eviction ban salinas bankruptcy

The Eviction Ban Will End - What Happens Next?

If you’re renting an apartment or a house, you may have benefited from the eviction ban issued by the Centers for Disease Control and/or the State of California.  But remember, the eviction ban did not require landlords to forgive your past due rent; you still owe the back rent.

eviction ban salinas bankruptcy

The Eviction Ban Will End

As of now, the eviction ban in California will expire at the end of September.  So what happens when you receive a demand from your landlord for the unpaid rent?  The good news is that you may qualify for the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program.  The Program helps income-eligible households with rent and utilities, both for past due (dating back to April 1, 2020) and future payments.  Both tenants and landlords may apply so if your landlord is demanding past due rent, you should ask if they applied for the Program.  If not, you should do so as soon as possible.  You will need to provide either a copy of your 2020 tax return, a 2020 W2 (or 1099G if you were unemployed), or current pay stubs.  If you are also seeking assistance with unpaid utility bills, you will need to provide copies of invoices issued after April 1, 2020.

Can Unpaid Rent Be Included In A Bankruptcy?

If you don’t qualify for relief, bankruptcy may be an option to consider, especially if you have other past-due bills.  Bankruptcy will allow you to discharge unpaid rent along with other debts like credit cards and medical bills.  But keep in mind, if you choose to discharge the unpaid rent obligation, your landlord will likely seek to evict you once the bankruptcy has been completed.

Schedule A Free Consultation

At Guenther Miller Law Group, we have been helping people resolve their financial issues for over 35 years.  We have helped thousands of people.  Let us help you.  Please call us today at 831/783-3440 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options.

It's time for a fresh start!


mortgage forbearance chapter 13

Mortgage Forbearance Is Coming To An End: Is Chapter 13 Right For You?

mortgage forbearance chapter 13

Mortgage payment forbearance provided a lifeline for millions of American homeowners during the most difficult months of the pandemic.

What Happens When The Forbearance Period Ends?

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with conventional, FHA, VA or USDA loans could request an initial loan forbearance for up to six months. They could also request a six-month extension, for up to one year of total forbearance.  Here’s the issue:  what happens when the forbearance period ends?  Depending on the lender, a homeowner may need to pay the entire forborne balance when the forbearance period ends.  Other lenders will allow the forborne balance to go to the end of the loan.

How Could Chapter 13 Help With My Forbearance?

Another option for the homeowner would be to consider filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a homeowner up to five years to bring current missed payments as well as restructure other debt he or she may owe. So instead of having to make one huge payment, a homeowner could break up the payments over 60 months.

Here is an example outlining how this could work: If a homeowner accepted a 12-month forbearance on monthly payments of $2,000, then a chapter 13 plan can provide for the $24,000 in arrears to be paid over a 60-month period.  That works out to an extra $400 per month.

Additionally, if the homeowner has other obligations (past-due homeowners association dues, vehicle loans, credit card debt, tax debt, medical bills, student loans), they can be provided for and possibly discharged under chapter 13. The variable factors include the type of debt owed and the assets, debts, income and expenses of the debtor.

What If I Decide To Sell My Home?

If a homeowner decides to sell the residence during the pendency of the chapter 13 case, the plan can be modified to account for that change, or alternatively, the case can be converted to chapter 7 or dismissed.

If a homeowner seeks to sell the residence but needs time, a chapter 13 plan can include a liquidating provision which generally limits the monthly plan payment commitment in exchange for selling the property.

Remember, Guenther Miller Law Group offers free consultations to discuss your available options. Give us a call at 831-783-3440.


auto inflation bankruptcy

How Will Used Auto Prices Affect Bankruptcy?

auto inflation bankruptcyAccording to research firm J.D. Power, the average price of a preowned vehicle in the U.S. has exceeded $25,000 for the first time ever.

A Global Computer Chip Shortage

The climb began last year and experts do not see the trend ending any time soon. A global computer chip shortage has strained new-car inventories, leading more to shop the pre-owned market — leading to shrinking supplies and more demand.

At the same time, the average price for a new model climbed to $37,572 in April, up about 7 percent from a year earlier.

How does all this affect someone proceeding through bankruptcy?

