5 Best Ways To Get Out Of Your Bankruptcy Rut

If you have made the decision to file for Bankruptcy, you can start making an effort to repair your credit and get back on track.

The financial decisions you make after you file will impact how fast your credit can improve.

  1. Check your credit. Within a few months of your finalization of bankruptcy, check to make sure your credit reports have discharged your debts and closed accounts are properly reported. You can request one free report per year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
  2. Start a budget. You need to get your spending on track and under control. Check out our article on setting up a budget. If money is tight you may want to get an extra part time job and use that paycheck to jump start an emergency savings fund for any unexpected financial hardships. Another smart move is an emergency savings fund to help you weather unexpected financial hardship. You can set up Automatic Transfers from your checking account to a savings account. If money is tight, take a part-time job and use that paycheck to jumpstart your emergency savings fund.
  3. Pay bills on time. Bill paying habits make a huge impact on your credit score. Making on time bill payments will improve your credit score over time. Meeting payment dates is a huge step in recovering from bankruptcy.
  4. Acquire new credit but do it wisely. There are different products and services you can take advantage of to rebuild your credit. If you receive a secured credit card make sure they send reports of your payment history to the credit bureaus. Use your credit card wisely in order to build up credit only on items you can afford to show you are in control of your spending.
  5. Apply for a loan. If you want to rebuild your credit score, two years after your bankruptcy you will be eligible for an FHA loan assuming you meet qualification rules. Some lenders can even qualify you for a car loan sooner than that however it will probably be at a high interest rate.

While the formal record of a bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7 to 10 years, its impact recedes over time. Your bankruptcy is a reflection of the past. The future is completely within your control, and how you handle your finances going forward will tell your creditors whether you in fact are a good “risk” to do business with. By following these steps to recover from bankruptcy, you improve your chances of increasing your credit score over time, and having a better financial future.

Do you have questions about filing for bankruptcy?  Please call us, The Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales & Preston, at (951) 461-2500.

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Facing Bankruptcy? Don’t Do It Alone!

Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is one of the best moves you can make if you are filing for bankruptcy.

A bankruptcy lawyer knows the ins and outs of the bankruptcy process, have done plenty of research on the topic, and have dealt with the court system for years.

 

Give Jonathon Preston from the Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston a call.

When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure you hire an expert – It is important to find a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy. You should find out what percentage of a lawyer’s practice is comprised of bankruptcy and how many cases he has filed. It is best to avoid a “jack of all trades” type of lawyer.
  • You’ll get what you pay for – Of course you are already tight on money if you are filing for bankruptcy however it is important to keep the saying in mind: “You get what you pay for”. Don’t go with the least expensive lawyer because you may end up having to pay more money in the long run.
  • Make sure you will get detailed attention – Many law firms will run their clients through a bankruptcy mill resulting in lousy legal work, unhappy clients and wary judges and trustees. In order to spot a mill, check with your local bar association for recommendations on attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy. Most mills will not be on top of the networking which is a normal characteristic of a local bar association.
  • Last but not least, make sure you have a comfortable relationship with your lawyer – Picking a lawyer you are comfortable with is most important. If you don’t have a good feel about the attorney, find another one. Filing bankruptcy is an emotional roller coaster and you want to feel right about what your lawyer is doing for you.

Looking for a lawyer? Call The Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston.

The 5 Biggest Risks Of A Sole Proprietorship

Do you own your own business?

There are many different entities you, as a business owner, can choose to have your business fall under.

 

A sole proprietorship is the easiest way to start a business however there are many risks that come with setting up your business as a sole proprietor. Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC would like to share the top 5 risks associated with running your business as a sole proprietor:

  1. You run the risk of being sued personally. If you incorporate your business it provides a layer of protection between you and any losses your company may encounter. If you get sued as a sole proprietor, you can lose all your personal property in addition to your business holdings.
  2. It is more difficult to get a business loan. If you apply for a loan as a sole proprietor, a lender will look at your personal finances. If they are less than stellar it may be difficult to receive a loan to help your business grow.
  3. You are more liable as a sole proprietor. As a business owner you are held directly responsible for any losses, debts or violations coming from the business. If the business must pay any debts, they will be satisfied from the sole proprietor’s own personal funds.
  4. You must pay self-employment tax. Some other tax benefits may not be deductible as well such as health insurance premiums for employees.
  5. There is less stability of the business. If the owner becomes deceased or incapacitated, the business cannot continue. If the owner passes, the business is liquidated and becomes part of the owner’s personal estate to be distributed to its beneficiaries. This can result in heavy taxes to the beneficiaries.

