Southern California bankruptcy attorney relates the story of the character played by Ben Affleck in the film, The Company Men, to average men and women facing the loss of a job
Ben Affleck, a native of our own California, recently starred in The Company Men, alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and Kevin Costner. The film tells the stories of three men named Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones), and Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) who are businessmen at the GTX Corporation but lose their jobs due to corporate downsizing. The drama is meant to reflect the economical state the US was going through in the late 2000s.
In the film, Bobby Walker discovers the hardships of losing his six-figure job. Walker’s golf club membership is canceled, and he is forced to sell his house–located in the beautiful suburbs–and his new Porsche. Unable to find work anywhere else, Walker reluctantly turns to the house building job his brother-in-law, Jack (Kevin Costner), offers him. The film accurately portrays the struggle that many Americans go through when they find themselves unexpectedly unemployed.
Walker, fortunately, was able to get back on his feet in the end thanks to help from his family. For people who cannot catch a break as Walker did, bankruptcy attorney David Lozano offers his services! The Law Offices of David Lozano can help you cope with the loss of a job and prevent foreclosure! Had Walker gone to a bankruptcy lawyer, he may have been able to keep his home and Porsche! Contact me or visit one of our Lancaster, West Covina, or Ontario locations for a free consultation!
Many times when people are faced with impending debt, they start looking for shortcuts to save money–using coupons and sales to buy groceries and other necessities, making sure to turn off all lights and appliances when they are not being used, or letting a few bills slide in hopes of catching up on the payments later. The first two are great ways of saving money! The last one can often land you in deeper trouble than you were in before!
When you have fallen noticeably behind on your utility bills, utility companies will shut off your utility. Fortunately, there are some requirements that utility services must follow before shutting off your utilities. The power cannot be shut off on days when the utility office is closed, which includes holidays! If there are members of the household whose health is dependent on a power supply, a utility representative must visit the house before the utilities are disconnected. Utilities services must also notify recipients before the utilities can be shut off.
I also have good news, courtesy of SignOn San Diego!
In reaction to stories from around the state that people were being cut off because the bad economy had made it difficult for them to pay their bills, the California Public Utilities Commission told utilities they had to take steps to prevent needless cutoffs.
In particular, the commission said power companies, including San Diego Gas & Electric, must give people at least three months, and up to a year, to get their bills up to date.
But what about people who have already had their utilities shut off and are seeking debt relief? More good news! “The bankruptcy laws require the utility company to restore the service of any utility that was terminated prior to the filing. A bankruptcy filing prevents the utility company from terminating an individual’s service.”
That’s right, Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy provide debt relief and can restore your utilities! You simply need to pay a security deposit within 20 days of filing to ensure your utilities stay on. Contact me or visit our Lancaster office for a free consultation! Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano is dedicated to keeping you debt free and powered up!
Wondering what to do about the home when going through divorce and bankruptcy? (Los Angeles attorney David Lozano offers his help to divorced couples!)
Not too long ago I wrote about how divorce is one of the three leading causes of bankruptcy–along with medical bills and the loss of a job–in Wondering what you should do when dealing with divorce as well as bankruptcy? (Los Angeles attorney David Lozano offers his advice!) And earlier in the year I wrote a blog entitled, Does filing bankruptcy lead to divorce? Today I’d like to discuss situations that may arise when going through divorce and bankruptcy.
Married couples who are considering or have already gotten a divorce sometimes find themselves in a fix when it comes to what to do about the home. Oftentimes neither spouse can afford to keep the house or apartment on their own. In cases like this, couples may end up living together out of necessity, staying at opposite corners of the house or on separate floors as much as possible. Couples will even try to avoid filing bankruptcy by putting their home up for sale, hoping to make enough money to pay off the mortgage, so that they can buy new homes. Many times the couple is forced to dramatically lower the price of the home to avoid foreclosure, even settling for a price far below the retail value.
In a situation like this, I urge couples to contact me or visit one of our Lancaster, Ontario, or West Covina office locations for a free consultation! With the help of a bankruptcy attorney, the couple may have better luck getting the house sold at a fair price or keeping the house, if they so desire!
Wondering what a creditors meeting is? (Lancaster attorney David Lozano is here to answer all your bankruptcy questions!)
Filing bankruptcy is just the first step in the bankruptcy process. There is also a 341 meeting–or creditors meeting, which usually takes place 20 to 40 days after you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. At this meeting, you and your attorney discuss your financial situation with the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case. You are asked questions under oath about your income, assets, and debt to verify the legitimacy of your bankruptcy claim.
