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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thinking of adding “Inc.” to your business name? Want to incorporate your business?

Thinking of INCing your business?
Thinking of adding “Inc.” to your business name? Want to incorporate your business?
In general incorporating your business can provide the business owner the following advantages:

Sole proprietorship and partnerships are subject to unlimited personal liability from a judgment arising out of a business debt. Which means, creditors can and will hold the business owner personally liable for debt. If the creditor is successful in obtaining a judgment that can enforce the judgment by seizing or garnishing your personal property such as a home, savings, or other personal assets. The most common way to protect your personal assets from business-related lawsuits is by incorporating your business. No matter the size of your business, it’s worth investing in your business to protect your personal assets. Please take note that incorporation by itself is not sufficient to protect or isolate your personal assets, there are other formalities that must be followed to secure the protection that is offered by incorporating your business.

It is advisable that you contact your local small business attorney before deciding if incorporation is right for your business.

Did you know that a judgment that is awarded against you in favor of a creditor can devastate your personal credit score? Even a small judgment can have major impacts on your credit score. This is another important reason to incorporate your business.

Incorporation can offer some tax advantages. The advantages depend on many factors such as whether the corporation elects to be taxed under subchapter "S" or "C" of the Internal Revenue Code.

Another huge advantage to incorporation is that a corporation “lives forever.” Meaning if a sole proprietor dies the business generally “dies” or ends with the death of the proprietor.

Generally, as a business entity corporations are easier to market and sell to an investor and usually more attractive to buyers than a sole proprietorship.

Incorporation may enhance the “image” of your business by increasing your credibility and prestige in its dealings.

A corporation can offer anonymity. For example, if a business owner wants to have a small business without causing their identify to be public knowledge, the best choice is to incorporate.
Raxter Law is a law office concentrating on the needs of Small Business. If you have any questions contact Raxter Law at (951) 226-5294.

Tootsie Roll Sues Footzyroll, Claims Likelihood of Confusion Between Candy Bar and Soft Shoe Brand

Tootsie Roll sues Footzroll, claiming brand confusion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mobile Billboard advertising displays can now be regulated by the local government

Mobile Billboard Advertising Displays (AB 2756)

This bill created Section 395.5 of the Vehicle Code, which defines “mobile billboard advertising display” as an advertising display that is attached to a wheeled, mobile, non-motorized vehicle that carries, pulls or transports a sign or billboard and is for the primary purpose of advertising. This bill also amended Section 21100 of the Vehicle Code to give local authorities the ability to adopt rules/regulations by ordinance/resolution to regulate mobile billboard advertising; this includes establishing penalties that could authorize removal of the mobile billboard advertising display. In addition, VC Section 22651 was amended to say that the mobile billboard advertising display may be towed when left parked or standing in violation of a local ordinance. Warning citations advising of the consequences, including towing of the mobile billboard display, are sufficient enough warning to the public.

Raxter Law represents local businesses. If you are a business owner or starting a business feel free to contact the attorney at Raxter Law to discuss your legal needs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How to collect a debt - How to get someone to pay the debt they owe you or your business

How to collect a debt
When a customer or a party refuses to pay on a debt that they owe…what do you do? Below, are a few things to consider when collecting an outstanding debt:

First, you should take a minute or two to find out why the customer hasn’t paid. It could be that they are refusing to pay because that customer is unsatisfied with your product your service. In this case, good customer service skills will quickly resolve the problem.

Second, you may consider some type of mediation. Generally, mediation is only effective for large debtors or when the debt itself is in dispute. Nowadays mediation can be expensive (comparable to filing a lawsuit) but if the debt is in question mediation may be a quick way to validate the debt or its amount. Of course, the debtor must be willing to participate in mediation – which is another issue all together.

Thirdly, the dreaded “Lawyer Letter” can and should be sent. The power the “lawyer letter” wields is amazing. Generally, if a customer is just delaying payment for one reason or another a letter from a lawyer is effective. Also, the “lawyer letter” is an effective tool to determine the resolve of the debtor. If the debtor ignores the letter, you can get an insight into the uphill battle it will take to obtain payment.

Fourth, if you have any collateral – take it! You or your business will have to follow the proper steps to foreclose on a security interests you may have, but that is what collateral is for. If your business sold product to a customer you may have a security interest in the product sold. Anytime you decide to foreclose or take collateral time is of the essence. You and your lawyer must work quickly before the debtor transfers the property of encumbers is any further. This is a time that having a lawyer on speed dial is very handy.

Lastly, (or if you don’t have any collateral/security interests) you will direct your lawyer to file suit against the debtor. If the amount owed to you is under $7,500.00 (or $5,000 for a entity) you can file suit in small claims court. This is the preferred method since the process is simplified, quick, and inexpensive.

If the amount owed to you or your business is over $7,500.00 you will need to file suit in Superior Court. It is recommended that you retain the services of an attorney (if you are a corporation – you must be represented by an attorney) in order to properly file suit in Superior Court. The fees paid to your attorney may be recoverable and added to any judgment against the debtor.

Jeremiah Raxter of Raxter Law concentrates the practice on business and corporate law, civil litigation, including breach of contract, and enforcement of debts and judgments. Raxter Law represents several local businesses as in-house counsel.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Below is a reprint of an article that appeared on MSN Money.

Here are a few things that should rasie the red flag when you interview bankruptcy lawyers:
1. Did you meet with the lawyer? (if not, find a law firm that will allow you to meet with the lawyer and not an assistant)
2. Did the lawyer advise you the advantages or disadvantages of filling for bnakruptcy? Every case has its pros and cons
3. Is the lawyer you met (if you even got to meet the lawyer) the same lawyer that will attend the 341(a) meeting with you?
4. Will the lawyer accept calls from your creditors?
5. Is the lawyer open to receiving calls from you?
6. Is the lawyer charging you for a credit report? Why?
Raxter Law / Menifee Bankruptcy lawyer works differently than most bankruptcy law firms:
- You meet with the lawyer who will prepare your case - FREE CONSULATIONS
- The initial consultation is schedualed for an hour - plenty of time to discuss your situation in detail
- The lawyer you meet will be with follow you through the whole process
- You NEVER have to ask your legal question to a paralegal/assistant on the phone (no gatekeepers here)
- No charge for credit reports
- Low cost credit counseling (required to file)
- Low flat fee
Read the article below and do your research and then give us a call:
(951) 226-5294

Beware cut-rate bankruptcy advice

Bankruptcy has become little more than a few months in purgatory rather than the 7-year ache -- and lifelong disgrace -- it once was.
Deborah and Victor Valle fell behind on their mortgage payments last year after Victor, a 43-year-old union truck driver, was idled by the Southern California grocery workers strike.
When their lender started foreclosure proceedings, the Valles hired a lawyer, David Baran, to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy so they could keep their home and have time to make up the late payments.
Baran filed the bankruptcy papers on Oct. 3, 2003. Within a few weeks, Victor was back at work and the couple had enough cash to bring their mortgage current.
But the attorney failed to file the necessary paperwork to stop the foreclosure and didn't show up for a key hearing -- all the while, the Valles said, assuring them that everything was fine.
On Dec. 5, 2003, the couple learned that their home had been sold.

2 types of bankruptcy mills

"Somebody comes to your door and says you have four days to move out," said Deborah, 39, the mother of four. "That was a shock."
The Valles now live in a budget Orange County motel. The real estate company that bought their four-bedroom house in La Mirada, Calif., quickly sold it to another family. Deborah sadly watched the new owners move in recently as she was driving by her former home.
As bankruptcy filings have soared to new records, many consumers are turning to high-volume bankruptcy law practices and bankruptcy-petition preparers for help in reorganizing their finances, staving off foreclosure or wiping out debt. Dubbed "bankruptcy mills" by their critics, many advertise heavily on radio and television, while others deluge homeowners in foreclosure by direct mail -- which is how the Valles found their attorney.
Bankruptcy mills can come in two flavors:
  • High-volume practices run by attorneys, who may or may not ever meet their clients before appearing in court.
  • Storefront bankruptcy-petition preparers who advertise cut-rate services, usually without a lawyer's help.
Either way, critics say, the results can be disastrous. Some mills employ bait-and-switch tactics, advertising a low-cost bankruptcy and then jacking up the fees. Others insist they can help debtors avoid insolvency for a fat up-front charge, only to push clients into filing -- or filing the bankruptcy paperwork without the clients' knowledge.

Bad advice costs the consumer

Critics say the mills often give poor advice, causing their clients' cases to be dismissed, leaving them saddled with debts that could have been erased or encouraging them to file when they shouldn't.
Dawn Carr of Phoenix used a paralegal to file Chapter 7 liquidation to wipe out her student loan debt. It wasn't until two years later, when a collection agency started calling, that she learned student loans only rarely can be erased in bankruptcy. Hers wasn't.
"So now I have a bankruptcy on my credit report that is essentially an empty one," Carr fumed. "What makes me more upset about the whole thing is that they should have known and didn't say a word, but they sure didn't have a problem taking my money for all the fees."
Debtors also can lose property that should have been protected. Miguel Vasquez of Lancaster, Calif., lost his home because of a bankruptcy preparer's incompetence, according to his attorney, Oscar Parra.
The preparer talked Vasquez into using his girlfriend's Los Angeles address as his own because the preparer didn't want to drive to Lancaster, more than an hour away, to attend the bankruptcy hearing, Parra said. Vasquez, who speaks little English, didn't understand the repercussions of the decision -- and apparently, neither did the preparer.
Because the Lancaster property wasn't listed as his primary residence, the bankruptcy trustee could -- and did -- seize the home to pay Vasquez' creditors. Had the preparer listed the property correctly, Vasquez' equity in the property would have been protected under state law, Parra said.

