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Wage Garnishment, Extreme Forfeiture, and More Legal Advice – Free Joe Friday 7/29/11

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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.


Hi Joe!

Will soon be renting out my condo for 1st time.
Can you tell me what I need to do prior?
What type of insurance should I get, and
what is the best way to get long lasting tenants?

Txs as always and have a great weekend, Cath

Joe Escalante: Check with your HOA to make sure it’s kosher. Or hide it from them and live dangerously. Many landlords require that the tenant carries renter’s insurance. Some cities want you to have a business license because being a landlord, or even a slumlord, is arguably a business.

Some people who have a few properties incorporate or form an LLC for extra protection from liability in connection with having all these ragamuffins and street urchins occupying their property doing who knows what. Talk to your insurance guy, your tax lady, and have a good handy man. How’s that?

Stephanie: Question for Joe: Is it legal for a company who is garnishing your wages, to go after your wages AGAIN. My wages are being garnished from “X” company and two weeks ago, the filed another garnishment. My corporate office didn’t even take note that it was the same company and took money twice from my pay for the same judgement. I called them to get it corrected, and they are verifying it is the same company for the same thing. Can they even legally continue to garnish my check more than once? I am in Maryland.

Joe Escalante: It’s not legal for people to take money that doesn’t belong to them. :) But if the judgment they are recovering is not less then they are taking, they can keep garnishing until the judgment is satisfied. Get a copy of the Writ Of Execution that allows them to go after your wages. See what that says and if they are honoring it. If they are not, go back to court and file a complaint about it.

Deanna: Question for Joe: My son’s father passed away 1 1/2 yrs ago and had a life insurance policy but unfortunately did not make his last payment. The payment was due in October and he died in January. We spoke directly to the insurance company and they denied the claim because of the missing payment. We contacted the state insurance dept and they stated the company did not break any state laws. I find it crazy that a person can pay a life insurance policy for close to 20 years and then becomes extremely ill and doesn’t make one payment and the insurance company can deny even partial payment. My son’s father died from hepatic encephalopothy, alcoholism, and end stage renal failure. His brain was literally being poisoned resulting in a severe mental impairment. He was also in and out of the hospital the last 3 months of his life. Is there anything else we can do to fight the insurance company? Thanks……

Joe Escalante: They may have not broken any laws, but you should see a lawyer. Losing the entire payout due to the non-payment of a single monthly premium may amount to what courts call “extreme forfeiture.” Of course the insurance company would like to get out of paying, but the court may order them to pay to avoid an unjust enrichment under this doctrine of extreme forfeiture.

Rachel: Question for Joe: I am being sued and it has gone into default. I am disabled and unemployed. Do I have any other options other than bankruptcy?

Joe Escalante: Actually, before you take this step you need to find out if bankruptcy will even provide you with the relief you are seeking. Certain debts cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. E.g., student loans, I.R.S. levies. Also, be advised that you can change your features through plastic surgery, but if you change your name to avoid debts, that’s forbidden. I learned that from Legalzoom. Good luck.

Karran: I’m back..hopefully in time today. My Mom died in April – in Orange Cty, CA. She lived in / owned an older mobile home which has now been titled to myself & my 2 brothers. Our understanding is that a mobile home is not considered “real” property. Does it still have to be considered part of the estate? In other words, if / when we sell it, will the money we receive from that sale be part of her estate?

Joe Escalante: Yes it is going to be part of the estate. Personal property is part of the estate, just like real property. Whether it is considered real property has to do with whether it is permanently affixed to land, or if the land is rented.

Doris: Does Federal Income Tax have to be paid on sold inherited property? The property was inherited by my sister and I after our grandfather passed. We reciently sold the property and we are wondering what taxes need to be paid. We have already paid the taxes to the state of WV. Are Federal Income Taxes due?

Joe Escalante: Sorry, that’s a tax question for a tax professional. It’s better if I don’t answer it. :)

James: How do I file for a trademark?

Joe Escalante: Best thing to do is follow the instructions on Legalzoom and have them help you. Trademarks are hard, there’s a lot of detail involved. You can do it yourself by going to the patent and trademark department’s web site and downloading an application, but if it’s your first time, it’s worth it to get the help from Legalzoom.

First your mark must be used in interstate commerce, or a clear intent to use sometimes qualifies. It also must be identified with a product or service, e.g., it can’t just be your name because you want to prevent others from using it. There are a few other restrictions. Check out legalzoom’s info and the info provided by the government and good luck.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to our trademark education center, James:​rademarks-guide/trademarks​-service-mark-definition.h​tml


Joe Escalante: You need to have your marriage declared void. You do this by filing for an annulment with the Superior Court. If you have kids already, it doesn’t work. Good luck.

Cassandra: Hi Joe,
I have a newly formed LLC in GA and would like to know if there is such a thing as pro bono CPAs? If so, where would I look first? My primary concern is businesses taxes during the first year, what deductions I qualify for, etc. Thanks for your help.

Joe Escalante: That’s like finding a pro bono house keeper. CPA work is not fun, and it’s hard to imagine someone deserving it for free unless it’s for a non profit entity. Pro bono lawyers are common because people can’t help it when they get into legal binds often. With CPA needs, it’s more avoidable.

Jean: I am soon getting divorced…my soon to be ex, promised me that he would fix my house up if I married him….he never did, my sister heard him tell me that, is there any way I can get him to keep his promise?