Well, what normally is a depreciable asset has been appreciating, and current consumers are finding they have more equity in their vehicles.  But what happens if you cannot afford to make your payments on that appreciating asset?  Bankruptcy may be an option.

There are two main types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7, which liquidates some of your assets, and Chapter 13, which focuses on repaying debts. What happens to your car in bankruptcy depends both on the type of bankruptcy you file and how much equity you have in your vehicle.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can keep the car as long as you continue making the regular monthly payments to the lender.  In some cases, you can redeem the car, i.e., pay the lender what the car is worth.  (This only works if the value of the car is much less than the loan balance.) You can also try asking the lender to enter into a reaffirmation agreement and to include the missed payments in the new payment arrangement. However, your lender is under no obligation to modify your payment when you're behind.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

For most people who are behind on their car payments, Chapter 13 is the better option. In Chapter 13, you can rewrite the car loan to lower the interest rate and possibly lower the payments.

In some cases, you can reduce the amount you have to repay based on the current value of your car.  That's where the rising values for used cars can hurt you.  For example, if your car was worth $10,000 and you owed $15,000, you could file a Chapter 13 and offer to pay back $10,000 (the value of the car).  But today, that same car might be worth closer to $14,000.  If that's the case, you could still "save" $1,000 by offering to pay the loan through Chapter 13.  But as they say in the fine print, "your savings may vary."

To make sure, your best bet, if you are behind on your car payments, is to call us before your car is repossessed!

Find out where you stand and receive a detailed bankruptcy plan during these tumultuous times. Call Guenther Miller Law Group at 831-783-3440.


More Ways to Save Money

Hello! I’m Salinas Bankruptcy lawyer Guenther | Miller Law Group with your Friday Financial Tip. Something to help you stay on the path to financial success. I’m the only bankruptcy lawyer you’ll hear with advice about how to avoid the need for bankruptcy.

In my show here in KRML I’ve provided many tips designed to help you develop power over your finances. This power is what will motivate you to develop the good habits that will keep you out of debt problems. Although we’re well into 2015, here’s some tips for today about saving money in the new year:

  1. Implement a new shopping strategy

Next time you plan to buy something pricy—a camera, a BBQ, even a lawnmower, be sure to comparison shop at a minimum of three stores that carry each item. To save time, do this online. And another way to save big is by shopping during off-peak periods. If you typically spend $600 on school or winter clothing but make the decision to shop the smart way: markdowns that average 40% will yield cost savings of at least $240.

  1. Develop a spending plan

If created and implemented correctly, a budget will reveal weak areas and force you to live within your means . However, only about a third of Americans prepare a monthly budget that tracks their income and expenses. That leaves two out of three consumers who may have no real way to assess their finances and incorporate more responsible spending habits.

One unfortunate result is overdraft charges. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that consumers who don’t make use of a budget year average $225 a year in overdraft fees.

  1. Plan your meals

When making the grocery list for the week, plan your meals around the sales and corresponding coupons that are available. I know that couponing can be very time-consuming, but there are even websites that can provide coupons for just what you’re interested in. In a pinch, try eliminating a few items from your list or substituting generics to save at least $20 per week.

  1. Reduce budget busters

The little luxuries may seem inexpensive and worthwhile, but they add up rather quickly. Try cutting variable expenses, such as coffee drinks, smoking, gym memberships, or cable TV. Shaving down your $4 caffeinated beverage from five to two cups per week can save you up to $624 per year. On the other hand, if you cut out that $55 monthly gym membership and seek free alternatives, you can save up to $660.

  1. Scrap the loyalty

Switching to Geico (or any other insurance company) may or may not save you money, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Even if you have been with one car insurance company for years, use online comparison tools and shop around to find the most competitive rate. If you find a better quote, call your present carrier and see if they can beat it in order to retain you as a customer.

  1. Load up the rainy-day fund.

Failing to have a sufficient emergency fund in place is the easiest way to enter and remain in debt land. To put things into perspective, if you charge $600 for a set of new tires to a credit card with an interest rate of 16.9% and a minimum payment of $20 per month, you will end up paying $186 in interest over the course of three years. And set that rainy day fund up with a local credit union—it’s one of the easiest ways to develop a relationship with a potential lender. Fund the account with an automatic deduction from your paycheck—it’s got to be automatic to work.

