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How Can I Copyright My Name? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 12/9/11

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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.

Eddie: hi joe, I was wondering what steps do I need to take to copy right a name??

Joe Escalante: YOu need to listen to my radio show, that’s all we talk about. It’s on now on You will learn that you cannot copyright a name, you can only copyright a creative expression of an idea. You can trademark a name, in associate with a product or service. Learn even more here:

Raymond: If I’m renting a home, and want to use office space in this home for my business, having a P.O. box address, yet the business will be more of a firm, no customers, would this cause problems legally not owning the home?

Joe Escalante: Legal problems often are compounded by lack of insurance. Make sure you have some of that. Consult your tax pro to make sure you are deducting your office expenses properly. And you may need a local business license. Check with the city or county about that. Do it anonymously though. No need to raise any red flags with the government functionaries.

Carla: What legal rights do I have if the survey on my land was done wrong. I have title insurance but the deed references an incorrect plat that is being corrected now. I had to have a certain amount of road frontage when I bought this property and the corrected plat will make it not enough road frontage. What legal recourse against the surveying company do I have and can I make a claim through my title insurance.

Joe Escalante: Seems like a good title insurance claim. Who ever makes title insurance claims? They’re probably bored, just waiting for someone like you to make a claim like this. If the survey company was negligent and made a mistake that caused you damage, they probably have insurance themselves to cover the cost of making you whole. You need an attorney experienced in property law. Click the link below for some help:

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Carla:

Eddie: What rights do I have (if any) if I am double paid for my last paycheck from a company that I no longer work for? I notified them of the mistake once a week for a couple of weeks and they have done nothing, nor shown any initiative to reclaim the money. I am in no way trying to hide the money and hope they don’t notice, but is there a limitation after they are notified of the error to reclaim the money (e.g. 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, 10 years, so on and so forth)?

Joe Escalante: That’s a great question. There’s not a large body of law dealing with people that refuse to claim their money because it rarely happens. I doubt there is a hard fast rule in your state about this. It may be reasonable for you to keep it after a certain amount of time and effort to return it. However, a court could easily say that you could have just written a check and sent it to them.

Anthony: I am renting in WA state and my landlord foreclosed on the property. My rental agreement was until July 2012, but now there is a new owner. Is my lease still valid or is there a time period that they can ask me to vacate the property before the end of my lease?

Joe Escalante: President Obama signed a law in 2009 giving you 90 days, or so it seems from my reading of the “Helping Families Save Their Home Act.” Check it out:

Stanley: Joe, I’m currently in the process of filing a DBA (MA) on LegalZoom. I plan to sell a small piece of software online as sole proprietor using this fictitious name. I won’t start selling until my DBA is complete. My question is this: Since the year is quickly coming to a close, should I delay my order until January? If not, what form should I be using to declare any income I generate from my software sales?

Joe Escalante: These are really tax questions. Talk to your tax pro about whether it’s a big deal to wait or start selling now. I’d start now, but I’m reckless.

Kenneth: Hi Joe, I have a Divorce Mediation Agreement from 2007 where my ex was to pay me specific amounts pertaing to real estate equity in return for her staying in the home. She has never paid. Could I legally file a lien on the property or do I need a court order to do so? Thanks for your advice and have a great holiday.

Joe Escalante: You are supposed to take all this info to the court. Putting a lien on someone’s property can’t be done unless they have a chance to challenge it in court.

Jerry: My sister passed away with no assets, no will and a lot of debt. I’m handling everything but her death is under investigation. I am looking into a malpractice suit; do I need to be Executor of her estate to do so? I was going to let the state appoint one since she has virtually no assets to pay her bills.

Joe Escalante: Whether or not to file an wrongful death claim, or malpractice, would fall under the duties of the executor.

Chris: Hi Joe. I live in Washington State. The house next to me is a forclosed bank owned home. That property is growing over into my yard and fence and I was wondering what the legal issues would be if I went over the fence to cut down the grass and weeds that are growing into my yard. It’s getting so bad that it is damaging the fence. Thanks for you time.

Joe Escalante: I would do it. Legally, they’re not going to suffer any damages so your liability is negligible. Technically, it could be trespassing but it’s probably more important to prevent the harm the neglect of the property is causing. The bank won’t respond to you if you ask for permission, but they might if you send them a small claims summons following an unpaid invoice for dealing with this crud.

Melissa: I am a disbled woman and have an 8 year old daughter and she has a medical condition that should allow her to draw ssi but because I am diabled they make her draw off me first and she cant get the medicaid that she deperately needs for her father carries insurance on her and with her child support and what she draws puts her over the limit but yet we are drowning in medical bills cause her meds alone cost half of the child support given each month and then u have the copays for ot therapy and testing and then behavioral and social counseling isnt covered ..isnt there a loop whole of some sort that she can get her medicaid some how ..child support recently ordered him to pay 50/50 but still i have to pay the first 250.00 out first before he is required to do anything..mothers get the crap end of the deal royally when we are doing out best to provided what is needed but then the road blocks ..I feel as though we are punished for me being disbaled…do u have any other suggrstions

Joe Escalante: Sounds like you are stuck in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare. I have heard of people in your situation getting a local legislator on your side to help navigate a solution, or get the laws changed so more people like you don’t fall through the cracks in the system. Contact a local representative, and your state senator’s office. You are a constituent of somebody. Find them and let them know what’s going on. Good luck.

