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Get Paid for Your Work and More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe Friday 10/14/11

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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.

Natalie: I did some web work for a client/friend (not anymore) and now he is refusing to pay me and saying that he’s got a lawyer and that everything I did was his. How would I go about in taking legal action to get paid?

Joe Escalante: First, if you created protectable (copyrightable) things for him, they are yours unless there is a writing to the contrary. Second, you can file a lawsuit against him for breach of contract, even if there is no written contract. A transfer of copyright has to be in writing, but a contract to perform work does not. He’s in bad shape in that scenario. Hopefully the amount qualifies for small claims court. That’s easy and he’s not allowed to have a lawyer there. Burn.

Yolanda: DEAR JOE: As a CA resident, I incorporated my SMLLC in WY and will be doing my Internet/Virtual Online business in WY. However, we do not sell anything to our Customers or any other Entities. We provide only 1 service which is free: an Investment opportunity with a Utah Corporation. Then we and our Customers invest monthly into this Corporation & receive income directly from this Utah Corporation. Am I classified as doing business in CA even if I’m not selling anything to anyone? Even if I open a bank account in CA for my WY SMLLC?

Joe Escalante: To be subject to California taxation, you need to either be doing business here, or deriving income from California residents. What you are doing is unclear to me. If money from California residents is invested in these companies, and that’s how you earn money, maybe the Secretary of State might want to look into it. Do you want me to call them? hahaha. Just kidding but you should be careful with this and get some good tax advice along the way.

Mary: In Mn. I want to know as there is a 7 year statute of limitation to go back and change monitary and abuse issues. My divorce was from 1998-2003, and went through the domestic abuse project for 10 years with my advocate. Do I stand a chance?

Joe Escalante: This varies from state to state. You should contact the court where your divorce was adjudicated and see what your options are. It would be best to consult with a family law attorney in your area, but as a start, check out this cool Statute of Limitations by State chart I posted earlier:

Tanyl: Is there a way to get a drug felony off your record?

Joe Escalante: I refuse to believe that you have a drug felony on your record, Tanyl. But, if you are asking for a friend, the term is expungement. You need the felony expunged from your record. This involves calling a few criminal law attorneys and getting their take on the feasibility and cost. It isn’t automatic, and sometimes it’s impossible. But it does happen. My friend got his drug felony expunged. He bought a bunch of cocaine from an undercover cop wearing a wig.

Twanda: Do you offer marketing schemes for assistance in an invention process?

Joe Escalante: I don’t. I’m a lawyer.

LegalZoom: Hi Twanda, We don’t market or promote, nor do we assist with the marketing or promotion, of anyone’s invention. We also don’t endorse any person, company or other entity that claims to do so.

Maria: If unable to afford a divorce attorney at this time, what is the proper way to decide what my friend should pay for? For example, should he pay her full mortgage and other incidentals?

Joe Escalante: This is a very complicated scenario. Among other things, you have to calculate all living expenses, child support if any, and income / earning capacity of the spouse. Then make an offer of what you think is fair. If it is challenged, you are in court whether you have an attorney or not.

Priscilla: How do I get the lying cheating thieving X to revoke a QDRO in Texas (on a state employee pension)? thank you in advance.

Joe Escalante: A QDRO is a court approved order, so the process to revoke the order would be to petition the court to remove or modify the QDRO. You will need evidence that it is in the best interest of the parties to modify.

Kim: I want to have a fundraiser for my non profit which consist of homemade salsa. Is there any laws saying I can’t do this?

Joe Escalante: If you have a legitimate 501 c 3 non profit entity, you must also have a person that does your taxes that answers these types of questions for you in your state. If you don’t you are headed for trouble because the government loves to tax salsa. In other words, this is a tax question more than a legal question. There is a law against not paying taxes, but you need tax advice to navigate your non profit through this plan of yours.

Kim: So Joe just to be sure- what about the food & drug administration laws on canning homemade food without a permit? Does this also apply for non profits since it’s not for sell & just a one time event?

Joe Escalante: There are all kinds of laws about selling food. Start with the County agency that regulates food sales. there may be some kind of bake-sale type exemption in your area, but that depends on local regulations.

La Sandra: Can’t afford an attorney. Being raped in the courts for child support and alimony, where do I turn for help?

Joe Escalante: We are always willing to help with specific legal questions, so you can ask away. As far as referrals to pro bono attorneys. That’s another story. There should be a self help option at your court. Ask the clerk, unless the clerk is the one raping you.