  1. Finally for today, renegotiate your debts.

It never hurts to call around to each of your creditors and attempt to have your interest rate lowered. Be familiar with your recent use of your card to show that you’re a valuable customer—someone your creditor doesn’t want to lose. Set aside some quiet time to call. If you’re unsuccessful with the telephone rep, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with a supervisor. I’ll bet you’ll have at least one or two successes on your first try.

Folks, gaining power over your finances is a series of these small steps. But those first small steps can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness—a feeling that the problem is so big that nothing can be done. And because we can’t solve the whole problem at once, we often discourage ourselves from even trying. I’m here to encourage you to take those small steps, and to create those good habits, that can make changes in your life.

If you have questions about ways to save or to avoid common financial traps, or if you’re in trouble financially, visit my website, guenthermillerlawgroup.com, where you can access my full library of Financial Focus shows, or call me at 831-783-3440, that’s 831-783-3440. Initial consultations are always free.


Avoiding Financial Traps in the Pandemic

In my blog over the last year I’ve provided many tips on how to save money and avoid the financial traps that can lead to bankruptcy.  Unfortunately the world is full of opportunities for you to give up your hard-earned money unwisely.  With the current pandemic creating much fear and uncertainty there are even more dangers out there.  Don’t be a sucker!  Be informed!

Becoming an informed consumer is a big step toward avoiding these minefields—and developing the financial power that will keep you out of debt trouble.

Here are some tips for today on how to avoid money traps.

            Avoid the “Free” Trial Offer.  It’s said the best things in life are free.  But maybe not.  Ever wonder why businesses are willing to offer that free trial?  Sure, it may build customer loyalty and maybe you’ll happily become a repeat buyer.  But companies know that many of us will never read the fine print and they make no attempt to remind us when the free period is over.  Instead your “free” subscription or service converts to a paid one. You are left with an unwanted monthly expense and now they have a steady revenue stream.  Your loss is their gain.  And since they use credit cards to secure these “free” offers, the interest you’re paying each month amounts to an even greater loss to your bottom line.  And many companies make it virtually impossible for you to cancel these offers, so that simple one-second click takes hours of phone calls and emails to undo. They are making a calculated bet that you’ll get frustrated and give up, but you simply can’t afford to do this.

Second, never buy something just because it’s on sale.  Taking advantage of sales rather than satisfying a real need can instantly sabotage your monthly budget.  Just because you have a coupon or the opportunity for a great deal doesn’t mean you need to act on it — especially if the good deal is for something you would not otherwise purchase.  Be a buyer, not a shopper.  Make a list of what you want before you go to Costco or the mall and stick to it.  And leave your credit cards at home.  You’re less likely to splurge if you use only money you have—either in your pocket or on your debit card.

Third, say no to upgrades and add-ons.  We’re constantly bombarded with them—do we want more insurance coverage on the car rental?  Do we want a warranty on our laptop?  Do we want a bigger size at McDonald’s?  Fast food, electronics, retailers, car dealerships–upgrades make for huge profits so companies really push them.  To avoid this trap, do your homework.  Know ahead of time what you really want.  For example, quiz your insurance agent about how much your own insurance covers you in a rental car.  If you later decide an extended warranty or other add-on is appropriate, fine.  If not, just say NO.  And stick to it.

Fourth, stay away from payday loans.  These are being advertised these days by well-known celebrities as if they were a community service.  And they appear very attractive—who hasn’t needed some ready cash on a moment’s notice?  But such loans involve great financial danger. They have mega interest rates—often 100% per year.  And they’re hoping that instead of paying the loan in full in a week or two, you’ll instead roll the loan over, with new loan charges.  This can easily be the beginning of an intractable problem.  I often see folks with multiple payday loans who have no hope of getting out of them.  It is shame when such folks find that bankruptcy is their only answer.  So in a financial pinch, sell some unused items, work some extra hours, but avoid payday loans at all costs.

