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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

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

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

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),

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

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.

 

DIY Legal Forms/Kits: 6 Tips for Using Legal Kits and Forms

DIY legal forms/kits make it easy to create and file certain types of legal documents.

Completing DIY legal forms/kits can save you 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 long list of attorneys in Washington state who can handle your legal matters. Why do we offer both?

Some situations require an experienced attorney who knows how to handle your situation, knows how to work the courts and can get the job done accurately. Otherwise, mistakes could be made that cause even bigger problems down the road.

But there are times when you can likely fill out and file DIY legal forms/kits on your own. Here are some of the advantages of using DIY legal forms/kits to solve a legal issue:

Save legal fees.

If you cannot afford to pay an attorney hundreds or even thousand of dollars or want to save $$, paying a modest fee for a form you fill in and file yourself can help keep your budget intact. Another option is to find free legal resources such as those mentioned in our recent blog post about resources available for civil legal problems in Washington state.

Handle matters faster.

Sometimes you need to act fast. Completing the form yourself can save time since you won’t need to wait for an attorney to find a spot in their schedule to meet with you and then handle the project.

Reduce an attorney’s time.

Filling out a legal form ahead of your meeting with an attorney could save you hours of the their billable time, resulting in a huge cost savings. If you feel unsure about how you filled out the form, always rely on an attorney’s expertise to finalize the job–you’ll still save money and have the satisfaction of knowing your forms are correct.

Helps you get organized.

Even if you plan to meet with an attorney, filling out the forms to the best of your abilities ahead of the meeting helps you organize your thoughts about your legal matter. You may also discover you need to bring other documents to the meeting with your attorney. This saves time having to send them separately or setting up another meeting to deliver everything.

Sometimes hiring an attorney is overkill.

Simple tasks such as filling in a straightforward will, power of attorney, health care directive or eviction notice requires little to no legal experience. If you find yourself questioning the form, though, consulting an attorney makes sense.

Download current forms from trusted websites.

One of the advantages of using our do-it-yourself legal kits and forms is because they’re up-to-date with current requirements mandated by Washington state judicial authorities. We stay on top of that, in part, thanks to our office located in the King County Court House in Seattle.

Our forms are available as instant downloads so you can start using them immediately. Or you can also order a printed version, and we’ll mail it to you within one to two business days. Visit doityourselflegalkits.com to see a list of available kits.

Tenant Rights Vs. Landlord Rights: Resources to Help Both Sides Know Their Rights

Know the tenant rights and landlord rights to avoid problems.

A lawsuit filed by the Rental Housing Association against capping move-in fees in Seattle is just the latest to cause friction between tenant rights and landlord rights. No matter which side of the law you fall on regarding the new requirement that landlords must offer installment plans to allow tenants to pay deposits and other fees, both renters and landlords have rights. Understanding what you can and cannot do, whether you’re renting your abode or leasing it to someone, starts knowing and protecting your rights.

Resources For Landlords

Becoming a landlord, whether you have a single rental unit or several buildings of units, requires knowing the laws in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. A simplified version is also provided as a free download by the Washington State Bar Association.

If your rentals are located in Seattle, you must also become familiar with the codes outlined by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections. (SDCI). Local building ordinances may also apply, so check with the city in which the rental is located.

While tenants have rights, they are also expected to fulfill certain obligations. Get more information by downloading the free Code Compliance Guidelines provided by the SDCI. This document also outlines the records a property owner should keep to support a termination of a tenant. You’ll also get a list of groups that can provide information to rental property owners.

You may want to consider joining the Rental Housing Association. According to a recent KOMO News article, this organization represents 5,400 rental housing landlords across Washington state. Of those members, 4,000 own units in Seattle with 88 percent owning less than four rental units.

If you need to evict a tenant, we offer a do-it-yourself Eviction Notice, available for purchase by visiting Do It Yourself Legal Kits. If you need to hire an attorney to help you with a tenant problem, see our list of law firms.

