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Screensaver Copyrights, Tenant Electric Bills, and More – Free Joe Friday 2/18/11

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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.

Marilyn: Hi Joe… My question is: I have POA and MPOA for my mother who has ALZ… My brother was also on the documents but died in 2009. I would like to get the documents with just my name and maybe my husband’s but since my mom is not capable of signing a new POA can I have it changed?? Thanks

Joe Escalante: As the attorney in fact, you could possibly designate your husband to have certain powers to deal with your mother’s care, but the safest way would be to petition the court to make you the guardian so you there’s no gray areas.

im a boston cabdriver who recently had my hack lic denied due to traffic tickets…is there a way to have minor traffic violations removed from a driving record in massachusetts

Joe Escalante: In California, you can only do it if the judge grants traffic school, and it’s a limited privilege that can only be used every 18 months. If it happened here, I would recommend paying a traffic ticket attorney to petition the court.

Sheila: How many hours a day do you have to work before they legally have to give you a break, & for how long?

Joe Escalante: Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. State laws vary greatly. Check with your state’s division of labor,here’s mine:

Jeanne: Hi Joe, If a judgement wil be in force in March, can a collection/attorney agency be “allowed” to take a tax return check? Along with S.S. check, retirement check, the income tax return check will be mailed, not deposited in the bank. Will they garnish a tax return check? Thanks, Joe for your help/advice.

Joe Escalante: If they get to the IRS before your check is issued you would have a hard time reversing the process so the race is on. Do your taxes now.

Sherrie: Is it possible to do a bankruptcy yourself? I live in Louisiana.

Joe Escalante: Yes. It is possible. Not fun, but possible. Look at Nolo Press’ materials:
If it seems like it’s going to be too tough on your own. Legalzoom can set you up with an evaluation for further help.

David: I live in Wisconsin. I’m sure everyone knows what’s going on. If the teachers were behind the students walking out, and it’s proven, can the teachers be charged with a crime? Or legally fired? Students have been interviewed on the news and asked why they were in Madison. Their reply was “I’m not sure. My teacher brought me here”. Proof enough?

Joe Escalante: Contributing to the deliquency of a minor comes to mind. If a kid gets injured there, it’s going to get ugly. However, the federal / state issues are so big in this case, I don’t think they will be prosecuted unless there is an injury. But the state might hold it over their heads as a bargaining tool. But yes, there are definitely some laws being broken out there.

Jeffrey: I use Google Screensaver which draws from all the pictures you have saved on you hard drive. I have been saving pictures for years now from every online source imaginable. The result is an awesome screensaver that everyone who has seen it has asked me for a copy. Is it possible to sell the screensaver or is there to much chance of infringement? There is no way to contact all the photo owners.

Joe Escalante: Well if they’re anything like your profile photo, it’s no wonder people are clamoring for them. However, to sell a copyrighted image to someone is an infringement on the author’s rights. And you could be liable for some statutory damages if any of the works are registerd. If they aren’t registered, you would only be liable for actual provable damages. Either way, it’s not kosher. Will you get away with it? Probably, for a while. What if you give them away? It doesn’t matter; still an infringement. the authors have a right to have them given to whoever they want, not whoever you want. What if you gave them to Snookie and the authors detest her?
For authors reading this, I can’t emphasize registering your works enough. and guess what Legalzoom can help.

Jonathan: Is there different fees for filing divorce from different states I was married in AZ. My wife lives in Illinois. A noncontested divorce is what a was wondering.

Joe Escalante: Divorce processes are differ from state to state. What you need to do is check out the info on Perfect scenario, uncontested divorce + Legalzoom = true love.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to our divorce services, Jonathan:

Bob: If I write a revocable trust in California, will it be good when I move to another state such as Virginia or North Carolina

Joe Escalante: Probably valid but you should check with an attorney in your state to see if there isn’t some pecularity in the new State’s laws which would impact the Trust – expecially if moving from a community property State like California to a non-community property State such as Florida.

Jessica: Can me & my prospective business partner draw up a contract on the website? Stating ownership %’s, etc.?

Joe Escalante: Legalzoom has excellent partnership forms and custormer service so check the link below. Good luck!

LegalZoom: Here you go, Jessica:

Naty: I own a two-units mixed-use commercial building. One unit is a commercial restaurant, the other unit above the restaurant is a residential apartment. My current equity is larger than the amount of the existing loan. Which of the two can give me better protection in terms of liability if sued, LLC or commercial umbrella insurance policy?

Joe Escalante: Good question. Not really answerable here because it would depend on the policy you buy, and how well your LLC is operating. Both can provide similar protection. An LLC that is not operating properly can lose all it’s protection. A policy could cover everything but the actual thing that happens to you. Like maybe it doesn’t cover neglient acts. LLC’s corporate veil can be pierced due to negligence but it all gets really complicated so for the best answers, talk to a lawyer in your state. Thanks.

Lisa: Hi Joe, I was wondering how I go about legally changing my daughters name when her father has been “missing” for over 5 yeaers now? Can I do it?

Joe Escalante: You can call her anything you want, but to do it officially, why not try legalzoom’s popular name changing services? I would change her name to Mister French, but I’m a Sebastian Cabot fan. See the link below!

LegalZoom: Here you go, Lisa:

Jeremiah: I want to start up a small mechanical repair buisness. I was wondering if i form a LLc for my new buisness, will that lock me in as an official buisness as far the federal and state,local government and do i need to pay for any taxes regarding the buisness. I guess i am uninformed, taking this serious step of being my own boss.

Joe Escalante: The LLC will not license you. You will still need a local business license and maybe even a county or state license depending on what you are repairing. Check with your state’s licensing bureau, county clerk, and city hall for all the info. And if you get an LLC before you start making money, you may be liable for state minimum taxes anyway, so talk to a tax expert if you are unsure.

Kari: Once you have had an eviction action taken against you, typically how long after the hearing date does the judge give you to vacate?

Joe Escalante: The judge has a lot of discretion. He might even ask what you need, then ask the landlord if that’s OK with them. If he or she hates you, they can tell you to leave immediately, or as soon as the marshall can get there to force you out.

JT: If you have a felony, do you have to have a lawyer to get it expunged or can you do it yourself? and typically how much does it cost?

Joe Escalante: That would be hell without a lawyer honestly. I would start calling around and see what kind of prices you can get because that’s tough. In L.A. I can’t imagine it being done for less than 5K, but most likely more than that. And it’s not guaranteed.

Marla: If someone turns their car back to the dealer, due to financial hard ship, and the dealer sells it at auction for less than it is valued at, can the dealer sue the previous owner for the difference? They didn’t have the money to keep the car, they won’t have the money to pay the diff!

Joe Escalante: It depends on what it says in the loan documents. It will be there. And if it is, they can go after the person for the difference and garnish their wages after a judgment if they feel like it.

Mona: We are Estrellanueva, LLC…we are with Legal Zoom ..what if we want to hire other artist for our band. And we would like to use our volunteer band to record some music…i know it is 75 years for copyrites…is free

Joe Escalante: Mona. I don’t understand this question that well, but, luckily I do two radio shows that deal only with the entertainment business. Call my show on Sunday night 877-520-1150 and we can talk about it on the air. It’s KTLK AM 1150 in Los Angeles from 5 PM to 7 PM Pacific time.
OR, you can click “email joe” at and ask the question there, we will get back to you when we can record the answer for a future broadcast. We also have a show on right now at Suerte.

Ashley: What’s the process to become a legal Godparent?

Joe Escalante: I can tell you how to be a Catholic Godparent, but I’m not familiar with legal Godparent. You could petition a court for guardianship of an emancipated minor, or an orphan or something, but I don’t know of a process for Godparenting other than catholic or mafia.

Veronica: Hi Mr. Escalante. I would like to know if someone has a case against a police officer, what kind of an attorney would be the best bet to find to defent someone who was severly beaten and still has pending operations. Dr. bills and time are not on our side. :/ Do you have anyone in my area you can recommend?

Joe Escalante: You need an experienced civil rights attorney. Legalzoom has something called Attorney Connect that might help you find a good one in your area. See the link that will appear shortly below and good luck with it. :)

LegalZoom: You can find our Attorney Connect service here, Veronica:

Paula: Hi,is it legal for a landlord to charge a percentage of an electric billto a tennant When that tennant dosnt have a meter for that apartment?

Joe Escalante: If it’s in the lease that the tenant is responsible for utilities, and it is reasonable, yes. However, if the landlord wont let you see the bill, then he/ she would have problems prevailing in court over the sum.

Jan: Hi Joe, I have a will drawn up by a lawyer. I would like to add a codicil to my will leaving certain pieces of my jewelry to each of my sons. Can I do it myself or do I need to go through the lawyer?

Joe Escalante: You can do a codicil yourself with no problems. You will probably find instructions on the internet that will guide you though it. Buying a book from Nolo Press or listening to one of their podcasts might be a good idea too.

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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