Patricia: if a man and a woman have been seperated for 2 yrs but they are still married and he gets a bill from the IRS saying back taxes are owed, and what is owed is what they filed together before their seperation, are they both liable for this bill or is just he liable even though its from the yr they both filed together?

Joe Escalante: Can you imagine the IRS not going after both parties to get their hands on this cash? No? Either can I.

Eva: Live in utah need a divorce from nevada uncontested how do I go about it.

Joe Escalante: If it’s uncontested, you could file in Utah because I’m assuming the ex will consent to jurisdiction of their courts. However, if there are kids or property it could get weird because the court would have to have jurisdiction over the disposition of the property and the custody of the kids.

Vicki: I live in MI I dont know if I hurt myself or not at work, I have been out for a yr and a half. 3 surgeries later. They said I coudlnt do workmans comp since I had no accident report but somebody said I could do a long term comp since I did the same job of heavy lifting over yrs. I got a bone spur that cut my bicep tendon and can see to get my strength back. Do I try workmans comp?

Joe Escalante: You need a consultation with a workman’s comp lawyer in your area. You may be able to establish the cause of your disabilities as work related but it will take a good lawyer. Try Attorney Connect for starters. Follow the link below:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Vicki:

Donald: My name is Don. I’m wondering if there’s a legal basis for suing for tax rights to children that don’t live with me. Joint legal custody/150 dollars a week in support plus almost 100 a month in medical. My ex partner is making it a point not to work and has (mistakenly im sure) confided to someone willing to come to court with me that she intends to raise my kids by “stealing” my tax return credits and raking me for support. I wasn’t able to secure a proper lawyer for the custody hearing, and wasn’t wise enough to concider this in the terms. Could you point me in the right direction on this? Thank you for what you do for all of us Joe!

Joe Escalante: To establish who you can claim as a dependent, you need to talk to your tax pro. However, if you feel your divorce decree is unfair, you just go back to court and petition to have it modified to reflect what you think is fair under the circumstances and in the best interest of the children. Good luck.

Thomas: I bought a car, requested carfax but they had autocheck. It showed nothing, but carfax showed there had been an accident. Problems with transmission making car almost undriveable. Ark Attorney Gen says I need to work with dealer.

Joe Escalante: Well, the attorney general is not going to prosecute them criminally for this, but you can take them to court and have the contract rescinded if you can establish that there was a mistake that was their fault. This is a basic contract issue that should be handled between the parties either over a beer, or in costly and life draining litigation.

Lee: I’ve heard if you have a biz idea you can write out ur idea in a letter and send it to yourself as a certified letter as proof of your idea date etc. Until you can get a trademark. What does it need to say and is it a good idea

Joe Escalante: First, let me compliment you on the best profile photo in Free Joe Friday history. Next, no, no, no, and no. That does nothing. You need to listen to my radio, which starts right now actually on We will school you quickly in these areas. For example. You cannot trademark an idea. You can’t even copyright it. You could maybe patent it. Listen and learn.

Sharon: What’s the easiest way to go about getting an Affidavit of Heirship? Can I do it myself or is it expensive?

Joe Escalante: Just go to the web site for the court you are dealing with and you can probably download the form. They’re no big deal. Fill it out and file it. Easy.

Deby: Sons father hasent paid child support in 7 months and hasent seen him in 4 do i stand a chance if filing for contempt?

Joe Escalante: Yes. Go back in and file. The govenment agency handling this should garnish his wages immediately.

Keith: Can’t find any information on adult adoption in Florida. Any suggestions?

Joe Escalante: Check these Florida statutes: It seems to be do-able with consent of the adult, the new parents, and birth parents if available. And check out this as well:

Marty: I owe about $10,000 in credit card debt. Just was served. Thinking of bankruptsy. It’s old debt when I could work. I’m now on SSDisability. I don’t want to do it, but the CC Companies do not appear to want to negotiate. Help me, Mr. Wizard.

Joe Escalante: This is what bankruptcy laws are for. They are to help people that have had problems like your health issues. You want to file Chapter 7 if you have few assets, or Chapter 13 if you have a home you want to stay in . You should talk to a couple bankruptcy attorneys if they will give you a free consultation. Shop around. You could do it yourself with the Nolo Press book they offer. Legalzoom has a hook up for seeing what you qualify for so try that as well. Click the link below:

LegalZoom: Here it is, Marty:

Daniel: Can a Nevada LLC own an apartment (property/real estate) in a foreign country? Is there any advantage to buying foreign (not in the U.S.) property through the Nevada LLC than as a sole proprietorship?

