Veitengruber Law: Working with Elder Lawyers

 

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Elder law is the legal practice that focuses on representing senior citizens in regards to age-specific issues like: estate planning, Medicaid, disability, long-term care, administration of wills, guardianship, commitment, elder abuse protection, end-of-life planning, nursing home care and contracts, and many other issues that may arise in the aging population.

Essentially, elder law attorneys have a loaded job description: representing older Americans in just about any legal area you can think of. As you can imagine, it can be a bit overwhelming if a client (or couple) has a lot of needs at the same time.

Attorneys who get the best results for their clients are those who have a narrow area of focus. This allows them to become experts in their practice area(s) in order to both expedite the processes required by their clients and to get reliable, high quality results. Elder law attorneys who concentrate solely on elder law are consistently great at what they do.

Even so, the elder law attorney may still find himself overloaded with work from time to time, when, as mentioned above, a particular client requires a lot of attention. Additionally, any attorney can get overwhelmed if they have a sudden rush of new clients.

Elder law attorneys assist a specific type of client (the aging) in a variety of areas. This makes them the perfect partner for an attorney who specializes in specific areas rather than type of client.

Example: Elderly clients Fay and John come to your elder law practice wanting to set up their estate plans. They have a lot of assets (but not a lot of money), numerous beneficiaries and stipulations, and present a rather challenging and time consuming case. In addition to estate planning, Fay is also having issues with Medicaid that need attention, and John’s sister has just entered a nursing home wherein they suspect she is being neglected and/or abused.

On top of all of that, Fay and John stopped paying their mortgage six months ago and are about to lose their home to foreclosure. Although they knew foreclosure was inevitable, they’ve now realized that renting or buying another home will cost more than they were already paying their mortgage company each month. They want to know how they can save their home, which is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale in two weeks.

The best option for their elder law attorney in this situation would be to connect them with a local foreclosure defense attorney who has significant experience in “last minute” foreclosure saves. By working together, both attorneys can provide everything Fay and John need so that they can continue living comfortably in retirement.

Other reasons to consider taking a “tag team” approach to an elder law practice include: clients who need to file for bankruptcy, real estate contract review, landlord/tenant disputes, credit repair, debt resolution and elder fraud.

Veitengruber Law is a full-service real estate and debt relief solutions law firm in New Jersey helping clients with foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, credit repair and other debt relief problems. We welcome any elder law attorneys who’d like to collaborate in order to give our joint clients the best results possible through retirement and beyond. We have offices in Monmouth, Burlington and Camden Counties and also serve Ocean, Mercer and Gloucester county clients.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, shoot us an email or give us a call. Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties – (732) 852-7295; Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties – (609) 297-5226 or (856) 318-2759.

Image credit: C.Performa

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Bankruptcy and Divorce: Which Comes First?

If you have filed for divorce and your spouse suddenly files for bankruptcy, you may be wondering how this is going to affect you, if at all. In order to understand exactly what is going to happen in the situation, you must first have a handle on some basic family law terms.

A Final Judgment of Divorce, or Divorce Decree, is issued by a family law judge in order to completely dissolve the marriage.  The Divorce Decree becomes finalized when it is signed by both you and your spouse and in some cases, your respective attorneys.

The Property Settlement Agreement, sometimes known as the PSA, is a document that accompanies the Divorce Decree.  The PSA sets out the terms of your divorce and all of your assets and liabilities. This is the document wherein you and your spouse determine which portion of the marital debt will be paid by each party.  You and your spouse will come to an agreement that has you responsible for certain debts and your spouse responsible for another portion of the marital debts.

With all of that being said, your creditors have absolutely no interest in whether or not you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, regardless of the reasons.  The Property Settlement Agreement sets out a payment agreement between you and the other party for all debts acquired during the marriage, however, this is simply an agreement between you and your spouse, and in no way does this lift your legal liability for these debts.

