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My Neighbor Is Harassing Me. Do I Have a Case? And More Legal Q&A – Free Joe 11/20/12

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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.

Tami: Hello. I live in a upstairs apartment. I have a neighbor who constantly complains about my children running around. he bangs on the ceiling with his came and he also complains to the office. I suffer from post tramatic stress disorder and 2 of my children are also disabled. do you think I would have a harassment case? he has been informed that there are disabled people living up here and still constantly harasses me.

Joe Escalante: That’s not much of a case, honestly.

Andrea: I was never married to the father of my child. He’s never done anything for him. He has 6 pending felonies. If I file for child support, will he get automatica visitation? He would take it for spite. I fear he wouldn’t return the child. Do I need to file for full custody or do I have it?

Joe Escalante: If he actually pays the child support, he would have a good case for visitation rights and maybe even partial custody if the judge is dumb, and many are. You should file for sole custody and the termination of the biological father’s parental rights based on abandonment. If he responds to the court notices, let him know that if he doesn’t go back into his felony producing hole, that you are going to sue him for a lot for child support. If he wants to turn his life around, he has the right to do so and seek custody and visitation rights. If he doesn’t, get the parental rights terminated immediately and forget about the pennies this guy may be able to contribute to the child’s upbringing.

Candace: I have been at the same job since 2002 and 2010 I considered opening a small business to do so everyone required a business lic. so I applied pd the fee and received business lic. Times changed and I never was able to start business, but the state attached my checking acct. and has taken every direct dep. made into the acct. saying I owe taxes. They also took my state refund. Is there anything I can do they have caused me to loose my checking acct. I can’t pay my bills or feed my kids. I have been made to feel like pond scum.

Joe Escalante: Every jurisdiction is different in this respect, but if it happened where I live, you would telephone the City Department of Finance, and talk to them. All they would require to clear up the problem would be a letter from you saying you did zero business during he time period in question, and they would cancel the garnishments and send you a refund. They say it is your responsibility to cancel the account if you stop doing business in the city, but they usually cut you a break if you made an honest mistake.
Hopefully, they handle things the same way in your jurisdiction.

Dvyne: How can I find someone to fill out my 501(c)3 application? Where do I go to make sure the person is legally and professionally qualified to prepare the paper-work? approximately what is the cost for such services?

Joe Escalante: You can get a lawyer to help you or a licensed document preparation assistant. That’s what legalzoom is. I wouldn’t try that business on my own. It’s too hard, and no good cause is worth the headaches. Click the link below to find out LZ’s rates.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Dvyne:

Joel: What should I do to protect myself in this situation: I own a property ” Tenants in Common” The other owner wants to mortgage their half.

Joe Escalante: Make sure he has mortgage insurance.

Joel: does that protect then in case of an illness?

Joe Escalante: If that’s what he paid for and was written in the policy. However, if the bank takes his portion, they will be your new co-tenants and that wont make any difference to you. You will still own your part, and they can’t sell the whole, only their part, to any other party.

Jay: Joe, if someone passes away without a will but has a son and ex wife. What are the legal results of his possessions and home? The child is only 12.

Joe Escalante: This stuff varies by state, but I can’t imagine a state where, if the marriage was truly dissolved, the property wouldn’t pass to the son under the state’s laws of intestate secession. The court would appoint a guardian to watch over the fortune until the little prince came of age.

Smita: How to handle “REVIEW OF STATE TAX OBLIGATIONS” if no business is done in the year?

Joe Escalante: Some jurisdictions require a “minimum tax.” In California, for example, if you form an LLC and you do no business, you still owe the state $800.00 each year. For more fun with tax info, check back on Thursdays with Gary.

LegalZoom: The Tax Pros are taking this Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but they’ll be back next week, Smita. Details here:

Marcia: When does an entertainer need to get legal counsel? A singer to be specific.

Joe Escalante: Any entertainment lawyer will take your money whether they can help you or not. My advice is to check out my podcasts on entertainment law, and start listening to my show. You will learn a lot and be better prepared to face the sharks out there.

Angie: Hello, Mr. Escalante. I am so glad you opened up the door for this discussion! Here goes… I was adopted w/legal papers when I was a baby. My parents who raised me have now passed on. My late mother’s grandson filed some type of bogus case with an attorney where him her grand daughter and her eldest biological daughter was involved. It involved a substantial amount of money & they deprived me of
it because they told whoever the attorney was I was not “family”. I have legal papers in the courts to prove it! Also, my late father’s brother deprived me out of a house that I believed he obtained through illegal means of stealing my father’s pension or social security to become his power-of-attorney. The story is deeper. What can be done about any of this, if anything at all?! Please help! Thanks!

