Selling Your NJ Home: The Importance of an Open House

nj real estate

For most sellers, the idea of having random strangers plod through your home may be a little frightening, especially in this day and age. When you open up your house to others, whether they’re family or strangers, an intimate part of your life is being shared. Here’s the thing to keep in mind: this is the house that you’re leaving. Don’t stress out over one of the most minor details about hosting an open house.

Whether or not an open house can actually sell a home is debatable, but definitely can’t hurt your chances. Though there is a possibility of making a sale at an open house, it’s unlikely. Your audience is part of the reason for this.

Real estate agents are the best friend of most people who are house hunting. The agent’s job is to keep the buyer up to date with new listings as soon as they appear on the market. When the agent takes them out to prospective homes, a private tour is usually given. Typically, if a serious buyer is on the lookout, they will already have seen a house by the time an open house is held. You may think that only interested buyers will be attending the open house, but your guests could quite possibly include a variety of people.

You will have the neighbors that come check out the house as well as random passerbys. These people may not be interested in purchasing the house, but are curious to see what it looks like. It’s possible that real estate agents will stop in to view how the house has been prepared for sale and to introduce themselves to the sellers. Remember: as much as it might worry you to have strangers strolling through, each viewer could present the possibility of a future house buyer. Even if a guest isn’t intending to purchase your home, they may know of someone who is looking.

For some future home buyers, the idea of initiating the home-buying process is daunting. An open house is a superb and enticing first step for buyers looking to embark on the journey, especially if it’s their first time. This group of individuals may spot a “For Sale” sign along the road and impulsively decide to stop and gather more information, providing you with more home exposure.

Speaking of home exposure, this is one of the paramount steps that you can take in selling your home. Without maximizing the amount of home exposure and crafting a resilient marketing system, you are reducing your chances of selling within a desirable time frame. Advertising your open house will be of incredible benefit whether you use street signs, newspaper ads, or word of mouth.

Because open houses tend to be laid back events, they tend to be more attractive to people starting the home-buying process. Most real estate professionals who host open houses will allow people to tour with little pressure to buy. This is especially helpful for people who desire to spend a little more time going through the house or checking things out in more detail. This allows for the home buyer to pay attention to what they strongly prefer or dislike in a home.

An open house during the home-selling process will be of value to not only you, but also the individuals who are on the journey of purchasing a home. Low-pressure environments encourage people to dream, envision, and enjoy working through this important process. A NJ real estate agent will guide you through the process of selling your home as well as hosting the ideal open house for future buyers.

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The Consequences of Late Credit Card Payments

late credit card payments

There are many reasons hard-working people fall behind on paying bills. In the short-term, it might seem like missing a payment or two is not going to affect you in the long run, but missing a credit card payment could be a bigger deal than you may think. A payment becomes late if it is received after the designated due date or if the payment received is less than the minimum amount due listed on the billing statement. The actions creditors take to respond to late payments can affect you for months, or even years, to come. At Veitengruber Law, we use our expert knowledge of debt management to help you get on top of your finances so that making late payments stops becoming a problem for you.

Once a payment is considered late, your creditor will charge a late payment fee on your next billing statement. Late fees typically range from $15-$35 depending on the late fee policy specific to your credit card company. If this is the first time you have been late in your payment, you may be able to get your creditors to agree to waive the late fee under an accidental late payment. If not waived, a recurring late fee will be charged every month a payment is late or does not meet the minimum payment requirement.

After 60 days, creditors will likely increase the interest rate on your account. Most credit card policies indicate a penalty rate which is the highest interest rate for your credit card. A higher interest rate will increase your monthly finance charges, not only making it more expensive to carry a balance between statements, but also making it likely that it will take you much longer to pay off your balance. You may also be barred from using your card rewards, or you may lose those awards completely.

After six months of on-time payments, your creditor is required to return your account to your pre-penalty interest rate. However, this is where it is important to know the specifics of your policy. Some credit card companies include a policy to continue to charge purchases made during the penalty period under the higher penalty rate.

The biggest effect of late or missed payments, and what you most want to avoid, is losing points to your credit score or getting a bad mark on your credit report. After a payment is 30 days late, it will appear on your credit report. Once an entry is added to your credit report, it can remain there for up to 7 years. Missed payments are added to your credit report in 30 day increments until the account reaches 180 days delinquent. At this point, creditors will charge-off your account, meaning the credit card company writes-off this account as a loss. A charge-off does not mean the debt goes away. Often, the creditor will turn over the debt to a collections agency and the charge-off will appear as a negative mark on your credit report.

Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score—meaning late payments can take a serious toll on your credit score and make it difficult to get approved for new credit in the future. Generally, the better your credit, the more points you are likely to lose after a late payment. To avoid damage to your credit score or your credit report, you can make the full payment plus the late fee before the first 30 days are up. There are many options to manage your debt before a late payment is counted against you. Our experienced team is there to help you explore all your options.

Veitengruber Law offers comprehensive debt solutions specific to your unique circumstances. Our legal team understands the stress and anxiety of unmanageable debt. We provide an all-inclusive analysis of your debt and offer knowledgeable solutions to your specific problems. Our goal is to give you the tools for a brighter financial future. Contact us today to get your free debt relief evaluation.

After Divorce: Should I Refinance my Home?

Despite divorce rates falling steadily over the past few decades, it remains a strong possibility than a once happily married couple might decide to split up. When divorcing, one of the most confusing and contentious issues a couple faces (aside from custody battles) is often the matter of deciding what to do with the family home.

While the most advisable course of action may vary somewhat with each situation, it’s always vital to make any discussions about the mortgage front and center. Your home is likely your biggest shared asset, and your decisions about the mortgage will impact both of you for many years to come.

If your ex will be the party taking possession of the marital home, remember you will be liable for your shared mortgage until the home is sold, the mortgage is paid off in full, or your ex refinances to remove your name entirely.

You see, removing your name from the title of the home does not absolve you of legal responsibility for the mortgage! This is a common misconception that has resulted in financial harm for countless divorced homeowners. As long as your name remains on the mortgage, your credit is at risk for substantial, long-lasting harm.

If you’re the party remaining in the home, you’ll probably be required to buy out your spouse’s share of the home’s equity. Refinancing your home will allow you to take out a cash portion of that equity to use as you wish—including paying off your spouse so they no longer have any claim to your home.

For example, let’s say that Amy and James purchased a $450,000 home together while they were married. Their outstanding mortgage balance now, at the time of their divorce, is $300,000. The remaining $150,000 is their shared equity in the home. If their divorce terms state that Amy and James are splitting their assets 50/50, Amy would have to come up with $75,000 to buy James out of the home.

Unless Amy has a suitcase full of cash lying around (or a healthy retirement fund), she’s going to want to refinance the home in her own name with a cash-out agreement, then use cash from the home’s equity to pay James what he’s owed. Afterward, she can transfer the home into her name alone.

If you’re like Amy and you want to buy out your former spouse, your first step toward taking sole ownership of the property is to figure out the exact amount of your share of your home’s equity. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find out the home’s current value.
  2. Subtract your outstanding mortgage balance from this number.
  3. Calculate your percentage of the remaining equity based on the terms of your divorce agreement.

In order to determine your mortgage balance, ask your lender for a “payoff” total. This figure, once balanced against any equity lines of credit, second mortgage, or outstanding debts against the property, is your balance.

Now, your portion of the equity depends on the terms you’re able to negotiate in your divorce settlement. This usually hinges on factors like whether the two of you purchased your home together, whether the home has been paid for equally since it was purchased, and whether or not the home is covered by a prenup.