Joe Escalante: This would be up to the laws in the foreign country, primarily. And your second question must be answered by your tax pro to fit your situation.

Cathy: My 17 year old son is on probation for pot possession. A Home Visit is part of his probation. Can they enter any room in my house, my garage, our cars, etc.? Not hiding anything, just want to know my rights.

Joe Escalante: This would vary according to regulations in your state, and what your plea agreement said. Your kid probably agreed to waive many rights in order to avoid a trial, or harsher sentence. One thing that you should know is that if they find anything weird in your house that they want to use against you as evidence of something, you could challenge it as inadmissible if they didn’t have a right to be in that part of the house, even though they insisted on going in there.

Wesley: Question : 2 young People want to Marry 1 on SSA and 1 on SSI how can this effect them ? One had been told both would lose all if Legal marriage with Liscences , but if just 2 ring ceremony No Effect?

Joe Escalante:

Deby: Is it legal for my sons father to agree in court to a drug test and thn refuse when requested?

Joe Escalante: He may be in contempt of a court order that a agreed to. This could be a problem for him, as in, he goes to jail.

Dicky: what can i do about my 14 year old son wanting to live with me now even though his mom has custody?

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court to amend the custody order. His testimony should have some weight, unless you feed him cotton candy for breakfast.

Patrice: What can my friend due if he has credit card debt, but has a serious illness and cannot afford to pay his bills?

Joe Escalante: He can file chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy and get a clean slate. Or he can tell the credit card companies to back off and make a new deal or he will just declare bankruptcy.

Cynthia-Ann: Husband recently diagnosed with cancer. Will one will cover both of us no matter who dies first or do we need 2 separate? What other documentation will I be needing? Also, before the first biospy, he handwrote and signed a rough draft will to leave me what we have. The 2 witness blanks have not been signed. If signed now would it be legal until we get all we need in place?

Joe Escalante: you need two wills. get them notarized. Signing the hand written will be better than nothing until you get a real one, but seriously, use legalzoom and get it done right. Click the link below:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Cynthia-Ann:

Susan: I worked for a newspaper that ends up with a bill of over $500. She sold the subscriptions and closed the paper and won’t answer phone calls or emails. What are my options to get payment for services

Joe Escalante: That’s a perfect one for small claims court. Send a demand letter first, then file the case. Good luck.

Lawanda: can a landlord evict you due to nonpayment of late fees?

Joe Escalante: It depends on what it says in your lease. Non payment of funds you promised to pay when you signed your lease seems reasonable to me. The landlord’s argument is that he can rent his place to anyone, so he chooses to rent it to people who promise to pay late fees. Here comes Virtuous Lawanda. She doesn’t do late fees.
Landlord is thinking, “I’d like to rent this place to someone who does late fees, as written in the lease.
If there is no lease, or it doesn’t say anything about late fees, then landlord will have problems evicting you.

Jeanine: What is the process for filing a small estate affidavit? My siblimgs and I are the beneficiaries of a Roth IRA. After submitting all the requested documents, the company will not distribute the funds without an affidavit. Are all of my siblings as well as my father required to file this document?

Joe Escalante: That would be according to the policy of the company. Ask them for a sample of such an affidavit and who has to sign it. This is more a matter of private policy than of law, unless they are being unreasonable.

Dane: I’m an independent Hip Hop producer who occasionally “samples” from copyrighted music. Clearing a sample can be very expensive… I’d like to sale my sampled beats online via my website. I have no idea to what scale my customers will use my beats so it doesn’t make economical sense to clear everything. My question is, can I protect myself from copyright infringement if I pass the responsibility of clearing a sample to the purchaser of the beat through a sound license agreement? Depending on whether they want to commercially release a track is up to them and would therefore be at their discretion… Thank you!

Joe Escalante: In my opinion, this will not let you off the hook. You can’t sell or lease what you do not own. You need to create your own beats if you want to sell them.

LegalZoom: That’s it for Free Joe Friday! Thanks to Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante for joining us! We’ll be back next week with more free legal advice, so come join us then: Have a great weekend!

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October 18th, 2011 at 5:33 am