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California Bankruptcy Law

What should you do if your small business starts to accumulate debt? (West Covina attorney David Lozano offers professional advice to small business owners!)

I talked a little bit about small business bankruptcy in a previous blog–Bankruptcy for the small business owner. Today I want to stress the importance of seeking professional guidance as soon as financial difficulties arise. Small businesses often struggle to compete with corporate businesses or other small businesses in the same region. When your business starts to show signs of falling behind, contacting a professional adviser may stave off future debt and bankruptcy.

A business runs on the incoming revenue from its clients and customers. If several clients happen to be slow on making payments within the same time frame, it can be devastating, especially for a small business. Also with the high prices of many commodities and supplies that businesses use, the struggle to make a profit can be daunting from quarter to quarter!

At the first sign of trouble, it is a good idea to seek professional advice about how to proceed. And if your business is going through a period of slow sales and is struggling with debt, Chapter 11 business bankruptcy may be the solution! Restructuring the business’s financial affairs and payment schedule can give you just the break you need to catch your breath and get your business back on track! Contact me or visit our West Covina location for a free consultation.

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Lancaster, California, attorney explains how utility shut off is affected by filing bankruptcy!

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!

Lancaster, California, attorney explains how utility shut off is affected by filing bankruptcy! 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!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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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!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Bankruptcy for the small business owner

Business owners often devote a full 40-hour work week to managing their business. This simply goes with the territory of owning a company, but I’ve found small business owners go a step further.  They spend more than the allotted 40 hours a week making sure every project and final piece of paperwork is in order, down to the last minute detail!

Many small business owners will cancel or reschedule personal plans when a situation at work arises that needs their immediate attention. In fact, a small business owner’s personal life and business affairs are usually so entwined it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

It is in cases like these–when the business is not a corporation, partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC)— that it falls on the owner to file bankruptcy if the business is in danger of going under. It is also important to understand that filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 for a business is different than filing personal bankruptcy.

In Chapter 7 business bankruptcy, ownership of the business is transferred to the bankruptcy lawyer, who is responsible for ceasing operations and liquidating the business’ assets with the proceeds going to the creditors. Chapter 13 business bankruptcy gives the owner more time to sell assets. The benefit of this is that the owner may be able to sell the assets for a better deal than what the assets would be sold for with Chapter 7 business bankruptcy.

When small business owners must file business bankruptcy it can seem like asking the owner to give up an arm or a leg. I know how attached small business owners can be to their company, and I do everything in my power to ease the process. Contact me for a free consultation to determine what needs to be done for your small business!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Does filing bankruptcy affect student loans?

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!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Considering a payday loan to get you by? Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano strongly advises caution!

Commercial and Internet ads for payday loans are a dime a dozen these days. And if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Payday loans all work basically the same way–you write a check (or grant the lender permission to access an electronic account) to cover the money you are borrowing plus the finance charge. This transaction is then held by the lender until your next payday. Of course if you don’t have the money to cover the cost of the loan by your next payday you’re pretty much out of luck!

It is likely this and many other reasons why payday loans are legal in only thirty-seven U.S. states–with our sunny California being one of them. Nine times out of ten the consequences outweigh the benefits of getting a payday loan. And with online payday loans, there is an added risk of fraud. You hear about online scams all the time, and they are definitely something you do not want to happen to you! You need to be careful when giving out financial information in any situation, but be particularly careful when it’s over the Internet to a payday loan service!

If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet a payday loan is probably not your best option. Contact me for a free consultation and we will discuss your financial situation to determine what is the best course of action for you!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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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!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Do you really need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

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!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Is it true that married couples must file bankruptcy together? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano says, “this is not the case!”)

David Lozano advises married couples about filing bankruptcy!A question many married couples have when they come for a free consultation is whether they both have to file bankruptcy. I am happy to say that spouses are not required to file joint bankruptcy! That misconception is just another common bankruptcy myth!

There are many reasons why a couple might choose to file separately. One example is if there is an inheritance involved. In order to protect the rights to the inheritance, it is better for that person’s partner be the only one to file bankruptcy. Another factor of filing bankruptcy separately is if one spouse owns a business that has its own separate financial plan. To preserve the business, the couple would need to file separately.

One more instance where a couple would want to file separately is if they kept their financial affairs separate throughout their marriage. If this is the case, one spouse may wish to maintain his or her credit score by not filing bankruptcy with his or her partner.

Depending on the situation, it may be beneficial that only one spouse files bankruptcy and the other does not. The thing to keep in mind is that everyone has different and unique circumstances. Deciding what course is best for you is all in a day’s work for me. So contact me for a free consultation today!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Wondering if there’s an advantage to using a payday loan service? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano says, “definitely not!”)

The tempting offer of a payday loan is hard to resist. They make it sound as if there are no strings attached–the service simply lends you the money you need until your next paycheck. The hard truth, however, is that you often end up owing more money than you borrowed. Whatever label it is given–payday loan, cash advance, check advance, deferred deposit–it amounts to the same thing. The payday loan service cashes in while you struggle to stay afloat!

Here’s how it works, if you want to borrow $100 to get you through the next two weeks, you write the payday loan service a check for $115–that’s a 15% fee, which equals a 391% Annual Percentage Rate. Then they hold the check for those two weeks. But what happens if you can’t afford the expense? Most of the time you can’t renew or extend your loan. So you either you have to cough up the cash or they rely on a collection agency to get the money out of you. In the cases that you can renew or extend your loan, it comes at a costly fee, which almost always outweighs any benefit of getting the advance in the first place!

Payday loans aren’t what they are cracked up to be. If you’re having financial troubles your best bet is to go to a professional financial adviser! For a free consultation to discuss your options, contact me! We can find a solution that benefits you instead of adding to the problem!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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