Of course, paying off your ex and securing sole ownership isn’t the only good reason to refinance after a divorce. You might choose to dip into your home’s equity to give yourself a cash cushion as you navigate the first 6 – 12 months of financial independence, or you might be better served by using some of these funds to pay off high-interest credit cards. Your circumstances will dictate the wisest use of these funds, so do consider your overall financial situation while you make this decision.

If your mortgage was first secured before 2008 and you haven’t refinanced recently, you stand a good chance of being able to lock down a lower mortgage payment. Interest rates are significantly lower than they were before the recession, even taking into account the spike in rates over the past few years.

When considering the overall trend toward higher interest rates, this is probably a good opportunity for you to exchange an adjustable-rate mortgage for a lower, fixed-rate mortgage. While the initial low cost of an ARM is appealing, the inherent uncertainty may not be the best option for you in the years to come. Consider the cash flow you can expect post-divorce, and calculate whether or not you could adapt to a higher interest rate if rates continue to climb for the next decade.

Although divorce is stressful at best and often utterly heartbreaking, it’s also an opportunity to take control of your finances and position yourself for a healthy, fresh start. Take care of yourself throughout this process, and try to keep your emotions at bay while you are making these crucial decisions.

Properly tending to your post-divorce financial well-being will require you to be savvy, focused, and optimistic in the face of adversity. Taking the time to educate yourself on how your mortgage functions as the cornerstone of your financial security will serve to empower you to use your mortgage to serve your own financial goals.

Dealing with Medical Debt in New Jersey

medical debt in New Jersey

Medical debt can make you feel like you’re standing in a caving, intimidating hole with no way out. In what seems like seconds, medical bills accumulate until you’ve found yourself in a virtual gaping void of debt. In 2007, medical bills were the cause of over half of the filed bankruptcies in the United States, according to the American Journal of Medicine. Believe it or not, 80% of those who filed actually had health insurance as well as minimal debt when compared with those who filed without having health insurance. Unfortunately, we aren’t invincible, and expenses, especially medical bills, can cripple us. On the bright side, we have some tips that may just be the light and end of the tunnel.

1.      Face the Facts

The first and most effortless change that you should make immediately is to simply get out of denial. With every medical bill that is ignored, you’re digging yourself deeper into trouble, therefore ignorance is not the key. Because medical providers will only allow bills to pile up for a short amount of time, it won’t be long until your debt is forwarded to a collection agency. Once a collection agency receives your overdue debt information, it gets posted on your credit report, which ultimately hurts your credit score and future financial endeavors.

As you are looking over your medical bill(s), beware of any incorrect charges. Innumerable bills get sent out by medical providers each day, making mistakes inevitable. It’s possible that you were charged for a five-day stay in the hospital, when you really only stayed for three. If you spot an inappropriate charge, make haste and contact your medical provider’s billing department.

2.      Handling Health Insurance

Your health insurance company is responsible for taking care of certain charges. Make sure you check that your insurance company took care of the necessary charges. If a specific treatment is covered under your plan, the insurance company may still deny the claim which means the medical provider will end up adding that to your bill. If it’s a simple error, it shouldn’t be hard to fix. If your insurance company is trying to get out of paying for something, the task ahead may be more difficult. In most cases, you can appeal a claim, which requires you to submit evidence as to why your insurance company should pay for the treatment or service. If the evidence is valid, or you obtain a letter from your doctor regarding the necessary treatment, there is a possibility the denial could be overturned. Taking a proactive approach could save you a ton of money and damage to your credit score.

3.      Negate the Negative Assumption

Unfortunately, insurance companies think most of their clients are uneducated. In some cases, this is may be true. Medical service providers have pricing structures that waver quite a bit. If a hospital attempts to charge $1,000 for one prescription, you have permission to negotiate it. Since they assume that you have no idea about what you’re being billed for, medical providers will take advantage. If you work with them and let them know that you are unable to pay for the entire charge, but can cover some of it, they will be more cooperative than if you flat out refuse to pay. It’s possible that you may not feel comfortable negotiating, in which case, professional debt relief assistance is available in New Jersey.

