Do You Understand Your Mortgage’s Fine Print?

Now that the housing/mortgage crisis has begun to level out in most parts of the country, it has once again become a buyer’s market, and this time in a much more reasonable manner. Interest rates are good, but not unbelievably good like they were leading up to the 2007 crisis. As we all know by now: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Just because we’re looking at the US Financial Crisis (2007-2008) in the rear view mirror doesn’t mean that getting a mortgage loan today comes without risks, though. In fact, there is a lot to be learned from the mistakes made a decade ago.

In order to ensure that you aren’t getting yourself into something you can’t handle or something that will change over time (and not in your favor) – you simply MUST have a complete and solid understanding of everything contained in your mortgage agreement.

To most people, this probably sounds like common sense. But have you ever looked at a real, live mortgage agreement? They are very lengthy with a lot of industry jargon that can quickly spin you into a confused puddle on the floor.

Your best bet is to find a New Jersey lawyer with real estate knowledge. Make sure you trust him and his team implicitly – in all likelihood a paralegal may also work with you on real estate matters, so be sure to meet everyone in the office who will be helping you understand your documents.

Questions to have ready for your attorney and/or paralegal include:

  • Is my rate variable or fixed? If the answer is variable, find out the lowest fixed rate that you’ll be able to lock in your loan.
  • Will there be penalties if I have to break my mortgage contract?
  • Am I required to pay mortgage insurance? If so, find out why. You may be able to work with a different lender who will not require mortgage insurance. If mortgage insurance is non-negotiable, be sure to ask how long you’ll be paying it, because it can often be a significant sum.
  • How long does my mortgage loan last? Will different terms lower my monthly payment?
  • What fees am I required to pay up front and are there any fees that were tossed into the total loan amount?
  • Do I have a balloon payment clause?
  • What are mortgage “points?”
  • Is a down payment required?
  • What is my monthly payment?
  • What is my credit score? We left this question until the end for a reason. We wanted to leave you with it on your mind. Finding out your credit score should be one of the first things you do even before you begin applying for mortgage pre-approval.

Your credit score will have a significant impact on the interest rate you will be offered by lenders. If your score is less than desirable, or even “fair”, talk to your NJ real estate attorney and paralegal about waiting to buy a home until you can boost your score into the “good” or “excellent” range. Work with your trusted legal team to raise your credit score. They will also be able to guide you in determining the best time to jump into the real estate market so that you qualify for the best loan options. This will save you a lot of money throughout the length of your mortgage.

 

 

Images: “Chocolates 1” and “Chocolates 2” by Windell Oskay – licensed under CC 2.0

5 Expert Recommended Methods to Raise Your Credit Score

If you are researching how to raise your credit score, regardless of the reason, we give you major kudos. Perhaps you are trying to repair a credit report that was damaged due to years of poor financial choices. On the other hand, maybe your credit score is fair and you’re getting ready to make a big change in your life that will be much easier with good to excellent credit, like buying a new house or starting a family.

You should always strive to have the best credit score possible, but many people experience dips in their credit score just as we experience ups and downs in life. Such is the nature of the beast. In order to raise your credit score effectively, we’ve gathered some expert-recommended tips that can make a significant difference in your overall credit report and number.

Before making any changes, you’ll want to make sure you pull your own credit report and have a good look over everything listed on it. Comb through each credit report from the three main credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) very carefully to check for any mistakes that may have been made like debt that is being reported that doesn’t actually belong to you.

You can contact the reporting agency about any errors on your own or you can work with a New Jersey credit repair attorney to help you make the contact and clear up any errors that may be unnecessarily dragging your credit score down.

After you have determined that there are no errors currently weighing down your score, take the following expert-recommended steps to boost your score higher than ever before:

Pay monthly credit card bills before their closing dates

Even if you are managing to pay your credit card bills in full each month, you may be paying after your lender has already reported your balance to the credit bureaus. This will make it seem that your balance is high every month. What you must do is contact your credit card company or lender and ask when they make their monthly credit bureau reports. Henceforth, make your monthly payment well in advance of that credit card company’s closing date so that your balance will be reported to the bureaus as zero.

Create a debt paydown strategy

In order to optimize your credit utilization ratio (which means keeping it lower than 30% but optimally under 10%), work hard to pay down the balances on your card(s) that have the highest balances first.

Pay your debts every time you get paid

Most people pay their bills once a month, but there is a better way! Since it is common practice for most employers in the US to pay their workers on a biweekly basis, make it your new practice to make two payments on your credit card debt per month. Pay your monthly minimum as soon as you receive your first paycheck of the month, and then pay a little bit more with your second paycheck of the month. This will nudge your balance down much more quickly than only making one payment per month.

Lower your credit utilization ratio by requesting a higher credit limit

Although this is something that should not be attempted if you don’t trust yourself to stay within your own self-imposed spending limits, requesting a higher credit limit from your credit card company can lower your overall credit utilization ratio. Naturally, this will only work as long as you refrain from racking up anymore debt.

Consolidate multiple credit cards from the same issuer

With the ultimate goal of keeping your total credit limit the same, if you have more than one credit card with the same institution, consider requesting a consolidation of those cards. The goal of this is to increase the average age of your overall revolving credit, so request that your newer card be combined into the older card. This will eventually eliminate that newer card from your credit history and your debt will have an older overall age, which will help improve your credit score.

 

Image: “5” by Steve Bowbrick – licensed under CC by 2.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Lauren Siegert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will an eviction damage my credit score?

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

Image credit: Angela Rutherford

Building a Good Credit Rating When You Have No Credit History

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For those people who are dealing with a sub-par or super-low credit score, there is an abundance of good advice available regarding how to improve a poor credit rating. From debt negotiation to loan refinancing, New Jersey credit repair attorneys are able to help their struggling clients watch their scores go up, up, up!

Obviously, on the other end of the spectrum are those people who’ve (almost) always made sound financial decisions, haven’t experienced any major catastrophes, and therefore have great credit scores with glowing credit reports. They obviously don’t need help in this arena.

There’s a much less talked about gray area of the credit spectrum, though, where some young people are finding themselves stuck. These people are generally either in their late teens to early 20s, or they’ve been living at home with their parents and may be approaching their mid-20s or even 30.

What does it mean to have “NO credit history”?

While the terms “bad credit and zero credit history” can often be confused, the two situations are entirely different and it’s important to know your options if you’re in the zero credit history category.

A bad (or low) credit score suggests that you have made some significant missteps in your financial history. This means you may have: had a number of late payments on any of your expenses, racked up too much credit card debt, co-signed a loan that defaulted, defaulted on a loan of your own, recently applied for a number of new loans, closed credit accounts that you don’t use (which lowers your credit utilization ratio), had your home foreclosed, or filed for NJ bankruptcy.

As someone with zero credit history, you’ll face similar problems as those with low credit scores when it comes to getting a loan, credit card, buying a car, purchasing a home, and sometimes even renting an apartment.

Having no credit history, however, is generally much easier to “fix” than having a bad credit history. That’s because you haven’t necessarily made any bad money choices – you just haven’t appeared on the credit system’s radar yet. You don’t have any credit cards, you’ve never applied for a loan or financed a vehicle. When performing a search for your credit history, lenders will simply come back with….nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Does zero credit history mean my score starts at 300?

Just because you have no credit history doesn’t mean you have to start at the bottom of the credit rating scale, which ranges from 300 – 850. Your credit worthiness will be given a score, but not until you have engaged in some activities that can be “rated.”

It can be frustrating when you have no credit history because, although you don’t have a bad credit score, creditors still can’t tell much about your credit worthiness. They don’t know if they can trust you to pay back money or not. Because of this, getting your credit history rolling can be tricky.

Naturally, everyone had to start with no credit history, so building a good credit score from your vantage point is definitely doable. Because lenders will be wary of you at first, you’ll need to start with baby steps.

What kind of credit will I be able to get?

Although you won’t be able to apply for a high limit credit card or a home mortgage right off the bat, there are low-risk ways for you to build a credit history. Start by asking your bank if you can apply for their secured credit card. If you’ve been banking with them for awhile, they’ll be more likely to approve you since they at least know your banking habits. For those who’ve never had a bank account, your first step will be opening a checking account. Do some research first so that you’re sure to open an account with a bank that offers a secured credit card.

It may be possible for you to receive a slightly larger loan, like a used car loan, but you may have to ask a parent or close friend (with good credit) to cosign the loan with you. Most importantly, no matter what your first loan is, you must be sure to make your monthly payments on time. Eventually your responsibility will pay off and your credit score will rise.

At first, your score will not start at the bottom (300) of the scale, nor will it skyrocket to the top (850) simply because you make a few timely payments. However, as soon as you are granted a loan and begin making payments, your credit history will no longer be a giant blank space. Your score is likely to start off somewhere in the middle of the range, and will only continue to rise as you demonstrate credit worthiness.

Namesake Credit Mix-ups and How to Repair the Damage

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Although not as common as it once was, naming baby boys after their fathers is still a custom that is practiced in this country. Proud fathers naturally want to continue a family tradition that may have existed for centuries. In fact, some women also choose to name their daughters after themselves, however this is a much less common occurrence.

Aside from the cultural aspects that are intertwined with baby naming practices, giving your child the same name as one of his/her parents may be setting them up for a lifetime of headaches.

In addition to everyday confusion related to which person is being referred to (Are you talking about Big John or Little John, Junior?), sharing an identical (or nearly so) name can lead to financial mix-ups that are much more inconvenient.

Especially as the child grows into an adult and begins to acquire his own assets and credit rating, it’s unfortunately common for fathers and sons with the same name to have some co-mingling of their credit information.

How does this happen?

As much as we’d love to think that every financial institution and lender is doing their due diligence when processing loan applications and other important identifying documents, mistakes are made every day. Incomplete information leads employees to fill in the blanks of their own accord, which is where the errors begin.

Employees who are unfamiliar with the people involved are often on the paper-pushing end of financial transactions like loans. Given the task of ensuring that all documents are complete, these employees may have to search for a person’s social security number, for example. In a situation where a father and son share the same name (and suffixes have been dropped), matching up the wrong social security number is an easy mistake.

Will I have to change my name to fix my credit?

Although it may help in your future financial endeavors, changing your name won’t do anything for the errors that already exist in your credit report. You’ll need to be in close contact with all of the credit bureaus to dispute every instance of the wrong identity being used. As long as you follow through with your dispute(s), you should be able to have all of the incorrect information removed, which will improve your score if it was negatively affected.

In order to prevent this from becoming a never-ending problem that keeps coming back to bite you, take the following steps:

  • Always provide your social security number and give complete information when filling out any type of financial documentation, especially loan applications.
  • Sit down with your father (or other person with whom you share a name) in order to educate him about the situation at hand. Encourage him to fill out applications in full as well.
  • Be consistent with the name that you use on applications. If your name contains a suffix, like Jr., Sr., or III, use it without fail when you apply for anything. If you have always used a nickname, continue using the same name for all financial transactions into the future. Consistency is the key.
  • Check your credit report annually for any new errors that may pop up, and deal with them promptly to avoid serious consequences to your credit score.

 

Image credit: Francisco Osorio

Late Payments: Will They Affect my Credit Score?

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By now, you probably understand that failure to make good on your debts will definitely be reflected in your credit report and score. Regardless of your reason, leaving debts unpaid opens you up to numerous marks on your credit report, which will in turn drag your score down, down, down – until the debts are paid.

So, not paying your debts equals a low credit score, but what happens when you do pay, but you pay late?

Will late payments be reflected on my credit report?

The best answer here is “it depends.” If you make one or two utility payments that are only late by a few days, they probably won’t show up on your credit report. (But they might! Much depends on the company’s policies and the individual in charge of receiving payments for that company.)

Many times, medical debt causes significant headaches for consumers. Usually the headaches are caused by dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies are notoriously bad at responding to claims in a reasonable time frame, which leads to red marks on your credit report. Often, codes are submitted incorrectly or multiple insurance policies are not properly coordinated. Further, some claims are initially denied but may be approved if resubmitted through the proper channels.

The bottom line regarding medical debt is that human error combined with strict and sometimes questionable policy rules lead to long wait times for some claims to be paid by insurance companies.

Why is my medical debt marked “Late” on my credit report if it is the insurance company’s fault?

This question comes up often, and the unfortunate reality is that creditors, even hospitals, doctors’ offices and other medical providers, do not care who pays their bill as long as it gets paid. Most providers do realize that there may be a slight delay for payment due to the intricacies of the insurance industry, however, they are not willing to wait for an extended period of time.

Patients who are waiting for their insurance company to pay their medical bill(s) are often surprised to find negative marks on their credit report because they don’t understand that if there is a delay on the insurance company’s side, medical providers expect the patient to pay the bill and then be reimbursed by the insurance company.

If you’ve recently discovered that some of your paid medical debt has been marked as “Late” on your credit report, you may wonder if you can get your provider to remove the “Late” status now that they’ve received payment. Unfortunately they don’t have to and typically won’t remove the “Late” mark from your report because doing so takes up more of their valuable time.

Additionally, if your medical debt was in fact paid late then it is accurately denoted on your credit report. The fact that it is marked as “Paid” is important (even if marked “Paid Late”), and you can add a note to the entry so that future creditors know precisely why it was paid late. If, however, your medical debt was paid and your credit report does not reflect payment at all, then you have a right to have the information changed.

Image credit: NursingSchoolsNearMe

How to Buy a Home With a Low Credit Score

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If you’ve made some mistakes in your financial past, you’ll see the effect of those mistakes displayed in your credit score. Many people with poor to fair credit scores wish to make a large purchase (like a vehicle or house) but are stymied when they realize that their credit history adds a degree of difficulty to the process.

There are many reasons that make buying “better” than renting. Some of them include:

  • No more landlords! You get to make all of the decisions about your property and your home, which naturally does add some responsibility into your life, but you’ll also feel a sense of freedom when you get out from under a landlord, especially if you’ve had a negative renting experience.
  • Homeowner tax deductions!
  • You can go “green.” Renters have no control over making home improvements that will lower utility costs, but as a homeowner you’ll be able to make changes like using solar panels and adding insulation.
  • You can make a home your own. Whether this means extensive renovations or simply changing the wall colors – it’s all up to you when you’re the owner.

If you are dealing with the roadblock of a low to fair credit score but are working with a NJ credit counseling professional to continually bring that number up – you are on the right track to becoming a homeowner.

Admittedly, a credit score that’s below about 580 is going to make it challenging for you to acquire a mortgage loan. Although it will be challenging, it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips that will make it more likely for you to be approved for a home loan in the near future:

  • Get a co-signer. If you’re determined to own a home NOW and your credit score falls into the “low” range (<580), ask a close family member or friend with good credit to sign the mortgage with you. Technically, the loan will then belong to both of you, but you will be the only one making the payments. When your credit score improves, you can have the co-signer removed from the loan.
  • Make a large down payment. The fact that you want to own rather than continue to rent, even with a low credit score, tells us that you have a reliable source of decent income or that you’ve had some kind of financial windfall recently. Either way, making a significant down payment often convinces lenders that sub-prime borrowers are on their way up and are not a lending risk.
  • Apply for an FHA loan. Because this type of loan is backed by the US government, you can (often) qualify for an FHA loan with a credit score in the 500s. You’ll be paying for your low score with required mortgage insurance, but if you can afford it, an FHA loan is a good option. After you pay down your loan a bit, you can petition your lender to remove the insurance.
  • Avoid making any more financial mistakes. For potential borrowers with bad credit, lenders look to see that your score is moving in the right direction. They also want to know whether you’ve missed any rent or utility payments in the last year or two. If your financial stability is super new, you may need to wait to apply for a mortgage until you are able to increase your credit score and/or generally improve your overall financial situation.

Image credit: Mark Moz

What is the Best Foreclosure Alternative?

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Veitengruber Law spends a lot of time helping our clients stay in their homes. We work tirelessly on foreclosure defense matters, and we’ve saved countless properties from being sold at Sheriff’s Sale. Since we do focus much of our attention on keeping homeowners out of foreclosure, you may be wondering why.

In other words: if we dedicate so much of our time to avoiding foreclosure – it must be a pretty darn undesirable outcome, right? Foreclosure is right for some people, but many people have gotten themselves into an unfortunate financial jam and would like to get out of it without losing their home in the process.

What is the BEST ‘foreclosure alternative’?

When we are helping a client avoid foreclosure, it’s for one of several reasons:

  1. The homeowner doesn’t want to lose their home;
  2. The homeowner doesn’t want a foreclosure on their credit report;
  3. The homeowner wants to avoid a deficiency judgement.

Therefore, the best foreclosure alternative depends on the desired outcome for each individual client. If you are in danger of losing your home to foreclosure but you really want to keep your home, Veitengruber Law can help you negotiate with your lender to get you approved for a loan modification or refinance. In doing so, we are often able to bring monthly payments low enough for our clients to manage, allowing them to bring their mortgages current and continue living in their homes.

