Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy

Many consumers are finding it easier to reestablish credit after filing for bankruptcy. After receiving a discharge, most debtors will begin receiving advertisements from lenders offering to finance homes, vehicles and credit cards. The most important way to reestablish your credit is to stick to a budget so that you do not get into a financial bind again. Here are some additional tips:

1. Consider opening a checking and savings account. Some lenders look at this to determine if you can responsibly handle money. Being able to pay bills from a checking account is also much more convenient than paying with money orders.

2. Consider applying for applying for store and gas credit cards for purchases for which you would normally pay cash. These cards usually have small limits and can help you restore you credit, but only if you have the discipline to set aside the money to pay the bill each month.

3. Consider applying for a secured card where you deposit cash and charge against it. If you borrow money for short periods of time and pay it back, this will reflect positively on your credit report.

4. You MUST pay your utility bills and rent on time for at least a year.

5. If possible, find a friend or relative to cosign for you on a loan and pay it on time.

6. Look for car dealers and mortgage brokers that attest to being "bankruptcy friendly". Buy a used car on credit so you do not get hit with the depreciation that occurs during the first two years of a new car purchase.

7. Stay away from payday loans that are at high interest rates and are a bad credit trap.

8. Write a letter to each credit reporting agency explaining the circumstances that lead to your bankruptcy filing.

9. Live within your means. Do not unnecessarily increase your debt-to-income ratio by taking on credit to purchase luxury items that you DO NOT NEED. Your payments on consumer debt should equal no more than 20% of your expendable income after costs for housing and a vehicle.

10. Pay your reaffirmed, pre-bankruptcy debts on time.

We are a bankruptcy and debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy.

About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.

Monday, May 09, 2005

What Should I Know About Serving on a Jury?

If called for jury service, what are the consequences if you don’t show up? If you report to jury service in May, when can you be called again?

These and many other questions are answered in the California State Bar’s newest pamphlet, What Should I Know About Serving on a Jury? Released on Law Day (May 1) to coincide with the American Bar Association’s focus on jury service, the new pamphlet is the 21st in the State Bar series called Get the Legal Facts of Life.

Non-profits (courts, legal services agencies, etc.) may obtain free copies simply by making the request on their court or agency letterhead. Those orders should be sent to Office of Media & Information Services, State Bar of California, Attn: Jury Service Pamphlet, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639.

Individuals may obtain a free copy by sending a self-addressed, stamped business envelope to the address above. All 21 pamphlets are available for bulk purchase; additional information and how to order is available at > Public Services > Consumer Information > Pamphlets.

Out-of-state attorneys working in California must register by May 15

Non-California lawyers employed in California as in-house counsel must register with the State Bar by May 15.

Under California Rule of Court, Rule 965 (registered in-house counsel), adopted by the California Supreme Court in March 2004, non-California attorneys employed as in-house counsel in California must register with the State Bar.

The Registered In-House Counsel program allows non-California attorneys employed as in-house or corporate counsel to practice law in California on a limited basis.

Registrants are not required to take and pass the California bar exam and therefore will not become members of the State Bar of California.

Applicants must submit a Registered In-House Counsel Application packet and an Application for Determination of Moral Character no later than May 15. Application forms, instructions and fee information are available at (Attorney Resources > Special Services > Multijurisdictional Practice (MJP) Program.)

For more information or assistance with the application process, contact the Office of Certification, 415-538-2325, or

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Police Must First Respect the Community Before the Community will Respect the Police

College student Lisa Corrie believes that to have public support and respect for the police, the police must first support and respect the community served. Corrie submitted an essay for her Ethics and Liability in Criminal Justice class that speaks volumes. To read her paper, click here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Do I Need More Than A Will?

Although this article discusses some of the factors that might be used to decide upon an estate plan in California, you should always consult a licensed attorney qualified in estate planning to discuss your specific needs and goals.

Do I need more than a will?

In reality, everybody should have a will even if they do not have property of much value. Besides naming the executor of your estate and specifying the distribution your assets, a will is also used to designate who will have custody of your minor children if you should pass away. But what other documents should you have in your estate plan?

A Living Trust

In most cases, anybody in California who owns real property or who has assets worth more than $100,000 should seriously consider having a revocable living trust to avoid probate. In addition to avoiding probate, a person who inherits real property through a living trust will receive better treatment for the purpose of capital gains tax than someone who inherits the property through joint tenancy.

A properly drafted trust can also help reduce your estate taxes. Estate taxes are imposed upon an estate which has a net value of $1.5 million or more. Under current law, that amount will increase to $2 million in 2006 through 2008. For estates which approach or exceed this value, significant estate taxes can be saved by proper estate planning, usually before death and, in the case of married couples, before the death of the first spouse. Estate planning for taxation purposes must take into account not only estate taxes, but also income, gift, property and generation-skipping taxes as well. Qualified legal advice about taxes should be obtained during the estate planning process.

Advance Health Care Directive

As recently shown in the Terri Schiavo matter, everybody should have an Advance Health Care Directive allows you to appoint someone to make your health care decisions when you cannot. Regardless of your personal views, these are issues that you should discuss with your family and put your wish in writing.

By having an Advance Health Care Directive, you take the power to make decisions for you away from the court system and put those decision in the hands of trusted friends or family members.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

You should also have a power of attorney that allows your family to handle your financial matters when you cannot. Most people prefer to have a "springing" power of attorney that only goes into effect if you become mentally incapacitated. By having a complete estate plan, you can avoid an expensive, court-supervised conservatorship if you become mentally incompetent.

I strongly urge you to speak with a licensed professional who can provide you with sound advice on an estate plan that best suits your particular needs.

About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.