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Dying Without a Will, YouTube Takedown Notices, and More Legal Advice – Free Joe Friday 7/22/11

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Every Friday, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss last week’s Free Joe Friday? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Marty: My wonderful father died last Thursday. His will is very organized. The 3 kids, including myself, will receive everything divided 3 ways. The house needs to be sold. My sister, the executor, is in deep personal and business financial trouble. My brother and I are concerned that she will do something creepy. We do have a lawyer, but I have never met the guy. My brother and I want to cash out of the house, even in this market, and my sister want to rent. How do my brother and I make sure that my sister doesn’t do any “monkey business” during the execution of the will? Also, it would be her style to drag this on and on. Mike and I want to expedite the process and get it over with. Please, O-Bee-Wan-Kenobe, help me. xoxoxox Marty in Oregon

Joe Escalante: This is a common issue the courts deal with all the time. It’s a legal action you are going to file called a “forced partition sale.” Actually, all I have ever done is mention the term, and the other party gets scared and cooperates suddenly in the sale of the property. xoxoxo

Chris: I have a 2003 Land Rover Discovery in my garage that I paid for, but cannot get the owner to sign over title.
It is titled to a female attorney, who now resides in Oakland, California. The vehicle has been in my possession since July 2009. Can I declare this as an abandoned vehicle and get a title in my name? What other resources do I have available? I have placed over $10,000 into a vehicle that CarMax only valued at $5,000.00.

Joe Escalante: If she is the one you bought the car from, this may be handled as a breach of contract claim and you would have to file a civil suit against her to transfer title. I would go to the DMV in your state and ask them how to get a vehicle declared abandoned, then try that route. Might be easier.

Cheryl: I have leased a storefront for a bakery/luncheonette on 4/1/11 and upon going to get my permit to open I was denied because of previous open permits by the landlord from 2005 on unfinished work for the ansul system and plumbing. One contractors license was revoked by the ny state and the other contractors license was voluntarily surrendered. Now the landlord want sign off on the permits because he states that I’m suppose to take care of this. In the meantime he still wants his rent and I can’t open, I gave him June to protect my leased equipment but not yet Julys. I’m making no money and he’s collection rent, paying for leased equipment in boxes. Lawyers that I have spoke to said he using a loop hole in the lease to get rent regardless. ” landlords statement to me I don’t care if you can’t open you still owe me rent.” omg what can I do next losing alot of money on the verge of bankruptcy and haven’t even open yet.

Joe Escalante: I don’t have enough info about all the permits you’re speaking about to give you great advice, but one option, and not a good one, is to sue the landlord for specific performance of his duties under the lease. This could be to make it fit for it’s intended purpose, for which you need him to cooperate with permitting. Or you could sue to break the lease under a frustration of purpose theory. Sorry. It sounds like a big mess that will get expensive to solve.

Nicole: What is the best way to “question” yourself if you are acting as your own attorney in family court? How do you make sure you get to tell your side of the story?

Joe Escalante: This brings to mind a Woody Allen film called “Take The Money And Run.” You should review that court room scene first. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4zP7247W7o&NR=1

You’re just going to tell your side when the opportunity presents itself. It wont be like this.

Tiffany: If I have a warrant in debt against someone, and was awarded a default judgment ($365.00 (and court cost of $48.00)) along with “6 % FROM DOJ” (on 07/17/07), does that mean 6% daily or annually? I need to know how to compute it once I find out where he works, so I can file a garnishment. Thanks!

Joe Escalante: It’s probably annual. So 6% of $100 would be $6 per year. Daily interest would be $6.00 divided by 360. Mind you, this is drawn from my elementary school level math proficiency.

Eric: Thank Joe its Friday

Joe Escalante: I am singing this to the tune of this song :http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=8DIPmVLKHB0

Laura: Just curious – what happens to minor children if the parents both die with no will in place?

Joe Escalante: That is called dying “intestate.” The states intestate laws of succession are used to determine who gets what. It’s generally closest relatives get the stuff. Kids first, than parents, brothers, etc. Don’t quote me. check with your state.

Stacey: My husband and I are wondering if a legal seperation is better than a non contested divorce. And if we went with a non contested divorce can a judge make us change our agreement. Such as we have 4 kids and we each take 2 and dont ask for any support from each other.

Joe Escalante: The court will have an opportunity to approve your divorce decree. If there’s something insane in it, the judge will call you on it. If it’s reasonable, you can do what you want. Regarding which one is better, that I can’t answer without knowing more. Make sure you get the good kids.