Another way to avoid losing your home to foreclosure is to file for bankruptcy. In doing so, your bankruptcy case will engage an automatic stay. An automatic stay is an injunction that prohibits any of your creditors from collecting or attempting to collect any money from you until such time as your bankruptcy case has been officially settled. The automatic stay also stops any foreclosure action dead in its tracks, giving you and your foreclosure defense attorney time to determine the best course of action regarding your home.

If you don’t want to or wouldn’t qualify for bankruptcy, you would very likely be approved for a loan modification as mentioned above. Getting approved for a loan modification or mortgage refinance would keep a foreclosure and/or bankruptcy from appearing on your credit report

For the homeowner who is ok with the sale of their home, but would really like to avoid the credit score damage inflicted by a foreclosure, selling via short sale may be the answer. A short sale involves getting permission from your lender to sell your home for less than the amount left on your mortgage.

Short sales are great finds for buyers, but why would a bank agree to accept (often significantly) less than what they are owed? The answer is simple: a short sale is the lesser of two evils. Lenders will almost always receive (a lot) more money for a property that is sold through a short sale rather than a foreclosure sale (Sheriff’s Sale).

In addition, if you can find a buyer for your home in a short sale scenario, your lender is much less likely to file a deficiency judgement against you. In a foreclosure, a deficiency judgement can be obtained by a creditor (your bank or lender) for the difference between the sale price and how much you still owed on your mortgage.

Theoretically, lenders can also petition the court for a short sale deficiency judgement, but the reality is that they often don’t pursue one because they’ve received more money than they would’ve if the property had been sold at Sheriff’s Sale. Also, many lenders want to stay in the good graces of their customers, and chasing down already distressed homeowners after a short sale has repaid a significant portion of the debt simply isn’t good for business.

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a foreclosure alternative, there are a wide variety of potential solutions. Veitengruber Law has seen it all, and we can help you determine the best fix for you and your home.

Image credit: Nicholas Cardot

5 Common Bankruptcy Myths: Debunked

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Without a doubt, there is no shortage of misinformation when it comes to bankruptcy. Veitengruber Law works hard to consistently provide valid, up-to-date information about bankruptcy in New Jersey to help our readers and clients educate themselves based on facts.

Today, however, we’re going to address some of the biggest bankruptcy myths and the truth that lies behind them. Much like the mythical mermaid, believing in something that isn’t based on facts won’t make it a reality any way you look at it.

  1. “You can’t discharge income taxes in bankruptcy.” For some reason, it is a common misconception that income taxes are non-dischargeable in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. The reality is that income taxes are the only type of tax debt that can be discharged! Read more about the rules associated with tax debt qualifications for bankruptcy here.
  2. “Because of the Means Test, I’ll have to file chapter 13, which won’t help me get rid of any debt, so why bother?” While the first half of this may be true, even if you don’t qualify for chapter 7 based on the Means Test, filing for chapter 13 does not automatically mean that you will have to repay all of your debts in full. In fact, most chapter 13 reorganization plans see the debtor only paying a fraction of their total debt amount.
  3. “I can’t risk ruining my spouse’s credit, so bankruptcy’s not an option.” This is something we hear constantly. In New Jersey, bankruptcy does not have to be filed jointly with your spouse. You may need to disclose how much money your spouse makes, but ultimately you can file solo and it will literally have no impact on your spouse’s credit score.
  4. “Bankruptcy is only for people who are unemployed and/or impoverished.” While we understand why this belief exists, we want to be clear that it doesn’t matter how much money you make when it comes to bankruptcy. As long as your debts and expenses outweigh your income, you will almost certainly pass the Means Test, which will qualify you to file for bankruptcy in NJ.
  5. “Any attorney can help me file for bankruptcy. The cheaper the better.” Did you know that some attorneys will take your retainer even if they have zero experience with bankruptcy law? Do your research and select a bankruptcy attorney in New Jersey who has hundreds of bankruptcy cases under his belt. Selecting a NJ lawyer with little to no bankruptcy experience may cost you less money up front, but the end result can be catastrophic.

At Veitengruber Law, we’ve made it our priority to help New Jersey debtors get out from under their debt. We provide our clients with personalized and in-depth meetings so we can evaluate your debts from every angle.

As our client, you’ll receive tailored advice and a team to walk you through the entire bankruptcy process from start to finish and beyond. Because we understand the financial strife our clients are facing, we offer free consultations and extremely flexible payment plans that fit into your reality.

“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” ~ Andre Gide

Image credit: AK Rockefeller