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50-50 Drawings, Starting an LLC and More – Free Joe Friday Thursday Edition 4/7/11

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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.

Gary: To utilize a business name ending in & Company (Gary L. Post & Company) does the business need to be incorporated to utilize the name.

Joe Escalante: I’ve never heard that. “Inc.” would lead people to believe you are incorporated but in one sense you have a right to call your company anything you want. If your name is misleading, there might be some state laws that you are going to run afoul of. Like calling your company Sanford & Sons might be misleading.

Teena: I hope this is where I am supposed to post a question. Anyway, here goes. I recently received a life insurance payout. Is there any benefit in putting this in my Trust account? I mean, my family Trust.

Joe Escalante: That seems like a tax question to me. I’m not allowed to talk about taxes because it would hurt people. Talk to your friendly tax professional about this one.

Diana: If a person is being taken back to court, has no attorney, is on disability, and no income., where can they get legal assistance in Illinois for a California court case? Thank you for any assistance. Sorry, They were divorced in California and now the wife is a Missouri Resident. Thanks for any help at all.

Joe Escalante: Wow, what a quagmire. It’s like a riddle surrounded by a puzzle, wrapped up in an enigma. Start with these folks and see if they can help:

Shannon: I was with my children’s father for 10 years. He was the sole provider, as we decided I should leave corporate to stay home with our 2 children. We did not marry. We lived together and were in a monogamous relationship raising our children. (So I thought) In California do they or do they not recognize Palimony? In 2010, I wrote up a contract, that he and I both signed, stating he would continue to pay $700 week child support and pay my mortgage. 1 year later, he is paying for neither.

Joe Escalante: You need a family law attorney. and google cases like Marvin vs. Marvin. He’s going to end up liable for child support and alimony payments to you if you can establish these facts in court. Good luck. See the link below to get a good family law attorney.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Shannon:

Maryanne: Here’s a question I live in my now deceased mothers home which is up for sale I want to stay here what kind of rights do I have, I am on SSI.

Joe Escalante: It depends on whether you have inherited it or not. If you have, it’s yours, if not, it has been bequeathed to someone. Whoever that is, is now the owner and has rights superseding anyone but secured creditors. You could board up the windows and squat in it I guess, but that’s not going to work out too well. You need to start talking to the executor of the will and find out who owns the property and try to work out something with them. But they don’t have to do anything contrary to their property rights so be nice to them.

Carmela: Joe both my parents are 88 yrs old and in fair health. They say they have a will which neither my sister or I have seen. I know they have not updated it in over 20 yrs. My question is it better to update the will or start over with an estate planning living trust instead? We are trying to cut down on the inheritance taxes we may have to pay.

Joe Escalante: Well, you should get your hands on some self help info to figure out if that’s necessary, or talk to an estate planning lawyer or a tax professional or both. I like this simple book called “The Everything Wills & Estate Planning Book by Deborah S. Layton. Once you read that you will have a good grasp of what to do. I can’t give you a specific answer for your situation because it all depends on the value of the assets your parents own. :) Get the book. and read the legalzoom info on this stuff too.

Liz: Hi – Is this where we post our legal questions? hope so! Is it permissible to legal to hold a fifty-fifty drawing – say at a local sporting event for your own personal reason – educational trip for your son? Thanks

Joe Escalante: Probably illegal, check with your state gambling commissioner. He’s probably really friendly. It varies from state to state. We do one at each meeting of the Hollywood American Legion but that’s a non-profit organization that helps veterans, that’s different than paying for your kid to go to Jellystone Park. That was a great question by the way Liz.

Larry: Regarding trademarks, what’s the best way to establish first use in commerce?

Joe Escalante: Great question Larry. It depends on the product. If it’s a item of clothing for example, you would want to ship it to a customer across state lines or something like that. To discuss this in detail, call my radio program on Sunday night. Go to for the details. You can also click “email joe” on that front page and ask me a more detailed question. This is only for entertainment and intellectual property questions. everything else, we do right here.

Connie: If a couple wants to get married what impact would ones child support have on the other person? Would they then become legally responsible? And how would that effect the purchase of a home together?

Joe Escalante: I don’t know about the purchase of a home, but if I was the father of the kid and my ex got married, I would petition the court for a change in support because my ex now has a different, and I’m assuming more positive, financial situation so I don’t have to be throwing in so much any more. The court would decide if things warrant a change in the support order. If here is alimony, that would definitely be affected; the child support, not as much, but perhaps somewhat affected

Lisa: If I had an attorney (who belongs to a firm) who was pattening my game and abandoned it, what do I do? I just found out he did years ago.

Joe Escalante: Was he filing a real patent application, or a “provisional patent” application. If it was provisional, they only last a year. Then you have to fill out the patent application to continue to get the protection. If he just bailoed out on your real patent app, it could be malpractice if you suffered damaged and what he did was unreasonable, or it could be that you just didn’t pay your legal bills, and moved a couple tiimes and changed your phone number, etc. I don’t know the situation, but I do tknow that its what your lawyer is going to say.

Tony: I’m looking to start an LLC, what all do I have to have in order to keep myself out of any trouble legally and with the IRS?

Joe Escalante: Legally I can tell you that you have to make sure it’s for a lawful purpose, e.g., not for a cockfighting league. A fantasy cockfighting league is OK, but not a real one. then, you must make sure it’s adequately funded. People think their personal assets are protected from litigation with an LLC, and that’s true, but there’s a couple ways that people can still get to your personal assets and one is if you didn’t fund your LLC enough, making it a sham.  These are just a couple pieces of advice. Read up on it at LegalZoom and get a book from Nolo press about it and you will be ahead of the game. Regarding taxes, that’s not my thing. :) good luck.

Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. And join us on Facebook next Friday at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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