Archive for aibincadmin

Do We Offer Legal Advice? 5 Things Attorneys’ Information Bureau (AIB) Offers

We cannot offer legal advice, but our small team is ready to assist you with other services.

A common question we get when do-it-yourselfers come into our office is if we offer legal advice. Unfortunately, we do NOT offer legal advice. But here’s a partial list of what we do offer to both do-it-yourselfers and attorneys.

Help You Choose the Right Legal Form/Kit

Did you know…attorneys rely on us for legal forms and kits to fill in and submit to the court since we constantly keep all of the forms up to date per new court specifications?

You don’t have to be an attorney to use some of these forms. We also make a bunch of our legal kits available to non-lawyers, too. For non-lawyers, choosing the right kit to buy and fill in can save lots of time and money.

But you may have questions about which kit to buy. Many of our customers describe problems with tenants/renters (eviction kit), probate or civil lawsuit cases, and want to know which kit they need. Others want to know which divorce kit they need to fill out. We offer several to choose from, so tell us what the circumstances are, and we’ll recommend the right kit/forms. If you prefer to order our legal kits as an instant download, just call us at (206) 622-1909 to get an idea of which one is best for your needs, and then you can go to our website to order. Or head right to our Do It Yourself Legal Kits website by clicking here.

Lost? We Can Help!

Another common question we get is, “Where’s the clerk’s office?” We’ll gladly point the way, so stop by our window and we’ll give you directions. Our offices are located in Room C-603 of the King County Courthouse located at 516 Third Avenue in Seattle.

Retrieve Legal Documents

We have a legal researcher on staff who retrieves filed legal documents for a fee. Documents from King County as well as other counties can be retrieved, as long as the files have been uploaded online. We can then email the documents to you or messenger everything to your office. Here’s a list of the courts and other offices from which we can research and retrieve documents:

U.S. Federal Courts – District and Bankruptcy
Washington State Supreme Court
Washington State Court of Appeals
Superior Courts
District Courts
Municipal Courts
Auditor’s offices
Assessor’s offices
Vital Statistics
Law Libraries

If you’re an attorney, we recommend becoming a member, as our research fee is waived (a case access and per page copy fee still applies). Click here to find out how to become a member and to view the list of benefits.

Make Copies

If you’re an attorney who is a member of AIB’s Member Services, we offer access to photocopiers, computers and printers in our offices located in the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. You can also access our Wi-Fi and work in our office, so bring your laptop and wait out your next case in the courthouse in our comfortable office.

Notary Services

Once you fill in your legal forms, most require a notary signature. On your way to filing the documents with the Clerk, stop by our offices, and we’ll notarize them for you for a per document fee. We offer notary services Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although we are closed from noon until 1:00 p.m. each day.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

Do It Yourself Vs. Hiring an Attorney: Making the Right Choice

Man filling in do it yourself legal form.

Filling in do it yourself legal forms and kits can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in attorney fees. We offer do-it-yourself legal forms for filing documents in the State of Washington. But we also offer a list of attorneys in Washington state who can handle your legal matters. Why do we offer both?

Because there are times when you likely can fill out and file a do it yourself form on your own. But other situations require an experienced attorney who knows exactly how to handle your situation, understands the court system and can get the job done accurately so no mistakes are made that cause you even bigger problems down the road.

How do you know whether do it yourself forms will do the trick and when it might make more sense to hire an attorney?

Money is Short

If you do not have the money to hire an attorney, filling in do it yourself legal forms may be the only choice you have for uncomplicated cases.

Prefer to Represent Yourself

Representing yourself in court is referred to as “Pro Se.” You’ll need to fill out your own paperwork and file any required legal documents with the court yourself if you choose to go pro se. Obtaining the proper legal forms, including any updates the court makes, is key to filing the property paperwork. We offer a selection of forms thare are always updated to meet Washington court standards.

Ramping Up

Many people fill in their own legal forms without any intention of actually filing them with the court. They use the forms and the information required to get a strong start on their meeting with an attorney. This can save valuable time and money at the attorney’s office when you already know some of the answers and can bring the necessary documentation before your meeting.

Complicated Situations

Complicated cases, such as lawsuit and matters that require negotiation are more difficult to handle unless you have lots of experience with the courts and the legal situation. Hiring an attorney usually makes more sense in these situations. Click here to find a lawyer.

