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Edward Zaryl Kotkin

Edward Kotkin’s Answers

167 total

  • I am on a lease agreement with a shared apartment with two other individuals. I need to remove myself from the lease asap.

    In the state of California can i provide a written notice sent via certified mail stating that I am choosing to be removed from my apartment lease. The other two individuals residing there will remain on it. I simply need to be removed due to a fa...

    Edward’s Answer

    While the answers to date are basically correct, here are a couple of comments that I hope will assist you. HOW you say something to a landlord under circumstances like these is almost as important as what you say. Overall strategy and definition of precise tactics are very important and will likely determine whether you're successful in handling this matter to your satisfaction.

    Presuming that the lease was not given based exclusively upon your credit or guaranty, there's a reasonably good chance that the landlord will let you "out" of the lease. You also need to approach your room-mates on some level, and will likely need to get some promises from them upon which your landlord may rely. The bottom line as to what the law says about what you want to accomplish and precisely how you should go about it: a lot depends upon the terms of your actual lease and the understanding of the landlord that prompted him/her/it to sign it.

    As a practical matter, talking to a lawyer in your situation would likely be a good idea. I suggest that you try to identify someone you trust here on Avvo and reach out to set up a consultation. While many attorneys will consult with you for free on an introductory level, what you really need is a legal snapshot as to where you stand and some good recommendations as to how you should handle your circumstances. Offer to pay a flat fee for document review and recommendations at a conference that doesn't exceed an hour. Show up ready to take notes and ask questions. Having an attorney handle the actual discussions for you will likely prove pretty expensive, but getting the advice I am recommending will likely be a more affordable proposition! Good luck.

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  • Can a non-profit Faith Based Organization have a primary mission goal to teach children fire safety?

    I would like to know if a FBO can incorporate as a non-profit public benefit corporation

    Edward’s Answer

    The answer is yes.

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  • I have been Ordered to sign the Deeds to my Properties, all four of them, or they will appoint someone to sign them for me?

    I am Disabled and feel I am being taken advantage of. Is it Legal to force someone to sign off on the Deeds to their Property, without any compensation and take the Properties away from them?

    Edward’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Although you have provided no details, unless you have made a material omission and/or completely mischaracterized the transactions in which you have participated, I have personally sent people to prison for less offensive conduct than what you describe. You need an immediate consultation with an attorney who has a background in criminal and real estate law.

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  • I am looking for an attorney to review a federal statute ( The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 )

    I am looking at an outside the box application of this program and am looking for suggestions as to what type of attorney to engage . Part of the program is related to real estate , so is an RE attorney appropriate ? Govt ? Govt Contracts ? T...

    Edward’s Answer

    Reading and interpreting statutes is an art. As you proceed, keep in mind that no matter who you hire, there will always be an attorney on the other side of a dispute who reads the same statute that your lawyer has defined for you to say something quite different. The number of qualified private sector practitioners (a) practicing in California, and (b) specializing in government per se is smaller than you might guess. One reason is that government lawyers in California are fairly well compensated, and seldom break their golden handcuffs. While that often enhances the quality of lawyers who work for the government, it leaves few people in private practice with the specialized expertise to assist a client like you.

    Some large and medium sized firms represent government agencies on a contract basis and have great attorneys who can help. Keep in mind that those firms charge their public clients rates that are typically quite low, but still have significant overhead. Such firms often justifiably/reasonably "make up the difference" that they suffer when they bill their public clients when a private party needing a government expert shows up at the door. Don't hold that against them, it's just good business on their part.

    Depending upon the scope and nature of the review you require, there may be resources available that eliminate your need for a lawyer. A free consultation with an attorney who doesn't see you as a walking dollar sign should help you decide if going it alone is an option.

    There are a few highly qualified government law practitioners out there, but it can be tricky to find them. Websites like Avvo and really good "Googling" may help you find them.

    Best of luck!

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  • Does my sister have ownership to my business ?

    Hi , my sister and I started a small business in Rodi around 7 years ago . The lease of the store is under her name , but the entity of the business is under my name . She contributed 1 year and small amount of money for the business and she l...

