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How to Change the Name of an LLC and More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 3/23/12

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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.

Ann-Margaret: Joe, How do we change the name of our LLC?

Joe Escalante: You can file papers to change the name with the Secretary of State, the process varies a bit, by state. However, talk to your tax pro, and consider just getting a new DBA with the name you now want to “do business as.”

Raymond: Should I pursue a patent if after a professional search there is only 1 patent that has similar functionality, but the overall design is different, and the item is used for a completely different industry and field than mine? (Like theirs is used for snow, mine for water, but they both complete similar tasks)

Joe Escalante: You might have some problems so I would pay some money and spend at least an hour with an experienced patent attorney before you spend too much effort on this. Click below for some options that might help with the legal help.

LegalZoom: Check out our legal plans, Raymond:

Yvette: hi ,
I loaned my niece and her boyfriend money to buy a car almost 10 years ago,Iit is quite a sume of money. hewwas suppose to pay it back. iehave been asking for this money every 2 months and he gives me an excuse everytime. please advise

Joe Escalante: You can take them to small claims court. Cases like this between relatives often get snatched up by Judge Judy or some other show. They’re gold. If it’s over the limit for small claims, you might want to write off the balance or you will need an attorney, like if it was a $100,000 Hummer. However, they will argue that it was a gift, so gather some evidence that it was not.

Debra: Don’t know if I’m posting my question in wrong place or not but here goes.. In 2008 I was at a stop light and was rear ended and both of our trucks were old chevy trucks with steel bumpers so it was not a crusher but my teen daughter and I did sustain injuries. There was so much traffic behind us that was starting to go around us and it was becoming dangerous so I just took down her license number. Anyway I searched and supposedly found an attorney who would represent us and signed an agreement..etc. I would never be connected to this lawyer when I called and transferred to an assisant.. ‘never’ was able to speak to him. Well time goes by we get treated and evaluated and I’m the one who is doing all the communicating because I hardly ever heard from them on new developments whatever.. to make a long story short ..after two years of waiting for something to happen they suggested that I take the insurance company to small claims . The ‘attorney’ if he even existed knew all of the situation from the get go and then has his assistant to tell me to go to small claims. This ‘attorney’ never even saw either mine or my daughters Dr.’s reports as to our injuries or prognosis. How could he represent us without even looking at the most important document…in my opinion.. and then just drop us with his very stupid response of take them to small claims. I think he made a deal with the other drivers insurance company and when I told my Dr. of what happened that was his response too even before I told him I felt that’s what happened. Isn’t this mis-representation? My daughter’s plans were to joing the coast guard after graduation..all that changed after this accident for both of us and I believe this ‘attorney’ took advantage of us .. is what he did illegal? And is there something I can do about it. I know it’s two late to deal with car accident claim.. that had a time line of two years to file a claim or what ever the action was to be taken.. and what a coincedence that it was two years when he decides we are better off going to small claims.. he could have suggested that from the beginning. There is much more to this story but I know I’ve probably already passed my limit.. but please I need your advice. Thank you.

Joe Escalante: You might want to consider reporting his activity to the State Bar. Then I would consult with an attorney that specializes in malpractice cases. Sorry you had to go through all this. You should never use an attorney without talking to someone who has also used that attorney. There are some jackasses out there.

Bonnie: I’m leasing a building for my business. The owner and I verbally agreed to allow him to park his horse drawn carriges in the parking lot to sell. I would receive a portion of the sale when I moved in. We have not yet moved in but our remodeling the building. The owner has cut the lock of the gate three times to sell his carriages even tho he has a key. He does not call me for access and we have consequently had items stolen. What can I do to have him remove the carriages to stop this intrusion?

Joe Escalante: I would go to small claims court to make a claim for the damages, (locks, stolen items, etc.). Ask the court for an order keeping him away from the property for the duration of the lease. If he violates that order, he’s in contempt of court. That is serious. He’ll leave you alone at that point.

Daniel: What is the process for dissolving a Limited Partnership in Washington State?

Joe Escalante: You need to deliver a Statement of Termination to the Washington Secretary Of State. Here’s some details:

Orbrey: I have a legal question: I started my LLC through Legalzoom in Feb. but have come to a stall in the business. I may not being doing business for several months to come and worry about the tax liabilities though no income has been produced yet. What should I do?

Joe Escalante: This kind of thing varies by state, but in my state, if you’re in business one day, you’re paying the minimum $800 tax. The only way to avoid it is to dissolve the corp or llc before Jan. 1. Then you start a new one when you’re ready. Sorry.

Steven: Often we read somewhere, “Not Legal Advice”. Not being an attorney, to what extent are people obligated to NOT give advice on an issue that may have extensive experience in? If many would believe someone’s life’s experience in an area affords them much credibility, are they bound by the same legal holds as a layman that an attorney is bound by?

Joe Escalante: In business, this is up to the state licensing agency, and state UPL statutes and case law. If you are just giving advice to a friend informally, it is not going to be a problem. You give your friend all the advice you feel he needs based on your experiences, like you said.

Janos: Hello Mr. Escalante, I have an inc. how do I change its name? Or is it better to do “doing business as? and how do I do that?

Joe Escalante: Much easier to just have an “inc.” that has a d.b.a. to “do business as” another name. The Inc. can file a D.B.A. Try it through Legal Zoom. Click the link below.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Janos:

Renee: Can I sue my “husband” (legally) for his unpaid portions of car insurance and mortgage payments?

Joe Escalante: The proper thing to do would be to file for divorce and make all this part of the support decree. If he violates that, he’s in contempt. That is serious.

Louise: If a Bank is trying to take your house, must they have the papers you signed to get your mortgage??

Joe Escalante: Well, it helps to prove there is a contract. The statute of frauds requires all transfers of property to be evidenced in writing.

Alexis: My roommate and I just resigned our lease, but are moving to a different building in the same complex on April 6th. In 2 weeks there have been 3 laundry room fires believed to be caused by furnace issues. The apt staff has made no effort to have all apts checked out nor have they sent out anything to reassure or tell us what’s going on. I have pets and will never feel safe there. This is z horrible issue. So what my questions are, is do I have any legal options here?

Joe Escalante: The landlord arguably does not have a duty to check out all apartments or send out reassurances. The landlord only has to honor the lease and provide a habitable dwelling with heat. Breaking the lease over this will not be easy.

Harold: Hi Joe;
I have a structure (workshop) behind my house it is approx 100 years old. I am finding out the proprty line goes directly thru it. there are iron pipe property markers that confirm this. is there a proper way to rectify this situation.

Joe Escalante: This gets complicated. Like if you were paying the taxes on the area that you thought was yours, and you used it to the exclusion of others, over time, you may own it by the doctrine of adverse possession. If water is involved, riparian rights may govern. You need to consult a property rights attorney in your area.

Pam: if you have to cancel a contract for an event 5 months in advance do they have the right to bill you for tips ( I’m obligated to pay 50% of the affair if they don’t rerent the room).

Joe Escalante: It would depend on what is in the written agreement says. In terms of damages though, if the work wasn’t done, they didn’t suffer the damages of not getting tips. They have plenty of time to get other jobs. Getting paid twice would be a windfall. However, this may be how the contract works. If you feel the contract is unfair, you could ask a court for declaratory relief. It may depend on whether you had an opportunity to negotiate the contract. If it was a “take it or leave it” type of contract (contract of adhesion), like at a car rental place, you might be able to challenge it successfully.

Rob: Yes i worked for bad trucking co. And 082410 was in accident co. Wouldnt pay for worker comp or med. Bills and now i cant get a driving job anywhere and he has sorry equipment he pulls off old trucks to put on other trucks is there anything i can do

Joe Escalante: If you are an employee, you can file a claim with the State Labor Commissioner. If you are an independent contractor, you have less options, but you could sue under contract, if there were terms of a contract that can be evidenced, and were violated.

Shane: I plan to use my Missouri LLC to buy a property/home in Iowa. Will I have to register the Missouri LLC in Iowa as a foreign entity? The home is for personal use

Joe Escalante: If the state sees buying a house as “doing business” then they are going to want you to file as a foreign corp. I don’t see the simple purchase of a house as the same as setting up an office and doing some kind of business regularly, but they may disagree.
Talk to your tax pro about the tax consequences of owning this home with a foreign corp as well.

LegalZoom: That’s a wrap for Free Joe Friday! More free legal advice coming up next week.

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March 27th, 2012 at 6:37 am