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Can My Nonprofit Charge Admission Fees? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 2/28/12

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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.

Georgia: Can a small not-for-profit club charge a fee for non-members to attend their speaker program?

Joe Escalante: Yes. A non profit entity can charge for anything, and make lots of money. It just cannot distribute those funds to the owners of the entity. It has to use them to further the purpose of the non profit.

BTW: Can u still get child support if your spouse is livng with you???

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court for it. The court will decide if it is in the best interest of the child.

Sheila: Joe, why is it that the people don’t sue the lobbyists for bribery and the politicians for accepting a bribe? and can Supreme court judges be included in that?

Joe Escalante: People file lawsuits like this all the time. Check out Judicial Watch.

Sheila: Yeah, but why haven’t they filed on Walker and Boehner and why don’t we see faster results ? I should think the proper execution off the duties of government officials/politicians would have priority over any other crimes simply because it affects the society we live in and the values of that society.

Joe Escalante: These government officials have immunity from suits based on their governmental duties. Otherwise, people that disagree with them politically could always drum up some grounds for a lawsuit based on damages they are personally receiving from their actions. If they accept bribes, that is a crime and different from a civil case, so it is up to the Attorney General to prosecute them.
However, lobbying is a gray area.

Patricia: Hi Joe,
A couple of years ago I applied for a business name: Isabella Sweets,LLC but now I am seriously thinking of Isabella Sweets and Savories. Do I have to reapply for the name again? No business has been started yet due to the economy. Thank you,Pat V.

Joe Escalante: If your LLC is called Isabella Sweets, you can file a DBA for “Isabella Sweets and Savories” and you’re fine. If all you did is file for a entity name availability check, Isabella Sweets and Savories would have shown up in your search for Isabella Sweets, so you don’t need to do that twice. If you have a DBA for Isabella Sweets only, get a new one of those with your new name.

Rohan: We closed an California LLC and confirmed that with SOS.We did the final taxes (which were zero)and filed all paperwork to close the LLC. But LLC did not do ANY business so filled the tax return with 0 income and marked as final.
Just realized that we have to pay $800annual minimum tax return as well.Its been more than 10 months since we closed.

Can anyone help where can we pay final $800 annual tax.
Are there any penalties?
Great if someone can include any link or address where to send and any form to fill?


Joe Escalante: You need a tax professional to file this for you. It’s worth getting a little real advise from a pro in this instance.

Teralyn: Question on parent rights vs school: my little sister, Erin (age 17 I’m her legal guardian), has Aspergers, and last Friday night she was beaten by a girl from her classroom when she was walking home from school. She had gone earlier in the day to tell the principal that there was a bully threatening to beat her because she accused Erin of giving her dirty looks (Aspergers kids aren’t aware of mannerisms & body language). Principal kindly asked attacker to “stop threatening” Erin. Well, right after school she stopped threatening & beat Erin. Erin didn’t fight back, just limped home bruised & bloodied. By end of day yesterday I was informed that the attacker must have lied somehow so the school called it “Mutual Combat” & suspended both & both have to attend anger managent classes. My question is: isn’t there any law that would protect a student with a disability? Autism/Aspergers is a disorder where she’s going to continue to upset people. She’s been yelled at many times & finally she’s being beaten. And there are more girls after her for “snitching”. Erin isn’t able to vigorously defend herself because she can’t tell time so she doesn’t know what exact times of day the initial bullying occurred, she doesn’t know how to gauge her level of danger to know when to report it, she is not violent at all, she was scared & tried to get help from the school & theyade it worse for her. The principal doesn’t care that Erin has Aspergers & will continue to lack judgment & get beaten…. What can I demand they do to help insure her safety? The school says they can’t tell me how Erin contributed to the aggression so I’m not even able to counsel Erin as to what she’s been accused of that is said to have caused her to deserve punishment. Erin had bruising & swelling all over her body, I asked if the other girl had marks, they said they can’t tell me anything at all except that Erin is mutually at fault. Aspergers is a miserable burden to carry & what can I do to force the issue of her protection in these cases? She may well have given dirty looks… She doesn’t know body language at all. Isn’t there a law to protect the disabled? She couldn’t even give proper details of the incident because it’s hard for her to put it in order. :(

