Archive for Legal Kits

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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