I’m Being Sued for More Money than I Owe!

Is a debt from your past coming back to haunt you in the present? Although not ideal, sometimes it happens. Perhaps you weren’t making sound financial decisions at that point in your life and accidentally (or intentionally) ignored some past due notices until they just stopped coming.

It can feel like it’s easier to ignore bills when you don’t have the means to pay them. However, the end result is almost always going to be substantially worse than your original debt.

While it can take some companies awhile to take action on smaller debts, the bad news is that your (once) small-ish debt has had a load of time to compound upon itself, rolling around in interest rates, gathering late fees and potentially even picking up attorney’s fees. If your original lender or credit card company has hired counsel to address getting you to pay up, it is possible for them to tack their attorney’s fees on to the amount owed.

What can I do?

Your credit card company is hoping that you’ll get scared by the big number they’re asking for – as you should. If you receive a summons and complaint that says you owe double, triple or quadruple your original debt amount – now is the time to obtain counsel yourself.

How can I afford an attorney if I can’t even pay my debt?

Working with a New Jersey debt settlement attorney on a matter like this is highly unlikely to cost you thousands of dollars. In all likelihood, the right NJ lawyer will have the required negotiating skills to bring the amount owed down to a much more reasonable number – simply by making a few phone calls and/or sending some letters.

Your attorney can then work to coordinate a payment plan that is manageable for you so that you can pay off the (now much lower) balance. The lender/credit card company will almost always be happy to get some form of payment from you as opposed to nothing.

What will happen if my case goes to court?

If, by chance, your credit card company does not want to settle via your credit repair attorney, New Jersey courts will set up a mediation wherein the same kind of talks will take place. A court appointed mediator will work with you and your attorney, along with counsel for the opposing side, to negotiate a resolution that everyone can agree to.

The bottom line is: if you have been served with a lawsuit to collect a debt in a much higher amount than you originally owed, you’re probably not going to get out of paying at least part of the debt unless you file for bankruptcy. If you have the means to pay back the amount that your lawyer negotiates for you, you should do so in a timely manner so that your credit score doesn’t take an even bigger hit.

On the other hand, if you are completely strapped and cannot imagine even one dollar of your debt (and likely other debts that you owe) being repaid, it is definitely time to consider filing for a NJ bankruptcy. This will wipe out a significant amount of your total debt, leaving you much more financially stable, which will allow you to “start over” with a much cleaner slate.

 

Image: “Breaking into your Savings” by Images Money – licensed under CC 2.0

Should I Quit My Job to Avoid Wage Garnishment?

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If you’ve recently discovered that a NJ lender to whom you are indebted plans to garnish your wages in order to recover some of your missed payments, it’s natural to feel scared and overwhelmed. How much of your paycheck can they legally garnish? Will your co-workers find out that your wages are being garnished? The fear of that embarrassment is what prompts some people in this situation to ask themselves if they should simply quit their job to avoid the wage garnishment.

Wage garnishment is a debt collection strategy utilized by some lenders when other debt recovery tactics have failed. If you, as a debtor, have not made good faith efforts to repay the money you owe to a particular lender, the lender can get a court order that will order your employer to pay a percentage of each of your paychecks to the lender.

Will quitting your job help you avoid wage garnishment? Well, yes! Wage garnishment only works if there are “wages” being paid for a lender to intercept. So, does that mean you’ve outsmarted the system?

You cannot outrun a debt by quitting your job. In fact, leaving a steady place of employment simply to dodge a creditor is foolish, as they will find new ways to extract the money from you, and it is impractical to think that you can remain unemployed until the 20 year statute of limitations on your lender’s judgement runs out.

Is there any way to stop a wage garnishment order while keeping my job?

Now you’re talking! Keeping your job is your best bet in this situation, because you do have other options. Need to get rid of a New Jersey debt that you can’t afford to pay? Priority number one is remaining employed. Check.

Next, it’s time to talk about filing for NJ bankruptcy. Maybe you don’t want to file for bankruptcy either; perhaps it feels like ‘giving up.’ You may not want anyone to find out that you filed for bankruptcy just as you were worried about people knowing your wages would be garnished.

GOOD NEWS: Bankruptcy today does not have the stigma it held a generation ago. Times have changed, many people have been through some difficult financial challenges in the past decade, and bankruptcy now looks like a pretty good option for a lot of people.

You’re not alone if you consider filing for bankruptcy. Many people have come to the realization that filing for bankruptcy is the best answer to settling their debts. Many New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys will not charge you a fee to consult with them – call and make an appointment to find out what your options are.

A chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe your debts clean (with a few exceptions like child support and student loans). You’ll be left owing a significantly less amount of money as soon as your bankruptcy is discharged, giving you more money to pay your bills and live life with. You’ll be able to find your way back to a balanced financial situation and a bright financial future if you decide to file for NJ bankruptcy, and you won’t have to try to out-run your creditors.

Image credit: Christie Parker

I Received an Insurance Settlement: Can I Still File for Bankruptcy?

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If you recently received a substantial insurance pay-out, you were undoubtedly involved in some kind of accident. Perhaps you had a car accident, obtained an injury at work, or were hurt during a mishap that took place on the privately owned property of an individual or business. If your injuries were significant enough to file a lawsuit, it’s likely that you were unable to work very much (or at all) after your accident or injury.

Assuming that your injuries have prevented you from generating enough income to satisfy your bills, you may have quite a few overdue utility payments, car payments and/or past due mortgage or rent payment(s). Waiting for an insurance settlement can feel interminable and never-ending during the waiting process. Trying to get by on next-to-nothing is not only highly stressful; it’s usually virtually impossible.

As your situation deteriorates more and more, you may begin to contemplate filing for bankruptcy. After all, you have no idea how long it will be before you receive a settlement check from your insurance company, and your creditors are getting very impatient! Learning about filing for New Jersey bankruptcy, you may start to feel that it is the best option for a fresh start, eliminating many of the debts that are preventing you from being able to live any kind of normal life.

You’ve done your due diligence in making an appointment with a NJ bankruptcy attorney and have gathered all of the necessary financial paperwork. Essentially, you’re ready to open your bankruptcy case when….. you receive your insurance settlement money.

A rush of mixed emotions – should I use the insurance money to catch up on late bills and cancel my bankruptcy case?

Most debtors who are so deep in debt simply because they were injured are afraid to file for bankruptcy for fear of losing the insurance settlement money they received. For example, if you were injured at a local store when a heavy item fell, crushing your foot and eliminating your ability to work at your cashier job, can you still file for bankruptcy if and when you receive the insurance pay-out that you actually deserve?

New Jersey will allow you to decide whether to use the state or federal exemption laws to protect your settlement. You must choose one or the other, though, and cannot piecemeal an exemption plan that uses both state and federal exemption laws.

If you take a look at the NJ exemption that would help you protect your settlement money, you’d be looking at the New Jersey wildcard exemption, which allows debtors to keep up to $1,000 of any property or settlement money.

Conversely, the federal bankruptcy exemptions are much more beneficial when it comes to protecting settlement funds. If you decide to use federal exemption laws, you’ll be entitled to keep up to $22,975* in personal injury settlement payments. Additionally, you’ll be able to protect damages for lost wages, wrongful death awards and can use a federal wildcard exemption that protects any property or money of your choosing up to $1,225*.

There are many more details involved in filing for NJ bankruptcy when you’ve been injured and are anticipating an insurance settlement or other financial windfall. As every bankruptcy case varies so widely, you should direct case-specific questions to a local bankruptcy attorney who is willing to discuss your case with you free of charge.

Image credit: Christian Eberle

*As these numbers are subject to changes, please clarify specific exemption amounts with your attorney.

I’m Disabled and in Debt: Can I be Sued for the Money I Owe?

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Maybe you were plugging along with a solid debt-snowball plan that was going swimmingly, effectively reducing your overall debt bit by bit before you became disabled. Disability can happen to anyone, at any time, and can come in an endless number of forms. Whether you were in a vehicular accident, had a serious fall, or if you have been diagnosed with a serious illness or disease, the effect on your finances can be simply devastating.

Regardless of the cause of your disability, if you also have a large amount of debt you can’t repay, you may be feeling helpless and afraid of what will happen next. Will the credit card company sue you? Will you go to jail? Will your family be responsible for your debts?

The bad news is that you can be sued for unpaid debts, however, it’s the best kind of bad news you can get. If your disability has caused you to be unable to work, you probably don’t have very much money in your bank account. The good news, then, is that you have no money for your creditors to take, even if they do sue you. You don’t have to worry about going to jail, either, unless your creditor is your ex-spouse and the unpaid debt is child support. Even then, a change in life circumstance (your disability) can be entered into your family court case, which will reduce your support payments while you are disabled. And your family will not be responsible for debts taken out in your name only.

What if I collect Social Security disability benefits?

If your creditor sues you for a debt you owe them, they can have your bank account levied if you refuse to pay the judgement amount (your refusal would make sense if you actually can’t pay it due to lack of money.) However, some debtors do find themselves with at least some money in their bank accounts if they receive payments from Social Security due to their disability. The good news here is that disability funds are exempt from collection by creditors or collection agencies.

For those of you who are receiving disability benefits, it is of the utmost importance that you keep your disability money distinctly separated from any other monies you may receive. It is best to open a new bank account that will only receive deposits from Social Security. If you commingle your Social Security funds with any other funds that may trickle in while you are not working (gifts from family, yard sale money, proceeds from selling stuff on eBay) – you can risk losing some of your Social Security money if a levy is placed upon your bank account(s).

While many disabilities are short-lived, some are not, and still others are difficult to predict. Because of the unpredictable nature of so many disabilities, illnesses and injuries, your best bet is to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This will rid you of the debt that is currently hanging over your head like a dark cloud and will release you from worrying about it. Your ability to focus on healing physically will undoubtedly improve with the weight of your debts lifted.

Your credit rating will take a hit if you decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey. The same is true if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, the benefits of wiping out your extensive debts while you’re disabled are much greater than the effects of a lower credit score at this time. Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to help you improve your credit score after your bankruptcy discharge, so that you can get it moving back in the right direction, just as you will be able to improve your mental and physical health without the stress of owing so much money.

Image credit: Alexander Edward

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

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

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

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

“I absolutely cannot afford a lawyer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Images of Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happens after repossession?

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

Will I still be liable for the payments?

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

How will this affect my credit rating?

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

Image credit: Paragon Apts

I’m too Broke to File for Bankruptcy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Sodanie Chea

 

 

 

Wage Garnishment: FAQ

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What is wage garnishment?

If you owe money to a person or company that you have failed to repay or even begin to repay, the creditor (entity to whom you are indebted) can obtain a court order against you. This court document will order your current employer to take a specific amount of money out of each of your paychecks. This money will go directly to the creditor to whom you owe money.

How much of my paycheck can be garnished?

There are federal laws in place that limit the amount of money that can be garnished from anyone’s paycheck so that the debtor can still manage their monthly expenses. Generally, no more than 25% of your income (after deductions) can be garnished by any combination of creditors who may be seeking money from you.

Can I lose my job because of a wage garnishment?

If you have only one garnishment against your wages, your employer does not have the right to terminate your employment, nor can they punish you or treat you any differently because of a wage garnishment.

Multiple wage garnishments filed against you will give your employer some rights to take action. For example, suppose your employer discovers that you are neck-deep in unpaid debt and your job duties include dealing with company finances. Your severely disordered finances at home send up a red flag, and many times employers do have rights against you when the garnishments keep rolling in.

What can I do to eliminate a wage garnishment?

If you feel that a wage garnishment has been filed against you erroneously, you can protest the garnishment at a court hearing. You may also have rights if you cannot manage your bills with the wage garnishments set as they are.

Additionally, you can immediately eliminate any and all wage garnishments by simply paying off the debts in full. If you are starting a new job and don’t want your new employer to know that you owe money to a creditor, your best bet is to try to work with your debt negotiation lawyer to lower the amount you owe so that you can pay it all off in one fell swoop.

Can I eliminate all wage garnishments?

While you can “cancel out” a wage garnishment for say, credit card debt, defaulted loans or medical debt, some garnishments are harder (and sometimes impossible) to remove. For legal reasons, if you owe child support, your NJ county court will automatically set a wage garnishment action in place once your Final Judgement of Divorce has been entered. This guarantees that your children will always be cared for appropriately with no missed payments.

The same is true if you owe money to the federal or state government in the form of back taxes, or if you have delinquent student loans. In fact, wage garnishments for child support, taxes and student loans can even be initiated without a court order.

If you are facing a wage garnishment in New Jersey that you feel is inaccurate or that is preventing you from meeting your other basic financial obligations, work with your NJ debt relief attorney to either modify the wage garnishment order(s) or eliminate them if they are unlawful.

 

Image credit: Tax Credits

Can I File for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 at the Same Time?

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“Sometimes one bankruptcy isn’t enough.” – George Veitengruber, Esq.

As we’ve discussed before on our blog, there are time limitations put into place that prevent a debtor from receiving a second chapter 7 discharge unless at least eight years have passed since their first chapter 7 discharge. You also cannot be granted a chapter 13 discharge unless at least four years have passed since you filed for chapter 7, so where on earth can we possibly be going with this?

Bankruptcy law disallows back to back bankruptcy discharges in order to avoid people abusing the bankruptcy system. With no restrictions, any debtor could theoretically bounce from one bankruptcy discharge to another, and that wouldn’t be fair to creditors, nor would the debtor learn any valuable lessons regarding their finances.

There are situations, however, wherein a debtor can file consecutive bankruptcy cases, but only when the desired outcome is not a second discharge.

