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Who Pays My Credit Card Debt When I Die? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 5/22/12

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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.

Annie: Will my children be responsable for my credit card debt when I die. ..? I have been dxed with lung c and I am trying to pay my house off with a credit card as I dont want my children to have another expense. Their names have been recently added to the deed. BTW I never smoked. Please help me with my question. Blessings Annie

Joe Escalante: When you die, probate will allow creditors to file claims against your estate. Anyone with a valid claim against your estate, as determined by the probate court, has a right to get their hands on any money or assets you might have lying around. That’s how it works. Your children wont be responsible, but your estate will.

Jeffrey: I had a question with regards to joint ownership of a boat. In the State of Rhode Island, joint registration is not permitted. I was wondering what the best way would be to engage in a joint ownership relationship with a small boat (nothing that justifies the costs of formulating an LLC). We were going to have a contract drawn up and just arranges the terms and then register it in one of the parties names. Do you think that adequately protects us both or do you have any other strategies for this sort of joint ownership situation? A particular concern that was raised was if the “registered owner” would be liable if the “unregistered owner” was involved in a collision by the other party or vice versa. Thank you!

Joe Escalante: That’s strange about the prohibition of joint boat ownership, but I’ll take you at your word. As long as we know that your state is crazy, they might be on to other ways to get around this. However, off the top of my head, I’m thinking that forming a living trust that owns the boat would be a simple idea. You can create one through Legalzoom with very little effort, and very little cost. Are you sure Rhode Island is a state?

Stanley: My question is regarding a business idea. I want to start a company that creates music for TV, radio and internet commercials. I don’t know where to start at first though so some feedback is really needed and appreciated.

Joe Escalante: Besides the basics you can get through Legalzoom, like DBA, EIN, insurance, maybe a LLC, Corp, etc., I would get well versed on laws involving “Work For Hire” copyright issues. If you’re hiring composers for a company like that, it’s standard for you to at least “attempt” to be the copyright owner so you can cash in on all the royalties. However, this is a complicated undertaking and can be screwed up so make sure you have the counsel of a good Intellectual Property attorney throughout your endeavor.

Oscar: Can deeds be done for free ?

Joe Escalante: Dirty deeds are done dirt cheap.

In other words, no.

Regina: What do I need to file with the court for chase bank to switch a mortage to my name after the death of my father. the deed has been in my name for years as well as property taxes, insurance etc..and a notirized request to put my name on the loan had been givin to the bank well before my fathers death they keep saying they need something from the court. I have been paying the mortage for 10+ years and want to modify. Help

Joe Escalante: This sounds like an estate that did not go through probate. Probate is where this all happens. Check with the County Probate Court, or County Probate Attorney and see if this estate was probated. If it was, it sounds like an incomplete job was done. And no, this isn’t something Legalzoom can do.

Jeffrey: Joe; So who’s been talking trash about me and where?
Where’s the legal line between trash talking and slander? Please advise. THX

Joe Escalante: Truth is a defense for slander. Trash talking could just be something from Sesame Street.

Tom: Hi Joe,
I’ve been in business for 5 years and never have I dealt with a client that was giving me a problem. This one feels that he can text me at 3am, send constant e-mails, change his mind all the time, and say rude things about me and my staff. I recently dropped him and sent him a bill of his final balance. One of the policies we have is we will reposes the web design and domain name associated with all his accounts if he doesn’t pay, which was done. (All policies can be found on my company’s website). He’s threatening legal action…does he even have a case?

Joe Escalante: If he’s the type of person that texts you at 3 am, he’s going to sue you to get all the domain stuff back. Your remedy sounds a bit extreme. My guess is that a court is likely to award you money damages, but not the kind of damages that would allow you to hold his domain name hostage. I would give him all the stuff back and file a claim in court (hopefully it’s a small claim) for money damages only.
The court might like your reasonableness in this regard and give you a generous ruling.
Just because he signed your agreement, doesn’t mean it’s enforceable. In fact, it sounds UN-enforceable if anything to me from the description.