4.      Communication is Key

If you are unable to pay off your bill in one lump sum, contact your doctor’s office to let them know that you are working with your insurance company to get the bill paid off. The billing department will be thankful and cooperative if you maintain an open line of communication. In a situation where you’re responsible for the entire bill, request a payment plan from your doctor’s office and be sure to review the budget. Don’t commit to a plan that you can’t afford.

5.      Pay It Off

Our final tip for you is simple: pay off the bills. We understand that this task is easier said than done. Take care of the small medical bills and work your way through the larger ones. Medical providers will appreciate your efforts much more than full ignorance. Once you have a plan and begin paying the bills, pay them on time every month.

Quick to build up but slow to get rid of describes not just medical debt, but many facets of life. Fortunately, it’s not impossible to deal with medical debt, but like many things, you have to take the first daunting step. We are here to help guide you through the process should you need our advice and/or assistance. If, even after taking the above steps, it seems unlikely that you will be able to pay off your medical debt, talk to Veitengruber Law about medical debt relief through chapter 7 bankruptcy.

A Guide to the NJ Probate Process

NJ probate

The passing of a loved one brings on waves of grief, joy, sadness, and more emotions that we usually can’t even put into words. The last thing that we want to do is think about our own or a loved one’s mortality. At some point, it’s necessary to prepare for what will happen after you die; it will save everyone a load of stress and headache. Part of that preparation is writing a will and having a plan for your estate, valuables, and other assets.

Immediately after a resident of New Jersey passes away, the probate process begins. The probate process gives authority to the New Jersey probate court to distribute assets and belongings that remain. An individual is appointed by the court to take charge of the estate, itemize assets and financial accounts, pay off all remaining debt, and discern whether or not the existing will is valid. Once these tasks are checked off of the to-do list, the court will continue on by allocating inheritance to the correct heirs.

“Assets” is a general term used to refer to an individual’s possessions. The probate process does differentiate between types of property by defining them as “probate assets” and “nonprobate assets.” Property only falls into the “probate assets” category if the individual had possessions in solely their own name. Nonprobate assets, on the other hand, can typically be allotted to their new owners without probate. Common nonprobate assets can include:

·        Possessions of the deceased individual that they owned in conjunction with someone else, which are then automatically passed on to the living co-owner.

·        Assets that the deceased individual appointed to an heir outside of the will, such as a 401k or IRAs that have been named to a beneficiary.

·        Proceeds from life insurance (paid according to the terms in the contracts) or pension benefits that can be allocated to a designated beneficiary.

·        Assets that are contained in a revocable living trust.

Sometimes, it’s not possible to plan for one’s own mortality, especially if an individual dies at a young age or unexpectedly. In the situation where an individual passes without a will, the probate process takes over. Sometimes, surviving family members can utilize a simplified version of New Jersey’s probate process. Both less expensive and quicker, the streamlined version is possible if these requirements are met.

Simplified Small Estate Probate

·        The total value of all assets remaining does not surpass $20,000.

·        The surviving spouse, family member, or beneficiary is entitled to the inheritance without probate.

·        A surviving spouse or family member does not exist and the value doesn’t top $10,000.

·        With permission of the other heirs, one heir can submit an affidavit to the court in order to obtain all assets.

Regular Probate

The surrogate’s court in the county in which the deceased individual resided is responsible for carrying out the process. Ideally, the whole procedure should take less than a year. In as few as 10 days following the individual’s passing, the executor can request to be designated as the official executor of the estate. To do this, you’ll have to show a copy of the will and an authorized copy of the death certificate. If your loved one does not have a will, the court will name an administrator. According to New Jersey law, the surviving spouse or domestic partner is given the first choice of being appointed administrator.

In terms of handling estate assets, the administrator will consolidate all existing cash accounts and money that has come into the estate, such as compensations or refunds. These leftover funds are applied to any expenses for the estate.

