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What Happens to Your Property When You File for Bankruptcy? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 1/31/12

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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.

Debra: What happens to your property and vehicles when you file for bankruptcy ?

Joe Escalante: It depends on which kind of bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is liquidation. Trustee sells everything but certain exemptions like clothes or primary residence. Chapter 11, 12, 13, are versions that let you keep everything if you qualify to pay the debts in a certain manner.

Ellana: what is the best way to protect self for a clothing designer, is copyright for the pattern enough? any recommendations? thank you

Joe Escalante: This is interesting because copying one of your dresses is not a copyright infringement. However, making copies of your dress patterns would be an infringement. If someone is copying your dresses AND using your name to sell them, THEN you have a trademark infringement and probably some other state claims. However, if someone or some company sees your dress on the red carpet, and makes one just like it, and sells it under their own brand, without referencing you, there’s little you can do about it.
We talk a lot about this on my radio show. You should call in for a more in depth discussion.

Yonni: Question. I have a small business that I started in NYS. I have recently moved to Ct and no longer have a NY address. Would it be in my best interest to keep a Ny p.o. for my business, or change everything over to Ct. If so, what happens to my tax ID number?

Joe Escalante: You should talk to your tax pro, because it will all depend on tax benefits.

Yashica: i was buying a home under bond for deed in louisiana and in the purchasers agreement the roof had been replaced in 2006. in 2011 we had a hail storm and the roof was damaged, was the insurance company or the company who put the roof on supposed to fix the roof? my insurance paid for a temporary fix then we had about a week of real hard rain and the roof started leaking again. the man whom we we purchasing from wanted to have total control over the insurance money so we didnt cash the second check. are we entitled to some of the money we paid down on this home because it became uninhabitable.i had to move out in august.the guy says we just lost out on our money.but i think something can be done because it all started from this roof that he said he had put on not even 5 years ago. dont they come with some kind of warranty(the roof)?

Joe Escalante: You need a lawyer. This is a mess. The lawyer needs to read your the documents in connection with the sale and warranties regarding the roof. The lawyer also needs to read the insurance policies. It’s possible that your insurance should cover the entire thing, and then go after the seller and his insurance company to get reimbursed.

Angie: Two questions -
1. I formed an LLC in March of 2011 and still have not completed the publishing process. I know that a business has 120 days to accomplish this I’m obviously way past that, can I still go about publishing it without being penalized?

2. I live in a 2-family house. My parents own the house. They live on the first floor. I’m planning on opening up a daycare in my second floor apartment. Are my parents responsible to report any money that is coming in from a business or is that solely my responsibility? I will continue to pay them rent because I live there, but that’s it. I just want to make sure that I don’t bring any issues with the IRS or whoever else into my parent’s home.

Thanks for your help!

Joe Escalante: If you did the LLC with legalzoom, their customer service would give you the info as to what happens if you don’t publish in time in your state. It varies so I don’t know. If you didn’t do it with legalzoom, call the secretary of state in your state and they will provide an answer.
2. IRS questions need to be answered by your tax pro. When starting a business, it is crucial to meet with a tax pro in your state. You may also need a business license for your city or county. If you are a bonafide tenant, paying rent under a lease, you will cause less problems for your parents. You also need insurance protecting their assets from any liability for problems that may arise in this risky business.

Kim: Is a typed, dated & signed also notorized will and last wishs binding by law?

Joe Escalante: It depends on the state, most require witnesses and a notary just certifies that the person who signed it was who they said they were.

Olen: What can be done about Slumlords in the city of Toledo state of Ohio county of Lucas? He own Ciboro Construction Comp., & has had more run–ns with the law than I can shake a stick at. I did an extensive background check on him (as its Public Knowledge). He’s been chagred with & convicted of using Lead Paint, Unlicensed Maintence Repair Men e.g. Plumbers-Furnice-Electricians just to name a few. I was informed by the Gas Comp here to relocate i did. Since i only lived ther 3mos., how can i get my security deposit back & have him pay for relocation fees + the stress it placed upon me (Ive been fighting blood cancer for 22yrs & DONT NEED added stressors, i need a Landlord/Lady who’s not a slumlord).. Ppl like this shouldnt be allowed to own & rental property. :(

Joe Escalante: Unless he’s violated the terms of his lease, or state laws regarding habitability, with you, you probably don’t have what is called “standing” to take any action at all against this slumlord no matter what he’s done to others. To have “standing,” you would have actual harm that he caused you. Just because he’s nasty to others doesn’t give you standing in the eyes of the law.
If you get standing, you can sue him for breach of the lease and implied warranties of habitability.

Adair: I bought a used car with a two year warrenty,my car had a blown head gasket and needed brakes tried to use warrenty, warrentor said never got any imfo on car paid one thousand for lot says they,ll fix and call back now wont talk to me? what are my opions can I get money back and not use worthless warrenty?

Joe Escalante: You can sue if the language in the warranty, which is a contract, is breached. A consumer law attorney is what you need, or you could try David Horowitz at He is good at this kind of thing as well.

Marilyn: We live in Delawre and have a LLC that it not doing business any more. Can we transfer a piece of property owned by the LLC to us personally?

Joe Escalante: It would depend on a few things. If you own 100% of the LLC, and there is nothing in the operating agreement to prevent it, you could do this. However, run it by your tax pro because the tax consequences are a major concern here.