Joe Escalante: I would get a consultation with a trusts and estates lawyer in your area. They may be able to challenge any transfers of property that were approved by the courts as a result of fraud or deceit.

Joel: I want to be sure this got posted correctly. I owned a property Tenants in Common. The other party is getting a mortgage on their half.What can or should I do to protect my half interest? A letter saying I am not responsible? A Guaranty against the other persons properties? Should they set up a Trust to protect my interest.They also own other properties. I found all this out ” The Mortgage” thru the Grapevine. Papers are on the way

Joe Escalante: Co-tenants are allowed to sell or encumber their portion of the property in without the consent of the other co-tenants. They don’t have to give you letters saying you’re not responsible anything. You can put your interest in a trust if you want but I don’t know how that will protect your interest.

Brenda: Hi i have a legal qustion for joe i have cusday of my son. And his dad get to see him ever other weekend. But he wont let me leve the state or move out of state van he do that

Joe Escalante: You should have a family law attorney look over your court approved custody order to see what your rights are with respect to moving out of state.

KC: Do whistle-blower protection laws protect students who report illegal conduct of those at their school such as teachers, administrators, janitors and other miscellaneous staff?

Joe Escalante: Students are protected by the U.S. constitution, and it’s amendments. If they are harmed by retaliation from whistle blowing, this should be enough. A clever lawyer could site whistle blower laws in his arguments but I do not know if they apply to students. They were designed to protect jobs.

Becky: Mother passed away the first of the year. When mom came to live with me she gave me all her belongings, being more concerned with my mother’s health and well being. I did not empty her house. Now with mother is gone and no will are those belonging mine or must they go through probate. I have a sister that I have not heard from since 1986. Mom did not want to leave her anything but did want to see her 2 daughters get something. but with no will. I understand there is nothing I can do about that. I have started probate and did find that my sister is still living. Is there any way to enforce my mothers wishes.

Joe Escalante: The judge will look at all transfers of valuable property that were made before Mother passed away to determine if they were valid. Your sister can challenge those transfers during the probate process. Be prepared to present evidence showing that those gifts were intended to be permanent, and you made use of the gifts to the exclusion of all others, proving that they were yours, and Mother was satisfied with this.
In general, when a person dies without a will, their property passes to their spouse first under the laws of intestate secession. If no spouse is living, it goes to their “issue” or kids in equal parts.

Becky: With mom being gone and nothing written, how do I prove they where gifts.

Joe Escalante: You may only be able to offer personal testimony to the judge in court. That’s more than your sister will be able to provide. If the judge believes you, that’s the end of the story. Thanks.

Adrian: I published a book but suspect the company is not reporting the real sales to me. How can I get it audited? I live in the USA and the publisher is in Argentina. Thanks Joe

Joe Escalante: If a crime of this nature is committed in Argentina, you either send over a Colombian hit man to “inspect the books,” or you live with it.
In the U.S., you would have auditing rights language in the contract, and you would hire a CPA to examine the books pursuant to that language. My experience doing business in South America has led me to believe that they wouldn’t even have entered into the contract with you if they thought for a moment that they were going to have to report actual sales.

Joe: I took your advise and filed for overtime since I was paid wrong for five years I am going back 3 years he offered a settlement we said ok but then he backed out unless we take payments for three to five years .can he do that ? If so can I use his offer against him in court as to what he admits he owes me

Joe Escalante: Great question. In litigation, some offers to settle are inadmissible as evidence in court so it would depend on the circumstances. If he just sent you a letter admitting he owes you money, that would be admissible. However, if he hired an attorney, and the attorney made an offer of settlement, that probably would not be admissible. There are many other scenarios in between these two that would have varying outcomes.
You can always file a claim with the state labor commissioner, which is your next step. Show them the offer. I think they would have to look at it.

Jim: I was denied youthful offender status even tho my misdemeanor happened at age 21, but didn’t go to court until age 22.I also had to pay for my court appointed attorney, is their anything I can do? I’m 37 now.

Joe Escalante: Only felonies trigger the free public defender deal. I’m not sure what a court appointed attorney would be doing in a misdemeanor case, but you can petition the court to seal your record in many jurisdictions to get this “off your record.” Call the court clerk where it all went down to get more info on that, or hire a fancy criminal defense attorney to grease the wheels for you.

Donna: if someone is going through a divorce and a settlement is pending froma spouse is the other party entitled to a dividef interest in it.

Joe Escalante: This all depends on the stage the divorce is in, and actually what state the divorce is in as well. If there has been a legal separation, certain amounts of income will no longer be considered community property.

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

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November 22nd, 2012 at 6:09 am