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Free Joe Friday 12/3/10 – Nosy Neighbors, Hiring Sex Offenders, 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.

Crystal: I run a non-profit. Should we have a policy on members w/ known criminal past (sex offenders)? Q is whether we are required to tell members that there is a sexual criminal (or any criminal) in the org, or if there are legal ramifications for telling. We will require background checks for leadership positions involving children, but weren’t sure how this affected general membership. Non-profit is a church.

Joe Escalante: To put it bluntly, you have to balance the risk of being sued for harm that could have been prevented had you disclosed certain information to your clientele, vs. being sued by someone who’s livelihood you may harm by disclosing private inf…o about him or her. There’s no law against disclosing things that are in the public record, so you are better off erring on the side of caution.
If a civil jury would think that it was more likely than not negligent for you to keep this info secret, you will get burned. That’s a low standard, so I would be careful about hiring people with criminal records if they have to deal with kids. If you do, disclose it to all who may sue you. Since it’s a a church, you should be able to get some sympathy for giving people a 2nd chance. But if something happens, they WILL sue you.

Jacqueline: I am in Kansas and doing a divorce pro se, I know I missed the deadline for questions, however some of the forms I have or am going to need are only for attorneys, is there somewhere else that I can use as a “guide” so to speak,,,I have done the basics and the first motion, so I know I am on the right track, thanks,,,

Joe Escalante: Why aren’t you using Legalzoom? it’s what you should be doing, but if you hate us that much at least get a book from Nolo Press on Divorce. There’s no reason you should have to use a lawyer if you don’t want to but some counties make it easier than others so legalzoom is the best way to go because they will guide you through it in your state, unless you live in a really weird one that I haven’t heard of.

Celes: Joe, If I Want To Sue A Business For Taking Money Out Of My Account, When It Was Declined Three Times, Will, Or Do I Have A Good Case To Sue This Business?

Joe Escalante: There’s not a lot to go on here. If they did something that was illegal or violated their written policies, you can recover in court. It sounds like it wasn’t very much since you didn’t bother to give me very much detail so I’m thinking small claims court. Bring the evidence that shows they violated either a law (conversion) or a stated policy that it was reasonable for you to rely on and sue their ass raggedy.

Kathy: Hi Joe..I have a question concerning bankruptcy. If you have a bankruptcy dismissed,can you file a motion to object and have the case reopened for evaluation?

Joe Escalante: You can appeal a dismissal. If it was dismissed because of something that could be found to be fraud then be careful next time you file. If you lose the appeal you will have to wait until the allowable time to refile, or you will have to change the kind you file for, like if you did a 7, maybe you will only qualify for a ch. 13

Neil asks: I started a charitable group & although it’s to promote awareness for the homeless & food pantries in NH, many people and companies won’t even get involved (even though I don’t accept donations) because I’m not registered officially as a 501(c)3?. How does one go about doing this & what is the average cost, since I’m doing this and volunteering my time & accept no funding?

Joe Escalante: You need to get a proper 501(c)3 going and start accepting funding. What is this, tough love? People are probably creeped out that you don’t accept funding so go to Legalzoom’s incorporation section, read the stuff there, and start the process. People want to give money to help the homeless. They probably think you’re going to ask them to work in the soup kitchen and they just want to write a check and be done with it. Take the money.

Here’s the link Joe mentions: http://www.legalzoom.com/non-profits/non-profit-corporation-overview.html

Heidi and Jolene want to know: I filed a dba under one name, but now I would like to change that dba to sell products under a different name. Can I amend the previously filed dba? Or, do I need to create a new separate dba?

Joe Escalante: You know, I don’t know the answer to that. It just depends on what that surly lady with the long fingernails says in the county clerk’s office so go down there and ask her but bring your check book. You might have to file another one since you are going to “do business as” some other name.

Guy: son passed away in pa. no will. unmarried live in gf & their daughter. daughter shld get estate incl life ins (he had not named anyone to receive). girlfriend appears to be going to sell everything & use life ins herself. I was advised in pa it’s not legal for a parent to manage estate money for children, but court administrator says he can’t name an executor. WHO IN THE LAW SYSTEM CAN INVESTIGATE THIS – IRS?

Joe Escalante: His personal assets have to go through probate. You can petition the probate court to pay attention to your concerns. I can’t see any reason for the baby mama to not manage the assets for the kid. The kid is not an orphan so it would be weird to bring someone else into the mix, but talk to the probate official in charge and ask them how to petition for something that you feel will be in the child’s better interest. If the probate court is suspicious to you, talk to the PA attorney general’s office

Jeanne asks: This is great! Thanks! :-) What is a 7100 form in regards to burial rights? My brother WAS P of A for my Mom, She is now deceased. A California memorial park is asking for my bro’s signature on this form before I can lay her ashes to rest. Thanks a lot!

Joe Escalante: Sorry for your loss Jeanne. 7100 is the California Code governing the burial as it relates to heirs, executors, and trustees. I don’t know what the form is they’re talking about. you probably couldn’t find it on the internet either. If they have a form, they should provide it. You can check the terms against the code, which is easy to find on the Internet and see if the language is Kosher.

Sam: I’ve got a friend in process of getting a divorce via do it yourself. If they’ve been separated for 7 years,live in different counties no chance reconciliation don’t know if other party willing to sign. So after filing,sending to them,wait for reply. Then if sign..great. but what if not? Where go from there??

Joe Escalante: If your spouse wont sign the papers, eventually they will have to explain to a judge why they wont, so go through the process as a contested divorce and eventually it will all be settled.

Chris: My wife and I want to have all our final arrangements made so that if I pass away that she has no problem getting the money from my personal and business accounts and the house/cars. I used legal zoom and created a last will which listed all the accounts and house/cars will go to her. Is that enough?

Joe Escalante: That is enough unless you guys both die in the same Chilean mine explosion or something like that. In that case, you might want to make further arrangements for where your property might go. Stuff in your will doesn’t avoid probate unless it is jointly owned, so be aware of that. Property that you own in your own name could avoid probate if you change the title to joint tenency and bank accounts can also avoid probate if they are jointly owned or are of the “pay upon death” variety.

Karran: My son lives in TX -has a child in CA (who he knew nothing about until 2 yrs ago.) He was ordered to pay child support, which he was doing, but lost his job a few wks ago. No one at the agency can help him find out what to do so he doesn’t fall into increased arrears. They tell him to get a lawyer. If he could afford a lawyer, he could pay child support. What can he do to resolve this until he gets a new job?

Joe Escalante: He doesn’t have to use a lawyer, there are quite a few “father’s rights” organizations that he can get info from to help him through this but he should petition the court to change the support order to reflect his new earnings status. This is just a form he’s got to get. It will be harder without a lawyer, but it can be done. He’s just got to be diligent.

Jordan: When I incorporate my company, about how many shares should I issue? At least 10 million or more? Also what price should I initially set them at?

Joe Escalante: Jordan, are you really going to launch your new business venture with advice from the bass player of a punk band? You need a lawyer familiar with securities. Get a good one or your perpetual motion machine will never get it’s proper due. I will take it as a compliment that you thought I could answer that one.

Thomas: I lease a commercial building and the landlord charges me state sales tax on top of the monthly lease amount. I’ve never paid it anywhere else but this is my first building in Ohio so I’m unaware if this is the norm. Is it legal?

Joe Escalante: A state can do that if they want so ask the secretary of state’s office to see if it is the case in Ohio. My experience with commercial leases is that landlords try to through anything on the bill so question it thoroughly. They are so different than residential leases you really have to know the rules or have a good broker. If you used a broker, make him earn his commission by getting you this info. Ask him for one of those cool notepads with the shopping list on them or a flyswatter with his picture on it while you’re at it.

Trina: My neighbors take pictures of me, my children, & my dogs when we are outside in my yard. They stand on their property while they do this. This has been going on for a month. I filed an incident report w/ the police b/c they followed me to where I walk my dogs, just to “mingle” until I leave, then they leave. What can I do legally to stop this nonsense of picture taking and being watched?

Joe Escalante: You don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy if you are doing things in your yard. Ask the Kennedy’s. It’s one of those things where you have to wait for harm to occur before you can have something done about it. You could research the stalking laws in your state and maybe file a restraining order, but it will probably be denied. But if you get it, it’s really bad for them. It’s like an arrest record.

If they get zoom lenses and shoot into your windows, then it’s a violation of your reasonable expectation of privacy in most cases, but not before.

Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. And join us on Facebook 12/10 at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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December 7th, 2010 at 7:16 am