Susan Ann: Strong hospital caused a bowel obstruction in 2005 I was in the hospital for eleven days throwing up buckets of green bile I am now suffering from gerd in pain how do I find out if its related how many years to Sue in new York state ty

Joe Escalante: The general rule is that you have 3 years from when the malpractice occurred to file. However, there are some exceptions. Consult a malpractice attorney in your area to see if your case might be still viable.

Robin: I’m doing business with a company in Austria. If they violate our agreement, how hard will it be to take legal action with it being an international case?

Joe Escalante: That depends. If they do business, or have “minimum contacts” in the U.S., the courts here might have personal jurisdiction over them. If not, you have to hire some local counsel in Austria to get the ball rolling and as you can imagine, they don’t work for wieners. By the way, the Sound Of Music Tour in Salzburg is highly recommended.

Lucie: Hi Joe, I am wanting to own a non-profit and I was wondering. If I decided to create members for the board of directors. Would the members that I put in position have partial owner ship of my non-profit? Another question: If I completed the Local and Federal forms of my non-profit for the tax-extemption process,but I havent.. yet gotten approved for the Federal process yet. Am I able to apply for a Business loan of some sort under my non-profit name and Duns number???

Joe Escalante: You can have board members that have no ownership. Ask the lender what they require to qualify a loan. Good luck.

Tom: My 80. Yo. dad. Is in a nursing home. On medicaid. He left behind. Several. Cc bills.. They. Are. Sending the bills to my add. Now. Keep in mind. He lived. In hos own apartment.. Bit. I had. Tp. Forward. His mail. Somewhhere.. Any. Idea how i should handle this. He has zero assets

Joe Escalante: His debts will be handled by his estate when he passes. See a trusts and estates attorney to get specific advice on this. Follow the link below for some helpful ideas.

LegalZoom: We can help you find a lawyer, Tom:

Denise: My husband has four other children from a previous marriage, does he have to leave them some of his assets when dies and r they entitled to a share of our home we got after his divorce??

Joe Escalante: If you own the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the property will become 100% yours after his death. He couldn’t leave it to the kids if he wanted to, in that case. If the property is held differently, the will decides, or in absence of a will, the court.

Carolyn: Joe, two things, one my ex is taking me to court in Alabama and trying to get the $140.00 he pays in child support from my 20-yr old who wants to go to college and this would help with some of the expenses. That is all he is asking for and he went a semester before 19. Also, do you know of good reputable antique dealers interested in a vintage IBM 5160, 1980 computer in mint condition? If he wins will I have to pay his court cost and lawyer?

Joe Escalante: I can’t see the judge awarding costs or attorney’s fees for trying to amend a support order. Good luck with the computer.

Jeremie: Hey Joe, my neighbor’s roof shingles keep falling into my yard. Normally I just pick it up and toss them in the garbage but lately I keep finding the rusty nails that are failing to keep the shingles on the roof and I am just worried about my dogs stepping on one of them and causing major health problems. Any advice for me over here in Chicago?

Joe Escalante: Write some letters. Put them on notice. If they don’t fix the roof, you could get a court order compelling them to do so. Contact the city as well. He may be in non-compliance with some local rule that you need to have a roof that doesn’t do stuff like this. Start with a friendly letter.

Scott: Joe – is there any way I can sue you for being too awesome? I mean, you’ve stolen the awesomeness from the rest of us.

Joe Escalante: I’ve been sued so many times for that, I’m bullet proof. The courts have established the precedent that I am legally un-awesome.

Mary: I have an unemployment question: A few years ago I was working for a co. and they let me go, in the exit meeting He told me I could leave that day or the end of the week. That they would not challenge my employment compensation. All I had to do is to let them know what my decision was. I did that, I told them I was leaving and I left. Soon after I received benefits they challenged it, and I won twice. Because I received a ltr stating that the reason they let me go was lack of work therefore I was laid off. But they still challenged it the 3rd time and Now I have to pay back its been a few years. I haven’t challenged it but I still have the letter they gave me stating the lay off. What can I do?

Joe Escalante: That’s terrible. You should consult with a attorney that specializes in employment. Click the link below it get some help.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Mary:

Karin: can a mother with full custody move out of state without having to deal with fathers BS?

Joe Escalante: Well, yes, but the B.S. could then manifest itself in the father petitioning to change the custody if this move is not in the best interest of the children.

LegalZoom: That’s it for Free Joe Friday! Joe will be back next week with more free legal advice. Come join us for Free Joe Tuesday or Free Joe Friday next week. Have a great weekend!

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December 13th, 2011 at 11:06 am