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Adult Adoption, Foreclosure, and More Legal Advice – Free Joe Friday 7/8/11

with 4 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.

Sasha: I am wanting my step dad to adopt me (an adult adoption). I live in Harris County and he lives in Grimes County. can you tell me what steps we need to takd and which County we need to take them in to get this taken care of?

Joe Escalante: It probably doesn’t matter which county, but you need to familiarize yourself with the adult adoption laws in your state. Some states only allow adult adoption if the person to be adopted is of diminished capacity. Some states require the consent of the spouse of the person to be adopted, some require notification of biological parents , and some require nothing more than the consent of the adult parties.

David: I have three documents that are part of a joint venture agreement that require signatures from different people in two different states (California and South Carolina). Can we all sign the three original documents and make copies for each of the signers (4 people total) in order to have a legally binding contract or do we need to create and sign originals so that everyone gets original documents with original signatures? In other words, is a signed document that is copied just as valid and binding as the original?

Joe Escalante: If there is evidence, even a photocopy, that the contract was signed by all parties, this will be a valid execution of the document.

Anita: How hard it be to change a tenant with survivorship to tenant in common in state of Florida

Joe Escalante: You will need to get a new deed. And it has to be filed with the county again. You need everyone’s consent and signatures. To avoid the appearance of shenanigans, hire a title company to handle it for you. It will be less likely to be challenged that way.

Theresa: My husband was the first car to proceed through a green light and he was hit by a truck running the red light. The man and his passenger were taken away by ambulance and suffered severe injuries. It has been 2 months and they have still not given a statement to either insurance company. Our insurance company is preparing us for the worst stating that when there are severe injuries we could be responsible for some of their medical bills and that our 100/300/100 coverage might not be enough. I thought because the accident was his fault that he and his insurance should solely be responsible. Should we be preparing in any way?

Joe Escalante: You need a good personal injury attorney to look after your interests because they are not necessarily the same as your insurance company’s. Try Attorney Connect link below to find a solid one:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Theresa: http://attorneyconnect.leg​

Julie: My STBX wants my life insurance to list him as trustee rather than have my kids as beneficiaries. My STBX has a gambling problem so I am not comfortable with this. Can I leave my kids (11 & 9) as the beneficiaries, or do I need to designate an adult?

Joe Escalante: This can be complicated, so it’s a great question. One way around the complications involved involved in trying to make minors the beneficiaries of life insurance is to name an adult guardian for the express purpose of handling these funds if you die while they are still minors. You do not have to name your soon to be Ex husband. Get the forms to have the guardian named from your insurance provider. They’ll know how to handle this.

John: my brother and I inherited a house they lived in from NJ. Is there a statute of limitations when the deed has to be put in our name?

Joe Escalante: I’m not aware of one. Go to the county and get an “Affidavit of Heirship” and put your names on the deed asap.

Fernanda: my house is in foreclosure. i have filed for bankruptcy. i got served already with the final judgement for foreclosure and even when I was discharged of all debts, the HOA is now filing a civil case as Claim of Lien. Shall i respond to that? if so, how? If cited to Court, shall i go? do i “have” to pay that money they are claiming even after chapter 7 and being discharged? what happens if you take no action? i have no assets, they can take anything else away from me. what happens then? thank you so much in advance for shedding some light and understanding on this.

Joe Escalante: I’m not a bankruptcy attorney but generally if they are filing a lien against the property, you don’t own it anymore, so it’s not your problem. Call the clerk of the court if you get served with a court date and tell them your situation. They will give you some answers.

Jean: It’s way past time to do something like a will/trust ect., but I don’t really have a clue…small farm…75 acres, 5 children…suggestions?

Joe Escalante: At the very least, get a will. If you feel up to a little paperwork, get a trust (that includes a will for the things that don’t end up in the trust). It’s easy, and it’s not too late at all. You’re in the right place. Legalzoom is the best place to get this stuff sorted. You’ll be done before you know it.

LegalZoom: Hi Jean, Check out our PDF guide, The Basics of Estate Planning:​df/Estate-Planning-Guide.p​df

Jen: My house is in foreclosure and I haven’t kept up with the monthly HOA dues because I was under the impression the HOA would place a lien against my property. I just received a letter from a law firm stating I owe 6 months of back dues plus late fees and attorney’s fees. My sole source of income is Social Security Disability. Isn’t SSDI exempt from collection? If I send the law firm a copy of my award letter from Social Security, do you think they’ll still pursue me? Do they have the right to?

Joe Escalante: Usually they place a lien on the property and the person who buy can’t clear the title until the lien is paid. However, they have a right to sue you for unpaid bills. The rest of the units need to have money to water the common areas, etc. Regarding debt collection. Check out Dave Ramsey. He’s not a lawyer, but there’s a lot of info on his site about what debt collectors may or may not do:​article/the-truth-about-de​bt-collectors/lifeandmoney​_debt/

Good Dog! Autism Companions: Hey Joe,

Can my non-profit that is waiting for tax except status (form 1023 filed this month) except donations now? And if so, can a donor who donates this year take the deduction if we don’t get approved until next year?

And lastly, can a family with a special needs child accept tax deductible donations just by opening a non-profit bank account with an EIN number?


Joe Escalante: These are risky propositions. You need to talk to a tax professional right away. These aren’t really legal questions. Good luck!

Bren: How can you correct the mistake of being converted to a private non profit from a public one? The correct form was not submitted in 2004 and we recently learned of this problem. We should be public not for profit. Thanks in advace.

Joe Escalante: I would talk to a tax professional experienced in non-profit filings. You’ve got two problems. One is that you need to change forms. The other is that you may have tax liabilities since you’ve been operating for so long under this mistake.

Robin: In California is there a specific time that a house (left to a granddaughter) would need to go through probate? Who initiates the probate proceedings?

Joe Escalante: The probate court does this. The clerk at the probate court in your county is s good person to talk to about this.

Elliott: would like to know if you are arrested for any reason and your maranda rights are not read to you should or should not your case be thrown out of court for civil rights violation or any other reason at all just askijng

Joe Escalante: Your Miranda rights only cover what can be admissable at your trial. There maybe all kinds of other evidence the fuzz has to convict you. It’s not grounds for throwing out a case.

Elliott: ok then tell me this what are maranda rights good for then if not to be used by the fuzz

in other words what are there purpose i thought civil rights i guess i am wrong plz explain why i am wrong

Joe Escalante: There are a lot of things police can do for the safety of the public, like search your car and pull a bomb out, even though they didn’t get a warrant. They can’t use this bomb as evidence against you in court, but it probably saved lives. Miranda rights are good to inform you that you do not need to speak to fuzz if you don’t want to.

Vicky: I just received a NOTICE OF FILING REPORT OF NO DISTRIBUTION COMBINED WITH ORDR FIXING DEADLINE TO OBJECT THERETO on a bankruptcy that I had filed everything againts them and won it all down to having wages attached, then they filed for Ch 7 — I thought I was to file a proof of claim after the creditors meeting and now I get this notice so do I file both or just the one above? It say to send it only to the trustee, so what do I do to object to them being able to write me off after I have won a court judgement? Thanks Vicky

Joe Escalante: This is one of those questions that’s too hard for me to answer given the limited stuff in front of me about your case. I would love to tell you to just file both responses but I’m not sure if that’s necessary. Best thing to do, other than hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney is to bug the clerk of the bankruptcy court until you get an answer. Good luck.

Vicky: Thank you == you had answered me about a month ago on this matter when I first got the bankruptcy notice and you said to file the file of proof forms after the creditors meeting. So I think I will just file both and go from there, I really don’t think these folks should get away with this and I guess I am just going to do whatever I can to not let them. Thanks again for your help.

Donna: What are the tax advantages and protection from creditors using a simple will versus a living trust in Texas? Thanks.

Joe Escalante: Tax questions I don’t do. They very tremendously from state to state. But in general, a trust will allow property to pass to an heir without going through probate, and probate has a lot of costs and paperwork attached to it. In most cases, people want to avoid it.

LegalZoom: That’s it for Free Joe Friday! Thanks for joining us. We’ll be back next week with more free legal advice. In the meantime, check out the Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante Facebook Page and have a great weekend!

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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July 12th, 2011 at 7:16 am