Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to Choose the Right Visa For Your Move to Mexico

You have a few options to consider when you are deciding on what Visa to get for your move to Mexico. The three most popular types of Mexican Visas are the FMT, FM2, and the FM3.

The FMT Visa is what you get anytime you enter Mexico from the US. It is easy to get, and the paperwork will be handed to you on the plane as you are flying into Mexico or as you're crossing the border. This is the easiest Visa to acquire but also comes with restrictions. First of all you are usually only allowed to stay in the country for 180 days. If you are given less than 180 days on your FMT you can get an extension at an immigration office. The FMT is a tourist Visa but many people simply make "border runs" every 180 days to get a new FMT, while living full time in Mexico. If you are planning to live in Mexico for the long term, you will most likely want to consider getting an FM2 or FM3. You are also not able to move your belongings into Mexico with an FMT.

The FM2 Visa is for becoming a citizen of Mexico. It will generally take 5 years to become a citizen you are given your FM2, and you can not apply for a FM2 in the US, you have to go to an immigration office in Mexico. The FM2 allows for permanent residency but generally people moving or retiring to Mexico will want to get an FM3, which is cheaper to get and maintain.

An FM3 Visa allows you to stay in Mexico without making border runs every 180 days, it also makes it easier to set up utilities for your house, open a bank account, and move all your belongings from the US to your new home. Getting an FM3 is much more complicated compared to getting an FMT, and will require going to your local (or not so local) Mexican Consulate in person to fill out a lot of paperwork. Each consulate may have different rules so it's hard to say exactly what will be required of you. In general they want to see proof of income of $1,000 to $2,000 per month, or more if you have any dependents. Some Consulates also may only give an FM3 to people over the age of 55, while others don't have an age limit. Everyone's experience is usually different when trying to get an FM3.

If you are moving to Mexico you need to consider what Visa is right for you. If you don't have to move your belongings down to Mexico and aren't planning on staying for the rest of your life, you may be able to get by with the standard FMT. However, if you want to move your household items to Mexico you will need an FM3, which also comes with the added benefit of not having to go to the border every 180 days.

Jason helps people who are moving to Mexico by walking them through what can be a very complicated process. If you are considering a move to Mexico and have questions about getting your FM3, creating your Menaje de Casa, or have any other questions about your move, he can help. Mexico Moving Company provides door to door moves from all over the US and Canada to anywhere in Mexico.

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Entrepreneurs Are Welcome in Singapore Part I - Overview of Immigration

Entrepreneurs! Here's your chance to beat the downturn and move to Singapore to setup your business. You can apply for Permanent Residency. Permanent residence has many benefits -

* You and your family can work and buy property.
* You can the family can travel in and out of Singapore freely.
* Public education system for the children.
* Local tax benefits.

One important thing to know before you apply for the PR is that your sons are obligated to do compulsory military service when they reach the age of 18.

If you decide to move to Singapore, this article will give you an overview of the Immigration and Permanent Residence scheme.

Eligibility - To apply for immigration or Permanent Residence Scheme, the first step is to obtain an entry pass. Entry Passes are of following types -

* Entrepreneurs Pass
* Employment Pass (P and Q Pass)
* Dependent Pass
* S Pass.

Entrepreneurs Pass - A Person who wants to set up a business in Singapore needs to apply for an Entrepreneurs Pass (EntrePass) and such person would not require work permit. Basic requirements for EntrePass are

* Willingness to settle in Singapore
* Start a business that has a good growth potential as well as physically run it.

It is valid up to 2 years and its main advantage is that it also allows your immediate family to live in Singapore. It can be renewed as long as the business is operational.

Employment Pass - Those who are interested to work in Singapore can apply for this Pass. Eligibility would be educational qualification and income. Types of Employment Passes are

* P1 - fixed income above SGD 7,000, can apply for dependent pass
* P2 - fixed income of SGD 3,500 - 7,000, can apply for dependent pass
* Q1 Pass - fixed income above SGD 2,500, can apply for dependent pass but not long term visit pass for parents

Employment Pass is valid up to 2 years.

S Pass - Skilled worker is eligible for this Pass.

