Who should I bank with if I have debt or I am thinking about filing bankruptcy in New Jersey?

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:

  1. Never bank with an institution that you owe money to.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Who is the typical Bergen County New Jersey Bankruptcy client?

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.

The government claims that unemployment has gone down.  Do you believe it?

The government claims that unemployment has gone down. Do you believe it?

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!

 

How Can I Be Sure My Bankruptcy Case Is Approved And That I Receive My Discharge? (Bergen County)

Many times clients ask what their chances are that their case will be successful.  The best chance for success is being completely honest with your attorney and do everything you are told to do when you are told to do it.  It really is that simple or is it?

Clients want smooth sailing and so do attorneys.  Attorneys expect to work and they work hard but in order to do their work they must rely the cooperation of their clients.  Clients must provide documents that are requested.  That usually means giving your attorney a stack of paper.  Attorneys do not have an fascination with paper.  We HATE it!  But, paper is a necessity in the law and the documents requested are to help and protect our clients.

The bankruptcy process is paperwork intensive.  My office provides clients with a specific list of documents that are needed.  We provide the list at the time we are retained and it is discussed at the initial appointment.  We are thorough and know what we need in each case so that our client will sail smoothly through the process once the case is filed.  The goal is the discharge.

Help us help you!  If we did not do our job as thoroughly as we do it would case delay and additional expenses after filing your not to mention it could actually put your bankruptcy discharge in jeopardy.  The Court expects that we will have supporting documents before we ever file a case and quite frankly our reputations depends on it.

Both clients and their attorneys want smooth sailing.

Both clients and their attorneys want smooth sailing.

We try to make the process as smooth as possible but clients MUST provide the documents requested.  It is unhelpful and a waste of time for a client to come to an appointment without the information requested.  If a client has a question they should call and ask.  If they cannot locate a particular document they should call and explain the problem as we might have suggestions or alternatives that may be substituted.  We are here to help and want you to be successful!  Help us make the process as smooth as possible for you as we know it is a stressful time.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy you can begin gathering 4 years of federal tax returns, proof of income for six months from all sources (or as many as you can locate as your attorney may be able to assist with suggestions if you are missing a few pay stubs).  The List of Required Documents  which I provide to my clients is attached here.  Additional information may be added as needed based on individual cases.  Please note some requirement may not be applicable to every client.

 

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