If you are interested in starting up a business or currently own a business as a sole proprietor, it is in your best interest to contact Jonathon Preston at Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business.

When Bankruptcy Is Right For You!

Bankruptcy isn’t a pretty word, but sometimes it’s the right solution.

Bankruptcy can sometimes be the best solution for your financial difficulties and can help you in many ways.

 

However, It is best to know exactly what you are getting in to and know exactly all the ramifications involved with bankruptcy.

We encourage those on the fence about bankruptcy to call our offices. We offer free consultations and would be happy to help you in determining if bankruptcy is right for you.

The following are examples of when bankruptcy may be the right solution for you:

  1. Loss Of A Job – Most people work hard to get a good, high paying job and in a lot of cases, along with a high paying job come higher living expenses. When there is a lay off or even restructuring at a place of employment, that loss of income can force people into bankruptcy.
  2. Medical Bills – Many bankruptcies are a result of high medical bills. Rare or serious diseases or injuries can easily result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills – bills that can quickly wipe out savings and retirement accounts, college education funds and home equity.
  3. Divorce – When someone gets a divorce, an income which was once used to cover one household now must be stretched out to cover two households. Many people file bankruptcy after divorce, in an attempt to clean up the mess that the divorce left in their financial life.
  4. Avoid Draining Retirement Funds – In most cases, retirement accounts are protected in bankruptcy.  When someone is considering draining retirement accounts to pay for debts, they need to consider the consequences and whether a bankruptcy would better serve their long term goals.  Those people who are at or near retirement and need retirement funds to meet their basic living expenses especially need to consider this option.
  5. Back Taxes Are Owed – Not all taxes are able to be discharged however some can be wiped out. Even when tax debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, wiping out other debt can make a payment plan to the IRS or state government possible.

How to Dispute a Wrongful Insurance Denial

Are you battling with your insurance to pay for your insurance claim?

Bad Faith Insurance is when an insurance company unreasonably withholds the policy benefits or wrongfully denies payment on an insurance claim.

Insurers are required to deal fairly and in good faith with the people they insure. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, you may seek resolution for your insurance dispute by consulting with a bad faith insurance attorney.

If the stated reason your car insurance was denied does not reflect the actual facts of your claim, you have a right to dispute the decision. If you elect to dispute the claim denial, you should consider the following:

  • If your claim is denied and you believe wrongfully so, write a letter to your insurance carrier explaining the situation and citing the section of your policy dealing with your claim. Ideally they will negotiate with you and give you a fair settlement.
  • If you do not receive a satisfactory response from your Insurer, contact an insurance attorney to assist with your claim. You have the option to file suit against the company for bad faith insurance practices, breach of contract, and/or violations of your state’s insurance code.

After you either take or threaten action under an insurance bad faith claim, the insurance company may reopen your claim and move forward with their investigation. If the company holds firm, and you suspect you are being bullied, then you may be able to move forward with a bad faith insurance lawsuit.

There are tempting financial incentives for an Insurer to deny a claim. If the Insurer denies a claim in bad faith, and that denial goes unchallenged, the Insurer gets to pocket the money.

An insurance policy is a binding contract between two parties; both the Insurer and the Insured are required to act in good faith. Policy holders have the right to be treated fairly and insurance companies have the right to deny a policy holder’s claim when they violate the terms of the contract, or if the claim is fraudulent.

If your auto accident claim is being handled with the insurance company for the other driver, a failure to settle promptly or fairly is not a denial of the insurance claim. You should think about contacting an attorney to either negotiate a settlement for you or to file suit against the responsible driver.

Please call us, Page, Lobo, Costales & Preston at (951) 461-2500, for a free consultation if you feel you have been unreasonably denied insurance benefits.