Resources For Tenants

Start by reading our blog post about the rights of tenants in Washington state. Washington Law Help also provides low-income individuals with legal problems related to tenant rights. Download their free publication titled Your Rights As a Tenant in Washington State. The Washington State Bar Association also offers a condensed version.

You can also review the Washington State Legislature’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act to read the law on a variety of topics, including:

The City of Settle Department of Planning and Development offers a useful guide you can print, complete and give to your building manager to report items needing repair. Click here to view the form.

Download Seattle Laws on Property Owner and Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities. The last few pages of this document include a list of groups that can help you with tenant rights. For instance, Neighborhood Legal Clinics are mentioned as a resource for a free legal consultation. This organization helps people with civil matters only. Read our blog post for more information about Neighborhood Legal Clinics.

Check out the Tenants Union of Washington, a public service based in Seattle that helps with tenant rights. According to their Facebook page, they help improve tenants’ living conditions and fight unjust housing policies.

If you need to hire an attorney to help you with a landlord problem, see our list of law firms.

Strange Prenups: 4 Clauses You Won’t Believe!

Strange prenups!

Tis the season for weddings, and thus, strange prenups! If you’re about to tie the knot or know someone who is, check out these strange-but-true prenups. They read like a book of tales!

Once you read these, you’re either bound to feel better about your impending marriage, or you’ll likely feel inclined to head directly to your attorney to draft your own prenuptial agreement. If not, we offer a do-it-yourself-legal-kit for prenups. We’ve also got attorneys who can help, just click here.

Social Media

Nowadays, no prenuptial agreement is complete without details on how social media will be handled if the marriage fails. What you can and cannot post online is pretty important in some marriages, with clauses about social media on the rise, according to Time. Post something you’re not supposed to when divorce looms large, and you could pay big $$ for that unflattering Tweet.

Infidelity

According to MyWedding.com, infidelity can pay off big, such as in the case for Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards. Sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme, but their prenup stated that if either cheated, the other stood to gain $4 million buckaroos. Hmmmm. Wonder how that one ended?! Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel also have this clause in their prenup, according to Men’s Health.

The Longer the Marriage…

Some strange prenups include clauses in which one person gets a sum of money for each year the marriage stays in effect. This is the case for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. Zeta-Jones stands to make several million per year of the marriage – 13 years of wedded bliss when they were considering divorce in 2013, according to The Daily Mail.com. We bet Douglas was feeling pretty nervous when the couple separated!

Limitations

Prenups can include limitations on everything from how many hours TV watching is allowed to how often the in-laws can visit (no, we’re not kidding, check out this article from Men’s Health). Sex is another big issue, so there are strange prenups that lay out how many times per week or month are required. Celebrity Dirt says Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo would have had a prenup that said she couldn’t weigh over 135 pounds, or Romo would have gotten cash for every pound over. Maybe it’s a good thing they never got married in the first place, huh?!

 

Spring Cleaning: The Perfect Time to Organize Legal Paperwork

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to clean up legal paperwork.

Tis the season for spring cleaning! No, we’re not talking about washing your windows or scouring the floors. We’re suggesting you do a spring cleaning of all things legal.

We think spring cleaning is the perfect time to review your paperwork and find ways to organize your most important legal documents. That way, even if you don’t get the closet cleaned out or walls scrubbed down, at least you know everything is in order when it comes to important paperwork!

Taxes

Nothing beats April 15th for striking fear in the hearts of taxpayers around the country. Most people can get by doing their taxes themselves or through an accounting firm. But if you run into trouble with the IRS, it might be time to hire an attorney who specializes in tax concerns. See our Taxation Lawyer referral list for information on who to call.

Estate Planning

Have you written a will yet? How about designating a Power of Attorney to handle your affairs if you become unable to do so? Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get everything in order, including designating an executor to handle your estate. Don’t forget – if you have children or dependents, consider choosing a legal guardian to protect them. We offer a variety of legal forms good in Washington State that you can download and fill in yourself to get these documents ready. While you’re at it, consider giving your estate plan a review by an experienced estate attorney. For more ideas on estate planning, including a link to a free downloadable checklist, click here to read our recent blog post.

Insurance Policies

Do you have all of your insurance documents in an easily accessible file in your office or on a computer? Spring cleaning is the perfect time to gather and review your insurance policies so you can avoid trouble down the road in the event you have a claim. Take a look at your auto and homeowner’s insurance policies to make sure they’re up-to-date. Do you have insurance for the contents of your home, whether you own or rent one? Review your contents insurance to make sure you have enough coverage for collectibles, too. Make sure you’re not over paying or under covered because you haven’t valued your assets properly. Need an attorney to handle an accident or injury case? Check out our list of attorneys to find one to handle your problem. 

 

Meet and Greet A Lawyer

Springtime is a great time to find an attorney who can work with your family or your business to handle any potential legal matters that pop up. Don’t wait until you have a crisis on your hands and must hire the first attorney you call. Instead, using the spring to find a law firm that handles the types of problems you could experience down the road could pay off big. To find a suitable lawyer or firm, make an appointment to meet with several different ones to see how you work together. See our recent blog post about questions to ask a potential attorney or law firm before you hire them.

Estate Planning To Do List

No one wants to think about end of life issues. But right now is the time to jump into estate planning to make it easier on your family and loved ones in the event of your death. By engaging in estate planning now, you also have control of what happens to your property and other possessions so they are disbursed according to your wishes. Get started with these five estate planning tasks.

Write a Will

Without a will, you allow the state to call all the shots about how your estate is divided up when you die. If you still have dependents, the state also decides what will happen to them. Having a will alleviates these problems. We offer a do-it-yourself will kit for Washington state, complete with instructions, for those who have simple wishes for their estate. Choose from an instant download or request a print verson be mailed to you. We can also help get your will notarized at our office located in the King County Courthouse office. If you have more complex needs, hire a probate attorney. Click here to view the list of probate and estate planning law firms listed in our referral service.


Designate a Power of Attorney for Finances/Legal/Health Care

In Washington state, in the event that you are not available or incapable of acting on your own behalf or if you need health care decisions made for you, a General and Durable Power of Attorney with health care provisions, designating someone to make these decisions on your behalf is an essential document in your estate planning. The person you choose can be an attorney, a family member or a close friend who you trust to make decisions on your behalf. Since this form can be easily completed on your own, we offer a do-it-yourself General and Durable Power of Attorney legal kit for Washington statey, available as an instant download or as a print version. Always seek the advice of an attorney if you need help completing the forms.

Choose Health Care Directive

You also need a Health Care Directive (Directive to Physicians/Living Will) to instruct your physician and/or health care providers on your intentions as to organ donation and whether or not you want extra-ordinary life sustaining care such as feeding and breathing if your are in a terminal condition. This legal form can be easily completed on your own, so we offer a do-it-yourself Health Care Directive (Directive to Physicians/Living Will) legal kit for Washington state, available as an instant download or as a print version. If you spend part of your time living in another state, make sure you have a Health Care Power of Attorney for that state, too. Always seek the advice of an estate planning attorney if you need help completing the forms. Click here to view our list of probate and estate planning law firms listed in our referral service.

Gather Estate Planning Documents

Your family and attorney need to know the whereabouts of your important paperwork, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, property deeds, life insurance policies, contact lists and financial information. Otherwise, if they must search your entire home or arrange to get copies of these important documents, it could take them months to close your estate. Paäge et Cie, experts at organizing and managing important documents, has created a  checklist you can download for free. The checklist provides a thorough list of all of the documents you need and includes space for keeping notes about the location of each piece of paperwork.

 

Choose an Executor

An executor, also known as an administrator, settles the debts you leave behind and disburses your property and possessions according to your will. An attorney can act as your executor while also helping with various aspects of your estate before you die, including writing wills, helping you set up a power of attorney and safekeeping important documents needed to settle your estate. Click here to view the list of estate planning law firms we work with. See our recent blog post, Questions to Ask A Potential Attorney or Law Firm Before You Hire Them.