Joe Escalante: Normally promises are not enforceable because they lack consideration. Meaning you promise to do something but since the other party doesn’t give you anything, or give up anything, there’s no quid pro quo. A contract doesn’t exist. Here, however, it’s arguable that the contract is you promise to wed him, he fixes house. Some courts may call this a “conditional gift.” Since you satisfied the condition, where’s the gift? You could argue he owes you something.

Laws on this kind of stuff vary from state to state. It’s a can of worms so I would drop it. He’s going to deny it anyway, and it will be up to the jury to decide who’s telling the truth. Not worth it.

Stashia: how can I expunge a nolo contendere misdemeanor conviction from my record (recieved in Atlanta, GA

Joe Escalante: Try filling out this form and following up with the court. http://www.criminaldefense​​ungement.pdf

Rose: How do I start the process is I have an idea for an invention or ways to improve an existing product?

Joe Escalante: Check out “Celebrate Innovation Month” on the link below. Carrie and I made an epic film to help you get started. First stop: Provisional Patent.

LegalZoom: Hi Rose. Here’s the link:​elebrate_innovation.html. Scroll down about halfway and click on Joe’s picture next to where it says “Let me tell you the difference.”

Stashia: my husband has probation in four different counties in the atlanta area he is unable to pay the fines and make it to reporting due to unemployment and transportation issues the one probation he can make it to he wants to merge or run concurrent with the other probation requirements so that he is not continously violating probation

Joe Escalante: This stuff varies from court to court. I couldn’t answer that.

Bob: What’s the most inexpensive way to file a copyright infringement lawsuit agains someone from another state?

Joe Escalante: The cheapest way is to act as your own attorney. This is called being a pro se litigant. Google Pro Se Copyright litigation and let the adventure begin. Call my intellectual property radio show for more help. We’re on the air now on, and live Sunday night for two hours on KTLK AM 1150 in L.A.

Jeanne: Hi Joe. Thanks for doing this,…and for Tues., too. :-) Joe, I filed bankruptsy on my own on May 17, 2011. I’ve had to “feel” my way through the process, attending lots of siminars and workshops. I’ve had my 341 meeting and I have a trustee. I’ve paid all fees.~completed all required credit classes. My question: will I be notified when the discharge happens?…or when it’s all done? How do I know the BK is complete? The Phoenix courts communicate w/ me through e-mail and I’ve asked this question. Thanks, Joe

Joe Escalante: Each court handles these notifications differently. You just have to stay on top of them. Don’t be afraid to call them when you have questions.

Raquel: How do you fight a replevin order. Checked with my local court house & don’t see that anything has been filed in my name but got a call about one. What are my rights & what kind of time am I working with.

Joe Escalante: Each court handles this differently. You have a right to due process before property is confiscated so if it gets filed, ask the court how to object to it.

Rebecca: Question I have is if you lease a car and they are out of business now (Saturn) and you have 6 or 7 more car payments, then there’s no one to return the car to and you get to keep it??

Joe Escalante: The finance company will come after you if you don’t pay the payments. Check with the GM Saturn Authorized Service Providers that they set up to handle this kind of stuff.

Yanique: How do you expunge a record of domestic violence ( two) in state of tx? and how do go to court house and do an order to show cause to enforce a restituiton that was granted to victim?

Joe Escalante: Normally people hire lawyers for these things because they are very complicated. Without one, you have to do a lot of research and legwork.

Hilairy: Have a California law question been with the same guy, never married for 18 yrs.. lived together for 11 1/2 yrs…I have not worked in that time of living together and have a minor son..and he wants me out now…I have no job per his request to stay -at home -mom. I home school our cannot afford Atty..and he will not pay for one. What is my custody rights and how to go about it? Plus I have a job opportunities in a different state..

Joe Escalante: This is a mess. You need an attorney. You’ve dug a pretty deep hole. Because your son’s interests are involved, you should borrow money from a relative or someone to pay for an attorney.

Sharon Fae: I got conned into buying an alarm system; offered a “deal.” Seller put my daughter’s name 1st on agreemt & as home owner (she isn’t, I am). I had her name removed from account. Q: I filed BK; can they come after her? What can I do if they do?

Joe Escalante: I’d have to read the contract, and docs concerning the name removal. If they come after her, she shows them that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy.

Deanna: We have summer visitation with my 13 yr old stepson. He has said he wants to stay with us due to his mom bouncing him around constinantly (about 7 times this past school year). He’s 2 yrs behind in school. He says he doesn’t eat anything but junk food. We filed a motion to modify but he is suppose to go back to his mom before we got to court. Can he refuse to go with her? Can we refuse to send him back? Please help.

Joe Escalante: If there was an emergency recognized by the Dept. of Child Services, you might be able to prevent the kid from going to his mom. But they might not let him go with you either, depending on the circumstances. Too much Mountain Dew will probably not be considered and emergency situation.

James: I see all these commercials about reducing your tax do you get penalties and interest waived on a tax debt?

Joe Escalante: Each case is different. These lawyers can’t help everyone. They cast a wide net. Sometimes they can help, sometimes they can’t. But they always want an opportunity to get your money. Go with a free consultation and check out some testimonials to see if it’s all kosher.

Ja’Nise: In the state of MD, If your legally divorced with the children living with you and filed for divorce (recently served the papers) are you able to move out of the state without any legal backlash?

Joe Escalante: It depends on what the court order says. You have to follow that. Read the divorce decree.

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August 2nd, 2011 at 6:10 am