If possible, it’s best to attempt to streamline the probate process. This saves both your time and any of the beneficiaries’ time. The cost is another point to consider, especially if loved ones are forced to resort to their own financial accounts to pay for funeral expenses. For more information on the probate process or to contact a professional to guide you, contact our office today.

How Identity Theft Affects Your Credit Score

NJ credit repair

What (all-too common) crime can happen to you without your knowledge, making virtually everything in life more difficult? Two dreadful words: Identity Theft. Unlike some medical diseases, identity theft doesn’t discriminate; it can strike anyone at any time. The worst part about being a victim of identity theft is that it can have a seriously negative impact on your credit score and it can prove to be difficult to fix.

More people than you realize have been severely impacted by identity theft. When an impostor uses another person’s identity to make a purchase and fails to pay the bill, a storm cloud rolls in. The scammer has zero intent to ever pay the debts they accrue under your name; therefore, you’re left to clean up the aftermath. You may not even realize that your identity has been stolen until a credit agency contacts you. By this point, your credit has likely already taken a major hit.

Your credit score is your representation as a responsible individual regarding money matters. Unpaid bills can have a lasting, damaging impact on your credit report, which can then snowball to affect other areas of your life (obtaining housing, buying a car, getting a decent job). Because payment history makes up about 35% of your credit score, late or nonexistent payments have a momentous effect on your “credit worthiness.” In addition to unpaid bills, identity theft can leave other negative marks on your credit report. Here are five ways that identity theft packs a punch:

1.      New Accounts

Adding a new account to your credit report or getting a new loan shouldn’t affect your credit score as long as you aren’t adding a plethora of new accounts all at once and you’re making regular payments. However, when an impostor opens a new account in your name and fails to make any payments, your credit score will slowly begin to tank. Every month that passes without payment received will lower your credit score further.

2.      Inquiries

If an identity thief is applying for new credit with your personal information, the lender is going to check your credit report. These are known as credit checks, or “hard inquiries” – each of which show up on your credit report. Each inquiry will affect your credit score by dropping it a couple of points. Your score will drop because credit scoring models regard “hard inquiries” as a sign that the consumer is shopping for credit.

3.      Collections Accounts

After no action occurs for 6-12 months on an unpaid debt, the lender will turn it over to a collection agency. This causes a “second action” to be taken, and a collection account will appear on your credit report. Unfortunately, this will have an extremely harmful effect on your credit score. Often, medical identity theft leads to the appearance of a collection account. This occurs when an impostor uses your identity to obtain medical services or treatment, but has no intention of paying the bill(s).

4.      Greater credit utilization ratio

Another significant piece that counts toward your credit score is the amount of debt you carry. When the scammer “goes shopping” and adds charges to your account (unnoticed), your overall amount of debt rises. Even if the scammer opens a phone plan or house utility but doesn’t pay the bill, the provider will report it to the credit bureau. A negative ding will appear on your report, damaging your credit score. A continuously increasing amount of debt will continuously drop your credit score. The higher your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of your available credit that you use, the lower your credit score will fall.

5.      Higher Auto Insurance Rates

In every state except California and Massachusetts, auto insurers utilize your credit score to set rates. A low credit score can cause a 20 to 50% increase in auto insurance premiums. Even if you have a depressed credit score, an insurer can’t reject you, but they do have the ability to hike up your premiums without an explanation.

Nobody wants to find out that their identity was stolen, but it can and does happen. Being knowledgeable and prepared as to how it can affect you is crucial. If you’ve been the victim of an identity thief, Veitengruber Law can help you deal with the emotional and mental frustration as well as the financial damage that has been done. No matter how low your credit score has gotten – we will guide you through getting it back to a respectable number again.

