I'm a certified specialist in bankruptcy law (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization) practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 30 years. In addition to practicing bankruptcy law, I train new practitioners at Bankruptcy Mastery.


Author: Cathy Moran, Esq.

17 Apr Income Taxes & the Self Employed

Those of us who are self employed don't have regular paychecks from which income taxes can be withheld from each check we get. We are expected to make quarterly tax deposits toward our expected liability, on pain of penalties for forwarding Uncle Sam too little prior to submitting our return. With the ups and downs of most small businesses, budgeting is difficult, and setting aside tax money for that quarterly deposit is often a real challenge. It's all too easy to put off setting aside money for the quarterly deposit or to dip into the money you've set aside for the deposit when some crisis arises. There is an alternative that might help entrepreneurs avoid being caught short of funds to pay the taxes or being penalized for inputting too little. Make a tax deposit each month.
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16 Apr House in Joint Tenancy not Community Property

home sweet home embroidery-ccCalifornia couples have traditionally had two choices in how to take title to a home: community property or joint tenancy. Community property is the default unless the deed listing a husband and wife says otherwise. Joint tenancy provides that upon death the decedent's half of the property passes automatically to the survivor. Why is this relevant to bankruptcy? Because bankruptcy looks to state law to define what it is that the debtor owns. Bankruptcy law will determine what happens to that property.

What comes into the bankruptcy

A bankruptcy filing by one spouse alone brings all of the community property into the estate. The same filing would bring only one half of the value of a house held in joint tenancy.
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05 Apr Dismissed or Discharged in Bankruptcy

Discharge and dismissal are radically different concepts. Yet his pair of words is often confused by the public: they are misused as though they are interchangeable. Let's put each in its place. Dischargerefers to the order of the court that makes the debtor's dischargeable debt forever unenforceable. A bankruptcy discharge is the goal of a case. Proper usage is that the debtor "receives a discharge", though if you tell a lawyer you were discharged (of your debts), they'll understand. Dismissedrefers to the case filed by a debtor. It almost always refers to the termination of the case before a discharge is entered. The legal effect of a dismissal is that the debtor and his creditors are returned to their legal rights as they existed outside of bankruptcy.
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29 Mar Bankruptcy is just filling out forms, right?

The sales pitch of the "bankruptcy assistance" sites or the petition preparers claims that since bankruptcy is nothing more than filling out forms, why do you need a lawyer? You need a lawyer to 1) know what goes in those forms; 2) to help you plan so as to keep as much as the law allows; and 3) to guide you through what follows filing those forms. A bankruptcy case is begun by filing forms that identify your assets; your debts; your budget; and your recent financial history. The trustee studies those forms to determine whether you qualify for the chapter you filed; whether you are entitled to the exemptions you claimed; whether he can sue any of your family members whom you paid off before the case, etc.
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