Scott: I have a legal question about staffing. I am trying to launch a startup. I am the sole founder. I do not want to have any full time or part time employees at this time. I have a crew of about 4 people who are volunteering their time with me to help build the company. The hope is one day that we grow enough that I can afford to pay the…m full time. In the coming months we will be approaching sponsors and networking to get the word out about our company. For this I want to give my volunteer staff business cards. I want to give them ‘fancy titles’ so they will be taken seriously. So my question is, does giving my volunteer staff business cards with good sounding titles(for example, Director of Operations) bind me legally or potentially could get me in trouble since they are not full time employees or event part time employees? These are titles that they might one day have if we grow enough where I can take on a full time staff, but at this time they are only volunteer staff. Thank You!

Joe Escalante: There are a few problems here. Chief of which is the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery. People must be paid. College interns receive credit, but it’s illegal in the U.S. to have unpaid interns that are not at least earning credit.

Jean: Hi Free Joe, this is probably a no brainer, but I want to legally change my first name. I’ve always used my middle name on everything but have a passport, etc. with the first name on them. Changed my last name when married, but couldn’t get the first name done officially. Where do I start?

Joe Escalante: Even I used to think you could change your name by just starting to use a new one on everything. But as you see, the passport problem will get you eventually. So, it’s Legalzoom time. Follow the link below, read the stuff, check the price, and get going.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Jean: http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-name-change/name-change-overview.html

Pamela: The house we rent was foreclosed on and sold at auction. The person we were renting from still has our security deposit and thinks we should get it after we move out ,at which time they think that we should hand over the keys to them. ( we are living out our lease.), shouldn’t the new owner get the keys? also they think that we should give them all the appliances. Should they give us our deposit back now?

Joe Escalante: Each state has their own laws on security deposits. There’s usually a stated number of weeks AFTER you move out by which they must return the unused portion. If the new owner doesn’t change the locks, he’s mental so I wouldn’t worry about who gets the keys. Worry about your deposit.

David: If our homeowners association is dissolved by the state, what happens to our common property? We have a pool and clubhouse. Also, I understand that our Charter (covenants) will remain in effect for the time period specified in it (21 years). Who will be enforcing the rules?

Joe Escalante: The HOA’s governing documents, bylaws, articles or CC&Rs should dictate the dissolution process. Look at them. If they aren’t helpful, sometimes the property can be lost, or given to charity. You need a real estate attorney to help you guys with this.

Pauline: ok so my daughter is incarcerated in nv, her two sons are staying at a womens home in nv, but i just received a notarized paper from my daughter wanting me to get the boys. I live in tahoe calif. Can i go get them without incident?

Joe Escalante: You could give it a try. If there’s an incident. Don’t use self help. Go to the state department of child protective services

Jason: Hi, my friend and I out of sheer boredom and love for the shows went ahead and made a web based spin off of two popular shows (doctor who and family guy.)

All was fine for the first year or so, we even got a nod in doctor who magazine, so we know BBC was ok with our parody of their show.

However recently I’ve been in contact with fox who says that we can’t use family guy elements, that fox doesn’t consider it a parody, even though it’s clearly a spoof of their show and doctor who. They have blocked us on YouTube claiming it’s their content, even though fox didn’t create a single shred of video on our episodes.

Should I worry about this? Or do they need to serve me a cease and desist letter first? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: You need two things. 1. watch this, it’s excellent: http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=sdVWW8qMwfU and 2.) listen to my radio show. it’s on right now. Check out my facebook page for the links. This is all we talk about. You can call in on Sunday night from 5 to 7 PM Sunday on KTLK in Los Angeles AM 1150

Scotty: my wife has been ordered to let me see my kids in Mississippi…she did not let me see them for 10 weeks then the judge told her she would go to jail if she did not let me see them…i saw them once and that was 12 weeks ago…the courts will not do anything to her…my kids are very young 4 and 1 and this will effect them greatly..what can i do???

Joe Escalante: My experience with the ACLU is that they could give a rats patootie about kids. If you have a Mississippi child custody attorney, he’s going to know more than me. If you feel the kids are in danger, you can always call child protective services. If they are not, the court is just backed up perhaps. Try talking to a different attorney as well.

Jonathan: What is the easiest way to divorce someone you have not lived with for 19 years, no contact for 6 years, we also live in separate states I have tried to get her info to no avail so that I could file a petition for divorced?

Joe Escalante: This would be a contested divorce. you file. you try to serve. You go through the process, and eventually you will be granted a divorce. Unless you want to give the relationship one more shot, just to be sure. :)

Nathan: Do mutual business contracts through email hold up? What about If you are going in contract with people from a different country?

Joe Escalante: Yes they do. The jurisdiction used in case of a dispute between the parties would be governed by many possible things. It could be listed in the contract or where one of the parties lives, or where the business takes place. If you get sued in Viet Nam, you are bummed, so it’s best to have the venue set in the contract.

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