Thursday, December 31, 2009

Default Judgment without Service --- Act Immediately

Unscrupulous collection agencies often purchase stale debts and try to bully unsuspecting people into paying these debts. For those who don't pay, the agencies file suit against the debtors, conduct sewer service, and obtain a default judgment.

Thereafter, the debtor is shocked when he receives notice of a court judgment. If you are a victim of these creditors/collection agencies, immediately contact an attorney to file an appropriate motion to open the case. These process servers and collection agencies who engage in these illegal actions are well known to experienced trial court judges. Therefore, if you act quickly, it shouldn't be difficult to set aside the judgment.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Card Danger

Several consumer reports have issued warnings about gift cards. For those who have not heard about gift card theft, please take a few seconds to read this post.

If you are thinking about buying gift cards this holiday season, be cognizant of the fact that your gift may not reach its intended recipient. More specifically, thieves have found a new way to steal. They find stores that have free standing gift card stands and copy the cards' control numbers. Thereafter, they go online to see if the cards have been activated. Oftentimes, there is a substantial period between the time the gift giver purchases the card and the time the gift receiver uses the card. During that dead period, thieves empty the value of card by making purchases. By the time the gift receiver goes to the store, the card's balance is zero.

Stores can easily protect the consumer by placing the cards in locked or monitored locations. Card manufacturers can create card wraps that cover control numbers. It would be similar to shrink wrap on medicines. If the wrap is broken, don't buy.

For now, if you want to give gift cards, select ones that are controlled by the cashier. Also, you can purchase gift cards online. If you should risk buying the card from an unmonitored kiosk, keep the receipt, monitor the balance online until you give the gift, and advise the gift receiver to monitor the balance.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't Use a Verbal Agreement as an Estate Planning Tool

The question below demonstrates that you should not use verbal agreements as an asset management tool. If you have life insurance and minor children, there are ways to put the proceeds in trust. However, putting it in the name of a relative and asking them to do the right thing is dangerous.

Can I win? Rockmart, GA

My dad left his life insurance to my aunt because me and my sister were minors and him and my mom were going through a divorce. He had a verbal agreement with my aunt that we would recieve the money. SHe had given my sisters their share but she wont give me my share.. My whole family knows about the agreement and the situation. If I take her to court and sue her for the money and the documents can I win?


Your father should have provided for the division in the life insurance beneficiary section. If your aunt wants to deny the agreement, she can do so and win unless you have evidence to the contrary. You didn't state what documents you have to support your claim. Also, you didn't state how long ago your father died? There may be statute of limitation issue and evidence problems. In any event, you should find a local probate attorney in your county.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wills in Maryland

In Maryland, if you are 18 years old or older and legally competent you can divide your estate and select an executor through a will. The will must have the following formalities:

(1) It must be in writing;

(2) It must be signed by the testator, or by some other person for him, in his presence and by his express direction; and

(3) It must be attested and signed by two or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator.

If you already have a will when you move to Maryland, you may not have to pay a Maryland attorney to draft another will if:

(1) the will is in writing


(2) one of the following applies:

(a) the will is executed in accordance with the above list;

(b) the will is executed in accordance with the law of the domicile
of the testator; or

(c) the will is executed in accordance with the laws of the place of execution.

Nevertheless, when a person moves into the state with a will or if she just wants to make modifications to the current document, she must do so in accordance with the law. Additionally, for births, deaths, divorces, or other major life events, you should review your will and seek the advice of an attorney.

This review is essential after an absolute divorce. Upon termination of the marriage, all provisions in the will relating to the former spouse will be revoked unless specified in the will or divorce decree. As a result, the testator has to decide who will receive those items previously designated for the former spouse.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Starting Your Pro Bono Search in Georgia

If you live in Georgia and cannot afford an attorney, you may want to start your search with the Pro Bono Directory provided by the American Bar Association.

Insurance Claims When Multiple Passengers Sue Driver


I was in a car accident while I was driving a friends car. She wants several thousand dollars from me. Can she sue me?
Carrollton, GA Viewed 15 times.

My friend says I owe her several thousand dollars for her car since her insurance did not pay all she owed. She was upside down in her car. I had insurance, which also paid for the doctor bill's for another friend that was with me. Will my insurance pay her anything? Can I be sued for this? Answer this question Add to list


You just need to contact your insurance company about this new claim. It has already investigated in the matter. So, the company will determine if your other friend has a claim and the value of that claim.

As with all insurance policies, you have a policy limit (per occurrence). Therefore, you may have reached that limit with the first claim. However, that is something your insurance company will tell you. If the second claimant is unsatisfied with the settlement value offered by your insurance company, he can sue. The insurance company normally provides its insureds with attorneys to defend lawsuits. The insurers do this because the company has exposure if there is a judgment against the driver.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Maryland Divorce Law

Frequently, Maryland family law questionaires on Avvo and Law Guru want a quick end to their dead marriages. Unfortunately, Maryland still has antiquated divorce statutes that prohibit husbands and wives from formally and permanently departing ways unless their is some abuse or adultery. Otherwise, if they agree to live apart, they will be able to file for divorce after 12 months. If one spouse wants to save the marriage or wants to be vindicitve, the unhappy spouse has to wait two years before divorce proceeds can commence.