6 Steps to Repairing Your Credit

nj credit repair

In today’s economy, it is imperative to maintain a decent credit score. There are many reasons why you simply must work to repair your credit if it is currently less than fair (below 560-580.) A higher credit score will allow you to obtain a higher credit line. Also, if you have an excellent credit score, you will receive offers for credit balances with lower interest. A better credit score will also empower you with more buying power, so you can purchase a house, car, or make other large purchases. There are a multitude of things you can do to improve a low credit score. Six of the most important steps are detailed below.

 

  1. Pay your bills on time. While this may seem like an obvious course of action, it is extremely beneficial to improving your credit score. Conversely, if you do not pay your bills on time, your credit score will take a significant hit. Some people falsely believe that making late payments will not affect their credit score as long as they aren’t MISSING payments. It’s important to realize that late payments will incrementally drop your score.

 

  1. Maintain an appropriate debt-to-credit ratio. This is a way for creditors and lenders to see that you are able to use your credit responsibly. Your debt-to-credit ratio is essentially how much money you owe creditors compared with your overall available credit. For example: If your overall debt (money you owe creditors) is $10,000, and your total available credit is $20,000, your debt-to-credit ratio is 50%. A low debt-to-credit ratio indicates that you are not overspending. It also shows that you are closer to being able to pay off your debt than if you owed a higher percentage of your available credit line.

 

  1. Pay more than the minimum balance due each month. This shows that your income is steady and you have more purchasing power. Plus, when you make more than the minimum payment each month, you will be able to pay more on the principle amount due as opposed to simply paying off interest.

 

  1. Avoid opening too many accounts in a short amount of time. The rationale for this step is that more inquiries indicates to creditors that you may be in serious financial trouble. Even if you aren’t approved for every account you apply for, there will be credit inquiries made each time you apply that will ding your credit report.

 

  1. Pay off your balance instead of transferring debt to other credit cards. Not only do most balance transfers typically involve a fee, but this can lead creditors to view you as a volatile debtor who simply shifts debt around rather than actually paying it down.

 

  1. Keep a keen eye on your credit report. If you discover any errors, you should immediately report the issues to the reporting agencies and have them rectified right away. This should be completed at least once per year. If you find errors on your credit report that the agency(ies) refuse to remove, take legal action in order to prevent false information from dragging your score down unnecessarily.

 

Following these steps to repairing your credit score are excellent ways to start planning for the future. Knowing that you have financial security will improve your overall health and well-being. While there are many other steps you can take to improve your credit score, this list is a basic overview of the most trusted ways to achieve your goals.

How to Raise Your Credit Score: Hire a Trusted NJ Attorney

NJ attorney

When hear the word ‘credit’, a number of images may pass through your mind. Maybe you think of a situation in which someone owes you money or perhaps you picture a bank. You may consider your education and the credit you received for each assignment or even a situation at work where you deserved credit for your hard work or a good deed. If you’re involved in the financial world, your mind might immediately jump to credit scores: good credit, bad credit, and everything in between.

No matter what you envision when the conversation turns to ‘credit,’ toss in a bit of everything mentioned above and you’re on your way to completing the puzzle of what’s known as a ‘credit score.’ A credit score is a three-digit number that is computed using an algorithm and is based on information gathered from your credit report. Its purpose is to predict risk. Ultimately, your credit score represents the likelihood that you will neglect your credit obligations in the next 24 months.

Though there are a multitude of credit-scoring models that are utilized, the most well-known is the FICO credit score. According to myFICO.com, 90 percent of all financial institutions throughout the United States use FICO credit scores when making a number of important decisions. The three-digit number ranges anywhere from 350 to 800, with the lower number representing a less-desirable credit score.

How do you avoid ending up with a low credit score? What factors play into the algorithm? There are five categories that influence a credit score. The percentages represent the weight of each factor in determining the score.

·        Payment history (35%): Paying your bills on time is crucial. By not paying your bills by the deadlines, you will cause your credit score to decrease. Also involved in this category are any delinquencies or public records.

·        Amounts owed (30%): The amount that you owe on each of your credit accounts heavily affects your credit score. Also, the amount of possible credit that you have on accounts is strongly considered.