Unfortunately, if you agreed to get (and added your name to) that credit card that your spouse maxed out, creditors do not care who did all of the shopping.  The only thing they are concerned with is that they get paid, and they are not concerned with who pays them – regardless of any PSA that you and your spouse may have agreed to.

Perhaps your spouse is filing for bankruptcy now because he or she has learned that once a divorce is finalized, any marital debt he or she has agreed to pay cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. By filing before the Divorce Decree, or Final Judgment of Divorce is signed, your spouse may be attempting to eliminate as much debt as possible.

What this means for you is that you could potentially end up with some of the debt that your husband or wife may no longer be liable for thanks to the bankruptcy filing. Creditors may come after you, expecting you to pay for your spouse’s portion of the debt that has been “magically” lifted from his/her responsibilities through bankruptcy.

You may also be forced into bankruptcy yourself if this happens, so it is important to be fully aware of your spouse’s actions and intentions regarding the agreed-upon marital debts, so that you don’t end up squeezed into a corner that you can’t get out of.  There are solutions for you if you find yourself divorced with creditors breathing down your neck for debts that your spouse agreed to be responsible for.  In order to keep yourself above water, you need to retain the services of a high-quality bankruptcy attorney immediately.

Photo credit: Brian Ambrozy

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13: Which Bankruptcy is Right for You?

Photo courtesy of Steve A. Johnson

Many people who are contemplating filing for Bankruptcy are misinformed on many important issues surrounding how to file, when to file, and which type of bankruptcy is most appropriate. Today, we will clarify the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to help readers understand specifically what is involved and required in each type.

Chapter 7 Chapter 13
Simple description Personal/business assets are liquidated because of a person’s inability to pay debts. Payment plan is created by court for people with reliable incomes to pay all or part of their debts.
How it works No more than 180 days before filing, credit counseling should be obtained. When petition is filed with the court, a trustee will be appointed. All assets that are nonexempt must be surrendered, and the money from these assets will be split between all creditors. No more than 180 days before filing, credit counseling, and, if applicable, a debt management plan should be obtained. File petition and plan together. A repayment plan will be established and should conclude in 3 to 5 years. Payments made are to come from disposable income. Assets are retained.
Financial limitations Anyone filing Ch. 7 must pass the “means test”, ensuring their eligibility based on their income being lower than the state median. Ch 13. filings are reserved for debtors who owe less than $360,475 in unsecured debts and less than $1,081,400 in secured debts.
How often you can file Individuals are ineligible if their debts were discharged under Ch. 7 within the past eight years. Individuals are ineligible if they received discharge under Ch. 7, Ch. 11, or 12 within the past four years, or if they received discharge under Ch. 13 within the past two years.
Resulting effect on debts owed Aside from limitations noted in the Bankruptcy (student loans, child-support, taxes), most existing debts will be wiped out and responsibility to current creditors will end. Aside from limitations noted in the Bankruptcy (student loans, child-support, taxes), a portion of debts will be paid under a repayment plan, and the remaining debt amount will be wiped out.
Can you keep your home? You may be able to keep your home if mortgage payments are kept current and if there isn’t substantial nonexempt equity. Additionally, spousal ownership may help you keep your home. If your repayment plan is thoroughly completed and there is not substantial nonexempt equity, you will keep your home. Spousal ownership may also help you keep your home.
Can you keep your vehicle? Your car or truck may be repossessed by creditors unless you can absolutely prove it is necessary for work. If your repayment plan is thoroughly completed, you will be able to keep your vehicle.
How will this affect your credit? A Ch. 7 Bankruptcy will stay on your credit record for up to 10 years and will be visible by prospective lenders and employers. A Ch. 13 Bankruptcy may remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. Some creditors only report a Ch. 13 for 7 years.

For more information about filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or another type of Bankruptcy, contact Veitengruber Law for a free consultation, and check back soon for more details about life after Bankruptcy.