    Edward’s Answer

    As my colleague indicates, the level of information you provide is an insufficient basis for meaningful observations. A pair of concepts will be discussed when you share data with a lawyer during a consultation - law and equity. Stated differently, what will matter is what are the "rules," and what is "fair." The core questions here, in lay terms, are (a) what was agreed upon between your sister, (b) were enforceable promises made and relied upon or not, and (c) are there any technical/legal reasons that what would otherwise be an enforceable promise might lose its significance.

    Avoid sharing extensive facts (or your position, beliefs, memories, etc., with respect to those facts) in this completely public forum. Doing so would be like dropping your drawers on camera when you appear on the "jumbo-tron" screen at a sports game in a stadium. Your private affairs should only be shared with others at an appropriate time, and in the right place. In this case, since the business at hand could have an immense impact on your livelihood, the context for your disclosures about what could be a contentious legal issue should be a consultation with a lawyer.

    Sometimes the best thing a competent lawyer can do is answer a question with a question. Here are a few relevant things that you will discuss with a competent attorney if you want an "answer." Since the best legal advice is NEVER based solely upon impressions that can be formed during an initial consultation, you should not expect to get anything worth relying upon in the context of a free hour. Hire the right attorney and get an informed opinion based upon complete facts, documents

    1. What do you mean when you say that your sister is "asking" you for this lump sum and these continuing payments? What exactly did she say or do to prompt you to want to know and/or provide her with an answer?
    2. What is the basis for your sister's request? There is likely a reason that she is making this particular claim. Did you have any understandings with her, oral or written that she is now seeking to enforce? If so, (a) what was the basis of those understandings, (b) what was the intended significance of those understandings, (c) did you make any kind of record of those understandings (if so, what kind of record, if not, are there any "witnesses" to those understandings) , (d) what sorts of things (if any) did you or she do in reliance upon those understandings, and (e) what benefit or burden did the business experience as a result of those understandings.
    3. When you say the "risk of breaking the lease," what do you mean?
    4. What exactly was your sister's one year "contribution" to the company? Did she have a contract (or any understanding) with the company (or with you) related to that contribution?
    5. What type of entity is your business? How is that entity organized and operated? Are there clear records that document your organization and/or operations? Who (apart from you) has first hand knowledge about these aspects of the business?

    This is not all that you will discuss, but it's a good glimpse for you into what should be discussed, at least in part, during your initial consultation with a lawyer. There are different kinds of business arrangements that might be appropriate between you and your lawyer. The kind of contract that you establish with your lawyer will likely be determined by what your sister is doing (or not doing) to pursue a claim against you.

    While local knowledge and presence can be helpful, in a case like yours it doesn't sound like it will matter very much apart from giving you the easy opportunity to meet/consult with a prospective attorney and decide if you like and trust him/her. Only you can decide how far you are willing to travel to find the right person to represent you. It's likely the case that someone highly qualified to assist you with this matter is nearby and ready to give you a free consultation - good luck finding that person.

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  • I was doing work on a property on a contract and the owner has not paid me yet. The owner just sold the property

    I was working on a property and the owner did not pay me for the work. The owner sold the property and does not want to pay me for the work that has been completed. what are my rights in relationship to a mechanics lien since there is a new owner ...

    Edward’s Answer

    Like most things related to the law, your rights depend upon what you did in the past and what you do now. Did you give timely notice of and record a preliminary notice of lien against the property? If you did, odds are that you will be fine, regardless of who owns the property. A mechanics' lien runs against the property, not the owner of the property. You may still have contractual rights against the party who didn't pay you, but that is a different issue and cannot be pursued through a mechanics' lien. Depending upon the amount you are owed under your contract, you may want to proceed in either small claims or civil court. If what I am asking is making you wonder "what's he talking about," you owe it to yourself (and your company's bottom line) to consult with and likely retain a business attorney familiar with the wonderful world of contracting here in the People's Republic of California.

    While our state is going broke, it maintains an extremely rigid regulatory framework for most businesses, and employs people with good salaries and benefits to enforce that framework . That said, keep your expectations low when YOU need to pursue enforcement of a regulation. All of the departments of our state government and state agencies are over-burdened and understaffed. Despite some good people doing good work for the state, in many cases, we citizens get all of the burdens without any of the benefits. If you're lucky enough to get the right person, things can go your way, but don't count on that happening - but I am feeling philosophical and digress, back to your situation in particular.

    The burden is often on the contractor (or the regulated business-person) to protect his/her own interests in the jungle of commerce in the Golden State. Here are a couple of specific thoughts that may be helpful. Pursuing a mechanics' lien is a great idea if you've established the foundation for doing so. The purchaser of the property would have had notice of the potential for a lien by you, and perfecting the lien (if the purchaser won't pay you) should be relatively easy. If you haven't completed all the work, what you do right now is important and time urgent. If you only recently completed the work, time remains of the essence. Depending upon the facts/circumstances of your case, if the work was segmented (rather than a single project), your rights may be easier to enforce.

    The problem is that sometimes a question is its own answer, and I suspect that is the case here. Most purchasers would not have bought the property with an outstanding notice of lien. Translate - you may not have dotted every "i" or crossed every "t." Regardless, it's worth a consultation with a competent lawyer. Odds are that you can get your questions related to this case answered for free (or relatively inexpensively) if you provide more information and talk to someone for a little while. That said, the real fix here is neither cheap nor quick.

    You should learn the rules that will keep you out of this trouble again, and have a business lawyer with whom you have a relationship to develop and maintain good practices. Better to avoid walking through a mine field mines than to try and put yourself back together after you step on a mine. I hope that your unpaid invoices aren't too steep, and I wish you good luck in addressing this situation and moving forward in a way that helps you avoid future problems.

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  • Can I use a PO box as my only business address in San Jose CA, and do I need a Registered Agent for my LLC in San Jose CA?

    we are moving our home office from Fremont to San Jose. We have decided that a PO box is better for us. But I have been told that I need a real address as well where you can find a person involved with our business. Is this true and if so how do...

    Edward’s Answer

    Messrs Jacobson and Doland have provided indisputably correct answers, as they both often do. You may wish to request that your general counsel provide you with a street address in order to avoid the ready accessibility of a residential address on a state form. While some attorneys will prefer not to do so for a variety of reasons, others will accomodate you without hesitation.

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  • Should I be wary of a tax audit phone interview? How should I prepare for and answer the questions? What are my rights?

    I'm being audited and I have a phone interview coming up. I've paid all my taxes and have nothing to hide but I'm wondering how to approach this interview. Apparently it will be basic background questions. Am I compelled to answer? Anything I ...

    Edward’s Answer

    The United States government never makes mistakes, and all of its officials and employees are there only to ensure that your tax dollars you have paid are well spent. Put your absolute trust in ministerial public employees because they are the creme de la creme when it comes to intelligence and insight. The Internal Revenue Service is known for surgical precision in its inquiries, and always provides a rational basis for its actions. Moreover, the function and purpose of the IRS audit personnel is to protect all of us, you included, from those who would otherwise skirt the clear and simple rules states in our tax code.

    How did you feel reading the above paragraph? Did it seem overly sarcastic or preposterous? I apologize if you feel insulted, but my purpose was to get your attention. Responsible business owners like you CAN navigate the waters of dealing with government agencies, and ordinarily obtain a good result. Your odds of doing so without competent help are drastically reduced.

    PLEASE do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Hire a tax attorney (or at least a trustworthy tax professional with solid credentials and a good reputation who provides credible assistance to taxpayers facing audits) and PREPARE for your interview. Be careful who you hire because the only thing worse than no representation is bad representation.

    I recently consulted with a business owner who suffered a severe setback and failed to exhaust administrative remedies because he had a terrible attorney. Now that business owner faces obstacles to even initiating legal action against the government agency that he feels made a bad decision impacting his business.