An increasing problem

The U.S. Trustee Program, which supervises bankruptcy case administration, says bankruptcy mills are an increasing problem. The program filed 243 actions in fiscal year 2002 for attorney misconduct, up 62% from the year before. Actions against bankruptcy petition preparers rose 43%, to 1,150.
Among the cases:
  • A bankruptcy-petition preparer in Woodland Hills, Calif., advertised $99 bankruptcies, only to use high-pressure sales tactics on low-income elderly and disabled clients to boost the fee to $650.
  • A bankruptcy-petition preparer in Alexandria, Va., called himself a "foreclosure specialist" and charged up to $3,500 for his services, which included trying to buy clients' homes at below-market prices and then renting the properties back to them.
  • An Oklahoma City attorney repeatedly failed to show up for bankruptcy hearings, in one case forcing a disabled client to make a 280-mile journey to attend a rescheduled meeting.
  • A Denver attorney in at least five cases redeemed his clients' property from foreclosure proceedings, reselling each time for profits of up to $50,000.
  • In Los Angeles, the U.S. Trustee last year forced attorney Claudia Phillips to sell her practice as part of a settlement agreement after she repeatedly failed to meet with clients or represent them adequately in court. Court papers said Phillips allowed others to forge her signature and those of her clients on documents, adding that Phillips' husband, Kenneth, who was not a lawyer, actually ran the practice and offered legal advice.
Another problem, bankruptcy attorneys say, is lawyers who push clients with few assets into Chapter 13 repayment plans rather than the Chapter 7 liquidation plans that make more sense. The reason? Chapter 13's increased complexity means higher fees -- and the repayment plan puts the attorney first among all the creditors who get repaid.

DIY bankruptcy on the rise

The problem of bad or incompetent advisers has grown so acute in recent years that two years ago the then-U.S. Trustee for the Southern California bankruptcy court, one of the busiest in the nation, took the extraordinary step of warning consumers about the perils of discount advice.
The trustee, Maureen Tighe, now a bankruptcy court judge, said debtors were "routinely" losing property in bankruptcy that should have been protected or were winding up stuck with debts that should have been erased.
The report, co-authored with the Los Angeles County Bar, focused on the rise of bankruptcy-petition preparers in the area. Nearly one in three bankruptcy filings in Southern California is "pro se" ("for self"), which means the filer has no attorney and has typically used a bankruptcy-petition preparer. The rate is nearly one in two in Santa Barbara, home of the largest bankruptcy-petition preparer chain, We the People.

Some firms cry 'foul'

Some of those dismissed as bankruptcy mills, however, say they're getting a bum rap.
"We do thousands and thousands of bankruptcy filings a year, and the vast, vast, vast majority have gone through just fine," said Jason Searns, general counsel for We the People, which has 150 offices in 28 states. "We are serving a huge, underserved market that can't afford lawyers."
We the People is the nation's largest legal self-help chain, advertising $199 bankruptcies, $349 divorces and low-priced business incorporation services. The company does not provide legal advice, Searns said, but helps consumers fill out the appropriate forms to represent themselves in court.
"Is it perfect for everyone? No. There are some people who really should go to lawyers," Searns said. "But people have the right to do it themselves if they want to, just as people have the right to go to Home Depot and do their own bathroom."
Petition preparers and discount attorneys say they're being lumped in with incompetents and scam artists as part of a legal turf war by higher-priced attorneys trying to protect their fees. The high-volume operators say they offer consumers a low-cost alternative to regular bankruptcy attorneys, who typically charge $800 to $2,500 for a bankruptcy filing.

Advice that's simply wrong

But critics say too many consumers are being scammed, ending up with botched cases or filing for bankruptcy when they really shouldn't.
"'Bankruptcy-petition preparer' is a nice term for something that's evil," pronounces Leon Bayer, a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney with 25 years' experience who now represents the Valles. "It's a street-corner paralegal who thinks that 'whatever a lawyer can do, I can do,' and their clients pay the price."
Then again, bankruptcy-mill attorneys may not be much better. In addition to representing clients whose attorneys have served them poorly, Bayer has collected some of the direct-mail appeals his clients receive when their lenders start foreclosure proceedings, a public process that tips off bankruptcy mills that someone might need their services. Some of the most deceptive letters were sent by attorneys soliciting business, Bayer said.
"Chapter 13 is NOT BANKRUPTCY," one attorney-sent letter proclaims, "but rather the 'Wage Earner Plan' designed to allow financially troubled persons to pay their bills, not wipe them out."
Of course, Chapter 13 is a bankruptcy filing. In return for paying some of their debts over three to five years, consumers can have the rest of their debts erased. In Chapter 7, most unsecured debts (other than student loans and recent taxes) are wiped out without a repayment plan.
Both types of filings put an automatic stop to any foreclosure or eviction proceedings, but Chapter 13s typically make it easier to protect the equity in a home. In a Chapter 7, the home's equity may be used to pay creditors.