A 341 meeting must be held to give creditors a chance to dispute your bankruptcy claim. While you, the client, are required to be at this meeting, attendance is optional for creditors. At the meeting, creditors may request that a specific debt not be discharged if they feel you have the funds to pay the debt. In the majority of cases, however, creditors choose not to attend.
I like to assure my clients that a 341 meeting is just part of the standard procedure when filing bankruptcy. The purpose of the meeting is simply to get you, your attorney, trustee, and creditors on the same page. It is not an inquisition and as your bankruptcy attorney, I will be there to assist you in answering questions and guiding the proceedings when necessary. Contact me for a free consultation or stop in at our Lancaster office. It is my goal to make your bankruptcy experience as stress-free as possible!
Wondering what you should do when dealing with divorce as well as bankruptcy? (Los Angeles attorney David Lozano offers his advice!)
Along with the loss of a job and medical bills, divorce is one of the most common contributing factors that lead to bankruptcy. Divorce settlements don’t always leave one or both parties with enough to sustain themselves. Many times people are left without a house or car and are sometimes required to pay for child support or alimony.
When it comes to filing bankruptcy due to divorce, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. Only existing debt that has been incurred prior to filing is affected by the bankruptcy claim. So if the divorce hasn’t been finalized, you will be held responsible for all expenses that come up after filing bankruptcy. Another fact to be aware of is that some payments will not be eliminated by filing bankruptcy, such as child support or alimony. On the flip side, if you are receiving child support or alimony, that money is typically exempt from the bankruptcy process!
Bankruptcy is difficult enough without having to worry about divorce litigations on top of that. Should this happen, however, you can rest assured that David Lozano will get you through the bankruptcy process as smoothly as possible! Contact me for a free consultation!
Are your children’s education saving funds exempt when you file bankruptcy? (Lancaster attorney David Lozano is here to put your mind at ease!)
Couples and single parents frequently take advantage of my offer for a free consultation to discuss their options for dealing with debt. For many their concerns involve not only them, but their children as well! Parents worry whether the savings they’ve set aside for their children’s future education will be affected when they file bankruptcy.
I am pleased to say that you can protect your children’s education funds by using special savings plans, such as a 529 or Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). Wikipedia compares and contrasts the two plans well:
Important differences with 529 plans
- Coverdell ESAs have lower maximum contribution limits; currently $2,000 can be contributed per year per child, while 529 plans generally have no restrictions on contributions, up to the maximum lifetime contribution.
- Coverdell ESAs can allow almost any investment inside including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, while 529 plans only allow a choice among a number of state run allocation programs. The rules for investments allowed in ESAs are the same as those for IRAs.
- Balances in a Coverdell ESA must be disbursed on qualified education expenses by the time the beneficiary is 30 years old or given to another family member below the age of 30 in order to avoid taxes and penalties; there is no age limit for 529 plans.
- Coverdell ESAs allow withdrawing the money tax free for qualified elementary and secondary school expenses; 529 plans do not.
- The income level of a donor may affect contributions into a Coverdell ESA, but would not affect contributions to a Section 529 plan.
Important similarities to 529 plans
- Money in both a Coverdell ESA and a 529 plan is not considered the child’s (beneficiary’s) money when applying for federal financial aid as long as the owner of the account is someone other than the beneficiary, such as a parent. This works to increase the child’s potential financial aid because parents are expected to contribute only around 6% of their assets to finance college education, as opposed to the child’s 35%.
- The custodian of both an ESA and a 529 plan can designate a new beneficiary without incurring taxes or penalties provided that the new beneficiary is an eligible family member of the previous beneficiary.
When filing bankruptcy, money that has been in a 529 or ESA savings account for over two years is exempt from the bankruptcy process! And up to $5,000 worth of money in the account that has accumulated for at least a year but under two years is also exempt. In addition, only money that has been added to the savings account within a year prior to bankruptcy is available to creditors–everything else is protected!
The future depends on the well-being of the next generation, and a large part of that well-being involves the extent of their intellectual growth! Visit our Lancaster location for a free consultation. Protecting the education funds of our children helps to ensure their continued intellectual growth!
Everyone has a different grocery shopping approach–some make a list, others go in and shop for whatever looks good, some plan their shopping trip by clipping coupons and waiting for the biggest sales, others shop for what they need for the week. Whatever their shopping style, however, all shoppers will be affected by the increase in food prices this year!