    Seek to postpone the telephone interview until you have retained the help you need. Good luck.

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  • Can property owner claim uncompleted job on contractor even though he said verbally to leave out jobs and made final payment?

    I am in the construction business and I did a house remodeling project completed more than a year ago. Now the owner claims the project is uncompleted even though he gave veral instruction to me not to do one small job and do another job in a di...

    Edward’s Answer

    The short direct answer to your question is that a lack of proof should prevent this "owner" from beating you in any legal or administrative context, but will never stop such an individual from coming after you. A consultation with a business attorney seems warranted to see where you are and what you should do.

    Those of us in the legal community who do defense work will concur on an important principle: it does not matter whether you are "right" in any particular transaction - any aggrieved fool or commercial "terrorist" can come after you and purport to be a claimant. Regrettably, when a business-person like you is responsible, has every necessary license, permit, and insurance policy, and adheres to best practices, doing business the "right" way can be a magnet that draws every potential claimant from under every rock. As the adage says, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

    A claim or complaint doesn't need to be well-founded to keep the claimant from trotting it up the courthouse steps. Unfortunately, there are many attorneys out there who will eagerly participate in an unwarranted shake-down of a good business. Please don't think that the evils of the legal system run one way. Many plaintiffs have a legitimate case, and lots of plaintiffs' attorneys routinely perform a valuable service in our communities. There are indeed as many bad businesses as there are claimants who bring nonsensical claims. One important aspect of your situation is that your choice to live and work in the People's Republic of San Francisco comes with a jury pool that isn't known for being business-friendly.

    To make matters worse, selectiveness in taking on customers is a luxury that many businesses cannot afford in this economy. Accordingly, all you can do is all you can do. Most companies would be well advised to consult with a business transactions attorneys in order to develop standard forms (and other documents) for use in day-to-day contact with their customers and employees. For a contractor, such forms would definitely include a good preliminary notice of lien form, a solid form for acceptance of work and release of lien, and a clear disclosure/statement that explains your warranty (or lack thereof) with respect to services rendered.

    If you're lucky enough to be in a position to investigate/vet your prospective customers, you should find a cost-effective way to do so. A bit of common sense before you sign on for a project goes a long way toward keeping your blood pressure down, and an ounce of prevention (or avoidance) can be worth two hundred fifty seven tons of cure. While terrific front-end legal work and/or due diligence on your behalf can't prevent a slimy claimant from coming out from under his/her rock after you, well-crafted documents in the paper-trail that tells the story of your transaction and/or a simple investigation of your prospective client will go a long toward helping you stay out of trouble, or shutting a garbage claim down when the rubber meets the road. If you stay in business for a while (particularly in San Francisco), you will recover the cost of legal services such as those I've described many times over in peace of mind and reduced legal fees down the road.

    If it makes you feel better, even lawyers are not immune from the marketplace hazards that I describe. We have to be carefully prepare our fee agreements, and be very careful about the clients we agree to represent. Lawyer up, and if your documents are really in line with a solid defense, try to avoid negotiating with a terrorist. That said, never be blind to the potential for a "nuisance value" settlement. If the plaintiff/claimant makes a demand that will cost you less to pay than the lawyers' fees attached to defending your case, consider the benefit of throwing a small amount of money at the problem to make it go away. Good luck!

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  • Will i loose my first time home buyers benifits?? Pls help ASAP

    Ok so a friend a mine is about to loose her house. Right now it's on SHORT SALE, and she asked me if I could help her re-buy her house so she doesn't have to leave. So if I do help her RE-BUY she said we can refinance after 6 months and she will t...

    Edward’s Answer

    The bank will not approve a short sale that isn't an arms' length transaction. The inquiry you've made provides details that suggest that this is arguably collusion and a conspiracy to defraud. Depending upon additional facts and circumstances of this matter, your participation in this contrivance will violate a number of state and federal laws.

    No competent attorney will give you an actual legal opinion or advice on Avvo, but here's a strong recommendation - Do NOT engage in this transaction as you've described it without having an attorney tell you that it doesn't violate the law.

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