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I Sold My House. Do I Still Need a Living Trust? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 8/3/12

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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.

Scott: I just sold my house and my IRA has been depleted. Those were the two main components of my Living Trust. Should I revoke the trust or just adjust it to reflect the changes?

Joe Escalante: Sounds like there’s no reason to have the trust anymore, unless you can re-fund it, or if there is a pour-over will in the trust that contains items you don’t want going into probate.

Bon: Could you help me find a way to leave my home to my children when I die? This is breaking my heart. I didn’t know that if one is disabled and has to go on SSI to help with medical care that the State would take their home & possession and auction them off to pay their medical bills. If I had been told this I would have gone without medical care so my children could inherit our family home. I worke
d and paid taxes for almost 40 years so am not a freeloader. I would like to find a way to find out what the bills amount to and see if there is an insurance policy or some way I can clear this and save my little home. My children are struggling and need whatever I can leave them. I see a lot of people on government assistance around me and don’t have to pay anything back. In fact, they are encouraged to go on food stamps and welfare. I live on about $700/month and find it very hard to pay my regular bills and still have food. I have lost weight because I won’t go into debt. Any help will be appreciated.

Joe Escalante: This stuff varies by state, but essentially you want to put your home into a trust for the benefit of your children. Working with a tax professional and an estate planning attorney in your area is the only way to get the results you are looking for. Click below to find an attorney for estate planning in your area, even an hour of paid consultation will provide many benefits.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to help you find an attorney:

Christina: Friday morning Q for Joe:
A client bounced a check last week. I deposited a day after it was written, nsf the day after deposit. I’ve called twice, with no answer or response. Clear to me it was all intentional. Did little online research on how to attempt to collect. Plan on sending a certified demand letter. However, the address on her client card doesn’t match her written check. Should I send certified to both addresses? Or should I not even bother with a demand letter and go straight to small claims sinceshe’s it’s clear she’s avoiding me? What’s the best way to go about it? Thank you.

Joe Escalante: Take her to small claims right away. Assert fraud if you have evidence, check your state’s process for collecting triple damages. Here’s my state’s:

Lisa: On the trademark application when it asks me about where I organzied my fashion company, which state should I put? I am from Florida, but will be moving to California in a few months. I came up with the fashion company in Florida tho.

I haven’t produced any goods yet. I just have drawings of my art work. One day I’ll have the fashion company. Right now I just want the name trademarked. So you think I should do Florida or California?

Joe Escalante: Trademarks are issued based on usage. You can’t sit on a trademark for future use. You have to be engaged in interstate commerce to obtain federal protection for your mark and supply evidence of such.

Esther: I live in a Condo Association. Our current Board of Directors violate several of the laws that are on our By-Laws. Some of the owners attempted to get an attorney to handle this and no lawyers were interested because there was no substantial amount of money in this for them. One of the owners attempted to take action on her own and filed a plea with a local Court for the Court to order the Board o
f Directors to have an audit done, etc. as the By-Laws required for them to do. The Judge who was temporarily in charge because the usual Judge was not there, stated that she needed to get an attorney and warned her that if they went on to the official Court Hearing and the attorney representing our Condo Association shows that she was wrong on that issue, she will have to pay the cost of that attorney’s fees etc. One of the things that disturbed me was that the attorney was being paid by our Condo Association but he was representing the Board of Directors not the Condo Association. He knew that they were violating the By-Laws. Is there anything that can be done about this?

Joe Escalante: There are lawyers that specialize in condo association disputes, without one of these on your side, you are going to get more of this kind of disappointment.

Shawn: I have a medical bill that has gone to collections simply because I just found out that it was placed in my name by my ex. I did not recieve a bill from the medical provider, instead recieved notice from the collection agency. Is it legal for my ex to use my name? If not, then how do I have this taken care of? As it is hurting my credit. (PS. Thanks for Free Joe!)

Joe Escalante: Illegal? It depends on when the debt was incurred. If it was incurred after your divorce was finalized, it could be fraud. To take care of it, you file a police report (which they probably wont take) and show the collection agency that report. If you can’t get a report, at least show them evidence of a final divorce.

Suzie: How long does a person have to file for wrongful death?

Joe Escalante: It varies by state, but it’s usually 2 or 3 years from time of the discovery of the death, but it might be extended if you didn’t know the cause of death or the parties responsibility came to light later.

Bryan: I owe about 15000 dollars on back taxes, can i go to the IRS and try to get an agreement on a settlement on my own or do I need a lawyer, and if they agree on a settlement do they insist it be immediately?

Joe Escalante: Lawyers claim that they are better than you at negotiating these kinds of deals. They probably are, but are they worth it? That depends on what they are charging. I would be afraid to do this on my own. At least consult with a couple.

Aaron: My sweet old grandma is getting up there in years. In her life she had composed a hymn and receives royalties via an EMI Music license agreement. When she passes is there a way to transfer the royalties to someone in the family or possibly a charity? Is that a new contract or a re-negotiation?

Joe Escalante: She can bequeath her right to receive royalties under all license agreements for the life of the copyright. If you want to know how long the copyright will last, call my radio show and we’ll go through the math. That’s what we do. I’m on ta
pe this Sunday, so do it next Sunday, oops, I’m at the bullfights that Sunday, so let’s say post the question in the contacts section of and we’ll make an appointment to record your call. Or you can wait till the third Sunday.

Gerod: how do i go about becoming an secation 8 housing landlord. In baltimore maryland

Joe Escalante: If your property is in a neighborhood approved for Section 8 subsidies, you apply with the Department of Housing And Urban Development.

Jessica: I have been living at my future MIL house sense jan of this year. She moved out to live with her daughter. Now she wants to move back in and wants us to find somewhere to go asap. We did not have a written agreement. We did not pay rent, we paid the bills and mortgage payment. Can she just kick us out and move back in?

Joe Escalante: If her name is on the deed, and yours isn’t, she can file an unlawful detainer action against you and have you out in a couple weeks.

Aaron: My wife’s ex husband has emailed us that he is taking us to court to gain custody of our 11 year old son when he turns 12 because his lawyer said that at 12 our son can make that decision. Is there an age in Ohio where a child can choose to move in with the noncustodial parent for no other reason than a difference in rules?

Joe Escalante: I believe as of 2010, children don’t get to pick anymore. The court will take there preference into consideration when making the decision, but if it’s all based on which parent agrees to feed them Reese’s Pieces for dinner, the Judge wont listen to it much. It’s all going to come down to what is in the best interest of the child, regardless of what the kid’s fantasies are. Check Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3109.04

Marcus: How can a musician copyright/trademark his stage name?

Joe Escalante: You can trademark your stage name for music recording and performing services, it’s actually called a service mark. If you are doing it for your first time, get Legalzoom to help you with it. It’s not easy.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Marcus:

Darlene: My spn has charged his ex wife with 55 counts of contempt of court regarding visitation of their daughter. At the first court date , the judge advised his ex wife that she needs to get an attorney because of the severity of 55 counts. Any ballpark guess as to the outcome ?

Joe Escalante: Actually no. I haven’t seen any evidence.

Sherita: Hello i have a question. :)
what do i do to get my own bizness licence?. And how do i start a bond for my neice an nephew ? Is it better to save for collegd fund and give it to them when there are 18 or wait til 21?

Joe Escalante: Check into an 529 Savings Plan for your niece and nephew. Business licenses are issued at the city and county level, if needed for the type of work you are doing.

Patrick: Is it legal to post photos of other people online and comment about them?

Joe Escalante: Almost always yes, if you own the copyright to the pictures, and as long as you don’t defame the people in them with malicious and untrue statements.

Tom: Here’s my question: I had a TERRIBLE experience with a firm I used to be a customer at, and my wife still is. I wrote a polite letter asking them to apologize, they basically brushed me off. Can I post the letters public, along with my observations, or will I get sued?

Joe Escalante: You can legally post it if there are no defamatory statements in it. In other words, the contents must be true. It doesn’t mean they wont sue you though. You could be starting a war.

Nikisha: If I owe property, cars etc and get married 5 to 10 years after purchasing does my husband have the right to half of what I own? Or whatever is bought during the marriage is split!

Joe Escalante: The stuff you buy before your marriage remains separate property throughout your marriage, unless he pays (or community assets are used) to pimp out your vehicle, then it gets complicated.

Lisa: Is it okay that I get my clothing line drawings copyrighted for the mean while? So that no one will steal my ideas. One day I will have a fashion company, but not right now. I just want to protect my drawings now.

Joe Escalante: You can copyright those drawings but that will only protect you from people copying those drawings. It will not prevent people from making dresses based on those drawings. That is permissible. Society has no interest in making laws that prevent things from getting done. It doesn’t favor people who sit on ideas, or names, etc. It only protects those who create and use things.

Matt: JOE I know right and wrong ,but how do I look up the Laws and how do I get answers to my questions..

Joe Escalante: Without a law degree, you use Google. I would start by Googling “how to do legal research.”

Vern: Is it legal for Dhhs to peruse a child support claim against you while you’re in the middle of a disability claim?

Joe Escalante: It’s big brother. To challenge their ability to do something they’ve already done would be extremely expensive, know what I mean, Vern?

Joey: Good afternoon, I recently started an LLC and I have intellectual property such as my company name and logo.I would like to protect these things but I can’t afford a trademark fee at the moment can getting a copyright work as another protection form?
Joey S

Joe Escalante: A copyright will prevent someone from copying that image. However, there may be unprotectable elements in the image that people might use in a competitive business, without violating a registered trademark that you would have had.

Trademark law is governed by use however, so even if you don’t register it, technically you own it by virtue of using it. However, if there’s an infringement, you will have a tough time getting a lawyer to take the case if it’s not registered. Hope this helps.

Donielle: Should you have to write a response to a “Reply to Motion” in a custody matter?
Thank you,

Joe Escalante: I’d have to know more about your case to give you any good answer. Sorry.


Joe Escalante: I would charge you $350 per hour, that’s why you should probably just do a new one through Legalzoom which will cost you only $69.00. :) Click below:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Dawn:

Juliette: What makes a will legal?

Joe Escalante: Evidence that someone’s true wishes are accurately reflected.

LegalZoom: Attorney Joe Escalante will be back next week to answer more legal questions! Come join us then and have a great weekend!

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August 7th, 2012 at 5:36 am