New Jersey bankruptcy lawyers help individuals that intend to file for bankruptcy navigate the legal system by selecting an appropriate bankruptcy option, obtain appropriate credit counseling and emerge from bankruptcy after a repayment plan has been fulfilled.
How do I discharge my debt?
The only way to discharge unsecured debts is to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to liquidate unsecured, non-exempt assets in order to repay creditors. Repayment is at the discretion of the trustee and the debtor has little say in the matter. The credit impact of bankruptcy will last for ten years. Most debts owed are discharged, except for child support, student loans, property and income taxes less than 3 years old, as well as financial penalties associated with law-breaking. Debts that can be discharged include medical bills, loans and credit card debt.
To get rid of secured debt, the only method would be to give up the collateral the debt is secured against. Secured debt usually means all property that can be foreclosed on or repossessed. Secured debts are not liquidated during bankruptcy and can be kept or surrendered, based on arrangements the owner makes with the debt holder. A New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine what to do with secured debt and which of the other debts are unsecured.
What is an estate?
A person’s estate is the sum of all property owned by an individual. An individual’s estate is only imperiled in bankruptcy when the total assets exceed the amount owed, in which case the trustee will sell nonexempt assets to settle debts. Assets not included in the estate include property that is leased, rented or otherwise owned by another party that the individual makes payments to fro the right to use. The debtor may choose to allow this property to be repossessed by the owner at his or her choosing if the monthly payments constitute a financial burden.
What is an alternative to the liquidation of my assets?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court supervised repayment plan that does not discharge debts. It does however give the debtor time to reorganize through an automatic stay and pay off debts while keeping all assets. The debtor has steady income stream that can be used in a repayment plan while also convincing the court that he or she will be able to abide by the terms of the repayment agreement. This debtor must be able to demonstrate sufficient need for bankruptcy protection yet the financial ability to pay off the debts eventually when given extra time and automatic stay. The New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer will help you determine if you can file for Chapter 13 and comply with the provisions of the repayment agreement. The repayment plan typically lasts 3 – 5 years.
What to prepare before meeting with the New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer
You must collect all bills as well as well as a listing of your assets and be prepared to show them to the attorney. You will need tax returns for the previous two years, and any other relevant personal finance documents. The New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer needs all of this information to determine your situation and the appropriate bankruptcy option. The New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer will also need to determine which of your property is exempt from seizure. The intention of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the preservation of your assets, so it is important to have an accurate representation of all assets so that you may make the best case. You need to be able to prove that you are financially solvent enough to sustain a repayment plan yet still in need of the bankruptcy option. Failure to prove that your debt load is a true burden will not allow you to pursue bankruptcy and force you into credit counseling instead, which maintains your debts. Credit counseling is of course, still mandated by law and only after demonstrating that your debt situation exceeds resolution by debt counseling can you pursue a bankruptcy option.
What property is exempt from liquidation?
US law exempts some of the following property from bankruptcy rulings:
– Jewelry up to $1,150 in value
– Equity in property under $17,425
– Interest in a motor vehicle under $2,775
– Professional tools, implements and books under a combined value of $1,750
– Health aids, including medication and specialized equipment
– Life insurance policies valued up to $9,300
– Most insurance, veterans, social security, worker’s compensation and spousal support benefits
A New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer can assist you in determining which property is exempt under S law and how New Jersey state law can affect your case. For example, 401k plans are specific protected from being counted as part of the bankrupt person’s estate under New Jersey law.
What are the advantages to bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy provides an automatic stay against creditors, which prevents them from taking action against the debtor, such as collection harassment, repossessing property and filing lawsuits. Automatic stay also ends garnishment of one’s wages to repay debts, which is allowed under New Jersey law. Bankruptcy allows the individual to overcome burdensome debt and improve their financial practices to avoid future trouble with finances.
Where to look for an attorney
It is advisable to use the New Jersey State Bar Association directory. Members of the voluntary State Bar Association will adhere to ethics codes and are up-to-date on legal matters concerning their specialty. Additionally city and country bar associations will also have lawyer referral services, which will be able to connect you to a New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer at an affordable fee.
You may use this website to find an attorney. To do so, use the search box on top of all pages. You may also compare attorneys and ask free questions by clicking Find Attorneys on top of the page.
Rates, Fees & Retainers
The fees to file for bankruptcy in New Jersey are currently $274 for Chapter 13 and $299 for Chapter 7. This is in addition to lawyer fees. Fee cans be waived or paid in installments at the discretion of the court.
