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How Do I Add Names to a Deed? And More Legal Q&A – Free Joe 11/13/12

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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.

Jude: I would like to add my adult children on the deed or title of my mobile home, how would I go about doing that??

Joe Escalante: Deed or Title is the question. If you are deeding rights to land the home sits on, you would file a “quitclaim deed” with the county clerk or registrar. If you are just adding them to the title of a mobile home, parked on someone else’s land that you rent, that varies in every county in the country. Sometimes it’s the DMV, and sometimes it’s some other agency.

Luli: Reguarding custody…I had a custody order in PA….I applied for jurisdiction in MD and my ex didn’t respond so I was granted jurisdiction in MD….now I have applied for the PA order to be inforced in MD and again now response and it was granted in MD…..the question is, do I have to respond to any thing he sends from PA now?

Joe Escalante: father has lost any rights to have the custody order enforced. Can you ignore “anything he sends?” No, he might send things you cannot ignore. I don’t know what is in the custody order so I can’t really say what you should or shouldn’t ignore. There are complicated civil procedure questions here involving the sovereignty of two states vis a vis each other. You should consult with a family law attorney in MD to address this. The father may still have certain rights that he could enforce in a PA court, and those may have some force in MD.

Anita: Joe, I have an idea I want to patent/trademark in Louisiana and I would like to use the name of each city when I start production of my invention, directly on it. It would require mass production but do I need only one patent/trademark or a patent/trademark for each city? HELP!!

Joe Escalante: With respect to trademark law. You would need a separate trademark for each name you want to protect. However, if it was called (for example) “Louisiana Devil Balm,” you might be able to get away with just trademarking “Devil Balm” and throwing states on it willy-nilly as you go. If you have a federal mark for “Devil Balm,” and someone starts selling “California Devil Balm,” it’s a good chance you could enforce your federal mark against them. It would be prudent to get trademark registration for each state, but if that isn’t worth the cost, this is a way around it that would probably work.
You’re only going to need one patent for your “Devil Balm.”

Sharon: Can the government make me pay child support after I have court documents that say I don’t have to. The county keeps calling me in to support anX and his girlfriend. He won custody of my children because I did not want to take him to the cleaners like I could have now he is using the county to try to make me pay him and his woman child support because neither of them has a job now. this is for Joe Escalante at 10:00 am

Joe Escalante: Here’s your problem. Even if the court says at one point that you do not owe any support to this gem of a husband you once had. That can change. He can petition the court for a change in the support order based on his new situation, i.e., he’s now a bum. If he collects welfare, the government can actually garnish your wages to get paid back because in the government’s mind, “why should we have to be paying for Sharon’s kids when Sharon is perfectly able to pitch in?”

Kim: we hired a man to construct a garage for us. We paid him 12000..up front. He was to subcontract the cement work then hire a crew to erect a 24 x 30 corrugated steel garage packaged. We had previously purchased the package. All he was hired to do was the foundation and the actual constructing of the garage. This was promised to be a 1 week job. 6 weeks later the job is still undone. What is done is
very very shotty work. The concrete was done immediately and perfectly. The guy he subcontracted did an awesome job. The man never hired a crew. He did 90% of what’s done by himself. All the bolts are loose. When you can unscrew them with my arthritic fingers you know they are WAY loose. That’s because a man needed to be on each side to ensure correct tightening. Ok so the man did a horrible job. Then the concrete guy comes to us 8 weeks later wanting to know where his money is. The guy we hired took the 12 grand. Never paid for the foundation. Never hired a crew. Did a lousy job…so much so that we had to tighten thousands of bolts ourselves. Can we do anything?

Joe Escalante: You go to state board of licensing and if licensed, he’s supposed to be bonded, so that the cement guy can at least get paid. If he wasn’t a licensed contractor, the cement guy will sue you for the money, and a judge will decide whether you have to pay him or not. Was he defrauded by you, or by the “man?” That is the question.

Janie: How do I get my ex-husbands retirement now and have him buy me out on the house that still has my name on it. Divorced two years. I am supposed to get half of both of his retirements. Can’t afford an attorney, disabled and unemployed. Married 21 years.

Joe Escalante: If he’s violating a court order to take action to split assets, he’s in contempt of court. You need to petition the court to enforce the order. Here’s a legalzoom article with more info on how to do that without an attorney:

Collette: Hi, I purchased my home approx. 5.5 years ago. At that time my ex and I were together, he signed the deed, but the loan is in my name, only. We are no longer together, almost 5 years now, he has nothing to do with the house. I pay all the bills on my own, he does not receive any mail at this address. How do I cut these ties with this man???? Please help, thank you, Colette

Joe Escalante: It’s hard to imagine a bank loaning money to one person so that a different person can buy and own property. However, if this is the case, you have to go to the county/parish registrar and file a change of ownership form, based on a transfer document of some kind that you’re going to need. Your ex would theoretically “quitclaim” the property to you. If he wont do that, you have a problem. Each state is different in this regard, but if the house was acquired after the marriage, but before the dissolution, it is arguably a marital asset and your ex is going to want something for his half.

Michael: If a repo company loses items during repossession, how do you get them to release their intake photos to show that items were taken.

Joe Escalante: You would start with the state agency that licenses them and file a complaint. See what they say the process involves. This is going to vary in all jurisdictions. The buzz words are “breach of a duty of care.” It will depend on the “standard of care in the bailment” that is enforced in your jurisdiction. Google “bailment” if you want your legal mind blown.

Terry: If you buy out a company that has debt (outstanding loan) can you deduct from your taxes the payments you are making to pay off the loan?

Joe Escalante: This is a great question for Gary on Thursday. Click the link below for more info.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Terry:

Carlos: My partner passed intestate. The company holding his vehicle lease which was paid for by his employer will not release the vehicle to that employer without an executor signing off on the release. How do I get around that when there is no executor, especially when the employeer is willing to assume the lease in his own name?

Joe Escalante: There might not be a named executor from a will, but the court appoints at least an “adminstator” or “representative” of the estate to handle this kind of stuff.

Carlos: This estate is not of size that requires probating. I did not expect to ahve to go to court for anything related to his passing.

Joe Escalante: In that case, under California Probate Code Section 13100 to 13116 dealing with “Small Estates” you are going to need to go through the “Small Estates” process. This is usually done to get access to property that was left to you. However, in this case, an “Affidavit of Small Estate” may not do you any good because you are not trying to collect property for a beneficiary.
Once the estate is approved as a “small estate,” (and this is a court process involving probate referees to appraise the estate to make sure it’s small), you can take all that paperwork and death certificate to the leasing company. If they still wont do it, they just don’t have enough experience with the new Small Estate Laws. You are going to have to badger them if you want the release.

LegalZoom: Thanks to Joe Escalante of Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante for helping out with our legal Q&A! Joe will be back on Friday, so bring your legal questions and join us then:

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November 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm