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Breaking a Lease, Quick Claim Deeds, Dissolving an LLC and more Free Joe Friday 4/22/2011

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Every Friday, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss last week’s Free Joe Friday? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Lori: Hi my name is Lori I am a single mom and recently quit my job to prepare for a wedding he “Mr Perfect” ended up leaving cheating and took my ring now I am jobless and hitting foreclosure he left me over drawn in my account as well, the wedding in Hawaii never took place obviously…..Is there any recourse for me like breach of promise if I cannot afford to breathe??????? Please say there is…….. Signed Broken hear- ted and almost homeless

Joe Escalante: Dear Broken Hearted and almost homeless,
In Georgia, in 2008, a jury awarded a jilted bride $150,000 for the very same thing. Check out this case. Each state treats these promises differently but as with all promises, there must be something given up in reliance on the promise that is reasonable. If a jury believes it is reasonable for a woman to give up her job and other things for the impending nuptials, they might award damages.
If she was nuts to do these things, there’s no grounds for recovery. Good luck.

Micky: Hey joe i live in florida and my mom wants to add my name onto the deed of her house so incase anything happens to her i will own it how does she go about doing this?

Joe Escalante: Go to the County Recorder and tell them what you want to do. Your mom, the grantor, must grant a quick claim deed for your portion of the property to you, the grantee. This has to be recorded with the county since it is a real estate transaction. If there is a mortgage, the bank will have to approve it. There also might be some tax consequences. Make sure you speak with a tax professional. Have fun.

Frankie: How does one dissolve an LLC?

Joe Escalante: Legal Zoom has the best process for that, in my humble opinion. Would you like a link to it? OK, here it is:


Tonisha: Hi…Can one individual start a not-for-profit or must it begin with a group of individuals? (NJ)

Joe Escalante: It varies from state to state Tonisha. Some only require 1, others require 2 or 3. Here’s some info about New Jersey Non Profit Corp rules:

Harold: Hi Joe; I have an utility shed (approx. 100years old) that was built partially bult on my nieghbors property. the building is in need of a new roof. Can he keep me from working on the portion that is on his property? I live in Massachusetts

I would like to thank you for your time

Joe Escalante: Interesting. If the property has been there for that long without a dispute, an equitable easesment may have been created. In this case, your neighbor may be estopped from preventing you not only from putting on a new roof, but from accessing his land to put up a scaffold to do the job, etc. You probably need to have a consultation with a real property attorney in your area. Here’s a source for that:

LegalZoom: Here you go , Hal:

‘Sa Jamil: as a photographer do I need to use a lawyer who specialises in entertainment or will a general law lawyer do the trick?(NV)

Joe Escalante: You need a lawyer experienced in intellectual property law. You can pay for one, or you can call one of my radio shows to get free legal advice on that subject because that’s what I do. today at 11 am PST we have a show on call 877-529-4777. Or Sunday night from 5 to 7 pm, in L.A. on AM 1150 KTLK, we do the same thing live on the radio. Call us then at 877-520-1150

Brenda: is there a way to get out of a signed 1 year lease??

Joe Escalante: Yes, you can break the lease if the lease has been breached by your landlord, e.g., failure to provide a habitable place to live with heat, etc.

If there are no legal grounds to break the lease you may be liable for some damages. The landlord might tell you that you are liable for all the future months in the lease but that isn’t really true. You are only liable for the months that go by while the landlord tries to mitigate the damages by getting a new tenant, and the landlord is legally required to do so.

Pamela: My ex husband and I had a mediation agrement, stating he owes me for half of our maritial home. He says he cannot make the 20,000 payment this yr. If he does not I have in the contract that it revorts back to 50,000.00 a yr. I had been nice and lowered it because of the hard economic times hit. But, yet he is flying our 3 children and his new wife to Ireland for another Irish wedding for 5 and half weeks. Basically spending my 20,000.00 on that. I have 3 questions, 1. should I represent myself? 2. If so, what forms do I need to file? 3. Can they order a judgement to garnish his wages? Please help, Joe!!!

Joe Escalante: It’s better to have a lawyer, but they will quickly eat up a lot of this money you’re trying to get. You might try contacting the court and figuring out how to file a petition to change the support order. First you might want to check with the entity that handled the mediation. I don’t know who that was, but talk to them too. Your goal is to change the support order to be more firm with consequences for non-compliance. Right now, he’s not afraid of non-compliance. Get a court order that, if breached, will result in a judgment against him that could end up as a wage garnishment or a lien on his pot of gold.

Kevin: If you incorporate in Delaware, do you need to own property there? What are the benefits/ramifications of doing this?

Joe Escalante: Delaware has many pro-business advantages for incorporation. You don’t need property there, you just need an agent of service. That’s a big business in that state. So you are going to pay them to administer certain aspects. There’s also a high Franchise Tax to the state.
Advantages for big business are the court system, which is well developped in areas of corporate litigation so maybe it’s easier to predict what the outcome will be. Credit card companies can charge higher interest there. It’s mainly for big companies, up to shenanigans. Probably not worth it for a small business.

Robert: i am disabled and low in-come how do i get child support off my back and get my drivers lic. back that child support suspended

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court to change the order of support to more equitably reflect your ability to pay. However, if you have been dodging payment altogether, you are going to have an uphill battle. Or you can petition to get custody of the kid and put him to work. :)

Susan: is there any real way to get your credit card debt reduced? I hear that these offers that keep coming in the mail are just scams to make you pay for something that you could do yourself. I have a large credit debt due to a medical expense. Would like to know what relief is available.

Joe Escalante: There are a lot of crooks out there doing this kind of business. My best advice is for you to listen to the Dave Ramsey radio show and read his books. Start with The Total Money Makeover. Go to his website at and become a disciple. He will not steer you wrong. You can even call his show and get direct answers. My sister did. :)

Joe: if i do business with some in the state of florida and they ship me a product that was not the agreeded upon product can i sue them in my local small claims court?

Joe Escalante: If they send you products to your state, it’s arguable that this is the “minimum contacts” with your state required for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant. If they sent catalogs to your state, it would improve your chances. It’s worth a try.

Jeremy: I have an online store. Is there any legal ramification in using product photos I shoot from a local brick & mortar store on my website? My intention is to advertise and buy product as needed because inventory space is limited.

Joe Escalante: As much as I want to find something wrong with this, I can’t. As long as the stores where you take the photos doesn’t toss you out for it, those are your photos, you own them, you can do what you like with them as long as it doesn’t cause harm to the brands, which it doesn’t, because you are helping sell product. I wish you the best of luck with it.

Sally: In Michigan workers who have been with companies for many years are getting laid off and let go, they are advised they can re-apply. Likely to keep the pay scale low. Is there anything they can do?

Joe Escalante: If there’s no collective bargaining agreement governing terms of employment it’s tough to prove wrongdoing. Workers without contracts are called “at will.” They can be fired “at will” without cause. The good news is they can also quit “at will.” Unlike pre-civil war days for some citizens.

However, wrong is wrong, and if this is what they are really doing, a class action suit would be the way to go to end a conspiracy to drive down wages against public policy. I’d move to Texas. I’m serious about that.

Treathyl: A few years back my husband and son created CINEX Investments, LLC, with the intent of working together. They no longer work together. The company’s name appears in the TX Comptroller records. So is the LLC still legal? Can my husband still use it? Can we use DBAs under its umbrella name? My husband paid $300 for that company name and I’d like to get some mileage out of it even if he can’t work with my son.

Joe Escalante: An LLC usually needs to be dissolved to be gone. A corporation, however, cannot usually engage in business that is not part of the articles/bylaws. My corporations are incorporated for “any lawful purpose.” Check your documents, make sure all the paperwork is up to date, and consult a tax professional to see if what you are doing makes any sense at all. :)

Dan: I am on the advisory board of a friends business, and he recently settled a dispute that he had with the State of Texas. They impossed a fine for the business, and fined him personally. It’s $100k each, and the one lawyer we spoke with said that he may be able to reduce the fine significantly by filing a Chapter 13, but he said there was no way to discharge the personal fine with either a personal Chapter 7 or 13…he’s a corporate attorney, and said we should get a second opinion since it’s not what he specializes in…your thoughts would be much appreciated

Joe Escalante: It’s not exactly what I specialize in either but I agree. It’s very rare to find anything owed to a government that can be discharged in bankruptcy. But with a properly run corp, there’s very few options for the state once the corp is in BK.

Basically, you have to die to get out of owing money to the government. The corp cannot tell you it doesn’t want to die, so you kill it. You, on the other hand, want to live, or so the government believes.

John: In an ,LLC, that has two members (husband and wife) what is the method to change the percentage of ownership?

Joe Escalante: It depends on what provisions are made for buying/selling/transfering shares in your Articles of Incroporation. You need to transfer the shares according to that document.

Julie: I want to publish a book of pictures of houses. Do I need releases like you do for people?

Joe Escalante: The current case law, I believe, is that you can exploit a picture of any buidling that you can see from a public street, unless the building is also a registered trademark, like the Disneyland Castle or the Mutual Of Omaha Building. In those cases, you would be making an unauthorized use of a trademark.

It might not stop someone from trying to sue you for a state claim like “unjust enrichment” or infringement of rights of publicity, but those claims wont go anywhere. There are no damages created unless you put their addresses and personal information in the book with suggestions to “go get them” or something. A publisher might ask you to get releases before they would commit to publishing, but it wouldn’t be a legal requirement, just paranoia.

Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. And join us on Facebook next Friday at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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April 26th, 2011 at 7:37 am