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Free Joe Friday 12/17/10 – Multiple Business Entities, Pay Day Loans, and More

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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.

Steven: Hey Joe, I have 3 business entities that I receive checks from (I’m self employed) The first is a sole proprietorship, the second is just my name (consulting) and the third is a newly formed LLC. Next year I want to get everything lumped under my LLC but keep the names separate (including my sole proprietorship and my individual name) How do you create business entities under a LLC. Is it possible? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: Ask your tax lady the implications but I would get a DBA for each company under your LLC. An LLC can theoretically engage in any lawful business. The LLC would in that case be “doing business as” your sole propretorship and your consulting thing, which is also a sole proprietorship by the way. My tax person is a lady so I assume everyone’s is.

Carl: Hey Joe! My brother is mentally disabled & unable to work. His inhertience ran out recently & he applied for social security and he was declined(I think it was because he had 5k left in his bank account when he applied). Anyways,he is out of money and now I pay his rent or he will be homeless. Do you know any attorneys that can help get him his social security of have any suggestions? Thanks and happy holidays.

Joe Escalante: check with Legalzoom’s attorney referral service for a lawyer in your areal and start asking them questions. I can’t be sure of why he was denied. Charge him 5k for rent this month, reapply, then give him 5k for his birthday next year. But …seriously, I would need more time to anwer this kind of thing and more info about what state you are in. See what the lawyers in your state say. Sooner or later the State will have to provide some support for him if he can’t care for himself.
sorry. check back next week after you talk to some lawyers in your area. and let me know what state.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to our Attorney Connect service, Carl:

Kelly: Joe, what advice would you give a single parent who lost custody because they were on assistance & couldn’t hire an attorney to defend against an abusive & controlling ex who intimidated family members of the respondent? Parent wants to regain rights more than skant visitation. Physical & legal custody were lost. No violence, no drugs on part of respondent. Arrests for violence were made of the petitioner.

Joe Escalante: Pay close attention to the reasons the court stated for denying custody and make changes in your life to address those issues and petition the court for a change in custody when you think you’ve made some progress in these areas. You can do all this stuff without an attorney if you are determined. Check out Nolo Press for some self help materials and just keep going. Perservere!

Lorens: if you have an LLC already, and wanted to start a publication usinging another unique name how can you go about doibg that. CERTIFICATE OF ASSUME NAME DOES NOT PREVENT OTHERS FROM USING THE NAME. What are the legal ways to go about using a name for ur publication having an LLc already?

Joe Escalante: Have the LLC get a DBA for your new publication. The LLC will now be “doing business as” the name of the publication. You can file for trademark protection for the publication’s name if you plan to engage in interstate commerce. You can use legalzoom for all of this stuff and they will guide you through the paperwork. Good luck Lorens!

Jeffrey: Hey Joe, I represented myself in Brown vs adidas between 1994-1998. (Federal Court, Misapppropriations of Trade Secrets). I am writing a screen play called “Shoe Grit.” the twenty year story of the making DAMPS Technology. There was a gag order during the proceedings. If I do not divulge any “secrets,” am I free to talk about other elements of the case in the screen play. What are my limitations? Please advise.

Joe Escalante: I would have to see the limitations of the gag order to give good advice but I will say that despite most gag orders, you can freely speak of anything that is already in the public record. No one has a reasonable right to prevent people from disclosing things that are already in the public record without a enforceable contract that would provide some compensation for such restraint of speach. Like a non compete clause in an employement agreement. Tell the world Jeffrey! call my radio show if you want more detail on this. check out for more info on that

Arveen: I told my landlord about an electrical problem in the house he wont fix it because i’m a month behind in rent can i break the lease?

Joe Escalante: If you “tell” your landlord about a problem it means absolutely nothing unless you put it in writing. If you put it in wirting and he doesn’t fix it within a reasonable time you can fix it your self and deduct it from the rent in most situations BUT you can’t withhold rent. That is a good way to get evicted and sued for the balance of the lease. You must pay the rent, or have your sugar daddy pay it. I don’t know what your situation is so I don’t want to assume that you can’t get someone to pay your rent or anything like that. Legalzoom’s Scott MacDonell pays my rent. I just have to keep a webcam on 8 hours a day.

Sarah: After paying unincorporated tax on my business and getting a receipt from the office stating that all balances had been paid, I received a letter two weeks later stating that I owed $1.32 . Even though its meter or toll change should I dispute it or should I just pay it.

Joe Escalante: I’m going to let Zebrina answer this one.

Tiana: Where can I get a Forensic Mortgage Audit? I filed bankruptcy-it was dismissed. Never missed a payment, but defaulted on ins & taxes. I sent payments, but got late fees b/c I didn’t pay forced insurance & paid taxes. I took back over ins & paid 1 half-year tax payment, but they put the lein back on. They sent back 2 pmts, then forclosed. Since bankruptcy was dismissed, they have re-activated the forclosure.

Joe Escalante: Help Zebrina! OK I will take a crack at this one. Mortage audit’s tend to focus on loopholes that can be exploited with respect to how your lender hanled the process of issuing the loan. That’s a process used by some to avoid foreclosure. There are a lot of lawyers that claim they can do that and it will do any good but some are shady. My initial reaction from your description is that an audit will do nothing but put more money in some greasy lawyers pocket. but check it out. be careful.

Kirsten: I rent a guest house. I told him I’d be late on Dec rent, he decided he wanted me to move out instead of paying. He handed me a 3-day notice & has been threatening & harassing me, insisting he show the place while I still live here. He won’t let me pay or stay & insists I move out w/in days. I don’t have any lease with him, & I think this place isn’t legally rentable (no heat)? Is there anything I can do?

Joe Escalante: file an answer to the Unlawful Detainer Action. Pay the rent (borrow it if you have to). Show up at court and bring proof that there is no heat. He will get a lecture and will probably lose if you have paid your rent. Or if you want to go hardball, inform the city in writing that he is renting out a living place without heat. He should get fined depending on where you live. If you are in appalacia addicted to mountain due, maybe they don’t care much, but in most places this is really illagal. You might be able to solve this if you research the correct housing code that covers living space rentals and show it to him. Tell him if he lets you stay, you wont report him and you’ll help him install some legal heating and you will all be friends. yay!

Johan: Hello Joe, I would like to know how can I have legal zoom set up an LLC for me so that I can own a construction (remodeling residential/industrial property, a real estate company (own buidlings and rent out apt’s) and also be able to be a partner up with a restaurant owner. All being under this one companies name.

Joe Escalante: Just by getting the process started you will be able to make that all happen and a live person will guilde your though it on the phone. That’s much better than having me type it out from Bombay where my present office is.

Paul: I have a friend who was in an accident. The law firm she is using reached an agreement with ins company & is ready to close her case. One of her med bills was inflated by her law firm. In the event that the law firm pays the inflated amount, who gets the “refund”? If the lawyer said the bill was $10K & she calls the hospital & finds out it was actually $4K who gets that $6K if she has already closed the case?

Joe Escalante: In a perfect world, that money should go back to the insurance company that paid the inflated amount. In sounds like were victims of a fraud so they should be made whole. We all need to do our part to help out struggling insurance companies, right?

Danette: How can you protect an invention from the patent attorney to whom the idea is submitted? This includes variations of the idea that may suddenly “develop.”

Joe Escalante: If you use a reputable patent attorney you will have nothing to worry about. That’s what you’re paying for, professionalism. They would be risking their license to practice by divulging any private information about any client. If they steal something, it better be good for them because they will lose their right to practice. You can always have someone sign an NDA, and you can get a good one through but with attorneys you don’t need them because of attorney-client privilege. If someone’s going to violate that, their signature on a NDA isn’t worth much.

Just keep good records of why it’s your invention, and no one else’s. This s a good question for my radio show. Please call it and I’ll elaborate. go to for details. We record calls all week for future broadcasts as well.

Christine: I have a savings account with both my name & my parents names on it-they are senior citizens. If one or both of them were to enter a nursing home, how can I protect this account from being taken by the home as part of their assets? I had wanted their names on it in case something were to happen to me they would have access to it. Thanks

Joe Escalante: I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you pay the home with that money then they wont come after it. If you’re trying to figure out a way to stiff the home, you will have to do it without the help of me and the good folks at legalzoom.

