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Can I Take Over Someone’s Car Payments? And More Free Legal Q&A – Free Joe 3/1/13

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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.

Beverly: If I’m going to take over someone’s car payments, what legal document do I need before I do this?

Joe Escalante: You need a new loan with a new bank; any bank that will lend you the money to pay off the old loan. Then the new loan is between you and the new bank only. The bank should help you transferring the title to you through the DmV.

Maria: I have been seperated for 36 years, I payed $506 for a divorce, the lawyer told me there was no time limit, then a while later I was told that time ran out. I lost the $506 and still am not divorced. After 36 years seperated, why do I have to get a divorce????

Joe Escalante: #1. Your husband might want to remarry or buy or acquire property . If you don’t dissolve your marriage he risks buying you houses for the rest of his life and if he remarries its a felony.

Mary Ellen: If you type up a personal contract between two people and these two people sign it in front of a Notary Public and the agreement is broken, will this agreement stand in court as a legal document?

Joe Escalante: The notary is only evidence that these are the people that signed the document . Whether the agreement that they signed is valid would depend on standard contract principles like offer and acceptance and adequate consideration, quid pro quo, meeting of the minds, the level of understanding of what they where signing, etc.

Brian: If I am the owner/president of a non profit company am I allowed to start another business that is profitable?

Joe Escalante: You can start one but you should use a new entity unrelated to the first. However, if you are going to reinvest all profits from the new company into the charitable services of the the first, that can be done under one company. Most important thing is to get a good tax pro on board so you don’t end up in jail.

Michelle: i want to have a relationship with my grand son do i have rights my son his father is deceasded

Joe Escalante: Only a few states recognize grandparents rights. In most states, you are at the mercy of the parent unless they are judged unfit. Google “grandparents rights by state” to see what you can find out about your jurisdiction.

Tina: My mother passed away two years ago and left her house to my older brother – in the event he died my oldest daughter was to have it! Well my brother is now incarcerated for threatening to kill my daughter – her husband – myself and my husband! The house is still just in my moms name. The police told us we had to get the guns and amonition out of the house- when we went in the first time to get the dog out – it was unbelievable – if you’ve ever seen hoarders it was worse! What we need to know is what to do with all these guns and amo? There were about thirty or more hand guns and other gun – weapons and a whole truck bed full of different amonition ! What should we or can we do with this mess!? The hand guns were turned over to the police. We live in York pa. Thank you!

Joe Escalante: Since the police have the guns, it seems the next thing you want to do is to get the house into your daughter’s name. The house should have been probated. I don’t Know what happened there. He doesn’t legally own it because it hasn’t been probated. You should show the mess to a probate attorney. Then sell the movie rights to buy your daughter a house that doesn’t stink as much.

Karen: I have a nonprofit and I am preparing to get my taxes done for 2012. Can you tell me the best way to figure out what I can write off as a business owner?

Joe Escalante: Thats a question for Gary the tax expert here on Thursdays.

LegalZoom: Here’s the info, Karen:

Tory: I have found a image on internet and I’m wondering about copy-writes rights.
This image is carved onto a hillside in Britain and I found a picture on internet under white horses on hillsides. Is this image possibly protected by a copy-write. I would like to use this image as a logo for my horse business but I don’t want to infringe on a copy-write.

Joe Escalante: If the picture was taken after 1923 it is likely protected by copyright. For more info on this you could call my radio show on Sundays. This Sunday I will still be in Australia but next Sunday I will be live on KTLK.

LegalZoom: You can find the details for Joe’s show at the bottom of this page, Tory:

Kyoko: how can i get a greencard? have a 4 year degree, have japanese language skills.

Joe Escalante: You need to meet with a good immigration attorney. I know a great one in Los Angeles named Scott Kawamura. If you want to meet with him, let me know.

Kim: I currently provide consulting services to non-profits and government organizations through my business which is set up as an LLC. I am in the process of self-publishing a book on a topic of interest to my clients. The book will be sold in hard copy and as an ebook on Amazon. Should I structure my sales as a product sold by my company or as a separate venture? How does sales tax come into play?

Joe Escalante: This is really a tax question. You should ask Gary here on Thursdays.

LegalZoom: Here’s the info, Kim:

Gil: Hi Joe: I have a family court law question. I understand you are in CA and your answer is going to be general in nature.