Lots of Questions

If you have lots of questions about your legal situation, seeking the services of an attorney makes sense. You might even feel more confident after visiting your attorney to attempt to fill out the forms yourself.

Immediate Situations

If you’re suddenly in a legal situation and need to resolve it or get the process rolling ASAP, hiring an attorney may be preferable. For instance, if your spouse unexpectedly says they want a divorce, contacting an attorney to find out what next steps you should take could save you from dealing with more problems down the road. . Click here to find a lawyer.

Related: Read our blog post about the importance of finding an attorney before you actually need one.

Business Legalities

Many business legalities can be handled yourself, says the Small Business Administration. The SBA says legal issues such as filing paperwork to start a business, creating contracts and setting up the legal structure for your business may not require an attorney. But complex issues require the expertise of a lawyer, including filing patents, going through litigation and forming a corporation. Read the full SBA article by clicking here. Click here to read our blog post containing resources for handling the legal aspects of your company.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

 

Divorce vs. Legal Separation: Learn the Basic Facts

Deciding between divorce vs. legal separation starts with knowing the facts.

The news is filled with updates on celebrity relationships, giving us lots of insight into divorce vs. legal separation. Often times, you’ll hear about a couple who lived separately for months before deciding to get divorced. Other times, couples seem to head right for divorce.

What is the difference between divorce vs. legal separation? Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each can help you make the right decision on what is best for your family and/or relationship.

What’s the Difference?

A physical separation means you and your spouse simply decide to live apart. Couples may use a physical separation as an informal arrangement to cool off and give themselves time to figure out their next steps.

But physical separation differs from legal separation. A legal separation means a change is made to your marital status. In order to obtain a legal separation, you need to file documents with the court. A legal separation agreement can reduce the risks for each person while handling issues such as dividing assets and debts and setting up child support and visitation rights

A divorce is a complete and final legal dissolution of your marriage. After the divorce is finalized, each person is allowed to marry someone else after a waiting period.

 Why Choose Divorce vs. Legal Separation

A legal separation can take as long and be as expensive as a divorce since you must file paperwork and then wait for months for it to go through. So, why do couples choose legal separation rather than a divorce? Some couples feel a legal separation gives them a better chance for a reconciliation.

Some choose legal separation because of religious or moral beliefs about divorce. Since a legal separation allows a couple to continue filing a joint tax return, this can also be a benefit. Others may choose legal separation due to the potential benefit of continued health insurance coverage, says Time. In comparison, once you’re divorced, you cannot stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance plan, according to Forbes.

Deciding between a legal separation or divorce could come down to finances. Click here to read the Forbes article, Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially.

Next Steps

Visiting an attorney to find out which one is best for your situation and needs may help you make the best decision. Click here to visit our attorney referral page for a list of Family Law attorneys.

You may be able to file your own legal separation documents for non-contested separations. We offer an instant download of a Legal Separation Kit, Non-Contested.

We also offer a Divorce Forms Kit without Children as well as a Divorce Forms Kit with Children for do-it-yourselfers.

 

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

 

3 Tips To Help You and Your Spouse Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

talk to your kids about divorce

Like most parents, you hope to never need to talk to your kids about divorce. But divorce happens, and when it does, your kids need to understand the situation and how it affects them. Your kids may be more perceptive about what’s going on than you think, which makes the conversation all the more important. Follow these tips to talk to your kids about divorce and make sure they understand what’s going on and feel reassured about their future.

Explain Together

This is the time for you and your spouse to put aside your differences and make a statement together in front of your kids. Don’t fight with each other during this conversation, as the goal is to show your children that you can work together as parents. Also avoid the blame game or making negative comments about each other in front of your kids during this conversation, says Liana Lowenstein, MSW, a therapist who offers resources for families going through divorce. Click here to read her article, Explaining Separation/Divorce to Children.

Script It

Don’t improvise the conversation when you talk to your kids about divorce. Instead, decide what to say beforehand, and stick to the script. Start by understanding your child’s age group and what’s essential to them. Today’s Parent offers a thorough age by age guide worth a read before you create your script.

Gerald A. Falzone, a family law attorney, says there’s no need to pretend everything is fine during this conversation. He suggests keeping things simple and about facts. Get ideas about what to say in his article, Joint Custody: How to Talk With Your Kids About Divorce.

