Bankruptcy in New Jersey

What do P.T. Barnum, Abraham Lincoln, Anna Nicole Smith, Meatloaf, and Cyndi Lauper all have in common? No, they're not all from Jersey and they don't all say, "Which exit?" All these famous people, and many more, have filed bankruptcy.

If you're considering bankruptcy, you're not alone. Many entertainers, politicians, business people, and regular folks (perhaps, even your neighbors), file bankruptcy each year. In 2011, about 1.5 million people filed bankruptcy.

To set you on the right path, we'll show you how New Jersey bankruptcy law differs from the laws other states; discuss qualifying for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies; show you how to find a good bankruptcy attorney; and provide simple advice as to how to prepare to work with your attorney.

How New Jersey Bankruptcy Law Compares to the Laws of Other States

What's the same from state to state?

  • Bankruptcy procedure is the same from state to state.
  • All states offer exemptions, which protect the assets you can keep.
  • Either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed in each and every state.
  • The court's acceptance of a bankruptcy petition stops creditor threats, phone calls, letters, lawsuits, and most wage and bank account garnishments.

What's different in New Jersey?

  • Some states, including New Jersey, offer a choice between protecting assets with federal exemptions or state exemptions.
  • New Jersey's exemptions are not as generous as the federal exemptions.

Do I Qualify in New Jersey? Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If your income is under New Jersey's median income, you automatically qualify to file under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 offers the easiest and fastest path to bankruptcy discharge.

If you income is above the median income, you may still qualify for Chapter 7 after your bankruptcy lawyer analyzes your debts, income, and expenses. Never disqualify yourself without getting good legal advice from an expert.

Chapter 13 still gets you where you're going, a fresh start and relief from debt, but it is more complicated and takes longer than a Chapter 7 filing. In general, debts are renegotiated and reorganized so that you can afford to pay them off in three to five years.

It's your attorney's job to guide you to the best filing for you and to protect as many of your assets as possible. Bankruptcy is not a path to walk alone.

How to Find a Good Bankruptcy Attorney

Look for a bankruptcy attorney who practices in your state. Be sure that bankruptcy is the focus of his or her practice and that your questions are answered in a professional manner.

Blogs, websites, and personal and professional referrals are all great places to start. Then, ask for a brief phone meeting. Most bankruptcy attorneys will offer a free, no obligation meeting so you can determine whether you'd like to work together.

How to Work with Your Attorney

Bankruptcy is a time to come clean. It's a time for full disclosure, even though we know it's not easy. Make a list and collect supporting documentation for all of your creditors, debts, bills, income, repayments, and questions.

The more complete the information you provide, the better job your attorney can do for you. His or her advice will be based upon the law, years of experience, and the information you provide.

By the way, Kim Bassinger, Toni Braxton, and Uylsses S. Grant also filed bankruptcy.

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