Taisir: Can I do my own will? If I can, do I need witnesses or notary? Thanks

Joe Escalante: You can. The witnessing requirements vary by state so make sure you do the research to get it right or it will be invalid. However, and I’m serious about this, a Legalzoom will is so cheap you’re better off doing that.

Denny: Joe, If I have a current LLC in the entertainment business as a talent buyer/concert promoter, but wanted to branch off into either having my own bar/venue or even music retail business, when is it best to form another LLC rather than setting up a DBA?

Joe Escalante: The liability involved in selling booze and being a talent buyer is so different that from a legal perspective, I would form another LLC or corp. The alternative would be to just get another DBA for your new business under the same LLC. Legally that is permissible, just make sure you have all kinds of insurance.
Is this the best thing to do tax-wise? I don’t know. You need a good tax pro on your side. Get one.

Michele: wanna know how to go about getting a modification done that was stipulated on my decree 6 yrs ago that didn’t know about til recently. States can’t take kids out of county of 100 miles and its continguous counties in state of Texas, Houston

Joe Escalante: Call the Clerk of the court that issued the decree. Tell the Clerk you want to petition the Court to modify the Order. Then follow the Clerk’s instructions. It’s better to have an attorney do this (because they will do a better and more permanent job), but if not, this is the process for you to follow.

Yvonne: if a person has been married for 27 yrs and during the course of the marriage the husband was due a portion of an estate inheritance from a law suit and he walked out before money was issued is the other spouse entitled to the money also?

Joe Escalante: In the states with which I’m familiar, I can’t imagine the other spouse getting her hands on any of that. She has no standing to sue for it. She’s not the beneficiary.

Tigran: I had an idea for a cool new site so a friend and I created the site and are trying to get funding. We don’t have any revenue at this time. At what point should we look at forming an official company? Thank you

Joe Escalante: You know it’s time to form a formal company with either an LLC, Corp, General Partnership Agreement, Sole proprietorship w/ insurance when…….
1. You are making money
2. You are creating liability (this often happens way before you are making money.
3. You are sitting on valuable Intellectual Property or other information that could be appropriated by bandits.

This was like one of those Q&A things you would read in Mad Magazine, but without the funny part.

Michelle: What is the procedure for changing you name back to your maiden name? What is the cost associated with this? Thanks

Joe Escalante: The Court generally wants to approve all name changes so you are not trying to pull any shenanigans on former creditors or probation officers, etc. It’s simple. The last one I did in L.A. cost my client maybe $300 in Court fees and publication charges, plus my confiscatory rates.

Yvonne: What options do a person have if their spouse abandon them to continue providing for them if they never had employment?

Joe Escalante: It varies by state, and the spouse’s reasonable expectation of support. Buy the Nolo Press divorce guide and read up on it. It’s worth the time.

Michael: Can one exponge a record with a felony and misdemeanor p.o.m. charges? Not on probation and have not gon in trouble for about 5 yrs.

Joe Escalante: This is not easy. It means the rest of the country cannot get access to information they may need as to people’s criminal records. You need a very cleaver criminal defense attorney and it’s expensive.

Shannon: How long do you have to be married to receive spousal support? Can it be retroactive?

Joe Escalante: The court would determine if you have a right to support. It varies dramatically among different states and different fact patterns. That’s what divorce lawyers do. They make the case for you to get a lot.
If you try to make the claim that your husband did not support you while you were married, then who did? You are still alive. Did you borrow money to live? In that case, it sounds like a marital debt that both spouses could be liable for.
If you survived from working, then you don’t need his support now or in the future, theoretically. It’s always worth an hour of consultation with a good local divorce attorney.

LegalZoom: That’s a wrap for Free Joe Tuesday! Joe will be back on Friday with more free legal advice:

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May 24th, 2012 at 5:24 am