. Because you have to submit local tax returns and other forms to your bankruptcy trustee, it’s possible that the trustee will have additional, specific forms for you to complete as well. When you fail to follow any of these rules or meet your deadlines, expect to have a delay in or a dismissal of your case.

A huge part of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New Jersey means creating a repayment plan that assures creditors that you have the ability to pay back the debt. If you’re foregoing an attorney’s help, it’s your job to design your repayment plan. Once you submit the initial plan, the court must approve it before finalization. The creditors will reject the plan if it doesn’t meet bankruptcy code. While this task is not impossible to do on your own, writing up a repayment plan simply isn’t in the average person’s skill set. This is a step wherein working with an experienced NJ bankruptcy attorney is extremely beneficial.

The complexity of filing for bankruptcy shouldn’t scare you away, but because of its nature, it is our advice that you work with a bankruptcy team that has experience with Chapter 13 cases like yours. If you’re set on skipping an attorney, be sure to do ample research online and ask questions of your local bankruptcy court if you are unsure of something. In the end, we would recommend finding a trustworthy legal team near you to walk with you through all of the steps of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy