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Music Copyright, Contested Divorce, HIPAA Violations, and More – Free Joe Friday 2/11/11

with 3 comments

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.

Jeanne: Hi Joe, It’s been a financially tough year for me too, I’ve been paying a part of my disposable income to all my credit cards for a year now. Now one credit card is not happy and I’ve been served to answer to the attorney. I have. My question: If this goes to judgement, can the courts “mess” with my home, S.S. or retirement benefits? I’m paying what I can to them. Thanks, a lot!!

Joe Escalante: If you get a judgment filed against you, they can put a lien on your house and garnish your wages. Generally they can’t go after your S.S. or private pension. but to be certain you should consult the personal exemptions laws of your state of residency.

Jacqueline: I live in Kansas and need a pro bono lawyer because of lack of funding and dismissed (requested by soon to be ex) legal aid asst. from previous filing, Kansas does’nt mandate lawyers donate time and the husband is now contesting even though the relationship has been abusive. I’m representing myself pro se and need forms that are not available to me at this point. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have no funds or employment at this time and there are no children involved or real estate.

Joe Escalante: I’m not aware of forms that are only available to attorneys. Who told you this?

Jacqueline: I can’t find them unless I pay for them such as motions and such. Attorneys have and legal areas online as well

Joe Escalante: I can’t imagine the court not having the forms you need. It sounds like you’re doing all you can. The court where you file your contested divorce has to have the forms.

Bolt: n the early stages of a business can your employees work more than one position…for whatever reason

Joe Escalante: I don’t really understand the question. I’m asking myself, why not? There’s got to be more too this. Tell me what you’re afraid of.

Bolt: Ive known my friends for years and can trust theyll do a good job in more than one position when we first start our business. So if on of them is doing accounting for example is it frownd upon for them to add another job title as well like Manager of something…

Joe Escalante: I’ve never had a problem with that stuff. Here in America, we multi task. If my employees don’t have more than 3 titles, I assume they’re overpaid. People can frown all they want. It’s not illegal unless you are a publicly traded company and there are shenanigans going on.

Vanetta: I have a question for Joe. I have been searching for an attorney to take my case but there doesn’t seem to be one in my area for this issue. It is a HIPPA violation case in which a nurse at the local hospital revealed information in my medical record to her husband, who then used that information against me and tried to have me arrested. Please help me with this issue and thank you!

Joe Escalante: Well, Vanetta. You either have a good case, or you don’t. The best way to determine if it’s worth pursuing is to do what you have been doing and approach different attorneys. If none will take it, it’s a loser. If it’s a loser you can do 2 things. You can drop it, or file a lawsuit yourself w/o an attorney and see what happens. Make sure it is clear that there are damages or your state has a statute covering this kind of privacy invasion.

Jen: In order to qualify for Medicaid for some much needed Alzheimer’s care, my dad needs to get his house out of his name as soon as possible so that it’s not counted as an asset by the state. His niece has agreed to pay him exactly what he owes on it so he can turn around and pay off the mortgage. Do we need a real estate attorney to finalize the deal?

Joe Escalante: It would be a great idea to consult one because it could appear to the government that you are doing exactly what you are doing, which may not be kosher. By the way, I put your name through the Jersey Shore Nickname Generator. Can I call you” Bunzy?”

Becki: My mom passed away a year ago and I have found many savings bonds in her name. She did not have a will or an estate. How do I get my name on the savings bonds

Joe Escalante: Was the rest of her property distributed already? Did it go through probate? You need to find out.

Judy: Question for Joe: Are wills, trusts, living wills, and powers of attorney prepared online or through a software program just as valid as those that are prepared by an attorney?

Joe Escalante: It depends. Wills that are drafted by attorneys and wills that are drafted online by non-attoneys can always be challenged and the courts decide their validity in these cases. If you are curious about what a court would say about a Legalzoom will, google Sammy Davis Jr.’s widow will and check that out. He was on an episode of the Rifleman once. It was epic.

LegalZoom: Hi Judy, Here’s the Sammy Davis, Jr. story Joe mentioned:

Eddie: Hi mr escalante my question is, how can copy right music, drawing and litterature so i can owne the right to my stuff and second how can I obtein contracts too?

Joe Escalante: You should listen to my radio show. go to and check out the podcasts on itunes. We cover all that showbiz stuff. Regarding copyright: Legalzoom is an excellent place to get copyrights done correctly. Copyright registration seems easy, but it’s also easy to mess up and it’s like $125 or something to amend messed up applications. How can you obtain contracts? There are some in the business forms section of LZ, but other that, call the show on Sunday night and we’ll chat more about it.

Traci: Hi Joe, thanks in advance for being able to help these people out. I have been married since Sept. 29, 1999 and I filed paperwork for divorce in Jan 2000. We do have a child together but she is in the care of his parents right now(thats a whole other case). During this time of being seperated he has been married to other women, but he refuses to sign the paperwork for divorce. How can I finish the process if he refuses to sign the papers? What are my options at this point?

Joe Escalante: That is called a “contested divorce.” So you begin the process with the court by filing a petion to the court. It only takes one spouse to file a petition for a contested divorce. Eventually he will have to show up to fight it, or a court will rule without him.

Crystal: What are the basic legalities of Entertainment Law?

Joe Escalante: I’m glad you asked me that because in 2 minutes my Entertainment Law radio program begins on it’s broadcast again on Radio Weezer through at 2 PM PST. Then on Sunday night I do a two hour live version on KTLK AM 1150 in Los Angeles at 5 PM. Call the show anytime, and ask any Entertainment law questions. It’s fun. Go to for more details. Thanks Crystal.

John: Hey Joe, I am now able to form my S-corporation. Can I pass through income from the end of 2010 since I started my new Co. then, but couldn’t form the S Corp at that time, for tax purposes?

Joe Escalante: This is tax stuff. You should ask a CPA. Next question?

Carl: Good Morning, Joe. I’m working on my late brother’s estate: Does his IRA count as part of the estate? His predeceased (1982) wife was still listed as beneficiary, with no alternate. It has been distributed by the Trustee to his heirs.

Joe Escalante: It sounds like since his named benficiary was gone, it should go to the heirs. Looks like the trustee did the right thing.

Carl: But is it part of the estate — for executor’s fee purposes?

Joe Escalante: I don’t see why not, but you should consult an estate and probate attorney in your state. I’m not totally sure.

Lacey: Joe, i went through a divorce. On the decree it stated for him to refinance the the vehicle to get my name of it and he never did. instead he volunteerly called the bank and told them to come get it. it was sold but still owe over 7000.00 and now the collection agency is coming after me cause i am the only one they can get a hold of cause he won’t answer the phone or return calls and now the next step they said was to take us to court. My question is can i sue him for the damages before all this takes place and have it taken out of his 401K and just pay off the vehicle in question. Or do I need to wait till after the collection agency takes us to court then sue my ex after? Please help!!

Joe Escalante: It sounds like he violated the divorce decree so you could take legal action against him whenever you want for that. Your damages are whatever you can establish as a loss resulting from the way he did it, as opposed to the way he was supposed to do it. It will be tough to get at that 401K but you may be able to garnish his wages, that is if he has any wages, the deadbeat.

Anna: A few mounths ago I took someone to court who owes me money. The case was found in my favor, but they still refuse to pay. What do I do to force him to pay, or can I.

Joe Escalante: go back to the court and ask them how to enforce your judgment. You can get a lien on any real property owned by the loser, or have their wages garnished. If they have a real job, or real estate, you can do stuff. If they are ghetto, you cannot do much.

Ray: Hey Joe I’m going to use to copyright lyrics to a song. I’ve never done this before so I just wanted to ask for any advice possible. Does it matter how you write it, can I just email it to myself

Joe Escalante: Don’t be emailing stuff to yourself. Answer all the LZ questions and it will be done right. And call my show. We’re on now at and sunday night on AM 1150 KTLK at 5 PM to 7 PM. go to for more info. All we do is copyright stuff on that show. And it’s all free, and worth every penny. thanks.

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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