My name is Virginia E. Fortunato and I’ve been practicing NJ bankruptcy for more than ten years now. This area of the law requires creativity in designing individual plans for my clients to achieve the FRESH financial start they deserve. Whether you can afford to save your home or need guidance giving up a home you can no longer afford, I am there to counsel and assist you through the process. Most of my clients are good and honest debtors who typically find themselves in my office because of things beyond their control. Clients often tell me, “This is the last place I ever thought I’d be,” and I am proud to help them achieve a fresh start.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to pay your debt off through credit consolidation companies only to find it doesn’t work. You end up paying these companies exorbitant fees only to have to file bankruptcy at the end of the day — after spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Never be ashamed of bankruptcy. Did you know many rich and famous people have filed for bankruptcy? Michael Jackson, Henry Ford, Mike Tyson, Larry King, Walt Disney and yes Donald Trump all filed for bankruptcy. Look at your financial circumstances like a business would. Filing bankruptcy is a business decision at the personal level. You need to wipe-out debt so that you can begin rebuilding your future with a Fresh Start.
Bergen County Bankruptcy Lawyer
One Kinderkamack Road
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Saturday & evening appointments available upon request
A reaffirmation agreement allows a person who files for bankruptcy to keep certain secured debt by removing it from the bankruptcy making it a debt that would not be discharged in the event of default on the loan. This article specifically addresses the reaffirmations process as it relates to the financing of a car.
By executing a reaffirmation agreement, you will be agreeing to be held liable under the terms of the original contract, including but not limited to the obligation to make payment of unpaid principal, interest, fees and other costs associated with the reaffirmed/assumed debt.****
In certain circumstances, you may be required to appear before the court to testify as to your ability and desire to continue making payments on the reaffirmed debt. The agreement may not be approved by the court. You are not required by law enter into this agreement and can rescind (cancel) the agreement at any time before the bankruptcy court enters your bankruptcy discharge.
If you enter into this agreement and you default on the reaffirmed debt after the bankruptcy case is completed, the creditor can repossess the car and sue you for any deficiency. If you do not enter into this agreement, your property may be repossessed and that debt would be discharged in bankruptcy.
Some creditors will allow you to retain possession of your property even if you do not enter into the agreement as long as you continue to make payments (this is referred to as a “pay and drive” option). When the Bankruptcy Law changed it removed the “pay and drive” option from the law and in its place required car owners who file bankruptcy to enter into a reaffirmation agreement. Even companies that have allowed car owners to pay and drive after filing bankruptcy there is no guarantee its policy will not be changed after the case is closed. If you do not enter into the agreement and and you maintain the collateral and continue to make payments, the lender may not report post-bankruptcy payments to the credit reporting agencies. If you do not enter into this agreement, you may not receive account statements and may not be able to make automatic payments on the account.
In the process of preparing your bankruptcy petition, you will be asked to provide information concerning banks and other lending institutions that you transact with. In our experience, we have come to learn that certain institutions will freeze or levy client bank accounts upon receiving notice of a bankruptcy filing. While we believe this conduct is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the institutions continue this conduct despite warnings and the imposition of sanctions from the Court for doing so. As such, we provide the following guidelines to our clients:
- Never bank with an institution that you owe money to.
- If you are currently banking with a creditor that you owe money to (i.e. – you have a savings account and a credit card with the same institution and the credit card has a balance), you must immediately close the bank account.
- Never open a bank account with a bank that you may get a credit card from in the future (no matter how good the terms).
- Never, ever, bank with “Wells Fargo Bank”. This includes opening bank account, obtaining credit cards or taking loans. This lender has been reprimanded and sanctioned several times for conduct found to be harmful to consumers. Furthermore, Wells Fargo will freeze your account upon filing even if you do not owe them any money.
- Never give any creditor permission to debit your account automatically. Instead, you can use bill pay through your bank and manually click a button to process payment.
The first thing people say when they walk through my door is that “this is the last place I thought I would be.” After doing this for more than 10 years I can tell you financial distress does not discriminate among race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, profession or gender. To quote a recently retired bankruptcy court judge, “life happens.”
What I can say is that the large majority of client come to office after what I call a trigger. These triggers are beyond the control of my clients (who I call “victims” of circumstance) fall under the category of “life happens” and include: divorce, illness, separation, death in the family, unemployment, and underemployment.
It is not their fault they fell victim to these life altering circumstances. For example, despite the government’s claim that unemployment has gone down and the economy is slowly getting better we hear that Walmart and many other retailers are simply laying-off employees and closing down hundreds of stores. Yahoo is laying off 15% of its workforce. AIG announced cuts of about 23% of its senior management. AIG’s cuts have been part of what I would characterize as rolling lay-offs in 2014, 2015 and continuing into 2016. These are just some examples of how larger companies are fairing so imagine how smaller companies are doing.
Bankruptcy filings for 60+ year-olds continue to rise at an alarming rate. More often than not they seek bankruptcy protection after being late off after working for decades at the same company. They know all to well that they will likely never work again and if they do work they will be underemployed because someone much younger (and who will work for a lot less) will replace them in the newly created position (created to force out the 60+ year old). This same group has often signed parent-plus loans and/or co-signed student loans for their children totaling as much as $50,000.00 to $250,000.00.
Most people who are employed at this point consider themselves lucky and raises are infrequent and often non-existent. What happens when someone receives a raise is that their health care contribution usually goes up a minimum of 10-20% thereby causing the “raise” to evaporate.
I understand the reluctance of filing and the sense of guilt and shame that is associated with even the prospect of filing. My office is caring and compassionate and together we can come up with a plan that will give you financial relief. There is hope and life after bankruptcy!