Tati: A plot was transfered to me 2 months ago .. we got an affidavit for transfer … i wanted a new deed but the cemetery tells me they dont issue new deeds just to put the affidavit for transfer behind the original deed ( i have the original with the first owners name) . So now i have an excellent opportunity to moving to another state and do not want this plot can i transfer it? and if so if i do not have the deed under my name will it be able to be transfered again? or can i sell it without the deed?? i live in the bronx. Thank you !!!

Joe Escalante: The cemetery director is the ghoul to go to in this type of thing. Plot transfer regulations vary from state to state, and region to region. You’ve got to follow the local rules or the transferee may have problems.

Jeovanni: If I plan to dissolve my LLC next month, what taxes will I be responsible for?

Joe Escalante: Other than the general notion that you will be responsible for taxes on income generated by the LLC for its entire duration, you should consult with your tax pro before doing this. There may be timing issues that they can help you navigate to your benefit.

Candace: What recourse do you have to remove an abandoned vehicle on your residential property if you cannot contact the owner or they refuse to remove it?

Joe Escalante: That’s a tough one. Normally you cannot get stuff towed from private property unless it is posted as a tow away zone and some other formalities. In Maryland, there is a process for obtaining title to an abandoned vehicle. Once you have title, you could call 1-877-Kars 4 Kids or something, or sell it. Here’s a link:

David: For Joe:
As an addendum to a book, I thought of having a private YouTube channel where I upload short (2-3 minute) clips of different TV shows and movies, which could be accessed by the book’s readers.
Since YouTube blocks anything the studios don’t allow, can I assume that if the clips are accepted I won’t get sued? The difference with the millions of similar clips on YouTube is that these would be connected to a commercial enterprise (the book).

Joe Escalante: The filtering process for youtube is not a legal clearance device. If they see your stuff, they may try to take it down. However, google “Fair Use Doctrine” and see if it may qualify under that theory in connection with “comment or criticism.” There are exceptions to Copyright laws and your use may be one of them. However, be forewarned, the media companies don’t care much for the Fair Use Doctrine. Look what these types are doing to me.

Katie: Is it legal for me to post videos of the constant traffic violations that take place on my residential street? The local authorities care nothing about it, and drawing public awareness seems like the most viable option to encourage them to get up and do something to solve the problem

Joe Escalante: Yes, by all means. People driving around in public do not enjoy any kind of privacy rights that would prevent you from doing this. They’re out in public, everyone might see them. So, what’s the harm if they are taped and shown to people. :)

Crystal: I have a C Corporation that I created two years ago. I would like to create a sub-business off of it. How do I set that up?

Joe Escalante: It depends on if your corporate by laws and articles of incorporation allow it. If they do, you can get a D.B.A. that says your c corp also “Does Business As” the “sub-business.” Then talk to your tax lady about what you’re up to and you are on your way.

Judy: how many years can CA State Franchise Tax Board demand that you go back and file tax returns?

Joe Escalante: Last I heard there was a 4 year statute of limitations to assess additional taxes by this entity. However, there are many exemptions to statutes of limitations, so you may want to consult a tax lawyer in CA or at least the lady that does your taxes, if she’s good.

Frank: Joe, I recently went through the Trade Mark registration process on Legal Zoom and successfully registered my trademark with the USPTO. My question is how important is international registration and what is the best way to go, I have heard you can “package” multiple countries for one flat rate. Also do I need to register it with Customs/Homeland Security? Thanks in advance and love the show!

Joe Escalante: Here’s a little video on the “Madrid System” for registering international trademarks.
And here’s what my pals at Legalzoom have to say about it:
Customs / Homeland Security? If there are actual pirates trying to import copies of your stuff, they may get involved then.

Kim:’s a crazy question. living in this “at will” state of Ohio, I was fired because the boss didn’t like one of my Facebook friends. my lawyer says nothing can be done but theres a few pieces of info he doesn’t have. my fb and my friends fb are private but a mutual friend (unfriended now) copied a statement I made and forwarded it to my boss. my boss then fired me and composed an email to the friend she doesn’t like ( whom by the way is her very own sister) and told her it was all her fault that I was fired. any thoughts? I have asked my previous employer for due vacation pay but have not gotten a response

Joe Escalante: You might consider filing a claim for wrongful termination and unpaid vacation, etc. with the State Labor Commission. If your attorney specializes in wrongful termination, great, if not, get a 2nd opinion form someone who does.

Alice: Joe we are upside down in a motorhome to the tune of 150,000. can’t get any answers from the bank.. any suggestions besides bancruptcy…

Joe Escalante: Try to find out their history of going after people for the balance of these loans when reposessed. With homes, they don’t, but a motorhome they probably do. No easy answers here.

Jorge: Joe… I need legal advice regarding Corporation, Incorporation, and/or LLC… and registering, trademarking, and/or copyrighting. BUT… I have no money at all to tall to an attorney at this time… is there a chance you can help me personally??

Joe Escalante: You can always call my radio show. This is what we do. Put your question in the “Contact” section of my web site and we’ll feed you some details. I’m on tape this week due to the Superbowl of Football.

LegalZoom: Thanks for joining us for Free Joe Tuesday! Joe will be back on Friday with more free legal advice, so come join us then to post your legal questions!

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February 2nd, 2012 at 5:56 am