Basically, explain when the divorce will take place and which parent will be staying in the home and which one will be moving out. Talk to them about when they will see the other parent, according to your custody arrangement. This part of the conversation may come later than the initial announcement. Take a look at the example scripts offered at FamilyEducation.org.

Encourage Questions

Allow your kids to explain how they feel right after the announcement and in the days to follow. Encourage any questions they may have. Listen carefully to what they have to say, and if you don’t know the answer, tell them so. Acknowledge their feelings instead of pushing them away, as this leaves the door open for maintaining an open dialogue as the divorce progresses.

Related:

We sell do-it-yourself divorce/dissolution kits as well as legal separation kits, good in the state of Washington. These kits can be bought as an instant download, or you can order one, and we’ll mail it to you:

Divorce Forms Kit without Children (also known as Dissolution Kit without Children)

Divorce Forms Kit with Children (also known as Dissolution Kit with Children)

Legal Separation Kit, Non-Contested

 

Making a Court Appearance: 7 Things Your Need to Know Before Stepping Into the Courtroom

Making your first court appearance can be a bit unnerving.

Prepping for a court appearance can feel intimidating. Even if you watch Judge Judy on a regular basis, navigating the court system can feel scary. The key to confidently going to a hearing or trial is to be fully prepared. Follow these steps to make sure you’re doing all you can to get ready for the big event.

Do a Walk Through

Ask your attorney to walk you through how the proceeding will go. Ask them if you will need to speak or if they plan to do all of that for you during the court appearance. If you completed and filed all of the court documents yourself and feel confident about representing yourself in front of a judge, you may want to hire an attorney to just walk you through procedures. That way, you know what to expect if you choose to represent yourself.

Bring Your Paperwork

Bring a copy of the paperwork you filed with the court if you represent yourself. Otherwise, ask your attorney if you need to bring any papers, as he will most likely bring everything with him. You can also bring an outline or notes about what you plan to say and refer to it in front of the judge.

Use Proper Etiquette

Each time you start speaking to the judge, start with “Your Honor.” Be polite. Keep your emotions under control, and avoid outbursts. Try to stay calm. Speak loudly enough for the judge to hear you. Don’t interrupt the judge, and do not speak to the other party while you’re in the courtroom.

Arrive on Time

Avoid being late to your court appearance. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appearance. Ideally, practice the route to the courthouse before the day of your appearance so you know traffic volumes and where to park.

Leave the Kids at Home

Unless your child will be a witness at your hearing or trial, do not bring your children. If you must bring them with you, plan to have them wait outside the courtroom until you’re finished.

Dress for Court

Most attorneys highly recommend wearing conservative clothing as if you’re dressing for a professional job interview. Don’t wear a hat in the courtroom.

Leave Devices & Coffee Behind

Before entering the courtroom, turn off your personal devices, such as mobile phones. Put them away so they are out of sight. Do not use your cell phone or a camera inside of the courtroom. Same goes with beverages and food – leave them out of the courtroom.

Pre-Divorce: Preparing to Make the Announcement to Your Spouse

Do some pre-divorce groundwork, key to taking care of yourself.

Deciding to divorce your spouse can be a stressful and painstaking process. If you’re thinking about getting one, the key to getting through a divorce with your sanity still intact requires doing some groundwork before informing your spouse of the decision. Follow these pre-divorce tips to help make the road a bit easier.

 

Meet with a Financial Advisor

An article in USA Today recommends meeting with a financial advisor, especially if you haven’t been involved in your household’s finances. A financial advisor can help you create an exit plan that makes sure you have enough money to make ends meet once the divorce is finalized. They can also help you create a plan for surviving the divorce long-term, making sure you have enough money to pursue your goals and dreams.

 

Collect Paperwork

You’ll also want to collect paperwork, such as tax returns and bank and investment information, etc., so you know what assets are available. Tacoma and Pierce County Child Custody Lawyer Jason Benjamin suggests quietly gathering information before you tell your spouse you want a divorce so you get fair results when it comes to splitting assets. Click here to read Benjamin’s Tips on Preparing for Divorce.

 

Prep the Paperwork

The legal forms required to file a divorce can be completed without an attorney if your divorce is uncontested. We offer two types of kits for those filing in Washington state. One is a Divorce Forms Kit without Children, also referred to as a Dissolution Kit without Children. The other kit we offer is the Divorce Forms Kit with Children. Both kits contain all of the forms required in to file for an uncontested divorce. Each kit also contains instructions to guide you through the steps for filing the paperwork. Sometimes people buy one of these kits to get a better feel for what’s involved in a divorce and then hire an attorney to handle all of the legal paperwork.

 

Consider Hiring an Attorney

If your divorce is contested, you likely need to seek the services of an attorney. If you need to find an attorney, click here to take a look at the Family Law attorneys listed in our referral service. Before hiring an attorney, know what questions to ask so you find one with whom you can comfortably work. Click here to read our blog post about the questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a law firm.

Click here for tips on finding an attorney.

Landlord 101: What You Need to Know to Rent Property

Before you become a landlord, learn your rights as well as the tenant's to save trouble down the road.

Becoming a landlord sounds like a promising and lucrative venture. But before you buy a property or turn one into a rental unit, find out everything that’s involved. You might be surprised to find out that becoming a landlord is about a lot more than just gathering the rent checks and fixing a few things now and then.

Know What’s Involved

Do you really know what’s involved in becoming a landlord? You might be surprised by what you don’t know…and need to know. Check out this eye-opening article in Money listing 6 rookie mistakes to avoid when becoming a rental property owner. For starters, expect expenses to be higher with a rental unit compared to a residence. Depending on where you buy the property, you also could end up paying special taxes, higher insurance rates and dealing with inspections that could turn into major costs if not done properly.

Review Local Law

Before you start renting the property, review your state, city, county and municipal rights as a landlord. And don’t stop there! Knowing a tenant’s rights can save you lots of trouble down the road. Check out the resources we provide for tenants and landlords in Washington state in our recent blog post.

Always Screen Applicants

Before you sign a rental agreement with the tenant, engage in some due diligence. In other words, screen all applicants to determine their ability to pay the rent on time. Money Crashers suggests running a background check and contacting previous landlords to determine an applicant’s suitability. Click here to read Money Crashers’ full list of questions to ask and what to check for.

Be Ready for Eviction

No one wants to think about eviction, but it happens. Preparing and serving an eviction notice protects your rights as a landlord. We offer an eviction kit, complete with all of the forms you need to file and serve the eviction notice, at DoItYourselfLegalKits.com. Click here for more information about eviction kit – the kits are available as an instant download, or you can order a print version we’ll mail to you.

Prepare a Lease

Creating a simple lease agreement sounds easy. But an informative article at CBS News recommends hiring an attorney who specializes in real estate. That way, your rental agreement is in compliance with local and state laws and can’t be used against you when the tenant decides to leave. Click here to see our referral list of real estate attorneys.

 

Small Business: Resources for Handling the Legal Aspects of Your Company

Small business planning includes finding legal resources to help you stay on top of legalities.

Whether you’ve been in business 10 days or 10 years, staying on top of potential legal issues is key to successfully keeping your small business going. If you need to take hours, days or even weeks to handle legal issues you could have prevented in the first place, you could lose money and customers. Plus, the need to drop everything and find an attorney to handle an emergency can be very stressful.

Check out the following resources – each offers tips and links to information you need to stay on top of potential legal issues as well as finding the right attorney for your specific business needs.

Know the basics.

Finding out the legalities involved with your business and industry is better done sooner than later, especially to set up a business structure, handle personal liability issues, know industry regulations or hire employees. Start with “Important Legal Tips for Starting a Small Business” on the Staples website. The list is a good one for startups, but also can act as a reminder for established businesses on staying on top of basic legal issues before they become major. Learn the legal requirements for small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s free 30 minute course. If you don’t have time to watch the video, you can download the SBA Legal Requirements Checklist.

 Deal with vulnerabilities.

Avoiding legal problems in the first place starts with knowing where you are most vulnerable. Check out “7 Tips for Avoiding Small-Business Legal Potholes” by Intuit Quickbooks. This article offers 7 great tips related to staying out of legal trouble when it comes to employees, contracts and intellectual property.

Don’t wait.

Don’t wait until you’re desperate to find an attorney. Set aside time now to find a law firm to have on call when you run into legal challenges. Before you hire a firm, check out these “10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Small-Business Attorney” in Entrepreneur. You can also click here to read our blog post about questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a law firm.

Use specialists.

In “5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses and Startups,” Entrepreneur writer Eyal Lifshitz recommends hiring specialists. Besides a corporate attorney to help you set up the structure of your business, you might also need a patent or trademark attorney for your logo/company name or product. Perhaps you need a law firm that specializes in employee issues.
For a list of corporate law attorneys, see our referral list for law firms in Washington state.

 

 

 

Restore Gun Rights in Washington: What to Know and How to Get Your Rights Back in Washington State

Do research and understand the law before you try to restore gun rights.

Maybe you made a bad choice when you were younger. Now you no longer have the right to own a firearm. You want to restore gun rights. But if you live in the state of Washington, according to Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9.41.040(1)(a), (2)(a)(i), 941.070(1)(a), you cannot possess a firearm or get a license to carry a concealed pistol if you were convicted of a serious offense.

Unfortunately, once you lose your gun rights, they are not automatically restored later on. Instead, now that you’re older –– and hopefully, wiser –– you may want to review your rights and take the necessary steps to restore gun rights. Below, we provide links featuring information about this topic. We also provide a link to the legal forms you need to restore your gun rights.

Learn about unlawful possession of firearms.
Visit the Washington State Legislature website, RCW 9.41.040, Unlawful possession of firearms—Ownership, possession by certain persons—Restoration of right to possess—Penalties. This page helps explain the different scenarios in which your gun rights might have been revoked and will also help you determine if your gun rights can be restored.

Learn about sealing a juvenile record.
If you lost your gun rights as a juvenile, visit the Washington State Legislature website, RCW 13.50.260, Sealing hearings—Sealing of records, to determine the requirements for getting your rights restored. We provide a do-it-yourself Juvenile Criminal Records Vacating Form/Juvenile Expungement Kit you can buy, download, complete and file with the court.

Find out if you’re eligible to regain your gun rights if you received mental health treatment.
Visit the Washington State Legislature website to review RCW 941.047 Restoration of Possession Rights. This page explains the law regarding restoring firearm rights if you were convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Download our Restore Firearm Legal Form to restore gun rights.
This is a do-it-yourself legal form kit most people can complete on their own to restore their gun rights. The kit includes instructions and all of the legal forms you need to petition the court to restore your right to own a firearm. Choose from an instant downloadable PDF, or we can mail you a hard copy of the kit.

 

 

Digital Assets and Estate Planning: Have You Updated Your Estate Plan?

Your digital assets could have economic or sentimental value

Outlining what is to be done with your digital assets can save frustration, heartache and lots of red tape for family, friends and representatives who need to handle your affairs. Otherwise, your family or executor may spend countless hours and still not be able to track down all of these assets.

Why should you include digital assets? First, digital assets could have economic or sentimental value. Secondly, if they cannot be tracked down, they may be lost forever. An article in MarketWatch suggests your estate could even be put at risk for fraud or hacking due to lost accounts.

Not sure if you have digital assets? Do you have email? A PayPal account? Online banking or shopping accounts? Online photos of family or friends? Social media pages? Do you back up your phone or computer data to the cloud? Do you get paperless bills? If you answered yes to any of these, you have digital assets.

How do you protect your digital assets in the event you can’t manage them on your own, such as through illness or death? Consider these tips:

Create a list of all of your digital assets.
Include information on how to access the account (such as providing a website address). Provide your login information, including username and password. Add any secret words or answers to security questions that may be required to verify the account. If an account requires two-factor authentication, provide the cell phone number and how to access the phone so your executor can receive the text message on that device to get into the account.

Update your Power of Attorney,
Updating your Power of Attorney gives that person power to manage your digital assets if you become incapacitated. We found the following language samples others have added to their Power of Attorney documents at http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com/sample-language. You can add this information to our do-it-yourself General and Durable Power of Attorney Legal Form Kit as an instant download from our website. An estate planning attorney can also help you add the right wording to your Power of Attorney.

Add language about digital assets to your will.
We offer a do-it-yourself Will Forms Kit to which you can add a statements saying your attorney or executor has power to manage digital assets. Also, you may want to outline which assets go to which person. Including instructions on how to close your online assets or let your social media acquaintances know what’s going on could also be included. Click here for a sample of language you can use in your will to give an executor power to handle your assets. An attorney can also help set up a will that thoroughly covers digital assets.