There is a predicted 2% to 3% rise in food prices for 2011! According to Rick Plumlee, the break down of prices goes like this:
“Beef increased nearly 6 percent through Sept. 30 over the end of the third quarter in 2009. Pork shot up 10 percent, and fresh vegetables increased more than 4 percent. And then there are eggs. They jumped 11.3 percent, in part because of a salmonella outbreak in August at two Iowa farms.”
With the economy the way it is, any increase in prices is cause for concern! Gas prices are already causing people to pull their hair out. Although the government has turned to using ethanol fuel to try to keep the price of gas down. But wait, ethanol is made from corn! Do you know how many foods have corn or corn syrup in them? Not to mention how corn is used as feed for chickens.
As a bankruptcy attorney, I look at things from the perspective of my clients. Dealing with debt makes even the slightest jump in prices a nightmare! I advise my clients to practice good budget management. By sticking to a budget, my clients can take advantage of the times when prices are good and make do when they aren’t! Visit our Lancaster location today for a free consultation!
Do you give yourself and your credit card enough credit? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano sheds a little limelight on the subject!)
It is probably safe to say that the majority of Californians are credit cardholders. The U.S. Census Bureau recently collected data on the number of credit cardholders there were in the United States and found that there were 159 million in 2000 and 176 million in 2008. With this data, they then estimated the count for 2011 to be 183 million. I’d like to think these astonishing figures support the idea that Americans are, in general, becoming more financially responsible!
Getting your own credit card is almost like a right of passage for many young adults. It symbolizes that they are–or at least have the potential to be–financially responsible. When managed correctly, a credit card is a useful and often beneficial method of payment. Some credit cards even come with rewards or cash back on essentials, such as groceries, gas, dining, or travel.
There are many brands of credit cards offered by different companies, but did you realize there are just three basic types of credit cards?–unsecured cards, high risk cards, and secured cards.
An unsecured card is most commonly offered to individuals with a good, solid credit history. These cards do not require cash deposit and have no collateral loans. High risk cards often go to people who have a slightly less polished credit history. These cards tend to have an activation fee, annual fees, and late payment penalties attached to them. The last type is a secured credit card, which comes with steep annual fees and late payment penalties. This type of credit card functions similarly to a debit card in that you need to have a certain amount of cash in an account as “insurance”.
When it comes to credit cards, there are many options out there. But no matter what type of credit card you have, as a bankruptcy attorney, I am equipped to handle any type of credit card debt you may have. Contact me for a free consultation on settling your credit card debt!
What if creditors continue to call after your debt has been discharged? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano urges you to stand your ground!)
Once your debt has been discharged by the bankruptcy court, creditors and collection agencies are out of luck! Third party collection agencies have been known to contact a person and demand payment even after that person has declared bankruptcy and had his or her debt discharged. Do not fall prey to their subterfuge! By taking responsibility and filing bankruptcy you have cleared your name! That means that anyone calling about debt that has been discharged is out of line!
If creditors or third party collection agencies call after the bankruptcy court has approved your bankruptcy claim, take appropriate action! Tell them that the debt has been discharged. If they do not accept that fact or continue to hassle you, don’t give in! They are in the wrong, so stand your ground! Inform them that you will contact the Federal Trade Commission if they continue to call. Attempting to collect on debt that has been discharged is illegal and they can be held in contempt for doing so!
The whole point of filing bankruptcy is to get a fresh start without having to worry about creditors! As a bankruptcy attorney, I can help you make sure that no one takes advantage of you! I look out for my clients before, during, and after the bankruptcy process so that you can enjoy your debt free life with peace of mind!
While it is in my best interest that you hire an attorney, that is not the only reason why I advise my clients that having one is essential. Filing bankruptcy is not as simple as filling out some paperwork, paying a fee, and sending it all to the court for approval. There’s a lot more to it, which is why bankruptcy attorney, such as myself, exist. We evaluate your situation from a legal perspective, thoroughly discuss all available options with you–the client–and handle all legal matters.
There are many ins and outs when it comes to filing bankruptcy, but bankruptcy attorneys are able to follow the complex system and understand the technical terms involved with ease. Attorneys have studied all the laws and technicalities that go into bankruptcy at length, and having this knowledge makes the process of handling your unique bankruptcy case a simple matter of organize all the details and deciding the right course of action for you.
So, while the law does not require you to have an attorney, I highly recommend it. Another benefit of hiring an attorney who specializes in the field is the speed and efficiency we have to offer. Hiring a bankruptcy attorney saves you the time and frustration of trying to decipher what needs to be done, the order it needs to be done in, and how to solve dilemmas should they arise. Contact me for your free consultation, so that you can concentrate your efforts on getting your life back in order while I take care of the rest!