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John S. Palmer

John Palmer’s Answers

191 total


  • Common law marriage and division of assets

    I know WA doesn't have a common law marriage but something else that gives people rights to property... I have been in a relationship going on 4 years. After 7 months of dating and living separately I bought a house and paid down payment etc, whic...

    John’s Answer

    From my blog post on the topic:

    Washington does not recognize common-law marriage. However, it has adopted the “committed intimate relationship” doctrine (formerly known as the “meretricious relationship” doctrine), which “is a judicially created doctrine used to resolve the property distribution issues that arise when unmarried people separate after living in a marital-like relationship and acquiring what would have been community property had they been married.”

    I have added a link to the blog article, which explains the 3-prong analysis courts use to divide property after a committed intimate relationship ends. You have a couple of potential factors in your favor: the fact that the house was purchased by you before you lived together, and the fact that there is case law to support the proposition that if the house was your separate property at the time it was acquired, and he merely helped pay the mortgage or other expenses while living there with you, then he has been compensated for his "investment" by getting to live in the house, and does not have an ownership interest.

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  • Do declarations in support of a trust legally need to be included with a notice of action subpoena and would a judge order this,

    I am trying to form a non medical special needs trust for my brother with a drug problem and non diagnosed mental issues. I had witnesses write declarations in support of this action and instructed my lawyer not to include them with trial date not...

    John’s Answer

    I agree that more information is needed to answer this question, but it sounds like you have petitioned to have funds to which your brother is legally entitled--perhaps an inheritance--diverted to a special needs trust to protect them and prevent him from squandering them. If so, then he is legally entitled to due process (generally defined as notice of what you are asking, and an opportunity to respond) before the court will act. If that's the case, then he is entitled to copies of all documents you are filing with the court, which would include the declarations filed in support of the action.

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  • Trust Representation

    I am Trustee who would like to represent the Trust in a foreclosure case Pro Se.Is it allowed under Washington law.

    John’s Answer

    It's pretty widely held that because entities like corporations and trusts cannot hold law licenses, officers or trustees can represent the entities on a pro se basis. The pro se exceptions are quite limited and generally apply only if the layperson is acting solely on his or her own behalf.

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  • I have only been married a year and now want a divorce

    I want the ring I gave my wife back. Do I have any hope of getting it back?

    John’s Answer

    Under Washington law, the ring may be your spouse's separate property, but in a divorce, all property, both community and separate, is subject to a "fair and equitable" division by the court. That means the separate property of one party can be awarded to the other. Therefore, you could ask to be awarded the ring, and the court might award it to you. I think you would have to demonstrate why it would be "just and equitable" to do so (e.g., you spent a good chunk of your savings on it, and now need to sell it to pay bills or expenses), and are not just acting out of spite.

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  • Can a convicted felon act as trustee for a trust?

    Trust is administered by a bank in Michigan.

    John’s Answer

    You need to determine which state's laws apply to the administration and interpretation of the trust, as that state's law will control. That said, if the person who created this trust did not specifically choose this person to act as trustee, and someone is considering a court petition to have him/her appointed as such, I think the conviction would weigh heavily against appointing them, if not disqualify them outright.

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  • How do I conform Trust acknowledgement and appointment documents?

    We have received a set of documents from both special needs trust beneficiaries, acknowledging their acceptance of a new special needs Trustee, as well as signatures from the previous trustees for their resignations. All signatures in the letter ...

    John’s Answer

    i am guessing that the trust was created by court order, as "conforming" a document is the informal term used in King County for getting proof you filed the document with the court. Traditionally this was done by bringing the original and a copy to the court, filing the original, placing the court's "received" stamp on the copy showing the date it was filed, and retaining that copy in your records. Now most documents can be e-filed and a receipt printed.

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  • I need 2 witnesses to sign my Do It Your Self Will. Is this a service you provide and at what $ost?

    FYO. The will was done online using http://www.TotalLegal.com.

    John’s Answer

    i think most lawyers would decline to help you because of the potential liability, as their involvement in the process could be construed as having vetted and approved the will as adequate to meet your needs.

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  • Funeral Expenses: Wife Has No Money....

    My father passed away this past Thursday, and right now his body is laid up at the funeral home; His wife, has no money for cremation, and does not appear to have any plans to make final arrangements. My question is simple. If I pay for his cremat...

    John’s Answer

    My condolences for your loss. It is unclear whether your father died in Washington State, and the laws of the state where he died will apply here. Under Washington law (RCW 68.50.160), your father had the right to designate in writing who he wanted to control disposition of his remains; in the absence of such a writing, the surviving spouse has the right to control their disposition, followed by a majority of the adult children.

    If possible, you could offer to pay for cremation in return for being given at least some of the remains. You could also ask to be reimbursed if money becomes available.

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  • Fighting against Washington State DSHS.

    DSHS is conducting an investigation on me for finacial exploutation of an elder, my grandfather. I was his POA and did what he asked me to do. His bills were a mess but he didn't want me to do anything about it, he would ask me to give money to ce...

    John’s Answer

    You almost certainly need a lawyer to represent you in the investigation and any subsequent proceeding that may result. Offhand you have two problems: (a) the rules of evidence may make it difficult for you to prove your grandfather asked you to do these things, and (b) even if you can prove he did, that may not justify following his instructions for various reasons, such as if he was not competent at the time he gave them to you.

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  • My elderly mother is quite confused mentally and unable to understand or make decisions for her medical care or finances.

    I have been helping her pay her bills and manage all of her financial and medical care for 3 years now.She hasn't been able to balance a checkbook for at least that long. In the last 3 weeks she has declined rapidly in her mental clarity. I am na...

    John’s Answer

    I agree that it would be wise to consult with an attorney to make sure you have everything in order, and understand what you can and cannot do. As a quick example, when hiring caregivers you want to make it clear that they will be paid with your mother's funds and you are not personally liable. A lawyer can also advise you how to deal with your siblings; good advice now could either keep you out of a court dispute with them, or make sure you do not give them anything to use against you if they start something. You would be seeking legal advice in your capacity as your mother's fiduciary, so paying the lawyer with your mother's funds would most likely be a legitimate use of her money.

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