How To Avoid Construction Disputes

With new construction popping up, mechanics liens are starting to become more prevalent.

Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston would like to share some helpful tips to avoiding a mechanics lien for any projects you are involved with. Call Jonathon Preston to help with all your construction disputes.

stop noticeThe following are steps to avoiding a mechanics lien:

 

  • When choosing your contractor, make sure to hire only licensed contractors and make sure to verify their contractor’s license status. When your contractor hires subcontractors, make sure they are licensed. It is also a good idea to check your prime contractor’s reputation for paying its subcontractors and material suppliers.  Before starting construction, get a list of all subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers to be used by your prime contractor.
  • When writing up your contract, come up with a payment schedule which states when specific phases of the work both start and end along with the end price for each segment.
  • Make sure to keep track of all paperwork. A preliminary notice is required from subcontractors and suppliers if there is a chance they may need to file a mechanic’s lien. Within the notice, it will state that the subcontractor or supplier has provided, or will provide, goods and services to improve your property and file a lien claim if they are not paid.  If your subcontractors and suppliers do not provide you with this notice, they lose the right to file a lien. This notice however is not required from laborers or the direct contractor.
  • One of the best ways to prevent liens and ensure subcontractors and suppliers are paid is to pay with joint checks. This means both parties must endorse the check. When writing your checks, first compare the contractor’s material or labor bill to the schedule of payments in your contract and Preliminary Notices and make sure the work was done as described.
  • It is also a good idea to get a signed conditional release from possible mechanic’s lien claimants before making your payment.  After you pay, the contractor should provide you with an unconditional release, signed by each of the claimants paid for the portion of the work being released.  Ensure the actual claimant signs the unconditional release. Until the unconditional releases are signed for the previous payments, you may withhold the next payment.
  • After the work is completed, file a Notice of Completion which will reduce the amount of time a contractor, subcontractor, laborer or materials supplier has to record a claim.

 

If you have questions or would like assistance in avoiding a mechanic’s lien, please contact our office, Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston at 951-461-2500.

 

How To Get Your Spending Under Control

The 4 BEST ways to get control of your spending and get your finances back on track.

Are you a shop-a-holic? Do you have more shoes than DSW? Do you count the minutes till the next pay day? If you answered yes, keep reading for 4 painless tips to help you control your spending.

spendingBefore you cut your spending habits cold turkey, write down your goals and place them in a spot where you can see them daily so you are reminded of your goals. Track how much you spend a month and what you spend it on so you can develop a plan with reasonable expectations. If you spend $100 a month on Starbucks, cut it down to $50.00 the first month, $25.00 the next. Take baby steps and be realistic.

If you are in over your head in debt, call our offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss the many ways we can help you climb out of debt – 951-461-2500.

Below are 4 great, EASY tips on how you can become financially fit:

  1. Determine the differences between “needs” and “wants”. Yes, I agree, sometimes you NEED a $5.00 Latte but I hate to break it to you, you CAN live without it. NEEDS are what you have to have to stay alive: Shelter, food, you know the bare necessities. WANTS are just that, wants… I want the new (fill in your poison here).
  2. Use CASH!!! Have a separate envelope for all of your “NEEDS”, make the list fit your needs, and have 1 category for “extras”. Once the cash is gone, so is your monthly budget for that item. Yes, I said budget, this is a painless way to budget, no spreadsheets, no word documents, no excuses! Once the cash is gone it’s gone…below are some examples:
    1. Rent
    2. Gas
    3. Electric
    4. Car
    5. Insurance
    6. Food (groceries and dining out)
    7. Personal (extras)
  3. 24 hour wait period – This rule should only apply to “Wants”. If you want something, wait 24 hours before you buy it. Cool off and give yourself 24 hours before you buy it. Chances are after 24 hours you’ll realize it wasn’t something you necessarily couldn’t live without.
  4. Get $5.00 cash back every time you use your ATM or credit card. Put this “extra money in a jar, out-of-sight and use it for Christmas shopping or emergencies only.

Good luck…and remember it takes baby steps.