Most people associate bankruptcy with ridding themselves of all of their debt, the closest thing to a financial “do-over” that exists in the real world. While a bankruptcy discharge can indeed be akin to a capital tabula rasa, giving debtors a clean slate isn’t the only function of the bankruptcy system.

For example, one of the most beneficial (and immediate) effects of filing for any type of bankruptcy is the automatic stay:

Automatic stay \noun\  a judicial order known as an injunction that halts any and all lawsuits as well as actions by creditors attempting to collect money from someone who has filed for bankruptcy

Many people file for chapter 7 when they have a significant amount of unsecured debt.

Unsecured debt \noun\ a debt that doesn’t have any collateral attached to it that a creditor could take for payment if the debtor defaults
Examples of unsecured debt: credit card debt, student loans, utility bills, medical bills, some taxes, and most personal loans

In filing for chapter 7 relief, many or all unsecured debts can be discharged at the end of the bankruptcy case, as long as the applicant meets the filing requirements and no fraud is at play.

Frequently, a discharge of all unsecured debts so significantly reduces the financial strain on the debtor that they are then able to resume paying their monthly living expenses without difficulty.

Sometimes, though, even after a chapter 7 wipes out a huge chunk of their debt, some people are still left facing a significant amount of non-dischargeable debts.

Non-dischargeable debt \noun\ money owed that can almost never be discharged via any type of bankruptcy proceeding
Examples of non-dischargeable debt: child support, alimony, student loans, income tax debt

Still other people, after filing for chapter 7 and receiving a discharge, are left with secured debt(s) that they want to continue making payments on in order to keep the property that secures the debt(s) in question.

Secured debt \noun\ a debt that has collateral attached to it that a creditor could take for payment if the debtor defaults
Examples of secured debt: home mortgage, auto loan, valuable personal property loan (mechanical equipment, furniture, tools, etc)

Whether the debtor is left with substantial non-dischargeable debt or secured debt(s) that hold important value (usually a mortgage and/or auto loan), filing for chapter 13 immediately after a chapter 7 discharge will allow for a reorganization of any subsequent arrears owed, allowing the debtor to bring the loan(s) current.

Veitengruber Law can navigate your path through multiple bankruptcies! If you thought your financial situation was too “messed up” to be fixed – think again. Even better – we want to help you. Please give our office a call if your debts have gotten out of control. Your consultation won’t cost you thing, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

Image credit: Alachua Cty

 

 

Do My Brother’s Creditors Have a Claim to My Inheritance?

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If you have recently learned that you are to be the recipient of an inheritance, you may very well have a number of questions. After all, it’s not every day that one must make sense of the confusing rules and laws regarding NJ estates.

Oftentimes, you will find that the deceased has divided their estate among several of their closest relatives and/or friends. Everyone who is named in the deceased’s will is known as an heir or beneficiary. Frequently, when a parent passes away, they will leave at least part of their estate to their adult child(ren).

A question that we encountered recently involved a New Jersey estate wherein the decedent left her entire estate, including her home to be divided among her three children. The home was to be sold and the proceeds also then split between the three heirs. The rest of her estate included a moderate amount of money along with some additional valuable assets that would, again, be liquidated and divided equally.

It was discovered that one of the three beneficiaries was in over his head in debt. He had debt collectors calling him constantly, and liens were placed on any money that he may receive via judgements or inheritance. This made the other two heirs extremely nervous about the security of their own portions of the estate.

They wondered, “Will our brother’s creditors have a claim to the entire estate?”

This is a very legitimate fear, but luckily one beneficiary’s poor financial decisions will almost never affect his co-beneficiaries. While it’s true that his creditors do indeed have a cause of action against his portion of the inheritance, they have no claim whatsoever to anything that was willed to any other beneficiaries.

The exception here would be if one of the other beneficiaries was the spouse of the indebted heir, and even then, creditors would only be able to take the spouse’s portion of the inheritance in community property states, which are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Alaska leaves the decision about community property up to the couple.

In New Jersey, debts that were incurred (by the beneficiary in question) jointly with a spouse who is also named as a beneficiary of the estate at hand may leave the spouse responsible for debt repayment.

Additionally, even if the debtor/beneficiary incurred his debts without his spouse as a co-signer, his spouse may still be held responsible if some or all of the debts were acquired for family necessities.

Other than those nuanced situations, an indebted beneficiary’s creditors will not be able to come after any assets willed to other heirs of the same estate. If any property is left to the indebted beneficiary with the intent that he share the physical property with you and/or one of the other heirs (where the property is not to be sold and divided), it’s in your best interest to work with an estate planning attorney in New Jersey so that your interests are protected.

Image credit: thethreesisters