Finally, never co-sign for others.  Ever.  Well, maybe for your mom.  But your best friend or even your brother can lose their job, and when they do that car will be repossessed and the bank will be coming after you—for the entire unpaid balance.  The myth that you’re only on the hook for half is just that—a myth.  So the next time you’re asked to co-sign a loan, blame it on me—tell them that a lawyer told you not to.

Folks, with virtually everyone adversely affected by the pandemic, financial hardship will be a common plight.  Hopefully, the economy will recover swiftly enough that everyone can regain employment and get back up.  If it doesn’t, or if you have a special situation, we are always available to discuss how bankruptcy might be a solution.  There is no charge or obligation to speak with an attorney at our firm.  Please call us if you have questions.  831-424-1764.


I’m out of a job! What do I do?

I’m Salinas Bankruptcy lawyer Clark Miller.  For over 30 years I have helped many individuals survive financial disaster and obtain a new start.  This experience has given me countless examples of ways folks can get back on their feet after a debt breakdown.  Now, with unemployment of over 15%, I have suggestions for actions to survive the current shelter-in-place restrictions.

Unemployment Insurance.  Apply for state unemployment immediately.  There will be delays given the huge rush, so “get in line” early.  Remember, there in California there is a one-week waiting period before benefits can begin.

Take advantage of the stimulus relief.

–In your unemployment application, take advantage of the added $600 /week in benefits through June 30.  This is in addition to California’s maximum UE of $450/wk.

–Your $1200/person stimulus check should have already arrived.  If not, inquire of the Small Business Administration at sba.gov.  Initial benefits went only to those persons having filed tax returns in 2018 and/or 2019.  But every adult can apply, even those who have not worked.   There are additional benefits for your dependent children.

If you can’t pay your rent, contact your landlord immediately.

Monterey County and most local cities have eviction restrictions in place, but DO NOT simply discontinue your rent.  Contact your landlord in writing if the pandemic has affected your income and ability to pay rent (which means just about everybody).  Most ordinances permit a two to three month remission of rent (unfortunately the rent is NOT canceled; the landlord has a right to recover it over the next 12 months).

Take advantage of your bank’s mortgage forbearance program.

Virtually all banks now have in place programs to permit a remission (lowering) of your mortgage payments for a limited time.  Check your bank’s website.  Again, do not simply stop making your payment—you must apply for the relief which is in the nature of a mortgage modification.

Check to see if your employer has a financial relief program.  Many employers offer such services that may cover essential expenses such as medical bills.

Do not forget to contact your credit card companies.  As with landlords and banks, credit card issuers are way ahead in having in place programs to delay or lower payments.  But you must apply.  Nothing makes a credit card issuer more nervous than repeated missed payments.

Pay attention to the news about further relief efforts.  The initial measure by Congress to provide relief to citizens expired quickly and the second is nearing the end.  Unless the pandemic ends quickly Congress is sure to again extend benefits.  If you did not already apply, be first in line with any new program.

Folks, with virtually everyone adversely affected by the pandemic, financial hardship will be a common plight.  Creditors will judge you less harshly if you’re in difficulty if you show that you are in action to address these issues.  Hopefully the economy will recover swiftly enough that everyone can regain employment and get back up.  If it doesn’t, or if you have a special situation, we are always available to discuss how bankruptcy might be a solution.  There is no charge or obligation to speak with an attorney at our firm.  Please call us if you have questions.  831-424-1764.


Further Ways to Save Money

I’ve recently been providing tips on how to save money. But there are so many ways to do this it’s easy to become overwhelmed—and discouraged. Because we can’t solve all our problems at once we often just give up. My suggestion is–find four or five tips that appeal to you and then make a commitment to apply them—just them–within, say, the next week. Don’t worry about other suggestions at first—just stick to the ones you’ve chosen. I think you’ll find these choices easy to do. At the end of the week, consider what you’ve accomplished. I guarantee you’ll feel great, and motivated to make further commitments. That is the way to make real progress toward getting control of your finances. Here are some “doable” savings strategies you can start today:

My all-time favorite: Open a saving account at a local credit union. I’m a big fan of credit unions since they’re normally locally based and make a habit of building relationships with their customers. Once you’ve got the account open, fund it with a voluntary deduction from your paycheck—it doesn’t have to be a lot, say 30 or 40 dollars—but make it automatic, from every check. In no time you’ll have saved some serious money. This can be that rainy day fund you can use to avoid going into debt in the event of a financial emergency. If you find it too hard not to dip into the savings, another suggestion is to reduce your withholding exemptions to have more taxes deducted from your paycheck. You’ll get the savings back—in full–after tax time the following year.

