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!
A while back there was an article in a Sapurstein & Associates newsletter about a tax ruling concerning the tax deduction for a mortgage that centered around a couple and their son. After filing for bankruptcy some months prior, the couple was looking to take out a mortgage but didn’t qualify due to their credit. Since the couple was still rebuilding their credit score, their son took out the mortgage using his credit score.
Everything went smoothly, but when tax time rolled around the question became who should receive the tax deduction for the mortgage? Although the mortgage was under the son’s name, his parents were the ones actually living in the house, making the mortgage payments, and maintaining the house. The tax court finally ruled that the parents were the equitable owners and gave them the tax deduction.
I am always happy to see things work out for people who have gone through bankruptcy. It is stories like this one that reinforce what I tell my clients everyday–bankruptcy is a new beginning! Although there may be a few stumbling blocks along the way, small setback can be overcome! Contact me for a free consultation and get started on your own new beginning!
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!
To the IRS and many collection agencies, to forgive debt means that while you don’t have to repay the debt, there is a possibility that you will still owe income tax on it! In bankruptcy, having debt discharged means that you are exempt from having to pay all or part of the debt you owe–depending on the type of bankruptcy claim you file. The whole point of bankruptcy is to give people a second chance and a fresh start!
Coming to terms with your debt is difficult thing to do. Many clients come into my office thinking they could have done something differently to avoid bankruptcy. But in most cases the circumstances that lead to debt are beyond your control, such as the loss of a job or unexpected medical bills!
Although collection agencies may have a somewhat distorted view of what forgiveness is, they are on the right track in their terminology! Friends, family members, and employers need to show forgiveness to people who are in debt or filing bankruptcy. More importantly though, you need to be able to forgive yourself! You cannot blame yourself or let others place the blame on you. Contact me for a free consultation. By filing bankruptcy you are doing the responsible thing by taking charge of the situation!
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 have something in common with Will Smith? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano says, “more than you might think!”)
Do you have a flair for the dramatic, a thirst for action and adventure, a good sense of rhythm with a dash of witty humor and charm to tie everything together? See, we’ve already established some strong similarities between you and the Fresh Prince! One likeness that might come as a surprise to you, however, is Will Smith’s close encounter with bankruptcy.
Will Smith was once an up-and-coming rapper with dreams of one day becoming a movie star! He earned the nickname “Fresh Prince” for being able to smooth talk his way out of trouble. In 1988, as part of a hip-hop trio, Will Smith won a Grammy for the song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and became a millionaire. Smith then went on a spending spree and underpaid his taxes, which nearly forced him into bankruptcy. To be fair, Smith was only 18 and a million dollars is enough to go to anyone’s head!
Regrettably, the Fresh Prince couldn’t smooth talk his way out of the debt he accumulated after squandering his fortune. He owed 2.8 million dollars in tax debt to the IRS, a number of his possessions were repossessed, and his income was heavily garnished. Will Smith narrowly escaped bankruptcy thanks to NBC signing him on the sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was a close call, but fortunately the sitcom was a hit and put Smith on the road to stardom.
Now, you certainly aren’t in debt as the result of reckless spending, I’m sure! The average Californian’s debt problems are due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the loss of a job or unexpected medical bills. Whatever the case may be, David Lozano is here to help! Contact me for a free consultation. Bankruptcy is not an end-all, it is merely a stepping stone to getting your life back on track!
A common question I get from my clients is if filing bankruptcy will have any effect on their student loans. Unfortunately, filing bankruptcy does not eliminate or reduce your student loans. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code states that only “undue hardship” is grounds for discharging student loans. Now before you start planning your appeal saying that you are facing “undue hardship”, I should tell you that the Code’s definition will settle for nothing less than permanent and total disability.
While filing bankruptcy does not discharge your student loans or prevent interest from accruing on the loans, there is a ray of hope. Filing bankruptcy will give you a little extra time–up to five years–to get your finances straightened out and possibly catch up to the point where you are able to pay off your student loans! You can do a lot of things in five years if you set your mind to it!
Pursuing the career you took those student loans for may be the key to paying off your loans as well! Don’t let student loans interfere with your goals in life! Contact me for a free consultation. It’s never too soon or too late to seek professional advice on settling your debt!
To cope with the current state of our economy people will often take on extra shifts at work or cut back on frivolous spending. But what about individuals who are retired and their frivolous spending consists solely of buying the grandkids holiday and birthday gifts? That’s right, I’m talking about generous Grandmas and Grandpas here!
The elderly are struggling with debt just as much as the rest of society. A common assumption has been that social security and a good 401(k) plan will be enough to support the elderly after retirement. What I’ve seen happening more and more frequently, however, is elderly folks dipping into their savings for the sake of their children and grandchildren.
Supporting ones children is a hard habit to break. So when Mom and Dad see their son or daughter low on cash, struggling with unemployment, beset with unexpected hospital bills, or in need, the automatic response is to help out.
Lending cash when one is on a fixed income is difficult though. Many elderly men and women turn to borrowing against the equity on their house or relying on credit cards to get by. Unfortunately, both of these methods lead to trouble! Taking out a second mortgage can easily result in foreclosure and missing a few payments on the credit card quickly develops into hefty credit card debt. The elderly may even go without prescribed medication or scrimp on food in an effort to keep up with their bills.
No one likes the thought of dear old Grandma and Grandpa risking their health and comfortable living during retirement! That’s why it is important that elderly individuals get professional financial advice before it comes to that!
Bankruptcy was designed to give people relief from their debt! Mom and Dad have been taking care of you all your life! It’s probably about time to return the favor. Contact me for a free consultation. Together we will make sure that your elderly loved ones can enjoy their retirement to the fullest!