* Eligibility is assessed on various factors like Salary, Qualification, Work experience and Job type.
* The number of S Pass holders in a company can be 25% of the work force.
* They can apply for Dependency Pass for their families if their fixed salary is more then SGD 2,500.

Dependency Pass (DP) - This is a temporary pass given to the family members of the person working in Singapore with an EntrePass, Employment Pass or an S Pass.

* Eligible to work in Singapore if he/she gets a Letter of Consent (LOC) from the employer.
* DP can be applied along with the Employment Pass/EntrePass or later.
* The process time is usually 1 to 3 weeks.

Permanent Residence Scheme - A person can apply for Permanent Residence if he/she worked in the country for a period of 6 months to 2 years. Various schemes are available for people with various types of passes like EntrePass, Employees Pass etc. It can be applied for the Dependency Pass holder as well. If the PR application for the Employment Pass/EntrePass is approved, then it is automatically approved for the DP. The processing time is more than 3 months.Once the PRS is approved, the male citizen above 16 and 1/2 years should register for National Service

Andrew Chen writes articles that help entrepreneurs and small business with accounting, taxes, compliance, immigration and incorporation issues in Singapore. For detailed information on immigration refer to Singapore Immigration Guide

Andrew Chen

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Entrepreneurs Are Welcome in Singapore Part II - Overview of Employment Visa For Employees

The Work Permit process in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Manpower. On the basis of the nature of the job, educational qualification and the amount of salary drawn per month one can get a Work Permit or an Employment Pass.

Work Permit

This is for semi-skilled or unskilled individuals who earn less the SGD 2,500 a month.

Conditions for Employee -

* Should be above 16 years of age
* Cannot be in Singapore while the application is being processed

Conditions for Employer -

* The prospective employer must first apply to the Controller of Work Permit before employing a foreigner
* He must furnish a security deposit of $5,000 per worker in the form of Bank Guarantee or Insurance Guarantee.
* Should get the In-Principal Approval (IPA) stating approval of the work permit.

Process Time - As the work permit is issued mostly to the unskilled workers, the recruitment depends on the industry they can work in. The time taken to issue it is usually 2 to 7 days.
Disadvantages of Work Permit - They are not allowed to bring their spouse, children or any other family members. However, if the children of the work permit holders wishes to study in Singapore, they can do so by writing a Qualifying Test.

Employment Pass

* This is given to individuals who have educational qualification
* It is classified into 'P' Pass (P1 and P2 Pass) and 'Q' Pass
* P1 Pass is for those with an income above SG$7,000 and P2 for those with an income between SG$3,500 and 7,000 per month
* A person with a minimum educational qualification and income above SG$2,500 is qualified for 'Q' Pass

Documents Required -

* EP Application Form 8 endorsed by the Singapore employing company
* Copies of educational certificates and past employment testimonials
* Passport-size photograph taken within the past three months
* Copy of the personal particulars page of the applicant's passport.

Procedure and Process Time -

* Completed application must be submitted to the Ministry of Manpower
* The processing time is about 3-4 weeks from the date of receipt of the application
* The approval letter for an Employment Pass is valid for six months from the date it is issued
* A first-time applicant may be issued Employment Pass of up to two years
* The Employment Pass may be renewed each time for a period of 2-5 years
* The application may be rejected taking into account several factors like applicant's work experience, employer's credentials, incomplete applications etc

Advantages and Disadvantages of 'P' and 'Q' Pass -

* 'P' Pass holders can apply for both Dependent Pass as well as Long-Term Visit Pass for their families.
* 'Q' Pass holders can only apply for Dependent Pass but are not eligible to apply for Long-Term Visit Pass.
* The Dependent Pass is valid as long as the Employment Pass is valid.
* Employment Pass holders are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence of Singapore.

Renewal - The application for renewal of Employment Pass must be submitted 2 months before the expiry date.

#How to apply for Singapore Employment Pass

- Andrew Chen

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Information and Tips on South African Spousal, Life-Partner Permits

While South Africa is a key destination for many tourists and foreigners, many South Africans who visit foreign countries come back to their home country with the hopes of their current or future foreign spouses (husbands or wives) or foreign life-partners (partners in a permanent relationship) residing with them in their beautiful home country.

