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Legal news and small business tips.

Is it Better to Have a Will or a Living Trust?

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Joe EscalanteIs it better to have a will or a living trust?

Bernadine Anderson

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

The main reason most people establish a trust is so that their property will pass to their heirs without going through the cumbersome process of “probate” with the courts.

If you don’t have any houses, or don’t have any kids, it’s not that important. A will can suffice.

However, if you have houses and kids, it’s wise to protect them from having to wait so long and spend so much money until they get the property you want them to have. To do that, you need to place your property in a trust. When you die, the trust will live on and “give” your property to your heirs.

If you have a spouse, but no kids, your house may just transfer to your spouse automatically when you die if it is held as a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (as opposed to “tenants in common.”) Make sure you check out how your property is held. It makes a big difference.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 30th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Free Joe

Is an LLC the Best Structure for a Small Business?

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Joe EscalanteHow do I know LLC is the best structure for my small business? Assuming I won’t have staff for at least 18 months and I’ll be working from my home and driving to customers to provide them with their desired service.

Roland Paguirigan

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

This question is best answered by your tax professional. Remember, an LLC in many states has a minimum tax level you must pay even if you are making zero dollars. In California, that is $800.00.

You might be better off starting as a sole proprietorship with some liability insurance and then move to an LLC or corp. down the road when your tax advisor feels it’s time. Get your tax person on board ASAP because an LLC is a great entity, but it has to be the right time. Good luck.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 30th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Free Joe

Can I Break My Lease and Sue for a Gnat Infestation?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

We want to break our lease. Can we sue for rent and deposit if we have a gnat infestation? What if they don’t refund?

Shavonda Highlyfavored Wiggins

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

You have a right to receive what was promised in any bargain you enter into. You bargained for a home. There is an implied warranty of habitability you can rely on. If the infestation is so bad that a judge or jury would not find it reasonable for you to stay there, then your landlord has breached their warranty of habitability and you may be entitled to break the lease and perhaps damages that might include rent and deposit, but it’s a question of degree. I.e., it depends on how bad it was.

If the amount qualifies for small claims jurisdiction in your area, I would give it a shot if the gnats were really bad. If not, I would just be happy getting out of the lease. Good luck.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 2nd, 2014 at 9:01 am

Posted in Legal News

What Disclaimer Do I Need to Put on My Facebook Group Page?

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Joe Escalante Hi Joe, “I’m creating a FB group where residents in our town can post various things like appliance reviews, pets lost in other communities, products available nationally, how to advice, etc. Is there a disclaimer that I (the administrator) can write (re. not accepting responsibility for the accuracy of postings, transactions, etc.) that would be legally binding?”

Sharon Ellen Burtman

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

For years, courts held that website operators were not responsible for things like defamatory statements posted on a forum where users can post. However, in 2013 a case held that the opposite may be true in some circumstances.

http://www.hklaw.com/…/two-federal-cases-hold-website…/

There’s no magic disclaimer that I could give you that would adequately suit your needs unless I was able to look at your site and see the kinds of things you are worried about and the process one goes through to be a member of your on-line community, among other things.

However, my advice is this. Google ‘website disclaimer’ and read some that are out there. Try to modify one to suit your needs and then hire an attorney and show him what you’ve got so far. If you do this kind of leg work, you will save some money. I’m assuming you don’t want to spend any money because it’s just a free service you are providing, but litigious people and creepy lawyers have made sure that no good deed goes unpunished in this society unfortunately.

 

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 2nd, 2014 at 8:56 am

My Insurance Company Refuses to Repair Damage to My Car, What Can I Do About It?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

My auto insurance company refused to repair a damaged section of my car that was included in accident coverage. What kind of action can I take against them?

Neco Bonner

 

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

Technically it’s called “insurance bad faith” and there are lawyers who specialize in it, but it will be impossible to get one to take it unless we’re talking about a $300,000 car or something like that. So small claims court might be the venue for you. That can be very effective.

Check your local county and state court websites for more information.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

July 29th, 2014 at 10:52 am

Posted in Free Joe

How Does a Non-Disclosure Agreement Protect My Ideas?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

How does a non-disclosure agreement work? I want to share my idea with someone.

Keith Smith

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

It works like this:

The party you are trying to get to sign your NDA will promise not to reveal anything they discover while you share your information with them. It doesn’t cover stuff they already knew, however, just stuff they discover and didn’t know already before they signed the NDA and were exposed to your information.

Check out the LegalZoom non-disclosure agreement. I have used it myself. It’s solid.

https://www.legalzoom.com//legalforms/mutual-nondisclosure-agreement

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

July 29th, 2014 at 10:44 am

Posted in Free Joe

What Are All the Documents/Licenses I May Need to Start My Business?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

Hello, I am looking to start an online boutique selling both goods bought from wholesalers and goods that I will produce. I am looking at the DBA registration package to file a business name, but I am not sure what other documents or licenses I may need. How do I get started?

Yadi Mao

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

The documents you will need vary by state and local jurisdiction. You are on the right track with the DBA. You may need a city business license and depending on the kind of goods, other licenses might apply, like if you are selling food, medical or hazardous chemicals. Check with the state and local licensing agencies to see what kind of businesses need special licensing.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

 Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

July 29th, 2014 at 10:33 am

Posted in Free Joe

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Pull Out Your ID for These Ice Cream Flavors

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Shutterstock/Kesu

Shutterstock/Kesu

We made it to another July and there’s no question that it’s officially summer. Finding ways to keep cool is a national pastime at this point. Regardless of your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that President Reagan knew what he was talking about when he declared July as National Ice Cream Month and July 15, 1984 to be National Ice Cream Day.

This year, National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 20th according to the International Dairy Foods Association. However, Proclamation 5219 wasn’t just about having a sweet treat in the summer sun. It was about business too. Even back in 1984, the ice cream industry generated “approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales,” providing jobs for thousands of people. The dairy industry is an important part of the economy.

We the people of the United States have been called upon “to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Therefore, consider it your patriotic duty to eat some ice cream.

As you choose from the variety of flavors, there are many that are not for kids. A growing trend is ice cream infused with enough alcohol to require showing an ID. BLVD Creamery in Las Vegas is scooping up flavors including: Suds Sorbet, a combination of Shock Top beer and orange zest, along with Tipsy Bubbles, which contains Prosecco.

Also for those who are 21 and older, if you are in Florida, California or Arizona, you can go to SnöBar. They have created gourmet frozen alcohol ice cream and ice pops. Vodka and triple sec are in the Cosmopolitan Ice Pop. Tequila and triple sec are in the Margarita Ice Pop. Each serving is a full cocktail.

So what exactly is a serving of alcohol? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a standard drink in the United States is 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. If you are 21 or older, imagine the amounts below in your ice cream.

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80 proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

The sale of alcohol is closely regulated and laws vary by state. Mercer’s Dairy is located in New York and their Wine Ice Cream is world famous and “trade-secreted.” According to the website, the ice cream alcohol content is 5% and only for the 21 and over crowd. Their wine ice cream “varietals” are: Cherry Merlot, Chocolate Cabernet, Peach White Zinfandel, Port, Red Raspberry Chardonnay and Riesling. Some states do not allow the sale of wine ice cream, including Louisiana. Recent legislation would have allowed the sale, but it has failed to pass.

Louisiana may be home of “The Big Easy,” but when it comes to the sale of wine ice cream, there is nothing easy about it.

Written by Lisa C. Johnson, Esq.

July 18th, 2014 at 9:37 am

Posted in Legal News,Legislation

Tagged with

Elon Musk Opens Up Tesla Patents

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Shutterstock/VanderWolf Images

Shutterstock/VanderWolf Images

Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO Elon Musk recently did something that would make most business owners shudder. He opened up his patents to the world in the name of better electric cars for all.

As you’ll recall, Tesla produces high-end, sleek electric cars and holds hundreds of patents for cutting-edge electric vehicle technology. But in a recent blog post on the Tesla website, Musk shared his philosophy about hoping to bring an open-source mindset to his industry.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” he wrote. “If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

The news was picked up by dozens of media outlets and the societal impact was felt on social media with thousands of mentions from users discussing the development. “The auto industry has taken a cue from Silicon Valley and goes open source,” tweeted Los Angeles magazine. “HATS OFF TO ELON MUSK,” said another Twitter user.

While Musk had originally been hesitant to release production details at all so as not to invite threats from the major car manufacturers—“At Tesla… we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla.”—it seems as if this move to open up patents is practically a challenge to automakers.

In one swift move, Tesla has solidified its position in the electric vehicle space while challenging Detroit and Japan and any other car city to show him what they’ve got.

And for consumers, that’s going to be worth plugging in to.

Written by Bilal Kaiser

July 16th, 2014 at 10:44 am

Top 2 Rules to Know if You’re Recruiting Unpaid Interns

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Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

Summer is in full swing and for a lot of companies and universities, it’s intern season.

The value of an internship has long been lauded as the best way for a student or recent graduate to learn more about a particular industry and take a job out for a test drive. But some companies are taking it too far.

A recent class action lawsuit against Warner Music Group (WMG) alleges the company forced 3,000 interns to work 50-hour-weeks with no pay and no college credit. The key issue is not just the lack of any sort of compensation, it’s the allegation that interns were doing the same things as paid employees—a big “no no” when working with interns.

Despite the above scenario, however, hosting an internship program at your business can be beneficial to both the intern and your team—as long as certain rules are followed, and especially if the program is unpaid.

Rule #1: Tailor the program around the intern and his/her education, not necessarily your business.

“The company must ask whether the internship is similar to an educational experience… The closer the internship is to an educational setting, the more it benefits the intern—and the more likely the interns may go unpaid,” writes Kailee M. Goold, a labor and employee relations attorney in Ohio.

Rule #2: Don’t look at the internship program as an extension of your workforce; that’s not the point.

“If the company would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will likely be viewed as employees and will be entitled to compensation,” Goold continues.

WMG is not the first group to find itself in hot water with interns. In 2013, media giant Conde Nast shut down its internship program due a lawsuit alleging the company paid its interns less than $1 an hour. A more serious intern-related event took place last year when a 21-year-old Bank of America intern died after working extremely long hours for days at a time.

If your business currently runs an unpaid internship program, or is thinking of starting one, make sure you know the rules of the road. If anything, it may be easier to pay your eager new team members up front rather than risk getting a $450,000 bill in the future.

Written by Bilal Kaiser

July 9th, 2014 at 8:17 am

Posted in Employment Law,Legal News

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