Archive for Tips

Got a Pre-Nup? Strange Pre-Nup Clauses for Your Consideration!

Taking the time to write a pre-nup just makes sense.

Wedding bells are in the air! Seems like the perfect time to re-visit the world of strange pre-nups. Officially known as pre-marital property agreements, a pre-nup often covers more than who gets what if the marriage ends. Some even cover what happens while the marriage is ongoing!

No one wants to think about pre-nups in the rosy glow of love and bliss. And just because you want one doesn’t mean you think your marriage is headed for divorce before you even make it down the aisle. Even if you don’t have many assets today, a pre-nuptial can protect you down the road when you might be worth more and stand to lose a lot.

Here are a few interesting clauses to consider for your own pre-nup, courtesy of some famous celebrities who know the importance of protecting their assets.

Who Owns that Gift?

Diply, a social entertainment website, reports Britney Spears and Kevin Federline had a prenup that stated any gift of over $7,000 had to be accompanied by a legal document indicating who owned the gift. They aren’t the only ones to have this type of prenup. According to The Talko, an entertainment site geared for women, Kim and Kanye have a prenup that allows her to keep any gifts he gives her, even if the marriage fails.

Money for the Kids

Planning to have lots of kids together? WKYS 93.9 reports Beyonce and Jay Z have a prenup that says she gets $5 million for each child she gives birth to if they divorce. She’s up $15 million right now.

Money Per Year of Marriage

According to the Mirror, Katie Holmes convinced Tom Cruise to sign a pre-nup saying she would get paid $3 million for each year they were married. In the end, she received a total of $15 million for five years of marriage. Other celebrities include clauses that allow the other person to collect millions if they stay married for a specific length of time.

Adding a Cheating Clause

Being cheated on is no fun, so why not include a clause to make sure you pocket some money if your spouse cheats on you during the marriage? We’ve read about a few celebrity pre-nups where large sums of money were involved if one partner was caught cheating. Diply reports that Catherin Zeta-Jones gets $5 million if Michael Douglas cheats.

Use Paper

It’s a known fact that Amy Irving and Steven Spielberg made a prenup on a napkin. Guess what? A divorce court judge quickly threw that out as illegal, and Irving ended up getting half of Spielberg’s money in their divorce.

Appearance Stipulations

Want to control your spouse’s appearance during the marriage? Sounds harsh, but some celebrities include clauses in their pre-nups about their partner. For instance, how about Jessica Simpson’s purported nuptial from her husband that fines her if her weight goes above 135 pounds?

Dealing with In-Laws

Reader’s Digest described a prenup clause that said the mother-in-law was limited to joining the couple to just one night –– and no more –– on the couple’s vacations. Worried your spouse will be rude to your parents? Might be wise to include a clause that makes them pay every time they offend the in-laws.

Ready to make your own pre-nup? Instantly buy and download our Pre-Marital Property Settlement Kit/Pre-Nuptial Agreement by clicking here. You can also order a hard copy of the kit, and we’ll mail it to you.

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.

 

Need a Will? What You Need To Know to Write Your Will

Do you need a will? Find out if you need one, then get tips for writing your will.

Did you know…not everyone will need a will? If you have no relatives and don’t care if the state gets everything you own, you may not need a will. Or, if you have no assets or possessions or you’re okay with your closest relative (such as a parent or a sibling) inheriting everything you own, then you may not need a will in that situation, either. Even so, beware: states vary in how things are divvied up once you pass away.

That’s why taking the time to write a will is important if you want control over what happens to your assets, property and possessions. We offer a do-it-yourself will kit for Washington State that makes it super easy to write down your wishes. But before we get to that, let’s look at some of the basics.

What a Will Does and Doesn’t Cover

A will is a legal document that explains your wishes for distributing your property and assets. Some things aren’t established in a will, though. For instance, according to EstatePlanning.com, a service provided by The WealthCounsel Companies, if you name a beneficiary on your life insurance polity or retirement accounts, a will is not needed for that beneficiary to inherit the asset. But that also means you can’t name someone else to inherit this asset in your will, either.

Requirements for Creating a Will

You’ll need to be legally capable of creating a will, which is why witnesses are required (see below). You must also be 18 years of age or older to make a will. Once you create a will, you need to store it somewhere. If you want your loved ones to find your will, make sure to tell someone where to find it upon your death. If no one can find your will, the state will determine who inherits your property.

 Decide Who Inherits What

Decide who inherits your assets, property and possessions. Don’t forget digital assets. When filling out a will, use the recipient’s whole name, rather than identifying them as your wife or child, as this helps eliminate confusion, says Megan Leonhardt in an article written for Money magazine. She also recommends being very specific about assets, such as providing the address for property or writing down precise descriptions of personal property you plan to leave in your will.

RELATED: Click here to read our blog post about 5 things you need to know about digital assets.

 

Witnesses Required

According to a blog post by Redmond-based Pacific Northwest Law Group (PNWLG), your will must be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses. Otherwise, the will may not be valid. Holographic wills, which are written by hand and do not have witnesses), are not valid in Washington state, says PNWLG. But PNWLG says that if a holographic will was created in a state in which they’re allowed, then Washington state honors the will.

Why worry what will really happen when you can instantly download our do-it-yourself will kit, fill it in, get it witnessed by two people and you’re done? If you have questions or want to divvy up your assets in a way that requires more detailed planning, check out our lawyer referral listings.

Click here to buy an instant download of our DIY Will Kit. If you prefer, you can order a print copy, and we’ll mail the kit to you.

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.

 

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.

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

talk to your kids about divorce

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

Explain Together

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

Script It

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

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

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

Encourage Questions

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

Related:

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

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

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

Legal Separation Kit, Non-Contested

 

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.

 

 

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.

Document Scanning: 7 Reasons to Scan Vs. Offsite Storage and Records Management

Document scanning saves time, $$ and resources.

Storing boxes of legal files in offsite storage facilities sounds like a good idea, right? After all, that’s how it’s been done for decades. Savvy law firms are discovering a far more efficient way to secure record management–– they know document scanning allows them to easily retrieve files at a moment’s notice.

While you could say, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” the truth is you’re missing out of a slew of advantages digital documents offer if you still store boxes of documents offsite. We’re talking time, resources and $$ saving benefits you don’t get with conventional storage methods. Here are our top seven reasons for making the switch to scanning:

Eliminate Costs of Records Storage
According to an independent analysis conducted by Legal IT Professionals, an online magazine dedicated to legal technology news, it costs $57.52 to prepare, pack, pick-up, and store one box of files when you send it to an off-site storage facility. Those document storage fees sound reasonable… until you realize they do not include the cost, time and labor of your staff and/or the storage facility to locate and retrieve the box, then return it to the storage facility when you’re done.

No More Lost Documents
No firm wants to be part of the mind-boggling statistic saying 7.5% of all paper documents are lost forever. In a legal firm, that’s practically a crime. Document imaging eliminates this problem. Need we say more?

Immediate Access
The biggest benefit of document scanning is instant access. Just imagine – it’s the middle of the night or a long holiday weekend. You need a file, but obtaining storage boxes of files from a facility requires emergency retrieval, adding to the already high cost of the service. On the other hand, once your documents are scanned, there are no future costs. Instead, simply insert the thumb drive or disk containing all of your documents into your computer or upload the documents to your network if your staff needs access, and bingo! You’ve got immediate access with no waiting around. You can even upload the documents to the cloud for access from any computer/laptop with an Internet connection.

Meet Disaster Recovery Goals
The elephant in the room no one wants to talk about is disaster recovery of your files if fire or a natural disaster occurs. If you store your files onsite, you could be facing a huge problem. But with document scanning, you can store the data in the cloud for access from anywhere at anytime, including right after a fire, flood, earthquake or other natural disaster. We recommend keeping multiple copies of the disks or thumb drives in different locations since the devices take so little storage space. Keep one at your home, one in the office and another in your safety deposit box so you keep downtime after a disaster to a minimum.

Avoid Waiting Until Records Are Inactive
Document scanning simplifies the work involved on current cases, too. Rather than searching through hundreds or thousands of pieces of paper, simply review the digital index for that case and access the document immediately. This provides flexibility to work on the case without having to carry heavy boxes of files home or frantically searching for that one file before you can leave the office.

Local and Low Cost in Seattle, Washington
AIB is a locally owned business in Seattle, so it’s easy for us to handle your document scanning needs. We don’t have account managers who lose track of what’s going on with your project. Plus, we don’t have the high overhead costs of nationwide marketing or miles of shelving space to store all of those boxes. So, we pass that cost savings to you. Typically, our clients save up to 40% of the costs the large, impersonal storage facilities charge for similar services.

One-Stop Doc Scan Service
Our clients love the ease of our document scanning services. We handle the job from start to finish, including retrieving the boxes of files, scanning all documents, indexing the contents, providing a device with all of your files on it and destruction of your files, if you so choose. Add the scanned documents to your server for multiple people to work on, or you can work directly from the device we provide to instantly access the documents you need.

Here’s what our clients say about our scanning services:

We think being proactive about paper storage is the wave of the future, and there’s just no need to store hard copies of documents when there’s a more efficient way. That’s why relying on AIB’s digital scanning services was a smart move and a good investment for us. They’re reliable, and it saves storage costs.  Without scanned files, it could take a week to 10 days to get a file. Now, we instantly access the files from the thumb drive AIB provides to us. Plus, their friendly and approachable manner makes it easy to work with them.
Ann Carey
Carey & Lillevik Attorneys at Law

AIB’s scanning services are great! They pick up our boxes about once a year and return with a thumb drive containing all of our files. Everything is organized the way I want it. I upload the scanned files to our secure server, and anyone in the office can instantly retrieve any document. We could do the scanning ourselves, but this way, our staff isn’t tied up at the copier all day. Plus, because of AIB’s custom interface, I can just search for the client’s name or narrow down the results based upon customized criteria that I set up with AIB.  I don’t even have to leave my desk to access the files. Otherwise, to get files out of storage, someone has to drive there, search for the files in a room with one light bulb, and then bring the file back. Now, I just click on an icon, and instantly, I’ve got access.
Frank DeMarco
Principle
Linn Schisel & DeMarco

It’s exciting to find a company that’s as easy to communicate with as AIB. When I use them to document and scan my medical records, I feel valued as a customer. When they were scanning my files, I had a patient request a record. AIB was quick to pull that information, put it on a disk and get it to me so I could hand it to my patient in a timely manner. They’re friendly and very professional. That’s rare today when most businesses rely on a robo phone to do business.
Afia Menke, ND
Cottage Clinic

 

 

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.”