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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

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

Resources available for civil legal problems in Washington state

Representing yourself or a family member in a civil court can be an overwhelming challenge. First, you must understand the complexities of your legal issue and any related legalities, such as courtroom procedures and filing documents. The problem is that a lack of knowledge about what’s involved means your civil case could turn into a drastic event, such as losing your home or custody of your children.

Fortunately, the following resources are available to low-income people in Washington state to help get civil cases resolved.

Northwest Justice Project

The Northwest Justice Project offers free legal assistance to low-income people. The organization also provides self-help resources and free legal information as well as attorney advice and assistance. They also offer a Foreclosure Prevention Unit to help people who face home foreclosure. If you live in King County, visit this page to get contact information. Otherwise, if you live outside of King County, visit the CLEAR Hotline website page or call 1-888-201-1014.

Washington Web Lawyer

This online resource provides free legal advice to low-income people with civil legal problems. Volunteer attorneys provide the legal advice to those who post their questions in the website’s forum. Simply register as a new user and answer some questions about yourself, your income and legal issue to see if you qualify for the free help. If so, you’ll set up an account, then post your questions so one of the volunteer attorneys can answer. Click here to learn more.

Housing Justice Project

Many counties in Washington have set up homelessness prevention programs to offer volunteer-based legal services for tenants facing eviction. Click on one of the counties listed below to get more information about available programs:

King County

Pierce County

Skagit County

Snohomish County

Thurston County

Volunteer Lawyer Program

The Advocate Resource Center program relies on volunteer law firms to provide legal help to low-income people. Visit their website to find participating volunteer lawyers by county.

Columbia Legal Services

This not-for-profit organization focuses on providing civil legal services to low-income people or those with special legal needs. Columbia Legal Services provides legal education, advice and representation to help enforce your legal rights. The group also has special programs for migrant and seasonal farm workers, residents of long-term care, Native Americans and victims of domestic violence. Visit their website for more information.

Scanning: 7 reasons to get your paperwork scanned

Document scanning saves time and space you can put to use in other ways.

Document scanning is a lasting trend for good reason. After all, you know how cumbersome it gets when you keep piles or filing cabinets full of paperwork around. Storing years of paperwork in bulky files for each client is a thing of the past once you discover the wonders of using scanned documents.

AIB has been offering document scanning services for years, and our clients love the service. While you can read some of the testimonials we’ve received by clicking here (scroll down to “What Clients Say”), we really want this piece to stand on its own as an argument for the importance of scanning.

  1. Save space and eliminate clutter. If you’re like most home or business offices, space is at a premium. Document scanning reduces those mounds of paperwork into digital files, with thousands of scanned files fitting on a single small disc or drive. Plus, you can get rid of those ugly piles of files sitting on top of desks and filing cabinets, which helps reduce visible clutter. You’ll discover you have less need for those hefty, unwieldy filing cabinets, too. Those monstrosities are likely costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars annually by taking up valuable space.
  1. Find important documents faster. Rather than searching through multiple hard copy files to find that one critical document, scanning allows you to review an index of files. You then click on that file and it immediately pops up on your screen.
  1. Eliminate the risk of lost documents. Rather than taking the risk of losing important files and documents, scanning eliminates misplaced files you may never find again.
  1. Defy age, wear and tear. Paperwork becomes fragile over time. Document scanning helps preserve the integrity of the original documents so fading and tears won’t affect your ability to read and use the documents in the future.
  1. Include scanning in your disaster recovery plan. Fire, earthquakes, floods and other delights of Mother Nature could cause you to lose valuable documents that are irreplaceable. That’s the beauty of scanned images – you can store multiple copies of the disks or drives. Keep one in your safe deposit box and store others in various safe locations around your home and office.
  1. Share files more quickly, easily and inexpensively. Scanned documents are far easier to share with your family members, trusted advisors and office personnel. Upload the scans to a your corporate server, and now you can share the files with clients or staff in multiple offices. Not only can you share information immediately, but using scanned documents saves $$ compared to the manpower/expense of copying, mailing and delivery of hard copies.
  1. Reuse rather than recreate. Did you know documents are recreated 50% of the time rather than reused? Scanning helps eliminate this major waste of resources, helping to improve your bottom line while saving valuable time.

To learn more about AIB’s scanning services for businesses of any type, click here.

Hiring a law firm: Questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line

Before making a decision, know what to ask before hiring a law firm.

Are you searching for an attorney or hiring a law firm? Whether you need an attorney immediately or want to have one on standby, hiring a law firm that will work best for you requires some thought. Print this list of questions, and take it with you to meetings with potential law firms. Also, visit our attorney referral service to find a law firm that offers a free session, giving you a chance to get all of your questions answered before hiring a law firm to have on call.

 

  1. What is your experience with this type of case? Ask for details about previous cases the attorney has handled to get a feel for their experience.

 

  1. Have you worked in the courthouse where my case will be tried? If so, the attorney is more likely to have dealt with the judges and prosecutors and should have a clearer idea of what could happen.

 

  1. Can I get references to satisfied clients so I can call them and find out what they thought of your services? If the attorney balks at providing references you can call, ask for testimonials to review. If these are also not available, be wary.

 

  1. How much will this cost me? When hiring a law firm, ask them about fees and expenses if you have a specific case you want to bring them. Find out whether the attorney will charge an hourly rate or a fixed rate. Ask about contingency fees involved in cases where you’re suing for money. Request information about expenses, too, such as for photocopies, filings, etc., as these can add up.

 

  1. Are you familiar with the court system in this area? Ask the attorney if she practices in the specific courthouse where your case will be conducted. An attorney who has experience with the judges or prosecutors who preside over your case can make it easier to determine the outcome.

Neighborhood Legal Clinics offer free legal advice in King County

Have you heard of Neighborhood Legal Clinics? If not, you may be missing out on a great resource if you live in King County, Washington.

These free clinics, sponsored by the King County Bar Association, provide limited legal advice as well as referrals for residents of the county. If you have a legal issue in King County but do NOT live in the county, you can still participate in one of the free clinics.

The clinics consist of 30-minute sessions during which time you meet with an attorney for legal advice on civil legal issues. You can get help with papers you’ve received from the court. Referrals and additional resources are also provided, if needed.

According to their website, the clinics do NOT provide advice on criminal legal issues, just civil issues.

Clinics are also offered on a variety of specialized topics, such as bankruptcy, elder law, family law, cross cultural family law and domestic violence. You can also sign up for clinics in various languages, including Spanish, Korean, etc.

Visit this link to make an appointment and to find out when the next Neighborhood Legal Clinic will be held near you.

 

 

Resource for serving documents in a divorce case

Going through a divorce or dissolution of marriage is no one’s idea of fun. The good news is that you can keep costs down by completing and filing your own documents in an uncontested divorce. Plus, we found a great resource for learning how to serve the opposing party in your divorce.

First, our Washington State Divorce with Children Forms Kit (also known as Dissolution Forms Kit with Children) is a do it yourself divorce legal form kit containing all of the Washington state divorce documents you need, with instructions, to guide you through the divorce procedures, including development of a Parenting Plan and Child Support Orders, in an uncontested divorce.

Our Washington State Divorce Forms without Children (also known as Dissolution Kit with Children) is a do it yourself divorce legal form kit that contains all of the divorce forms in Washington state you need, with instructions, to guide you through each step in dissolution of marriage procedures in an uncontested divorce.

Now, there’s one more thing you must do. When you file family law court documents, you must also serve the opposing party the proper way. Otherwise, judgment in your case may be delayed.

We found a very helpful resource from WashingtonLawHelp.org that explains exactly how to serve documents. Download their free PDF How to Serve the Opposing Party in Your Family Law Case to learn why you must serve the opposing party via personal service, mail or publication. The page also explains what to do if you cannot find the opposing party and provides links to a self-help packet you can use to ask court permission to serve the other party by mail or publication.

 

Tenant rights explained in Washington state

Do you know someone who is having trouble with his/her landlord? Whether the issue is about a problem with a rental unit, getting a deposit back or simply learning about you rights before you rent, Northwest Justice Project offers a thorough resource with all of the information you need to educate yourself about tenant rights. This thorough online resource – “Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington” – gives you all of the information you need to understand what you can and cannot do when renting.

For instance, topics such as eviction notices, utility shut-offs and when your landlord is allowed to enter your rental, are all described in easy-to-understand language. You’ll also find information on making deposits before you move in and getting them back once you leave your rental. Look at the section on what you need to do to give notice to move out to be sure you’re doing everything legal.

This resource also covers what to do if your unit needs repairs. The responsibilities of you as the tenant vs. your landlord’s responbilities while you’re in the rental are also covered.

Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington” is available for free at http://sites.lawhelp.org/documents/1593216300EN.pdf?stateabbrev=%2FWA%2F.

If you need a lawyer to help protect your rights as a tenant, visit our Find An Attorney page at http://aibinc.net/findalawyer.

 

 

Domestic relations forms updated in WA state

As required by law, DoItYourselfLegalKits recently updated a handful of legal kits and forms that underwent substantial changes.

The Access to Justice Board’s Pro Se Project converted WA state’s domestic relations forms into plain language to make it easier for non-lawyers to complete and file documents. These new family law forms MUST be used in any domestic relations cases filed after July 1, 2016.

If you started legal proceedings before this date, you still need to use these new forms, or the judge may request corrected paperwork, resulting in a delay in your case. DoItYourselfLegalKits has these new forms/kits available on our website at http://doityourselflegalkits.com./kits.html

Finding an attorney doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these tips from Attorneys’ Information Bureau

When you need an attorney, how do you go about finding one? Most people wait until they’re in crisis mode to start searching. But a frantic search just adds to an already stressful situation.

“The key to finding a great attorney is to start looking right now, before you need one,” says Grant Harken, Operations Manager, Attorneys’ Information Bureau. AIB is a Seattle-based company that provides legal services to lawyers as well as resources to people who need legal help.

“Look at the process of finding a qualified lawyer the same way you do your primary physician. You need someone you can trust and call when needed,” says Harken. “Otherwise, scrambling at the last minute means you might end up with someone with less experience than you need or who is more expensive than your budget allows.”

AIB recommends searching for a law firm that offers a free initial consultation. This gives you a chance to meet in a relaxed environment and see if the chemistry is right.

“Use the free consultation to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience and background,” recommends Harken. “Ask how the attorney’s fee structure works so you know what to expect when the need arises.”

Identifying firms that offer free initial consultations can be very time-consuming. To make it easier, AIB has set up at website at aibinc.net where you can search by specialty and geographical area, then review listings to see which law firms offer free consultations. The site is sponsored by AIB as a way to promote the attorneys for whom it provides services and to foster the Washington State Bar Association’s initiative to promote Equal Access to Justice.

AIB offers one last bit of advice. “Before you make an appointment for your free consultation, do your homework. Confirm the law firm is in good standing by going to the Washington State Bar Association’s website at www.wsba.org. If you have doubts about one firm, find another one.”