Tamanika: Are pay day loans legal if u get them on the computer?

Joe Escalante: I would have to see the language in the loan terms. It’ possible that it’s very legal. It’s also possible that it’s predatory lending designed to keep a brother down. Write a letter to the Attorney General in your state and telll them what’s going on. The only way they find out about scams is through consumers most of the time.

From Pam: People with home businesses, should they have a permit or a license?

Joe Escalante: Most cities require it and eventually they will sock you with a fine if you don’t get one. There is a gray area for those telecommuting. Sometimes they still try to get you, but those attempts should be fought. If it is a brothel or a white slavery depot, a license wont help you however. Only legal businesses need licenses. Illegal businesses need cloaks of invisibility.

Barry: I havent filed taxes in 4ys. Im uneplyed now! What should i do?

Joe Escalante: Get a good tax accountant and file past returns. You might owe nothing. !!

If you do owe something, work aout a deal with the IRS and welcome back to society. Someone’s got to pay for Obamacare.

Donna: I need to write a will…live in Texas: community property state. Can I leave all my wordly possessions to my middle son, and eliminate the legal husband?

Joe Escalante: You cannot leave your middle son any property you jointly own. It wont even go into probate. It will pass to the husband before the will get’s read. You can leave all your separate property to whoever you want

From Sue: Hey Joe,
I was approved for a loan modification, but the documents are in legalese and, frankly, I don’t know what I am signing. I cannot afford $350 for an hour with an atty. Legal Aid does not handle this. Any thoughts?

Joe Escalante: Legalzoom has a contract review service that I just learned about. My lady will post the link but check that out the podcasts from Nolo PRess on loan modification. search itunes and Stitcher and you’ll find a few podcasts on Loan Modification. Podcasts are the future my friend.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link to our contract review product, Sue:

Rob: Hi Joe A Dept of Sanitation street sweeper crashed into my passenger side doors & both are destroyed. Police came, spoke to everyone. Street sweeper driver admitted fault & so did his supervisor. All the cops did was hand me an incident info slip & told me to wait 3-5 days to get an accident report #. Now what? Ins will triple the length of time in which it is resolved. What is the quickest way to resolve this?

Joe Escalante: This is life. You send them the estimates andfight for a check from them. If they don’t pay, small claims or limited civil court is next. It’s like getting struck by lightening. It’s not fair, but it happens, and in this case you may get a check. That’s more than Thor would give you if got accidentally hit by one of his bolts.

Sean: If I opened a LLC setup as pass through to personal taxes as I have no staff other than myself (did it on legalzoom), how can i cut myself “pay” out of the biz banking account. can i just cut checks for any amount since it is pass through

Joe Escalante: You’re entitled to get a paycheck from an LLC that you own if you are actually working for it. If you engage in shenanigans however, someone suing you may be able to “Pierce the corporate veil” and go after your personal assets and it will all have been a bad dream. Check with your tax lady for more details. :)

Jason: I have belongings in my ex girlfriends home that i need to retrieve and not getting them, what would i file to give me the legal ability to retrieve these items. I can prove that these items do belong to me.

If she is harboring chattle that belongs to you, and refuses your written requests to return it to you, you need to file a police report. The crime is called conversion. The sad thing is the cop at the station wont want to hear any of this and he will tell you to go away. This is going to be very humiliating after you just told her you were going to get the cops after her. If they wont take a report, try to go over their head with athe supervisor or chief but don’t try too hard or you will end up in the river, but not floating for a while.

Joe Escalante: You could also file a lawsuit against her. If it qualifies for small claims, it’s pretty easy and might get her to grow up.

Celes: Hello Joe, Can I Get A Probate Lawyer, In Order For Me To See If My GrandMother Left Me Some Money In A Will? She Died In The 90′s.

Joe Escalante: You should petition the court to get a look at that will. It’s a public document so you don’t really need a lawyer to get a look at it. they would make it easier but I would try to do as much as I could myself until I was sure there was any money there. If there was a fraud in the distribution of the proceeds of the will, then get an attorney for sure.

Got a question for Joe? Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. We’ll be taking the next two Fridays off for the holidays, so gather up your legal questions and join us on Facebook 1/7/11 at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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December 21st, 2010 at 7:44 am