Second, look around for a truly free checking account. Having the wrong checking account can take hundreds of hard-earned dollars out of your pocket every year. The average interest-bearing checking account charges a monthly service fee of almost $15 and requires maintaining a large minimum balance. Instead, look for an account that charges no monthly service fees or per-transaction fees and doesn’t require a minimum balance. This may take some searching, but those accounts are there. Sometimes they may require signing up for direct deposit of your paycheck, which is not a bad idea. And that free checking just might be with the credit union where you established your savings account.

Third, if you’ve got a fairly large balance on your credit card, call up your credit card company and request a rate reduction. If you pay your bill on time every month, they may be willing to negotiate. If the telephone rep isn’t able to help you, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with a supervisor. If they won’t go for it, investigate a 0% balance transfer onto another card. The key here, though, is to stop buying on credit until your financial situation is healthy.

Fourth, closely inspect your monthly credit card statements to see if you’re paying for any for any unused services—credit protection plans, internet games, on-line magazines, even that unused gym membership. If you are, call and cancel them. Also, be on the lookout for services you’ve subscribed to at a higher level than you’re now using—such as Netflix. I’ll bet you’ll find savings of at least 20 or 30 dollars a month.

A fifth tip for this week: Reevaluate your insurance coverage. Switching to Geico (or any other insurance company) may or may not save you money, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Make an effort to bundle your insurance needs: both your car and your homeowners or renters coverage. Even if you have been with one insurance company for years, use online comparison tools and shop around to find the most competitive rates. If you find a better quote, call your present carrier and see if they can beat it in order to retain you as a customer. If they don’t value you enough to give you a better deal, you have no need to show them any loyalty—saving money is just too important. And while you’re at it, if you’ve got children, consider getting some quotes on term life insurance—even $100,000 of coverage can be very cheap.

Again, just try these five moves within the next week. Don’t just think about it—take action! They are certainly doable. And you’ll see that even these small steps can give you the confidence to try additional savings moves in future weeks. Folks, gaining power over your finances is a series of these small steps. I’m here to encourage you to take those small steps, and to create those good habits, that can make changes in your life.

If you have questions about ways to save or how to avoid common financial traps, or if you’re in trouble financially, visit my website, guenthermillerlawgroup.com, where you can access my full library of Financial Focus shows, or call me at 831-783-3440, that’s 831-783-3440. Initial consultations are always free.

So please join me every Friday on KRML in the 7:00 am and 4:00 pm hours for your Friday Financial Tip. This is Salinas Bankruptcy lawyer Guenther | Miller Law Group saying go have a great day.


Learning To Budget

Here are some tips for getting control of your financial life:

First, figure out where your money is going. Budgeting is important, but before starting a budget sit down with pen and paper, your recent paychecks, and bills for the last three months. Write down your total monthly income. Then write down all of your monthly bills. Include groceries, utilities, rent, gas, car payments, insurance, everything. Whatever you have left over, when you subtract your bills from your income, we call disposable income –money you get to save, pay down debt, and spend on yourself.

The next step is to set your priorities. Setting your priorities for that disposable income is one of the important steps. Which is more important, buying new clothes or paying down debt? You may have bills that you could cut by making better choices. For example, a phone bill could be cut in half by going with a smaller plan or less expensive phones. Also, ask yourself if you could allot a smaller grocery budget. A family of four could easily live off of $125 for groceries per week as opposed to, say $175.

Third step, pick a monthly allowance. With the money that you have left over after all bills are subtracted, you can give yourself a monthly allowance to spend. This is money that you can use for anything you want. Clothes, movies, going out to eat. By doing this, you give yourself some room to play, but not so much that you go over budget. Pick a reasonable amount according to your budget, you still want to have money in the bank to get your through to the next paycheck, or in case something should come up you didn’t plan for.

