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Building Permits, LLC vs DBA, Email Hacking, and More Legal Advice – Free Joe Tuesday 8/2/11

with 2 comments


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

Vicky: We had some renters put a wall up in our house and then move, didn’t know they did it tell after the fact. They split a room, now the county wants us to get a permit for putting up a wall or taking it down. Where they didn’t build a room just divided one do you really have to get a permit to do that. San Joaquin Cty in CA, thanks .

Joe Escalante: Each city has their own building permit requirements. Mine wont allow a patio cover in the front yard, but I don’t have a back yard. If they’re only asking for permits, and not making you pay fines, you are getting off easy.
A building permit is required when you make structural changes to an existing building, or start new construction.
Unless you live in Tijuana, who’s residents are truly free.

Pam: Hi Joe: I am a real estate broker with 2 small additional side businesses. Is it best to stay a sole proprietor or become an LLC and at what income level?

Joe Escalante: The tax lady will tell you at what income level you should switch over. A lot of it will have to do with the minimum tax your state requires for LLCs. I think it’s best to start as a sole proprietor with a decent amount of insurance, and switch over when your tax lady says so. Stay in touch with her.

Vina: Free Joe tuesday question: I’ve been paying a payment protection fee to my credit card company for years. Now that I am unable to pay for my card bill, they refuse to honor my requst to use the payment protection. They are also threatening to ruin my credit if I don’t pay my bill. They refuse to reimburse the money I invested in this plan. What should I do? Seems like stealing to me.

Joe Escalante: If you are paying this directly to the credit card company for a protection service they offered, I would take them to small claims court for the value of the protection that you paid, at least. However, I have not read the terms. If it’s a 3rd party “protection” service, it’s probably a scam and they are probably judgment proof.

Lori: I know the person that is attempting to hack my Yahoo email account — she has confessed in a public forum … How do I bring criminal charges against her. I contacted the FBI, they said, contact local police. Did that, police stated, they don’t have a division that handles that. Contacted Yahoo weeks ago, no response — now what?? Thanks.

Greg: Use a different email service that supports two way authentication. Message me if you’d like details. You went to the right gov authority for cyber crimes though. They typically deal with corporate cyber crimes.

Lori: But how can I have charges filed against her??

Joe Escalante: The police will never act on something like this unless you are a big fish in a small pond somewhere. Follow up on your attempts to get justice with letters so someone can get fired if there is some serious drama eventually due to the fact that they ignored your cries for help.

Lori: Also, a person has claimed to be in possession of a restraining order against me, but nothing has been served … How do I find out if this is true?? Thanks.

Joe Escalante: They are probably bluffing. It’s not effective if it’s not properly served. If that person tells you what court they filed it at you could find out. Could be your last chance to legally knock on their door. Be careful.

Albert: We are not behind on any house payment but have driven up our credit lines to the limit to keep the mtg pymts current. One line is $18K the other is 9K. I am 70 and had planned to sell the house two years ago when daughter grad from high school. I am not able to keep the property (2.5 acres) or the home properly maintained any longer and do not have funds to hire people to bring it up to shape to put it on market (over 100k under water). I live in a non recourse state (WA) and have a VA loan. Should I walk or try to do a Deed in lieu or what?

Joe Escalante: This is not really a legal question. A deed in lieu offers many advantages like your credit gets hurt less, but who cares about that at this point? You aren’t going to benefit truly from the advantages of a deed in lieu so it’s not a slam dunk. You could probably stay in the house longer if you stopped paying and declared bankruptcy, but that is a personal decision.
If you stopped paying, saved some money, used that money to pay off the cards, you might be closer to a fresh start than if you just gave the house back now and had to start paying rent somewhere.
But, it’s a personal decision. Good luck.

Keesha: I am a foster mom in PA. The CYF caseworker lied to the hearing officer (perjury) and the hearing officer ordered CYF to remove her from my home. I have witnesses that her testimony was a lie. What can I do?

Joe Escalante: If you suffered damages, you can go after the person that caused your certain and provable damages. Perjury is a criminal act though, it’s up to the government to decide if they want to prosecute that.

Keesha: What type of damages do you mean?

Joe Escalante: You can only sue people in a civil court if you have suffered damages as a result of the action in question. Did these lies cause you harm? If that harm is certain, and provable, what are the damages? Physical injuries? Mental? Property? This is how civil litigation works. You gotta be harmed to sue. Mostly, you have to be able to articulate and prove this harm. Good luck.

Ernie: Hi Joe
My question. If I get an LLC, can I put more than one business under that LLC.
Thanks Ernie

Joe Escalante: Yes.

Ernie: Thaks Joe So I could do something like XYZLLC and then state on each business that they are part of XYZLLC Thanks again for your help. I used Legal Zoom in getting two trademarks, and the process went very smooth.

Joe Escalante: Most people would use multiple DBA’s so XYZ, LLC. Doing Business as, ABC Co., DEF Co., etc. But talk to a tax pro to see what is best for you. There are tax implications. Thanks

Greg: Hi Joe: my question should be an easy one. In florida I was told for a single owner of a business LLC (in florida) wasn’t the answer because of self employment taxation… however I hear that corp sub-chapter S can avoid that while not claiming income on your personal… is this true?

Joe Escalante: These are tax questions Greg, hard for me, but easy for a tax professional. Get a good one.

Kim: I need to subpeona a witness but don’t know their last name, can’t find it. Can I still subpeona them some how? And is there a way to get someone served who is impossible to catch? Any tips?

Joe Escalante: Maybe the person doesn’t have a last name. I don’t know what they do in your jurisdiction. If it’s a civil claim, ask the civil clerk. They have to be properly served so you at least need an address. The prudent thing to do is to hire a private investigator to figure this stuff out. That’s what they do.

Jeremy: Hi Joe, I got into some trouble about 8 years ago in Michigan. I left state before I finished all my probation. I checked on it recently and I was told I have a fugitive warrant. If I were to move back to Michigan how much trouble would I be looking at. I have a good life going in a different state now and I am a upstanding citizen. Both of my sons live there and I want to be by them. Any advice would be great. Thanks Joe

Joe Escalante: I would hire a criminal lawyer to go in to the prosecutors office and try to strike a deal. The lawyer doesn’t have to tell them where you are, he can just try to make a good deal. If they want to give you the Chair, you simply don’t take the deal and avoid the law, especially in Michigan.

Linda: Do you answer questions from Texans? Is there a statute of limitations applied to suing a bank that allowed an account-holder to cash an IRS check made out to his/her employer?

Joe Escalante: There most certainly is, mam. I believe it’s 4 years for fraud, but don’t quote me. Also there’s a discovery rule that allows for S.O.L.s to start tolling from when you discover the fraud, as apposed to when it occurs. Talk to a texas lawyer to be sure.

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August 4th, 2011 at 6:56 am