For the Valles, justice is more bitter than sweet

Unlike some bankruptcy-mill victims, the Valles actually knew they were filing for Chapter 13. But the Valles say their attorney failed to act when their lender gave notice that it wanted to reinstitute foreclosure proceedings, a routine procedure known as "a motion for relief from the automatic stay."
After receiving a letter from the court about the motion, the Valles said they phoned their attorney and visited his office and were reassured the matter would be taken care of. A month after the lender filed its motion, the Valles got notice that the court had granted the lender's request. Court records show no opposition to the motion that was filed, and the Valles said the attorney failed to attend the hearing. Less than 10 days later, the home was sold. The Valles have received some justice. Bankruptcy court Judge Thomas Brown recommended that Baran be disbarred from bankruptcy practice, ruling that his "failure to perform services competently . . . directly caused the debtor, Victor R. Valle, to lose his home in a foreclosure sale."
The Valles are pursuing a malpractice case against Baran as well. But the most they can hope for is a return of the home equity they lost when their house was sold. They won't be able to get their house back or receive any compensation for the trauma they experienced.
"There's no such thing as 'pain and suffering'" in such cases, Deborah Valle said. "We lost our house, and that's it."
Liz Pulliam Weston's column appears every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions in the Your Money message board.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Secretary of State now sends welcome letters

Beginning on September 26, 2011, the Business Programs Division of the California Secretary of State ceased sending a blank Statement of Information (SOI) to newly formed corporations and limited liability companies. Instead, the CA SOS began sending out welcome letters congratulating newly formed entities and providing helpful information regarding SOI due dates and additional business information and resources.

If you are a business owner who requires legal assistance, Raxter Law is a law office concentrating on Small Businesses.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What is a Conservatorship?

Conservatorships are judicial processes by which a probate court judge appoints a responsible person to serve as the conservator of anther adult. It is also known as a living probate. Just about anyone, including the proposed conservatee, can file a petition for conservatorship. Conservators are appointed according to priority as follows: 1.) spouse; 2.) adult child, 3.) parent, 4.) sibling, 5.) any other interested person, and 6.) the public guardian. If the person with highest priority declines to act, he or she can nominate another. If all qualified family members and friends refuse to serve, the court will likely appoint a private professional fiduciary. All conservators are entitled to reasonable fees for their services and are paid from the conservator’s estate. Fees are paid, however, only after fee statements have been reviewed and approved by the probate court judge.

The scope of a conservator's power is separated into two parts, the "person" and the "estate." Power over the "person" includes authority to make decisions regarding day to day activities, such as where a conservatee lives, what they do, how they do it and who they visit. Power over the "estate" includes authority to make decisions about the conservatee's assets, such as managing rental property, collecting income, paying bills and investing. The scope of a conservator’s powers may include both the "person" and "estate" or they may be limited to one or the other.
Being involved in a conservatorship action can be very emotionally draining. If you are faced with the prospect of a conservatorship, contact Raxter Law for a free consultation, so we can dicusss all of your options.  Call (951) 226-5294.  

Why people choose to file Bankruptcy

When people are facing long-term financial challenges and are in need of a solution that will enable them to have a fresh start, they may consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the state of California.

Below, your local bankruptcy lawyer has compiled a list of common reasons why people choose to file for Chapter 7:

1. To stop wage garnishment. When people are having their wages garnished, they may choose to file for Chapter 7 to put an end to the garnishments. However, it is important to note that wages that are garnished for litigation or child support payments will not be impacted by Chapter 7 – meaning people will still be responsible for paying such expenses.

2. To address large amounts of unsecured debt. People who have accumulated a great deal of unsecured debt (i.e. credit card debt) may file for Chapter 7 to have their debt discharged. Remember, people who have high balances on their credit cards and fall behind on their payments often incur interest and late fess which make it harder to pay off amounts that are owed.

3. To put a stop to foreclosure temporarily. Many people choose to file for Chapter 7 when they learn that their home is being subjected to foreclosure. While Chapter 7 may not prevent foreclosure in all cases, it can put a temporary halt to proceedings.

These are just some of the many reasons people file for Chapter 7. If you are thinking about filing for this type of bankruptcy, take the time to contact Raxter Law your local bankruptcy lawyer to set up a FREE consultation, so we can discuss all of your options.

Raxter Law is your local Bankrutpcy Lawyer serving Wildomar, Menifee, Canyon Lake, Perris, Murrieta, Temecula, and Hemet.