Fourth, create an automatic savings plan. Include this in your bill section. Set up a savings account and fund it with an automatic deduction from each paycheck. If you can only afford $10 per paycheck, do it anyway! It WILL eventually add up, and you may be thankful someday you have that money to fall back upon. That savings cushion can shield you from having to go into debt should your car break down.

Fifth tip, always look for ways to save. Part of budgeting well means looking for as many ways to save as possible. Some ideas include carpooling to work or school, clipping coupons from the newspaper, and swapping out babysitting with friends. When grocery or clothes shopping, look for items that are on sale. Buy in bulk when you can—toothpaste, soap, detergent, paper products. Doing little stuff like this will help, I guarantee it.

Next, know your temptations. We all have our temptations, areas that we find easier to spend money in than others. If you love to buy things on Ebay, stay off Ebay! If you love to buy books, as I do, stay out of the bookstore! Look for ways to enjoy your hobbies without spending as much. For example, check out your local library for free books, movies and music options. If you love shopping, try thrift or re-sale stores.

Next option, find cheap entertainment. My wife and I figured out how much of our money was going to entertainment. Movies, concerts, eating out, and shopping were taking up too much of our budget. So we figured out an amount to spend per week on entertainment, and when that was gone, we had to get creative! We’ve enjoyed an array of different fun outings as a result. Picnics, walks, bike rides, movie matinees, and many other wallet-friendly things  have become part of our recreational rituals.

Last for today, set long-term goals. One of the best savings motivators is planning long-term goals. It’s a budget tip that’s guaranteed to get you places! If you start saving up for a new laptop or a vacation to Italy, or even having a baby, you will be more encouraged to save for that purpose. Just give it a try and you’ll see what I mean!

As powerful as it is, it can take a little while to get the hang of budgeting, so don’t despair! Be patient, stick with it. You will get it eventually, and then you’ll be sharing tips for handling a budget with your friends! It’s not difficult, it just takes a little self-discipline and the realization that everything we may want is not what we need.

Even if you ultimately have to come see me about a major financial problem, I want to be sure you’ve tried every possible alternative. If you have questions about bankruptcy visit my website, guenthermillerlawgroup.com where you can access my complete library of Friday Financial Focus shows. Or call me at 831-783-3440, that’s 831-783-3440. If it turns out you do need a bankruptcy, I’m the man to see. Initial consultations are always free.


Going Above and Beyond for Your Financial Success

Your first in-person consultation with Salinas Bankruptcy Attorney Guenther | Miller Law Group is always FREE. There is no financial obligation unless you decide to retain us.

We are one of the only local bankruptcy law firms that, in addition to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, offers the option of filing for the more complex Chapter 11.

We always have your best interests at heart. We offer all major bankruptcy filing options that are available to you. We can also suggest alternatives to filing for bankruptcy.

We go above and beyond in our commitment to your financial success by offering all of our clients access to a highly effective credit repair program. Bring your credit score back up to 720 very quickly after filing for bankruptcy with this program! This course has a $1,000 value, but when you file with us, it is FREE!

We will also continue to support you over the years in reestablishing your credit. After your case is completed, you may return annually for us to assist you in running your credit report. We will work with you in-person to ensure that it is accurate and that all information is correctly stated. If errors appear we will fight to get them corrected for you WITHOUT CHARGE!

Our staff of highly trained and experienced attorneys and paralegals are professional, courteous and committed to your case. Your success and satisfaction are our primary goals.

The high level of service we provide to our clients is incomparable. We are here for you. And remember, first consultations are always FREE.


Renegotiate your Debt

It never hurts to call around to each of your creditors and attempt to have your interest rate lowered. Be familiar with your recent use of your card to show that you’re a valuable customer-someone your creditor doesn’t want to lose. Set aside some quiet time to call. If you’re unsuccessful with the telephone rep, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with a supervisor. I’ll bet you’ll have at least one or two successes on your first try.

Folks, gaining power over your finances is a series of these small steps. But those first small steps can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness-a feeling that the problem is so big that nothing can be done. And because we can’t solve the whole problem at once, we often discourage ourselves from even trying. I’m here to encourage you to take those small steps, and to create those good habits, that can make changes in your life.