·        Length of credit history (15%): The amount of time and number of accounts you have open will boost your credit score, as long as you’re paying the dues on time.

·        Types of credit used (10%): Having a variety of types of accounts will help you out. Two examples are revolving and installment.

·        New Credit (10%): How often you pursue opening new accounts and new credit, including inquiries (whether you’re approved or not), will have an impact on your score.

Now that you know what goes into a credit score, you realize how malleable it really is. If you don’t give the three-digit number a little bit of TLC, it can quickly bottom out on you. On the other hand, if you are careful with your finances, you shouldn’t have a real issue keeping your credit score in line.

We know that establishing or reestablishing good credit is key to a secure financial future and we want to help you move toward that goal. As you read before, many financial institutions use credit scores and reports to make decisions, manage risk, and increase profits. On the downside, they don’t have any interest in looking out for your personal credit score and overall financial health. That is where Veitengruber Law steps in. Our holistic approach to building credit is at the center of everything that we do. The guidance we provide doesn’t end with a negotiated debt solution or court case. Instead, our goal is to set you up to be a successful financial consumer with well-rounded money smarts.

When your credit score drops following a short sale, a bout with bankruptcy, settlement, or other issue(s), we will walk with you to educate and counsel you. A sturdy financial foundation will give you the power to develop and maintain financial health.

The only way that you will mature in your knowledge of money is to work with experienced professionals. Credit scores and financial health is nothing to mess around with. Your confidence will rest in how well the professional counsels you along this path. With years of experience working successfully within a multitude of situations, we know that we can help you no matter what kind of financial “mess” you may have landed in.

Planning a Wedding After You’ve Declared Bankruptcy

bankruptcy

Planning a wedding is a time of excitement and joy, but it can also be a time of significant stress. With the average wedding costing upwards of $25,000.00 in 2017, planning and paying for a wedding can be overwhelming for even the most financially stable couple. For couples going through bankruptcy, affording a wedding can seem nearly impossible. It is important to understand how bankruptcy will affect your ability to pay for a wedding, but also how it will affect the overall financial health of you and your future spouse. Fortunately, with the right planning you can still have the wedding of your dreams, even after declaring bankruptcy.

Financial stress is the leading cause of divorce, so it is important to get a handle on your finances before you decide to tie the knot. In declaring bankruptcy, you’ve taken the first step towards managing your debt to ensure a brighter financial future for you and your spouse. Keep in mind that bankruptcy exemptions are very specific and none of them cover expenses associated with a wedding. Because of this, and the potential stress and uncertainly that comes with bankruptcy proceedings, it is advisable to wait to plan a wedding until after a bankruptcy claim has been fully closed. That way, you can start married life with a clean financial slate.

Open communication and honesty about your financial history is very important as you plan your wedding. Whether you have liquidated your assets to eliminate your debt (Chapter 7) or reorganized your payments to creditors (Chapter 13), after declaring bankruptcy you will be able to get a good understanding of your new financial situation. Sit down with your future spouse and create a detailed budget including your income, expenses, and your expected payments to creditors if you have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. Figure out how much you plan on spending on your wedding and create a detailed wedding budget. Keep in mind that post-bankruptcy, it may be harder to obtain a loan to finance wedding purchases. Cut costs where you can so you can focus your financial resources on the aspects of your special day you couldn’t imagine going without.

It is also important to understand how a bankruptcy can affect your new spouse after you say I do. Contrary to popular belief, your credit—even if you have declared bankruptcy—will not directly affect the credit of a future spouse. Every person has their own credit score and these scores are not combined after marriage. However, bankruptcy may affect your future spouse in indirect ways. The only time a declaration of bankruptcy will affect a future spouse is when you apply for credit as joint account holders (like applying for a mortgage) OR when adding a spouse to an existing line of credit. It may become more difficult for you and your spouse to acquire joint loans, or you may have to pay higher interest rates on those joint loans.