In 2004 I had a daughter to a woman not my wife. I was separated (no separation agreement) yet still married. I was living in FL having moved down there with my child’s mother to try to get her away from the drugs she was using. She returned to NY and started using while pregnant. I asked her to terminate the pregnancy as I did nto want to have to deal with the problems of having a drug positive baby. Medical and legal. In any event my daughter was born. Family court had me in a bind as I had no permanent employment (worked temp) and had insufficient permanent living arrangement. They would not provide me an attorney as they said I “was not being charged with neglect or anything” only the mother. So she had an attorney, my child had an atty, acs had a few attys and I sat there at every hearing unable to speak or assert whatever rights i may have had as I didn’t even know what my rigths were, but every time I tried to interject I was quickly shut down. In any event, eventually I was faced with the prospect of acs placing my children (by this time I also had a son) in foster care or signing away my parental rights to allow their maternal gm adopt them. I had no choice as far as I was concerned and signed. I want to know if once I get on my feet do I have any legal recourse to obtain partial or full custody and/or visitation rights? my children are now 7 and 8 yo’s. Thank you in advance for your anticipated assistance.

Joe Escalante: I see only two options here. basically, this ship has sailed. You can either spend a hundred grand on legal fees to concoct a reason why someone who wanted to terminate his rights and at least one of the actual kids should be reintroduced into their lives, which would disrupt the kids lives further, or you can try to forge a good relationship with the grandmother. When the grandmother thinks its a good idea for the kids to see you, that’s when it’s a good idea. Any other time is a bad idea. My guess is you cannot afford option one, so work on option two.

Sandip: When a publishing company typically has a published story containing real life individuals and experiences, does that publishing company inherently have the rights to use those individuals names, likenesses, and story in any manner they deem fit, excluding libel and slanderous means?

Joe Escalante: The answer here depends on many factors like how much of their life stories are in the public record already and whether they are public figures or not. I would call my radio show on March 9 when I’m back from Australia. We’ll hash it out on the air.

LegalZoom: You can get Joe’s show details at the bottom of this page, Sandip:

Janet: my father died without a will in new jersey. he had a car that he was still making payments on. if my siblings and I sign letters that we are not interested in buying the car, can my daughter buy the car from the bank without having to go through probate. My father did not have any debt.

Joe Escalante: It all has to go through probate. It’s the courts duty to make sure there were no debts. They can’t just take your word.

Doris: I mistakenly posted this in comments before. Now, I’m posting here. In Wyoming, we are planning to make a revocable living trust and put our home, SUV, pickup truck and guns in it. Should we omit any of these things, and should we consider adding anything else?

Joe Escalante: This all sounds very standard. A good trust will also include a “pour over will” that will include small things not mentioned specifically in the trust. A Legalzoom trust comes with one of those I believe. You should use Legalzoom for this. It’s one of their best products.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link, Doris:

Aaron: Hey Joe, First of all The Vandals rule!! Second I have a couple really bad neighbors on my court. One rents the other owns.. we have made countless complaints and nothing changes. We have called the owner of the rental and he could care less. Police have been to these houses on several occasions for various crimes and they just continue to cause disturbances.

Joe Escalante: Thanks Aaron. If you are out of options, one good trick is to take the landlord to small claims court to recover damages you have suffered. Maybe the tenants caused some damage to your lawn. Maybe you want an injunction against further disturbing activity. Whatever, takes about a hundred dollars to do it and it really gets their attention. They will start yelling at their tenants which is good for you.

Lou: I am doing a podcast for a show called my little pony. I want to use a name that I used to use for a website, called Cantercast. The person that co-owns Cantercast is claiming I did the podcast ‘work-for-hire’ despite not having a physical contract to do the show. He also never paid me. The site owners (there are two of them) also don’t have a trademark or patent on the name Cantercast. In fact one of the site co-owners tried to sell it to me (without telling his other owner) for $10/year then reneged when I tried to do it again. I want to name my podcast Cantercast. Can I? Would I get into legal trouble?

I know my mom posted this earlier, but she also posted it before she should have so I thought I’d repost since it directly affects me, Joe. Thanks for ANY answer you can give.

Joe Escalante: These guys essentially don’t know what they are talking about. A work for hire can only exist in very narrow circumstances, and this is likely not one of them. If you registered the trademark you’d be on more solid ground but you don’t really have to do that if you are entitled to use it. Call my show on March 9 and we’ll go over your options in more detail. And p.s. go outside sometime.

LegalZoom: Details for Joe’s show are at the bottom of this page, Lou:


Joe Escalante: No. You need a trust or a will to control people from beyond the grave.

Mike: What is the minimum times a board for a non profit must meet per year?

Joe Escalante: Depends on the Secretary of your state’s requirements, but generally at least once a year. Then you have to go by what you’ve put in your by laws.

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March 5th, 2013 at 5:57 am