Interesting, Georgians are allowed to permanently depart ways quickly through the irreconcilable difference provision. More specifically under OCGA 9-5-3(13) a person can file for divorce when the marriage is irretrievably broken.

It's probably about time that Maryland catch with Georgia and come into the 21st century.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can a father lose visition rights? - Family -

As the below question shows, when you're dealing with a noncustodial parent who fails to exercise his scheduled visitation rights, the custodial parent should keep a log of the missed visits and follow-up with "where are you" calls. Also, if you mail a letter to the parent and it is returned, keep it unopened in a safe place. All this evidence may be needed in a future custody dispute.


Can a father loose visition rights? - Family -

Friday, October 23, 2009

How do I amend poa to add agent - Power Of Attorney -

As shown by the question posted on AVVO, if you have a Power of Attorney, you should designate an alternate agent in the unfortunate event your initial choice becomes incapacitated or dies. You should also keep in mind that in the absence of an alternate, the person who seeks to take control of your affairs may not be the person you would have selected.

How do I amend poa to add agent - Power Of Attorney -

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Question is about my liability to pay off dead husband's credit card bills. He died May 24, 2008. -

If your spouse dies with credit card debt, unless you guaranteed the debt or signed as a debtor on the card, you don't have to pay the debt. Let the credit card company sue the estate. If there is insufficient funds in the estate or the company fail to file a timely claim, the law protects the spouse.

Question is about my liability to pay off dead husband's credit card bills. He died May 24, 2008. -

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Friday, September 18, 2009

During the final decision of my divorce, the judge granted custody of my son to my ex-husband, what can I do to get my son back? - Child Custody -

As this question illustrates, you should always retain an attorney for divorce, child support, and custody matters. Oftentimes, people assume that simply because you feel you should get a particular result you will get it. This is definitely not the case. Evidence, case law, and a good legal argument beats feelings and hopes.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you should contact local or state bar associations. These groups may be able to point you to a pro bono association. There are several family law programs in New York, Georgia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.


During the final decision of my divorce, the judge granted custody of my son to my ex-husband, what can I do to get my son back? - Child Custody -

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

my children are in college am i still entitled to get child support for them - Child Support -

my children are in college am i still entitled to get child support for them
Hempstead, NY Viewed 4 times. Posted 1 day ago in Child Support

Look at the child support order. Some negotiate child support through college. If you had an attorney and you requested continued child support through college, it should be in the order.

Also, please note the following statutory sections

(1) "Child support" shall mean a sum to be paid pursuant to court order or decree by either or both parents or pursuant to a valid agreement between the parties for care, maintenance and education of any unemancipated child under the age of twenty-one years.

As a result, the order should still apply to your two youngest children.

In addition, note the following section:

CPLR 240 (1-b)(c)(7) states: where the court determines, having regard for the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties and in the best interests of the child, and as justice requires, that the present or future provision of post-secondary, private, special, or enriched education for the child is appropriate, the court may award educational expenses. The non-custodial parent shall pay educational expenses, as awarded, in a manner determined by the court, including direct payment to the educational provider.


In other words, the court can order child support to 21 and payment of education expenses.

If you need additional information, please contact me on my Long Island number.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How Not to Obtain a Response on Free Legal Websites

Law Guru and AVVO are free legal sites where people can submit questions . Yesterday, a person requested a form for a non-profit corporation. He also stated that he believed being directed to the attorney's contact information was unethical and a waste of time. In other words, just give me the form and leave me alone.

Using that unwise poster as an example of what not to do, I give a few recommendations on how to submit posts. Of course, you don't have to follow them.

Recommendation #1 - Don't insult attorneys or the legal profession in your post.

Recommendation #2 - Understand that most attorneys won't e-mail forms for free. They have spend time and energy creating these forms for their practices.

Recommendation #3 - If you need extensive answers because you are representing yourself in litigation, AVVO and Law Guru are probably not the best sites to submit 20 questions. You should probably do your own research on the internet or in a law library.

Recommendation #4 - Based on prior answers from attorneys on AVVO and Law Guru, attorneys are happy to provide general information about your rights and remedies. So, provide sufficient detail about your matter.

Recommendation #5 - Don't be put off if the attorneys provide you with their contact information. Frequently, unless it's a small claims court matter, the best option is to schedule a telephone or face-to-face meeting with an attorney. Oftentimes, the initial consultations are free or low cost. Moreover, simply because you call or meet with an attorney doesn't mean you have to retain him or her.

Recommendation #6 - Most attorneys on these sites are solo or small firm attorneys. They are not in a non-profit company. As a result, they have to make a living. Therefore, be understanding if they give contact information.

In sum, realize that Law Guru and AVVO are sources to start your legal search or attorney search, but you shouldn't enter these sites as if you're going into battle. After all, the answers are provided without cost. Unless the attorney is a masochist, rude submissions will probably be ignored.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Unauthorized Credit Report Pulls

Check your credit report to determine if people or companies have review your credit history without your authorization. Their actions may be a violation of the law that may entitle you to damages under federal and state laws.

Recently in AVVO, a man complained about a former girlfriend who is a paralegal. He believed she pulled his credit report without his knowledge. I recommended that he contact the law firm to complain. At the same time, he can start legal action against the woman and the law firm. As many of you know, under most circumstances, whenever your report is pulled, your credit score decreases. This occurs because the credit agency assumes you are attempting to obtain additional credit.

If you have employees who need access to the credit reporting agencies, you should have strict zero tolerance policies regarding unauthorized credit snooping. Otherwise, the wayward employee may put the company at risk for a lawsuit.

It's worth noting that under federal law, attorney's fees and costs are permitted. Therefore, if you have been a victim of unauthorized snooping, you should definitely call an attorney in your area who has experience in this area of law and understand that a successful case through settlement or judgment will result in payment of fees.

Monday, August 3, 2009

can there be more than one executor of same will - Probate -

can there be more than one executor of same will - Probate -

As indicated by the post on Avvo, for those who have a will or are thinking about drafting a will, think about the consequences of selecting an executor. If you have more than one executor, place a resolution provision in the will to resolve any disputes.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do I have a defamation suit? - Lawsuits / Disputes -

Do I have a defamation suit?
Laurel (MD)

Last year my rental property wrongly sued me for unpaid rent--a direct result of their incompetence and lack of professionalism. I found out about this oversight, and before the allegations could be intercepted, the claim was sent directly to county court. The case was, of course, dropped, and I even received a written apology from the rental property (on corporate letterhead), stating this issue was no fault of mine.

Now I am seeking new housing, and I recently found that this incident shows up in background checks. I was of the belief this issue had been cleared. I almost lost out on safe, affordable housing! I also believe that I may have been rejected from potential employment opportunities, because of this blemish, as I made no mention of the incident on applications.

Please advise


If you are rejected based on a credit check, you have the right to receive your credit report. If the case is on your credit report, it should show that it was dismissed. If there is an error regarding the matter, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agency. There are procedures you must follow. They have a limited time to investigate the matter. Thereafter, you may have a case against the credit reporting agency. If the rental agency placed information in your credit report that was false, you may also have a claim against them after the credit agency passes the period for investigating the matter. However, you don't have a defamation suit for them filing a lawsuit against you. You MAY have a claim against them for abuse of process. However there is a limited time for you to bring suit against them for it.

You stated you almost lost out on housing. Did the leasing department tell you that the case was the problem? In any event, get your credit report and go to the court to determine if the court records properly indicate that the matter was dismissed in your favor.

I have handled both abuse of process claims and credit reporting violations. If you want to discuss this further, please contact me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Web Design Lawsuit - Litigation -

Web Design Lawsuit
Atlanta (GA)


A person that I previously designed a website for back in 2005 has filed a lawsuit against me in small claims court about 1 month ago. However, I have not been properly served yet because the person filed the lawsuit in a county where she lives and not where I live.

I will be relocating to another state within the next 2 weeks due to job situation.

Will the lawsuit subpoena be sent to me in the new state in which I will be a resident of in a few weeks, or will it not be possible for me to receive proper service given the situation?

The person is suing me due to them feeling that I "breeched" a web design contract- which I didn't.



You may have several defenses in this lawsuit.
Have you been served the summons? If so, you can't sit back and claim the person filed the case in the wrong county. Instead, you must file a motion to dismiss regarding the plaintiff's failure to file in the proper county and the limitations defense (if applicable). If you haven't been served and you intend to move out of state, you have several choices on how to handle the matter.

Can an employer terminate me for a false statement write up. - Wrongful Termination -

Can an employer terminate me for a false statement write up.
Baltimore (MD) Viewed 5 times. Posted 1 day ago in Wrongful Termination


My employer fabricated a story of me being barred from a facility. This write up was placed in my empoyee file for 45 days without my knowledge. While I was out of work for a work related injury. After returning to work i was terminated 6 days later. I initially was denied a copy of this write up, but later recieved one. After making some inquires it was determined this incident never happened.


In Maryland (I am a Maryland lawyer), an employee is protected against being fired under a limited set of cricumstances. Unless you have a contract with you employer, are a union member, or are being discriminated against or retaliated against under a limited number of federal or state laws, your employer can fire you for any reason, even a totally stupid one.

In your case, more information is needed. Were you out on FMLA or other statutory protected leave? If so, there may be a nexus between your leave and the firing.

If there was retaliation for taking statutory protected leave, you have a limited amount of time to challenge the firing and file suit.