What is a South African Spousal Permit

All foreigners require a permit to reside legally in South Africa, whereby a spouse (husband or wife) of a South African would need to apply for a spousal permit. A temporary residence permit can be issued to a foreign spouse who has been married to a South African for less than 5 years, but in turn, permanent residence can only be applied for once the couple have been married for 5 years or more. An excellent tip would be: it is safer to apply for temporary residence first (whether married for more or less than 5 years), as permanent residence takes approximately 18 months (these timescales are not guaranteed), therefore the foreign spouse would be legal to reside in South Africa, whether applying for permanent residence or not.

What is a South African Life-Partner permit?

This permit is practically the same as a spousal permit, but the partner (not spouse) of a South African who has been in a permanent relationship will be required to apply for a life-partner permit. In order to receive this permit, documentation would need to be submitted as proof that the relationship has existed for the said number of months/years. A temporary residence permit can be issued to the foreign life-partner of the South Africa who has been in a relationship for less than 5 years (as with the spousal permit). Permanent Residence can only be applied for once the partners have been in a permanent relationship for 5 years or more. As with the spousal permit, it would be best to apply for temporary residence first, as permanent residence takes approximately 18 months (these timescales are not guaranteed), therefore, allowing the partner to reside with the South African legally while waiting to apply or receive a result from permanent residence.

South Africa has a diverse constitution; therefore, same-sex relationship partners or civil union partners are able to apply for South African spousal or life-partner permits.

Can a Foreigner Work/Operate a Business/Study on a South African Spousal / Life-Partner Permit?

It is a hug advantage and beneficial to obtain a South African spousal or life-partner temporary residence permit, as foreigners who are on these permits are able to work, operate a business or study in South Africa with the correct endorsement. This permit negates the need for work permits and business permits to be applied for and all the vast number of documentation that is required. While these spousal or life-partner permit endorsements require on a few additional documents to enable the foreigner to work/operate a business or study in South Africa.

Tips: If a foreigner will be working, operating a business or studying in South Africa, it is best to know exactly what you want, as these endorsements are specific, therefore, the name of employer/business or educational institution will be mentioned on the permit, not allowing the foreigner work for another company, operating a different business or studying with a different institution, without re-applying (with an entirely new application) for a new specific endorsement on the spousal or life-partner permit.

What is the length of these permits and can these permits be extended?

The length of the temporary residence permit is decided by the Department of Home Affairs, these permits can be issued for a period between 1 - 3 years. Yes, the South African spousal or life-partner temporary residence permits can be extended at the end of their validity, provided that the proof of relationship or marriage certificate is submitted with the extension application.

As South African's love their country and it is their constitution right to have their spouses or life-partners residing in South Africa, many foreign spouses or life-partners are taking the opportunity to experience the beauty and vast cultures of South Africa with their loved ones.

Claire Roodman

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Are ID Theft Protection Services Really Worth It?

There have been many discussions in recent months among industry experts, consumer advocates and members of the media in regards to whether or not enrolling in an id theft protection product is worth the cost of the membership. With some companies charging as much as $200 per year for their services, there may be some merit to arguments presented by those who feel that protecting your personal identity is something that consumers can handle themselves.

While it is true that certain features of id theft protection can be handled by consumers themselves, it simply comes down to whether or not individuals are interested in spending the time it takes to monitor all the necessary data sources, placing phone calls to credit bureaus, remembering to renew fraud alerts every 90 days, etc.

The scenario is much like dining out. Consumers are able to prepare food at home for themselves and save a couple dollars, but sometimes it is worth it to visit a restaurant because the food is prepared by professionals that are able to provide a higher quality of food, and the restaurant takes care of ensuring your glass remains full and that the dishes are washed.

Many id theft protection services also include insurance to help consumers recoup the costs associated with financial loss due to identity theft. This portion of the service should not be overlooked as it is something that consumers will have to go without if they plan on taking a "do it yourself" approach to preventing identity theft.

It is important to note that several identity protection companies no longer offer insurance, they offer a "guarantee" or "warranty", usually for a large amount like $1,000,000. While this may sound like a great benefit, if one takes a closer look they will find that the only way a consumer can get a payout in the event of identity theft is if the theft occurred as a direct result of the product malfunctioning. Due to this, it is strongly recommended that consumers make sure to take advantage of an id theft protection that offers true identity theft insurance rather than simply a guarantee.

Currently in the identity protection marketplace, most products range from $9 upwards to $20 per month. In the present economic downturn, consumers may be hesitant to spend $10 per month to protect themselves from identity theft, but with large scale corporate data breaches being reported nearly every week now and identity theft ranking as the fastest growing crime in the United States for the sixth year in a row, now is certainly the time for consumers to decide which method of id theft protection they will be using.

As with any type of insurance or protection, you need to have coverage in place before an event takes place in order to receive the benefits or the program. Don't wait until it's too late, take 3 minutes to enroll in identity theft protection and rest easy knowing that your identity is being protected by professionals around the clock.

Premium Safe Identity, a top rated id theft protection service offers a proactive solution to prevent identity theft from happening. The cost is under $10 per month, there are no contracts, they offer a "real" identity theft insurance policy of $25,000, and they even provide a free simple will to all members who sign up.

Premium Safe Identity takes all of the hassle out of keeping your identity safe. Click here to see for yourself how Premium Safe Identity provides the most protection features available at a nice low cost.

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Credit, Identity Theft, and the New "Red Flags Rule"

Credit has been under attack lately, and in a state of change. Thus, the new "Red Flags Rule" that went into effect on May 1.

This rule directs car dealers to play "snoop" in order to prevent ID theft. So, if you apply for a loan to buy a car - new or used - the dealer may ask you questions that you feel are none of his or her business.

For instance: "Do you always use your middle initial?" "What's the balance on your American Express Card?" These are questions designed to trick someone who isn't you.

Here's how: They ask about the American Express Card because your credit report shows you don't have one. That's something you would know, but a thief probably wouldn't know. So if "you" stutter and say you aren't sure, because your spouse is the one who keeps track of such things, it's a clear sign that "you" aren't you.

Dealers are also looking for other inconsistencies, such as a name and address on your application that doesn't match your driver's license or the address listed in your credit report.

Dealers will now be required to document the steps they've taken to assure that the person buying the car is the same person whose credit is being used for the car loan - or lease. If they fail to do so, they will be subject to fines.

So that you don't become suspect when using your own credit, make sure to take these steps:

If you move, be sure to notify all of your accounts and get your driver's license updated. If you move to a different state, get a new driver's license in the new state Check the photo on your driver's license - if it doesn't look like you, either request a new photo or take along additional photo ID that does look like you. Driver's license photos are notoriously bad to begin with - but if you've changed your hair color, shaved off a beard or moustache, lost or gain weight, or have just recovered from a long illness, the picture might not resemble you at all.

Use of stolen identity at car dealerships is relatively rare - but now that the definition of "financial institution" has been expanded to include any business that includes loans and leases, dealerships are subject to the same regulations as other financial institutions. Your credit's your life, treat it as such.
is the #1 source on the planet for a free credit report, identity theft software and a blog with a wealth of information writtten by lending professionals that know about credit and what determines ones creditworthiness.

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Identity Theft Help - Your Top 5 Solutions

It's a simple fact that criminals are becoming increasingly efficient with regards to identity theft. While some may resort to stealing mail out your mailbox, others go as far as developing highly advanced computer viruses, key loggers, Trojans and etc. The bottom line is, criminals are well prepared for the task at hand. As such, average people are becoming increasingly vulnerable and many are in search of some form of identity theft help.

To make matters worse, when you suddenly realize you have just become a victim of identity theft, confusion, shock and to a certain extent, ignorance, all hinder your ability to think clearly at a time when it's most essential. Of course this is understandable when one considers you're all of a sudden faced with the knowledge that an absolute stranger has complete access to your sensitive personal information. So, what should one do at a time like this?

The following 5 steps for identity theft help are well worth taking note of, considering they may well be all that stands between having your account locked and a mountain of debt:

1) Credit Monitoring Credit monitoring is essentially the first step you should take in order to detect any unauthorized transactions with regards to your account. Some of the better known companies that provide this service are: Identity Truth, Equifax, LifeLock, ID WatchDog and Identity Theft Shield.

2) Criminal Monitoring In the vast majority of cases, when someone gains access to your information, it is soon passed on to the criminals who want an opportunity to access your bank and credit card accounts. Scouring various criminal channels has often proved to be hugely successful as it allows victims of identity theft to take immediate action should their details show up.

3) Information Monitoring Of course, the net contains a wealth of information, much of which is misleading in one way or another. While genuine information can be invaluable, misleading information can be just as devastating to a business. There are companies such as Reputation Defender and others that can offer a service which includes monitoring all information which is related to your business.

4) Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Help While credit monitoring is of course an effective tool, you need to be in a position to take swift action should you become a victim of identity theft. As soon as it becomes apparent that your account has been compromised, these companies take immediate action in order to prevent criminal activity.

5) Identity Theft Insurance Yes, as with so many other things in life, your identity can also be insured. In fact, some companies have so much faith in their identity protection services, they even offer up to 1 million dollars in insurance. Of course, whether you frequently conduct transactions online, or whether you only do so on occasions, having a service like this looking after your identity gives you much needed peace of mind.

While I have briefly mentioned certain companies above, they are by no means the only companies offering identity theft help to customers. As such, please feel free to do a little research if need be and take the necessary steps before it's too late.

Learn many ways to quickly and easily stop and prevent identity theft by visiting - a popular website that provides tips, advice and resources on how to stop identity theft now.

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Protecting Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of those crimes that has been swelling at a steady pace through out America. It is important to guard yourselves against this amplifying crime else you could end up ruining your financial life.

In order to protect self from identity theft you need keep a regular record of your credit activities and stay watchful all the time. Some precautionary measures are as follows

Don't give away your S.S.N when you are not sure enough: In some cases it is important to give your S.S.N but you perhaps already know when it is required in daily life to give your S.S.N to a person. However, at times there are cases when a person asks for you S.S.N on the phone or on the internet, it is then, that you need to be aware of theft. Giving away the S.S.N on the internet is not a good idea as it becomes accessible to the tech savvy thieves sitting in front of the computer. Similarly you should make sure that the S.S.N is genuinely required by the person who is asking for it. Know the reason before giving your social security number to anybody.

Be careful while making checks: It is not a good practice to write your driving license or Social Security number on checks. This way the thief is presented with even more opportunity. In some states it is illegal to write credit card numbers on the check. Make sure that you don't write any such information on your check that makes you vulnerable to identity theft.

Check your credit report regularly: Checking your credit report regularly helps determining if there has been any mischief in your financial dealings. If you encounter inaccuracies you should contact the bureaus at once and inform them of the mistakes. Credit reports are availed to every American free of cost once a year. Make sure that you get your hands on your credit report and check for credit activities not carried out or performed by you.

Be careful while creating pins and passwords: Make sure that you create unique PINs and passwords. Avoid using the sequence of digits in your S.S.N, your credit card number or your driver license. Also avoid using your middle name, your birth date or your mother's name. If your passwords or PINs include the above, you should change it as soon as possible as it is cake walk for thieves these days to crack such passwords and PIN codes.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Age Discrimination Claims Rise Along With Unemployment Rates

When unemployment claims climb, it only makes sense that employment-related discrimination and retaliation claims follow suit. And statistics from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicate that is indeed the case: employment discrimination and retaliation claims by employees go hand in hand.

Laid-off workers -- especially those who are 40 or older -- are increasingly taking more legal action to recover their jobs or lost wages. Experts tracking the numbers suggest the increases are due not only to more layoffs in general but more particularly because of

* The difficulties experienced by older workers in finding new employment;
* The perception of some employers that older workers are less physically able to perform manual work;
* The perception of some employers that the cost of wages and benefits for older workers are higher;
* The perception of some employers that younger workers are more familiar with information systems and technology needed to promote higher productivity; and
* Changes in the law that make it easier for employees to pursue age discrimination claims based upon disparate impact without having to prove intentional discrimination.

With employment discrimination claims likely to increase, it's more important than ever for employers to take proactive steps to limit the risk of employment discrimination claims. Employers would be wise to consider

* Adopting policies that prohibit employment discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation in the work place.
* Posting mandatory federal and state notices concerning employment discrimination and other employment laws.
* Conducting training for managers and supervisors to ensure they understand the applicable laws.
* Ensuring that persons involved in the hiring and interviewing process do not ask inappropriate questions about an applicant's race, national origin, sex, age, disabilities and other protected classifications.
* Documenting carefully all of the nondiscriminatory reasons for disciplinary actions, warnings, performance reviews, terminations and other employment-related decisions.
* Investigating and responding to employee concerns about possible discrimination and retaliation in the work place.
* Avoiding any action that could be construed as retaliation against employees who raise concerns about employment discrimination and sexual harassment.

In many ways, employers have entered a new age of discrimination claims, particularly as the population continues to age. And when you consider that compensation for a successful age discrimination claim is unlimited, employers have far more to lose than employees.

Thomas H. Taylor is an attorney with Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, (, a full-service law firm based in La Crosse, Wis. According to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, has more top-rated lawyers than any other La Crosse law firm. His article originally appeared in The Business News.

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English-Only Rules Present High Risk to Hawaii Employers

Title VII prohibits discrimination because of "national origin." The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency charged with the enforcement of Title VII, defines national origin discrimination as the denial of equal employment opportunity because of an individual's ancestry, place of origin, or because the individual possesses the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.

The EEOC has consistently scrutinized English-Only policies very closely and has taken the position that such policies can be a proxy for national origin discrimination. Given the amount of attention given to immigration issues on a national scale, the significant increase in national origin claims being filed with the EEOC in the last few years is no surprise. Many of these claims arise from employers promulgating English-Only policies. In the EEOC's view only the most limited policies do not violate Title VII.

Recently, the EEOC brought suit against a California Nursing Home company that prohibited Spanish-speaking employees from speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking residents, and also while on breaks or in the parking lot of the facilities.

According to the EEOC, in addition to being required to comply with an overbroad English-Only policy that the employer did not apply even-handedly, it was alleged that Hispanic employees were given desirable work than non-Hispanic counterparts, were paid less, and promoted less often. In April 2009 the EEOC and the company settled for $450,000.

Hawaii employers are also finding it difficult to balance legitimate business needs and Hawaii employment practices law prohibiting ancestry or national origin discrimination. Hawaii law, HRS Chapter 378, prohibits discriminating against an employee in the terms or conditions of employment, because of their "ancestry." However, as a practical matter "ancestry" and "national origin" are synonymous under Hawaii law.

Hawaii law is arguably more expansive than Title VII in that employers are precluded from making pre-employment inquiries and requests for information which tend to lead to disclosure of the person's ancestry/national origin, unless the inquiry is justified by a bona fide occupational qualification.

Both the EEOC and the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission ("HCRC") have issued regulations addressing the issue of English-Only rules and whether and to what extent employers prohibiting foreign languages to be spoken in the workplace have violated the prohibition against national origin discrimination.

The EEOC and HCRC's regulations presume that blanket English-Only rules are per se unlawful. Their position also is that limited English-Only policies are lawful only if justified by business necessity. 2002 EEOC guidelines list the following examples where business necessity justifies an English-Only policy:

• For communications with customers, coworkers, or supervisors who speak only English;
• in emergencies or other situations where workers must speak a common language to promote safety;
• for cooperative work assignments in which the English-Only rule is needed to promote efficiency;
• to enable a supervisor who only speaks English to monitor the performance of an employee whose job duties require communication with coworkers or customers.

Employers with English-Only rules should also consider doing the following:

• Implement cultural sensitivity training programs for supervisors;
• provide non-native English-speaking employees English classes;
• ensure to the extent possible an even-handed application of the rule;
• draft or revise the English-Only rule as narrowly as possible;
• give employees fair notice of the rule and consequences for violating the policy;
• have the policy written in other languages spoken in the workplace.

Roman Amaguin, Esq;

Roman Amaguin, Esq. is a Hawaii lawyer specializing in employment law, labor law, and civil litigation. His philosophy is to provide practical solutions to both complex and common workplace, employer/employee, and civil disputes. As a Hawaii attorney, Mr. Amaguin regularly appears before all federal and state courts in Hawaii, as well as state and federal administrative agencies such as the U.S. EEOC and Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Elder Scams - 5 Things You Must Do Now to Protect Your Inheritance Before Someone Else Gets It

Recently I got a call from a person who was very upset. Their mother had passed away and left hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank accounts and life insurance proceeds to another sibling who had gotten the mother to change the beneficiaries on all of her accounts before she died to that one sibling. This person wanted to know how he could get his share of the inheritance from that sibling who had basically gotten everything. Basically her elderly mom was scammed by her own family!

There is lots of information out there about how to protect your inheritance after have received it. But this article addresses five easy steps you can take to make sure you aren't disinherited before your parent or parents die.

Most of my discussion in this article is focused on protecting your expected inheritance from a parent. However, it applies equally to an expected inheritance from any number of other people - grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends, and so on.

1. Don't be a stranger. This may seem obvious to some people. However, but you would be amazed at how many times adult children are shocked to find out that their parent changed his or her Will or Trust to name someone other than the children to receive the parent's estate when the parent dies.

Real Life Example: I get a call from the nieces and nephews of Aunt Beatrice. Aunt Bea died recently. She was a widow, and she had no children. Aunt Bea's relatives are shocked that she had prepared a Will several years ago naming Aunt Bea's neighbor as the sole recipient of Aunt Bea's entire estate. The relatives ask what they can do. Surely the neighbor must have engaged in undue influence or violated the Arizona vulnerable adult statute. The neighbor quickly sells the house and moves out of state.

It turned out that the nieces and nephews only called Aunt Bea every couple of months. They only saw her once a year, if that.

In this situation, it was determined that Aunt Bea had probably struck a deal with the neighbor that if the neighbor helped take care of her in her old age, she would give the neighbor her house and other assets. Aunt Bea probably felt alone and didn't know where else to turn.

Worse yet, if the relatives wanted to start a legal proceeding against the neighbor (for undue influence or any number of other claims), they would be fighting an uphill battle. The neighbor now has lots of money to use for legal fees. The relatives, on the other hand, are stuck self-funding the litigation (unless they are able to find an attorney willing to take their case on a contingent fee basis).

The example above happens regularly. The perpetrator may be a cleaning lady, a realtor, a personal assistant, or anybody else. Sometimes the unrelated person is noble and honest and genuinely helped the older person in his or her final years. Unfortunately, however, many times the person named in the Will or Trust is a criminal who obtained the older person's trust and then steals the older person's assets when that person is most vulnerable.

If your close loved one is older and needs help, then you should be the one helping ensure that person is cared for. You should be the one making sure that your older parent has a way of getting groceries and other necessities. Don't force your dad to rely on strangers to take him shopping and to the casino.

2. Document your parent's wishes.

Imagine two different scenarios.

In the first example, your dad tells you that he wants his assets to be available for his second wife during her lifetime, and then the remainder to be distributed equally among his children. You think this is a great idea. However, you do nothing further. When your father dies, you find out that he recently amended his Trust so that everything goes to his second wife and her family. You schedule a consultation with an attorney, and that person says that there is nothing you can do. Your father had every right to give his assets to whomever he felt like. Some people call this the "Golden Rule" - he who has the gold makes the rules.

Now imagine things slightly differently with this second example. This time when your dad tells you what he wants to do with his estate, you ask him more questions. Does your father have a Will or a Trust? Will he let you copy it? Who has copies? Who is his attorney? What is the attorney's name and address? You then get some witnesses to hear your father - preferably disinterested people like neighbors or family friends. Perhaps you ask your father to tape record his statements. Or you ask your dad to write down (and sign and date) his thoughts about what he wants to happen with his assets when he dies. Even better yet, get multiple statements over a period of time by repeating these steps once every year or two. Then, if your father dies with a Will or Trust that is significantly different from what he has been saying year after year, you have a much stronger case to say that he did not know what he was signing when he signed the most recent Will or Trust, or that perhaps he was unduly influenced to disinherit his children.

Going a step further with the second example above, imagine that your father's 1989 Will says that he wants to treat all of his children equally. His 1995, 2000 and 2005 Wills all say the same thing. Then, his 2009 Will gives everything to one child, or to a second wife. This is good evidence of undue influence.

The Arizona Trust Code contemplates the type of documentation described above. These supplemental trust documents are sometimes called "Statements of Wishes." They are often incorporated into the trust document itself, but they can be separate as well.

3. Deal with family photos and heirlooms now. I am saddened by how often family photographs are taken or thrown away by one impulsive adult child before the other relatives have an opportunity to get copies. The best way to deal with this is beforehand. If your parents have photographs, get copies made. Make copies of family movies.

If your parent wants a grandchild to have an heirloom (like a wedding ring or piece of antique furniture), the best solution is simply to give the item now. Of course, your parents probably still want the joy of keeping the object during their lifetimes. In that event, make sure that their Will or Trust allows for distributing personal property by a written list. (This can be tricky, however, so talk to an attorney about how to do this.) The written list can then be incorporated by operation of law into the Will or Trust, and that list can give the wedding ring to the granddaughter. Some people put stickers underneath objects - saying that a picture goes to son Billy, and the crystal goes to daughter Suzie. However, this is not legally enforceable, and there is no guarantee that these wishes (even though they seem to be clearly expressed) will be carried out.

In the end, the best thing is to talk to a probate and estate planning lawyer about what to do.

4. Convince your mom and/or dad to talk to a good estate planning attorney. Many older people are reluctant to spend money on lawyers. They would just as soon write up their own document and save the money. The problem is that these homemade Wills often don't do what mom or dad intended.

Real Life Example: Dad writes a homemade Will that says:

"I give, devise, and bequeath all of rest and residue of my estate, whether real, personal, or mixed, of whatsoever character and wheresoever situated of which I shall die seized or possessed, or of which I shall be entitled to dispose by Will at the time of my death, to my three children, Adam, Brook and Christian, share and share alike."

When dad dies, it turns out that Christian was named as the "pay on death" beneficiary of all of dad's retirement accounts, bank accounts and other investments. In other words, even though the Will said that everything should be split equally, Christian actually received almost everything himself.

The other two children are in a difficult situation. In order to bring the other assets back into the estate, they need to show that the bank did not follow its procedures in placing POD designations on the assets. Or they can try to show that Christian somehow pressured dad to make him the beneficiary of the accounts. The problem is that the star witness (dad) is now not available as a witness.

In all likelihood, Christian will successfully take the bulk of dad's estate, and the other two children are simply out of luck.

The moral of the above story is to convince your parent to use a good attorney. And it is best to have restate the estate plan at least every five years.

5. Talk to your parents about what there is, and find out how it is titled. Having the best estate plan with Wills and Trusts, does no good if the house is titled in joint tenancy with the second wife, and all of the bank accounts and investments are designated as payable on death to the second wife.

Also, if your dad told you every year for the last 10 years that he has about $1.5 million in assets, and then he dies and he only has $50,000 in a bank account, you know that something happened. Don't be shy. Talk to your parents. If they are shy about talking about money (like many older people are), then explain that you are trying to get information so that you can protect them from scoundrels who prey on older people. Say that you do not want to seem like a vulture, but you are asking because you care. And you don't want your parent to be scammed by someone when they need the money the most.

Paul E. Deloughery is the founding partner at the Scottsdale law firm of Deloughery & Ruotolo, P.C. You may contact Paul at 602-443-4888 or by email at, or He is licensed to perform law in the states of Arizona and Minnesota.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is made available for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to constitute specific legal advice or to be a substitute for advice from qualified counsel. For that reason, you should not act or refrain from acting based on any information in this article without first obtaining advice from professional counsel qualified in the applicable subject matter and jurisdictions.

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Elder Law Considerations and Legal Caregiver Thoughts

There are so many laws on the books to protect elders that sometimes it prevents us from helping them. Still, there are reasons for all these laws as they are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society and thus they attract criminal minds out for a quick gain. It's difficult to protect elders from being raided or having their assets confiscated and each time we make another law to protect them some scammer comes up with another way to cheat them out of their life's savings.

Since elders are so susceptible we must be very careful to protect our senior family members from financial and physical crime, and believe it or not it is often a family member that does the raiding of assets on their own family members, somehow believing that it is theirs also, or taking a pre-inheritance stipend, which often turns into a very generous gift, that the senior may or may not even realize they are giving.

Even when the senior does realize what is going on they often forget the circumstances, are coaxed into it, or are somehow threatened, it's truly disgusting the more you learn about how these things occur. