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Credit Counseling

A New Jersey Debt Relief Lawyer Can Help You

The bankruptcy code constantly changes. In 2005, a significant change was made with the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, or BAPCPA. Among other requirements, one that was added was the requirement that debtors filing for consumer bankruptcies must complete an approved credit counseling course prior to filing their bankruptcy petitions.

The Briefing Requirement

Under the act, debtors have to receive what is called an individual or group briefing. This briefing must be provided by an approved nonprofit credit and budget counseling agency within the 180-day period that precedes the filing date. People are able to complete this briefing over the internet, by telephone or in person. The briefing must provide all of the options for credit counseling while helping the debtor to complete an analysis of his or her budget. If the person ends up developing a debt management plan through the counseling session, that plan must be filed with the court.

Approved Agencies

In a majority of the states, the United States trustee maintains a list of approved counseling agencies. The list may also be obtained online. Agencies are initially listed for a six-month period during which they are on probation. Following that, the agency approvals may be renewed annually, and the approvals may be revoked at any time.

There are several criteria that an agency must meet in order to be approved for credit counseling services, including the following:

● Have experienced and qualified counselors who are able to provide adequate counseling
● The counselors must not have any financial interests in the outcome of the counseling sessions
● Client funds must be handled securely
● The agency must have an independent board of directors
● The fees must be reasonable, and sliding scale fees must be offered
● The agency must be able to securely oversee the clients’ repayment plans

New Jersey’s List Of Approved Credit Counceling Agencies

New York’s List Of Approved Credit Counceling Agencies

Pennsylvania’s List Of Approved Credit Counceling Agencies

Exceptions to the requirement for mandatory counseling

Under some specific circumstances, the counseling requirement may be waived. This can occur when the debtor is mentally incapacitated, when he or she is physically impaired to such a degree that participation would be difficult or if the debtor is deployed to a combat zone on active duty. Courts sometimes will also waive the requirement if exigent circumstances exist, and the debtor asked for counseling that the agency couldn’t complete within five days of the request. The final exception is when legal officials have determined that there are no available approved agencies.

New Jersey Debt Relief Lawyer

Getting too far into debt can impact all aspects of your life. Not only can it limit your spending and prevent you from saving for the future, but it can lead to stress at home and work as well. Fortunately, if you need help getting out from under your debt, you have options available. New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller can help you evaluate your options and choose the best path forward.

Understanding Your Debt

People go into debt for different reasons. For some, it happens gradually over time. They use their credit cards, take out loans here and there, and then one day they find themselves owing more than they can afford to pay.

For others, it happens as the result of a major life event. Suffering a serious injury, losing a job, being forced to close a business, and various other events can leave individuals and couples suddenly and unexpectedly without the financial resources they need. One missed payment turns into several, and then creditors start calling, threatening lawsuits and garnishment, and threatening foreclosure.

If you are in debt, one of the first steps toward a fresh start will involve evaluating your debt with the help of a New Jersey debt relief lawyer. Different types of debts present different opportunities for relief. Georgette Miller can help you understand your debt, and then she can work with you one-on-one to find a solution that addresses your unique individual circumstances.

Unsecured Debts

Generally, debts fall into one of two broad categories: unsecured or secured. If a debt is unsecured, this means that it is not related to an underlying asset. If you default (fail to pay), your creditor cannot come in and foreclose or repossess an asset in order to satisfy what you owe.

Incurring unsecured debts is among the most common reasons why individuals and couples face financial strain. Common unsecured debts include:

  • Cell phone bills
  • Credit cards
  • Department store cards
  • Medical bills
  • Payday loans
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Tax debt
  • Unpaid rent
  • Utility bills

While unsecured debts are among the most common causes of financial problems, they also present the most opportunities for debt relief—at least in most cases. For example, while there are some exceptions (i.e., for certain tax debts and student loans), it will often be possible to reduce or eliminate unsecured debts through bankruptcy. Renegotiating and restructuring unsecured debt obligations are options as well, and New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller can help you pursue a path that maximizes your financial opportunities.

Secured Debts

Secured debts are the opposite of unsecured debts. These debts are tied to underlying assets, and, as a result, they present risks for foreclosure and repossession in the event of non-payment. But, there are strict rules around when secured creditors can pursue these actions, and individuals and couples who have unmanageable secured debts have various options as well.

Common secured debts include:

  • Auto loans (car, truck and SUV loans)
  • Boat and RV loans
  • Home equity lines of credit
  • Mortgages
  • Title loans

If you have secured debts that you are struggling to pay, one of the most important facts you need to know is that pursuing debt relief does not have to mean giving up your property. New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller has helped many individuals and couples protect their homes, cars and other assets while going through the debt relief process. If you need help, you should not make any assumptions about what might or might not happen. Instead, you should make informed and strategic decisions based on the advice of an experienced professional.

