Archive for filing legal documents

Vacating a Criminal Record in Washington State

Vacating a criminal record in Washington requires filing documents in court.

If a past criminal conviction could cause problems, you may be interested in vacating a criminal record. Clearing an old criminal record is a possibility in the state of Washington as long as you meet all requirements and file the proper court-required documents. Read on to learn about the process of vacating a criminal.

What Is Vacating?

The process of vacating a criminal record is also known as sealing a criminal record or filing for a vacation of a criminal record. If the court grants vacation of a criminal record, it means the record still exists, but its contents cannot be revealed or publicly viewed. In some cases, juvenile records can be destroyed as long as all requirements are met. Click here to read the requirements for vacating a criminal record.

Types of Crimes

Misdemeanors, gross misdemeanor and felony convictions may be vacated if you meet all of the requirements established by the state. Crimes such as sex offenses, pornography, driving under the influence or an attempt to commit a violent offense do not qualify for a vacation.

Reasons for Vacating a Criminal Record

You may need to pass a background check related to housing or employment, and a conviction could negatively impact those chances. Or you may want to obtain a passport or obtain special licenses, but the conviction may cause problems. According to Washington Law Help, if you have a vacated record, you may honestly answer that you were not convicted of a crime, and thus opening the door to more opportunities.

Qualifications

Vacating your conviction doesn’t happen automatically. You must meet certain qualifications. For example, a certain amount of time must have passed since the conviction. Plus, you cannot have any criminal charges pending in any municipal, state or federal court. In addition, you cannot have unpaid fines, fees or court ordered restitution. Other requirements also need to be met. Click here to read the full list of requirements for vacating a criminal record.

Filing Documents

You must fill out and file the correct forms with the court to start the process of vacation a criminal record. Since the forms are fairly straight forward, you may be able to complete them yourself. Click here to buy an instant download of a Misdemeanor Vacating/Sealing Criminal Records Kit. Click here to buy an instant download of a Felony Vacating/Sealing Criminal Records Kit. Click here to buy an instant download of a Records Sealing Kit – Juvenile. All of our kits contain the most recent forms required by Washington state courts.

If you feel you need the services of an attorney to help file the documents or to get advice about your quest to vacate a criminal record, click here to visit our lawyer referral pages.

Additional reading:

Click here to read the State of Washington’s ‘A Guide to Sealing and Destroying Court Records, Vacating Convictions, and Deleting Criminal History Records in Washington State.’

Got Your Digital Assets Covered? Five Things You Need to Know

Keeping track of login information is critical to preeserving your digital assets for the future.

Are you on Facebook? Do you use PayPal? Are some of your financial or shopping accounts online? Do you post family or personal photos to your social media pages or to the cloud? If so, you own digital assets.

If you suddenly have an accident or become too ill to handle your own personal affairs, a power of attorney can step in to handle things for you. But they can only do so much if you do not have a plan to handle the digital assets. Without a plan, your family could be buried in red tape for months, if not years, leaving your affairs in shambles.

What happens to your digital assets once you pass away? You could be leaving money and assets on the table that simply can’t be accessed without an incredible amount of effort by your loved ones. Sometimes those assets are of an emotional value, such as personal emails and family photos, and could be lost forever.

 

Rather than leaving your family or estate executor with a huge mess, use these tips to make sure your digital assets don’t get lost in the cloud forever.

What are Digital Assets?

Digital assets consist of any online account or file you store on your computer, smartphone or in the cloud. These accounts and files often require login information consisting of a username and password. Sometimes security questions are asked to verify your identity.

Types of Digital Assets

Here are a few of the digital assets to consider:

  • Financial – bank, investment and PayPal accounts.
  • Utility accounts
  • Healthcare – including medical history, prescriptions and insurance information
  • Photos, music, videos, books, artwork
  • Domain names and website hosting accounts
  • Personal and business email and mailing addresses
  • Shopping accounts
  • Cell phone accounts
  • Social media pages
  • Databases related to collectibles

Gather Login Information

The first step you must take is to create a list of login information for all of your accounts. Make sure to include the website address of the account, your user name or account number, password and any security questions or PIN numbers, if required.

Store Login Information Securely

Keeping your login information secure is critical. The simplest way is to create a password-protected document on your computer (make sure you back it up, too).

Even better – use an online password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass. Both companies offer encrypted security protocols to keep all of your login information safe. This also allows you to change passwords and update accounts without having to provide your executor with a new copy of the information each and every time you make a change.

Prepare Legal Documents

After you go to all of the work to gather your login information, don’t forget to share the information with your Power of Attorney or estate executor in case you can’t manage your own affairs. Click here to download a DIY General and Durable Power of Attorney, good in the state of Washington. Click here to buy a Will Kit (State of Washington). Both kits are available as instant downloads, or buy the print version, and we’ll mail to you.

What Is A Notarized Signature and Why Do I Need One?

Notary Public located in Seattle, Washington, King County

Need a notarized signature in order to file legal documents or take the next step in a legal transaction? Why do banks, courts and other legal institutions require a notary signature?

Simply put, a notarized signature is often required to witness and certify the person signing a document is who he says he is. A notary’s primary job is to prevent fraud and to give legal institutions confidence a legal document is legitimate.

Appointed by WA State

As a notary public, the official name given to people who provide notary services, we are appointed by Washington state government via the Secretary of State, to perform notary duties. We act as an impartial witness when it comes to signing important legal documents. Part of our notary duties include screening of all signers and making sure each person signs of their own free will. Part of the job includes witnessing the signing. The other part of our job requires maintaining accurate records of all notary transactions completed.

How It Works

When you go to a notary, you’ll be asked to provide identification to verify you are who you say you are. Some types of legal documents require you to provide two forms of identification, so check in advance to find out what you need to bring. Do NOT sign your legal documents before coming to our or any other notary’s office. Once your ID and willingness to sign is verified, then you sign the documents in front of the notary. You must do so without anyone forcing you to sign. Once you sign, the notary adds their own signature, an official notary seal and commission details. You now have a notarized signature.

Qualifications for a Notary

In Washington state, one must obtain a surety bond from an insurance company in order to apply to become a notary public. You also attend a notary education class and must learn the laws and rules for becoming a notary public.

Types of Documents Requiring a Notary

The most common types of documents requiring a notarized signature include the following. By no means is this a complete list, though.

  • Wills (click here to buy an instant download of a will)
  • Living Trusts
  • Home mortgage Deed of Trust
  • Power of attorney designations (click here to buy an instant download of a power of attorney)
  • Prenuptial agreements (click here to buy an instant download of a prenuptial agreement)
  • Contracts
  • Bill of Sale
  • Transferring an automobile
  • Consent for a minor to travel abroad

Give Attorneys’ Information Bureau/Do It Yourself Legal Kits a call at (206) 622-1909 to find out what you need to get your signature notarized. Our office, located in the King County Courthouse in Seattle, is open from Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for notary services (please note, we’re closed from 12 to 1:00 p.m.)

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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.