Filing for bankruptcy can be a difficult and complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t let bankruptcy get in the way of your happily-ever-after. Contact the qualified legal team at Veitengruber Law help you plan your debt free future.

Planning Ahead Eases Death Anxiety, Say “Death-Positive” Activists

nj estate planning

For most people, the thought of death can be frightening. No one likes to think about what will eventually come at the end of their life, but it is a fact that we have to face. Life on Earth does not go on forever. Knowing that, it’s crucial to plan ahead at least a minimal amount, especially when it comes to financial matters. Not only will you be assured that money and assets will go where you’d like them to, but your family will be thankful for your initiative as well.

For the big events of life, we make lists and try to be as prepared as possible. College. Weddings. Babies. Jobs. Retirement. The end of life should be no different. Of course, we have those things like skydiving, going on a cruise, swimming with a dolphin, and visiting Italy on our bucket list, also known as things to do before we die. Just like these things compose one of life’s most important lists, so does writing a will, appointing a power of attorney (POA), and considering options for long-term care.

Innumerable, weighty decisions have to be made within just hours of a loved one’s death. With the already existent burden of anxiety and grief, a family doesn’t want to have to think about making all of these decisions after a loved one passes. In addition to financial matters, a family also needs to plan the funeral. Though we don’t want to think about it, making burial arrangements before death exemplifies concern and care for your family members. Over and over again, family members have shown gratitude and confirm the relief and comfort when a family member has pre-arrangements.

Any decision that has to be made after a person passes has the potential to cause disputes between family members. Some family members are going to feel that they have a stronger say in the decision-making process, while others will argue their point of view. Unfortunately, you won’t be there to give them your opinion. Again, by making arrangements before you pass, you eliminate the potential for many issues, before they arise.

There are a few clear-cut steps you can take to side-step some of the issues mentioned above.

1.      Power of Attorney (POA). The first and most crucial decision that you need to make is to appoint a reliable POA. It’s key that this individual is trustworthy, financially intelligent, and is someone that knows you well. When you are sick or unable to do so yourself, this person will deposit checks, take care of bills, and any other financial matters. In the United States today, people are living longer, which means that there’s a higher chance that more individuals will be living with chronic diseases as they age. Some of these diseases can impair a person to the point that they cannot take care of their money. That’s the point where a POA steps in; an individual that can take over for someone in order to ensure the highest quality of life for as long as possible.

2.      Write a will. Since estates worth up to $3.9 million are tax exempt, a will is usually sufficient estate planning for most individuals. A trust is can be produced to cut down on estate taxes and circumvent probate, but taxes aren’t as much of a concern in the current day. Also, the procedures are simpler, so probate is not as common either. Usually a will and a steadfast POA will get the job done.

3.      Living will. Since you’ve already appointed a POA, this step only involves writing a living will, or an advanced-care directive. Your POA will implement your wishes at the end stages of life. Again, when you name a POA, it needs to be someone you completely trust. If you don’t create a living will, your loved ones may run into some horrific problems. If a person is brain dead, a family needs to decide whether or not the individual should be kept on life support. If you’ve already delineated this in a living will, there will be no questions about it.

In addition to these 3 major points, as well as the funeral arrangements, there are a few other minor choices you’ll want to contemplate. Consider the option of donating organs when you pass. Also, look into life insurance if your partner or kids will need financial support without you. Finally, consider long-term care. If possible, it’s best to stay out of nursing homes, as they are incredibly expensive, but if it is a necessary possibility, then you should give it some serious thought.

The most important concept: start planning sooner instead of later (the way we should approach all aspects of life). None of the above steps will happen without conversations with children, spouses, and maybe even your own parents. It’s a tough topic to broach, but it’s absolutely necessary. A few early and simple conversations can save a lot of headache, broken relationships, and hurt feelings in the future, as well as ease your own anxiety about death.