Debt Relief Options

When you fall into debt, your creditors can—and will—seek to collect through a variety of different means. Their collection efforts are often aggressive and involve going to court in some cases. Regardless of the specific circumstances you are facing, New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller can help.

Forms of Debt Relief That Are Available

Georgette Miller helps individuals and couples who are dealing with all types of debt-related issues. This includes helping to secure protection against:

  • Bank Lawsuits – If you are being sued by your bank, you cannot ignore the lawsuit. It will not go away, and if you do nothing, the court may issue a judgment against you in your absence. Defending against bank lawsuits requires an in-depth understanding of the law, and resolving these lawsuits favorably requires experienced legal representation.
  • Collections Violations – Banks’ and companies’ collection efforts frequently go too far. There are strict limits on how these entities can pursue collection, and debtors have clear legal rights under New Jersey and federal law. If you are dealing with collections violations, you deserve better, and New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller can help.
  • Creditor Harassment – Along with collections violations, many debtors experience other forms of creditor harassment as well. Depending on the form of debt relief you choose, it may be possible to put a stop to this harassment immediately.
  • Creditor Lawsuits – Just like banks, creditors will often file lawsuits as well. Once again, if you are being sued, this is not something you can ignore. You need to act quickly, and you need to make sure you are making the right decisions with your long-term financial interests in mind.
  • Foreclosure – For many people, the risk of foreclosure is what causes them to pursue debt relief. If you are at risk of losing your home, this can be extremely stressful, and it is important to know that you do have options available. For example, if you file for bankruptcy, you can keep your home as long as you are able to continue paying your mortgage after reducing or eliminating your other debts.
  • Repossession – Repossession is another common trigger for pursuing debt relief. If your bank or lender is threatening to repossess your car, boat or anything else that you own, you should consult with a New Jersey debt relief lawyer right away.
  • Tax Liens – Having tax liens on your property can lead to a variety of issues. If you are behind on your state or federal taxes, you should strongly consider pursuing debt relief before you have a tax lien placed on your property.
  • Wage Garnishment – Creditors often use wage garnishment as a way to force debtors to make payments that they cannot afford. If one of your creditors is pursuing wage garnishment, or if a creditor is currently garnishing your wages, you will want to discuss your options with a New Jersey debt relief lawyer promptly.

Options for Reducing (or Eliminating) Your Debt

No matter what financial issues you are facing, you have options for reducing—or perhaps even eliminating—your unmanageable debt. When you contact us for a free initial consultation, you will sit down one-on-one with New Jersey debt relief lawyer Georgette Miller to discuss your situation in confidence. During your free initial consultation, Georgette Miller will go over options such as:

1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 allows you to eliminate many types of unsecured debts for less than you owe. By reducing the amount you have to pay each month, you can manage your remaining debts without fear of foreclosure, repossession or collection. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option for individuals and couples who are truly looking for a fresh start.

2. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

If you own a struggling business, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy could be a good option as well. Filing under Chapter 11 allows you to reduce and “reorganize” your business-related debts so that you are able to pay them as they come due. Individuals can also pursue Chapter 11 bankruptcies in some cases—and this could be a good option if you cannot satisfy the “means test” under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

3. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you earn a steady income and still aren’t able to pay your bills on time, you may want to consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While filing under Chapter 7 involves liquidating some of your assets in order to pay down your debt right away, filing under Chapter 13 involves establishing a repayment plan that allows you to pay down your debt over time. A typical repayment term in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is three to five years.

4. Debt Consolidation

Along with filing for bankruptcy, there are also several bankruptcy alternatives that you will want to consider. One of these options is debt consolidation. With debt consolidation, you take out a new loan that you use to pay off the debts you have currently. Since debt consolidation loans have lower interest rates than credit cards, payday loans and many other types of unsecured debts, this can reduce your monthly payment obligation and result in significant savings.

5. Debt Settlement

An experienced New Jersey debt relief lawyer like Georgette Miller may also be able to help you settle your debts outside of the bankruptcy process. With a debt settlement, your creditors agree to reduce your payment obligations or close out your debt for less than the full amount you owe. For many creditors, this will be an attractive alternative to bankruptcy, and it will be possible to negotiate a favorable settlement that reduces your debt obligations substantially.

Contact Our Bankruptcy Attorneys

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you will need to complete your counseling before you file. Contact our bankruptcy attorneys today to learn more about bankruptcy and the counseling requirement.