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Somerset Bankruptcy and Real Estate Law Blog

Options to help a child purchase a home

Steadily increasing home values in New Jersey, together with growing student loan debt, means that buying a home remains out of reach for many millennials. However, with interest rates still relatively low and the housing bubble well behind us, buying a home is truly a solid investment.

For these and other reasons, many "boomer" parents are helping their children buy their first home in record numbers. In fact, according to National Association of Realtors, 25 percent of all first-time homebuyers under the age of 37 receive some form of financial help from family members or friends when purchasing a home.

You can buy a home after bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can be a truly frightening prospect. One common worry is that bankruptcy will prevent you from ever qualifying for a mortgage, and thus, owning a home.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the impact bankruptcy has on your financial future, including your ability to buy a home. In fact, bankruptcy can be the best way to save your existing home, and it is better than foreclosure if you wish to buy another home in the future.

Why now might be the right time to file for bankruptcy

Don't make the common mistake of filing for bankruptcy later than you should

Most people who file for bankruptcy have probably been considering doing so for some time. Generally, people wait longer than necessary to file for bankruptcy, usually hoping that something will change to improve their financial condition. It rarely does.

New Jersey eliminates estate tax

The big news for all New Jersey residents is that effective January 1, 2018, the New Jersey estate tax is no more! The federal exemptions have also doubled to nearly $22 Million.

This provides a good reminder that we need to use opportunities like this to revisit our estate plans regularly. Only 20 short years ago, both the state and federal tax exemptions for estates were very low (circa $600,000.00). As a result, many people who had documents prepared in the past may have complex wills or other sophisticated tax planning documents in place that are either no longer required or unnecessarily complicate their estate plans. What a great time to update all of your estate documents to insure you have only what you want and need.

Three key estate planning documents everyone should have

I don't have a very large estate. Do I really need a will?

A prevalent myth is that unless you have a considerable amount of money or assets, you really don't need to have a will. Nothing could be further from the truth. A properly drawn will does many things, among which are:

  • Naming an executor or personal representative to carry out your last wishes, pay your debts, and make sure your estate is administered in an orderly fashion
  • Detailing how your money and assets are to be distributed and to whom.
  • Naming a guardian for minor or special needs children, to insure proper care
  • Appointing a trustee to handle the money or other property left to your minor or special needs children or any other minors to whom you make any bequests.
  • Making specific bequests of personal property of great sentimental or monetary value, such as jewelry, a coin collection, or similar family heirlooms
  • Directing the continued care of your beloved pets
  • Donating to your favorite charities

Bankruptcy can be an option when credit cards become unmanageable

Credit card delinquencies have risen to levels not seen in years. This trend reflects both the rising amount of household debt and the increasing tendency of banks to lend excessive amounts (e.g., through very high spending limits on cards), despite a borrower's apparent inability to repay same.

Delinquencies at JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America and Discover Financial all rose almost 2 percent in each of the last several months. While modest, the steady rise in delinquencies has signaled a change in credit card lending practices and U.S. household debt. 

What do I need to know about refinancing?

The good news for homeowners in New Jersey is that home prices are up 5 percent in the past year. Mortgage interest rates are still reasonable, as well. As of the time of this writing, a 15 year home loan, which is popular for homeowners looking to refinance, is being offered at around a 3.13 percent interest rate (your specific rate may vary and is subject to change). If you are a homeowner, therefore, you may be wondering if refinancing is right for you.

Refinancing a home is a personal decision that should take into account your current finances, expenses and future financial needs. However, it is a good time to refinance. And in some respects, refinancing is easier than it has been before.

Why a good real estate attorney matters in your home purchase

You may have heard people say you don't really need an attorney when buying or selling a home. I guess you really don't need a dentist if you have a toothache, or a plumber if your pipes are leaking. Nevertheless, it's probably a very good idea to have one. While no one can force you to retain an attorney for anything, an experienced real estate lawyer will surely help you avoid potential mistakes, pitfalls and complications, and can provide peace of mind for a relatively small investment, compared to the importance of a smooth purchase or sale of your home.

Getting legal help for one of the most important contracts you will ever sign

Six tips that give you the advantage when selling your home

Ever notice how many different kinds of cereal are in the cereal aisle in your local grocery store? The real estate market is a lot like that, and your home is just one box of cereal in that appealing wall of colorful boxes. If you want to sell your home, how can you rise above the fray, make it stand out, and sell it quickly and for a good price? Here are six tips that can help:

How your credit score affects how much you'll pay for a home

A home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime. And no one would claim that buying a home is an easy process. Negotiations, offers, counteroffers, qualification, down payments, mortgage rates, mortgage terms, and many other items are individual tiles in what turns into a rather complicated mosaic.

You understandably want to acquire the home for the lowest price possible, but negotiating a figure with the seller is only part of what determines how much you'll ultimately pay (i.e., by the time you're through with all of your mortgage payments). A critical factor that significantly affects what you'll eventually pay for the home is your mortgage rate, which is in large part, determined by your credit score.