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If my business is internet based, do I have to have a physical office space? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 12/27/11

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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.

Raymond: If my business is internet based, do I have to have a physical office space?

Joe Escalante: No, you can have a P.O. Box or continue to run it out of your mother’s basement. However, your local authorities might hit you up for a business license if they get wind of your operation.

Raymond: Mom, I’m moving back home! LOL…Thanks!

Lisa: State of Georgia. Prep did not work for a colonoscopy. I asked the nurse and the Dr. not to do procedure and then I was put to sleep without the anesthesiologist seeing my chart. Of course they couldn’t see anything and now they are demanding payment. Should I file a complaint with the state…or dispute charges with Dr., anesthesiologist and the clinic?

Joe Escalante: Best to consult a medical malpractice attorney in your area first, but if you can’t, at the very least detail what happened in a letter to the Dr. and the billing entity. The problem is that they will likely deny what took place since it wasn’t in writing. Maybe they wont deny your writing and then at least you have some kind of an admission that you are telling the truth. Will they still pursue payment? Maybe, but at least get the story in writing on the table. Then start with the State medical licensing entity in Georgia.

Royalee: Do cash accounts-CD’s, checking, savings etc with a designated POD go directly to that person as opposed to going through probate? thank you.

Joe Escalante: Yes they do. Awesome, right? Payable On Death! No probate for those instruments. that says your beneficiaries a lot of grief.

Falisha: Can a spouse go to jail for harassing you online?

Joe Escalante: Yes. There’s two ways. 1. If he makes credible threats of violence. 2. If you petition the court for a restraining order against his emails and the judge grants it. Then, the next time he does it, he’s in contempt of court and he could go to jail.

Obby: Happy Holidays Joe! My question is: Can a Loan Modification Company operate from the State of California but only accept clients’ from outer state (not CA clients) & still be liable under SB94 if they charge client total fees over a 90 day period?? Thanks!!

Joe Escalante: I haven’t read the entire bill so I really couldn’t say whether the bill was designed only to protect California homeowners.

Jeanne: Hi Joe,..Would it be a good idea to homestead my home of 19 years in the State of Arizona? Thanks for answering my question. :-) This is a great service, thanks.

Joe Escalante: If it is your only residential property, there is no need. Arizona landowners get a homestead exemption by operation of law without any formal declaration. This protects your home from being used for unpaid general debts of up to a certain point. It was $150,000 recently. I don’t know what it is currently.
If you own more than one home, you might want to declare one of them a homestead.

Marie: Happy Holidays! my questions is: (out of state) child custody hearing is pending and the court docs state we cannot take the children in the pending order 50 miles from the residence? umm what happens if the parent who filed the docs in court takes the children out of state and doe snot notify us? this breaking the law correct and considered parental kidnapping?

Joe Escalante: At the very least it is contempt of court. People go to jail for contempt of court, or at least face a fine of some kind. Notify the court that issued the order limiting the travel.

Tamala: I am living in a new state and my husband and kids are in different state, which state do I need to go through for the divorce and child custody? I am also requesting to see my kids and call almost everyday and i get nothing, can i show the court my documtaition when it comes to child custody issue? I had to leave my controlling husband but had no job to support the kids so i let them stay with him, can that come bite me in the butt when it comes to court?

Joe Escalante: You should petition the court for formal visitation rights in the jurisdiction where the kids reside. Document all your efforts to visit and call the kids. You can show that as evidence that you are not abandoning them. Your ex will say you abandoned them and it will get ugly. Document everything in writing. Show phone bills etc. if he claims you never call them. Of course, it’s best to consult with a family law attorney in the state where the kids are living.

Lori: My husband and I are going to get a divorce. We live in Kentucky. He was in jail for 6 months of last year. I have not received any support from him in a year, save for $200. Tax time is coming up soon, and I wondered if I could file for taxes alone , since he didnt work with the exception of 1 month in 2011, or should I file with him and get the marriage bonus, then divorce? Looking for best financial option, since I am broke! Thank you! :)

Joe Escalante: You need to ask your tax professional this stuff, sorry.

Deanna: Hi Joe, I am a single mom, aged 45, with a 6 year old son. His dad has not lived with us since 2007 when Mikey was 18 months old. We were not married, but he is on the birth certificate. I have commisiioned a living will, last will and power of attorney through legal zoom, with my brother (who is very close to Mikey, successful, responsible and married) as guardian in the event of my death or other mishap, for the purpose of my son’s security. They live in the same neighborhood and Mikey would keep the same school, church, sports activities etc. should something happen to me. How do I go about getting sole custody rights in light of his bio-dad’s 4 year abandonment of his son and I? The father works on boats and the last communication I received was 2 years ago, by email, which said he was headed to Haiti from Pensacola Fl.

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court to have the father’s parental rights terminated. He should be served with notice and he can come and contest. Or you can get a family law attorney to draft and file termination of parental rights documents. Without the termination of his parental rights, he will likely get custody no matter what your will and trust say.

Debbie: My husband and I are starting a new business. He previously worked for another company in the same field as an independent contractor (inflatable party rentals). What are the ethical and legal concerns about us directly contacting known customers of the previously mentioned company? He never signed a contract or anything with that company.

Joe Escalante: He should be careful not to attempt to get customers to break existing contracts with his old company. That would be “tortuous interference with contract.” He is allowed to contact anybody about work as long as he doesn’t encourage the breaking of an existing contract. However, the old company may assert that he has stolen the company’s property if he’s working from their client list.
They could also assert state claims of unfair business practices or anti-competitive business practices. But all this over bouncy castles? It’s unlikely. He’s probably going to be OK if he hasn’t stolen a list of some kind from them. But beware, weirdos can file lawsuits for anything they want and it is costly to have even frivolous ones thrown out. On balance, however, I wouldn’t let all these worries stop you guys from starting your new business and giving the every customer a chance to get the best deal.

Andres: What should you do if you visit a restaurant and it is closed down by health department while you are almost done with food and your youngest son 2 days later wakes up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache and throwing up? The grade on the window was an A and then completely removed by health department and letter that read the establishment was closed by health department.

Joe Escalante: If the kid is diagnosed be a doctor as contracting food poisoning, and the doctor will testify that it is from something he hate 2 days earlier, it’s arguable that the restaurant owes you damages. At a trial there would be lots of testimony about what the kid ate since he was at the restaurant. It sounds hard to prove that it was that particular restaurant. He could have overloaded on Takis and Jarritos the following day. It’s going to depend on the doctor’s testimony and how credible that is. Good luck.

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December 29th, 2011 at 3:47 pm