Hourly rates may be accrued from using the lawyer or support staff such as paralegals. This is a simple arrangement and you should have a general idea of the amount that will be billed. This may not include flat legal service fees such as document preparation and filing. It is especially important to be aware of those fees.
A retainer fee is a non-refundable advance payment by the client that covers the cost of services provided by the lawyer. This payment is put into an account and billed whenever the lawyer performs services. This account may need to be refilled as the case continues. Although bankruptcy cases are not typically lengthy, retainer agreements can still be expensive, depending on the frequency by which the lawyer’s services are used.
You may choose to file for bankruptcy “pro se,” or without the assistance of a New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer. This is not advisable as you will risk losing non-exempt property or may make critical errors that will affect the outcome of your case.
Free services may be available to low-income families as well as no-cost consultations. Payment plans can be arranged between clients and lawyers in case there is significant financial hardship for the client.
Interviewing your attorney
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney:
What fees do I pay for retaining services? Can I have that in writing?
What are my options? Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and preserve my assets?
Can I contact you directly if there is a problem?
Can you allow me to examine your credentials?
What is your experience with bankruptcies, specifically my circumstances?
If you cannot handle my case, can you refer me to a lawyer that can?
Do I Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
If you are stricken with debt and are currently deciding if filing a bankruptcy petition is the appropriate measure, you must contact a bankruptcy lawyer immediately. Communicating with a bankruptcy professional will provide valuable information to illuminate your decision; you should not engage in a bankruptcy filing until you first speak with a bankruptcy lawyer about your potential case.
Filing for bankruptcy should be a last resort option for anyone that is consumed with debt. Before filing for bankruptcy you must first all other options, including consolidation. Look at all angles to alleviate your debt because a bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for 7-10 years, depending on which chapter you file under. A thorough review of your financial situation is imperative; contact your creditors and evaluate your debt portfolio to analyze the need for a bankruptcy filing. Because of the effect on your credit rating, securing a loan or financing after bankruptcy is exceedingly difficult—you will need to rebuild your credit for at least 2 years before securing financing.
Meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer will provide a professional look into your financial situation. These legal aids will illuminate your options and evaluate your specific claim to suggest the most suitable maneuver and the most efficient chapter to file under if necessary.
In addition to suggesting an efficient route, a bankruptcy lawyer will also engage in negotiations with your creditors and the court systems to ensure that your debts will be eliminated. Bankruptcy lawyers are experienced professionals who are well-versed in the U.S.’s complex bankruptcy laws. These individuals are adept in filing petitions and adhering to the procedures necessary for streamlining the filing.
NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers:
If you are a resident of New Jersey and are looking to file for bankruptcy you must contact a New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyer immediately. Although federal laws dictate bankruptcy filings, petitions are filed in a state’s federal bankruptcy court. As a result of this localized characteristic, uniqueness—based on jurisdiction–exists regarding bankruptcy filings in the United States.
NJ bankruptcy lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in the state’s bankruptcy law and the specific filing requirements, instituted by the state’s bankruptcy divisions.
An NJ bankruptcy lawyer is well-versed in the state’s filing requirements and the time constraints employed by the local court systems.
If you choose to file for bankruptcy in NJ, you should hire an NJ bankruptcy lawyer. All bankruptcy cases start through the filing of a petition, along with required documents, forms and fees. Although you do not have to hire an NJ bankruptcy lawyer, these legal professionals will expedite the filing through an understanding of complex bankruptcy laws.
Bankruptcy Options in New Jersey:
Before filing for bankruptcy in the state of New Jersey you must first understand the basics surrounding the filings. In general, there are two main types of bankruptcy cases an individual use: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Both of these chapters will provide relief from debts and both of these chapters will offer a Fresh financial start through a discharge of your obligations—a court order will end your liability to pay and your creditors’ ability to collect.
Chapter 7 Filing in NJ:
Also referred to as “straight bankruptcy filings” a Chapter 7 petition is the most common form of bankruptcy. Individuals who file under Chapter 7 typically possess few or no assets to pay their creditors—the attached discharge applies to the majority of the individual’s debts. Discharge refers to the action of your debts being cleared by the court.
To file under Chapter 7 in New Jersey you must qualify based on a means test and income established in bankruptcy law. If you can afford to pay a large portion of your debts, you should file under Chapter 13.
Under a Chapter 7 filing, you will keep your exempted property; this property is protected from your creditors’ reach. Your nonexempt property, however, may be sold by the court’s trustee to satisfy your debt obligations. A Chapter 7 discharge will apply to the majority of debt types, including medical bills and credit cards.
Chapter 13 Filing in NJ:
A Chapter 13 filing in NJ will reorganize your debts. Under this plan you will make partial or full payments according to a repayment plan structured by your NJ bankruptcy lawyer in conjunction with the state’s laws. If you have a significant amount of disposable income, Chapter 13 is the suggested bankruptcy route. Common situations that necessitate a Chapter 13 filing include the following: You have loans or mortgages that you want to bring current through a repayment plan so you can keep the property; your debts are ruled ineligible for a Chapter 7 discharge, such as student loans, child support or taxes; you are driven to fulfill debts by personal morals or values.
NJ Bankruptcy Laws:
In New Jersey, you can choose to use your property exemptions (allowed in the state of New Jersey or federal bankruptcy lawyers). Exemption amounts can alter and are found in the state or federal codes. New Jersey statutes will elucidate on exempt property and value limits, however, listed below are some key exemptions:
• Chattels and Goods, shares of interest or stock in any company or corporation up to $1,000
• Household goods and/or furniture up to $1,000 in value
• Qualified pension benefits and public employees’ pension benefits
• Annuity contract proceeds up to $500 per month
• Proceeds generated from life insurance
Exemptions will cover a number of types of personal items, such as furniture or clothing, but the precise amount of exemption may not matter. It is unlikely that a bankruptcy trustee will try to sell them because it is not practical and will not raise substantial funds to pay your creditors. Property exemptions will have a significant impact on your decision to file for bankruptcy. For instance, if your primary assets are exempt and your debts qualify for discharge, filing under Chapter 7 is more sensible.
Finding NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers:
The majority of NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers are located in the following counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth and Union.
To locate an NJ bankruptcy lawyer in your area you must utilize all resources, specifically the Internet and referral services. Given its efficiency, the Internet should be the first resource utilized to evaluate and locate NJ bankruptcy lawyers in your area. Perform Google searches or visit legal websites to pinpoint licensed NJ bankruptcy lawyers in your area. In addition to performing Internet searches, you should also visit New Jersey’s Bar Association website to attain a list of all licensed New Jersey Bankruptcy lawyers in your area. The process of finding an NJ bankruptcy lawyer may be difficult; to bring efficacy to your search, you must maintain focus and contact professionals who are licensed and in good standing with the state’s Bar association.
The majority of suitable NJ bankruptcy lawyers will be listed online. When you have found a number of NJ bankruptcy lawyers in your area you should visit their websites and view their biographical information. The attorney’s profile will illuminate their specific skill set, their past clients and the professionalism with which they engage in litigation.
Once you have reviewed the professional’s biographical information you should contact them via telephone to discuss your specific case. The majority of NJ bankruptcy lawyers will offer free consultations to assess your case. These preliminary meetings are essential; once an NJ bankruptcy lawyer hears the specifics of your case they will render a decision regarding their willingness to proceed with a bankruptcy filing.
When you consult with an NJ bankruptcy lawyer it is essential to be knowledgeable and well prepared. You must have all of your financial documents on hand to elucidate your case on your finances. The exchange of information is vital; it enables the NJ bankruptcy lawyer to inspect the need for a filing and the type of petition to be filed.
What to Look For in a NJ Bankruptcy Lawyer:
When evaluating NJ bankruptcy lawyers you must take note of their personality and their experience. You want a personable and experienced NJ bankruptcy lawyer representing you. Because the information exchanged is sensitive, you must secure a legal professional whom you feel comfortable with. Furthermore, because the case will be complex, you must secure legal help that is experienced and knowledgeable with bankruptcy code.
The fees associated with a NJ bankruptcy lawyer will depend on a few variables, including the individual’s experience, their reputation, the complexity of your case, the amount of debts you have incurred, the lawyer’s workload and your location. That being said, the majority of NJ Bankruptcy Lawyers will operate under a contingency or flat-fee basis.
As bankruptcy is meant to be a “last resort” for people in debt, federal law mandates that anyone seeking bankruptcy receive credit counseling after their filing. If credit counseling is not an option, then bankruptcy lawyers in New Jersey can advise you on the best possible next step. Bankruptcy lawyers in New Jersey will have knowledge of state adjustments to federal bankruptcy laws, especially property that will be exempt from the bankruptcy judgment. There are two primary bankruptcy options for individuals and before filing for either, one should consult a bankruptcy lawyer. New Jersey lawyers will be able to help you choose either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Lawyers in New Jersey will be able to advise you on the merits of each chapter and evaluate your financial situation to determine if you should seek a discharge of debts under Chapter 7, or a structured repayment plan under Chapter 13.