Joe Escalante: People with disabilities are a protected class with respect to anti-discrimination laws. By targeting Erin, her assailant not only committed a battery, but violated her civil rights, as a member of a protected class. The warning given to the administrator may have put the school on notice. Not acting to protect her was perhaps negligent and also a violation of her civil rights. Take pictures of all the evidence of the injuries and consult with a civil rights attorney, or an attorney experienced in litigation on behalf of the disabled. Good luck. That is an awful story. Click below to get started looking for an attorney in your area. If they think it’s a good case, you wont have to pay anything up front. They will work on a contingency basis. That’s what you want.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Teralyn:

Luis: am opening a retail store soon! but want it to be an art gallery too. What would be best to start as.A art gallery or a retail store. And what would be the perks of each if any.thanks

Joe Escalante: Here’s the perks of a retail store: You might make a dime. Perks of an art gallery? You don’t have to pay upfront for inventory and when you sell something, you keep 1/2, usually. Depending on the licensing requirements in your area, and your funding, I would think it would be fine to start both at the same time. Here’s a tip: only serve white wine at your openings so the art fans are less likely to stain your retail items.

Kenneth: I was recently granted an absolute divorce in wake county nc…my question is it too late to have a child support, visitation agreement etc drawn up

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court to change whatever order of support was made at the time of the divorce. You just need evidence to show why it is just to modify the order.

Kenneth: I’ve always paid child support and extra if needed….its unofficial support and we have never had a problem with visitation either….guess I was looking for something in writing if the need ever comes up

Joe Escalante: You can write something up, and if both parties are obeying its terms, you are fine. The reason to get the court involved is so the agreement has some teeth. If you violate a court ratified agreement, you are in contempt and could face criminal penalties, instead of just civil ones.

Karen: I am legally mentally disabled and signed a lease that I didn’t understand on a land contract giving a man over $3000.00 cash. He didn’t hold up his end of the deal so can I get my money back and is the land contract legally binding?

Joe Escalante: Mistake based on a mental disability would be grounds to legally rescind the contract. You argue that you had no ability to consent to the terms, like a minor.

Divinah: We have a friend of the family whose father passed away recently. he was informed that he had to wait 30 days after burial to find out if there was a will, per probate. is this so? he is the eldest, and already his siblings are hiding info from him. this looks like a ‘crabs in a barrel’ case to me. thanks.

Joe Escalante: A will is a public document, but it will take time for the county to get all this verified so I don’t see anything crazy about waiting 30 days. He has a right to look at it, but the county has a right to make him go through the process and even pay a fee to look at it.
This whole procedure has to be done in public, so they wont be able to hide much for long. He can talk to the “Probate Attorney” that works for the county at the courthouse for help, but if there are really crabs in a barrel, he may need to hire his own private attorney to monitor the crabs and challenge any crab shenanigans.

Stefani: I run a small business on Etsy and through a social media site. Another seller on Etsy contacted me regarding the name of one of my products, claiming they had the trademark. I was already using the name when the other seller contacted me and did a search and found they did not have the trademark on that term. The seller has since gone through the trademark process and registered the name in question in their state (not national). We are in different states. They are now threatening me with action if I do not cease using that name. Who’s in the right here? Me, since I was using the name first or them b/c they filed the paperwork, knowing that I was already using the name in question.

And it is a VERY common term, so I am also confused on how they were able to get it trademarked. It is unique and other major corporations use the term to describe their products as well.

thank you for your time!

Joe Escalante: Great question. Trademark protection is governed by USE not by whoever files first. However, not every product or service name is protectable. For example, if the name is “overly descriptive” it cannot get protection. Like “Foot shoes.” All shoes are for feet, so you cannot prevent others from using the word “foot” in conjunction with their competing shoes. Or “Musical Saxaphones.” All saxaphones are musical. Well, except this one:

email me at and we’ll answer your question more specifically on the radio program because it is geared toward Trademark and Copyright law. Thanks.

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March 1st, 2012 at 5:51 am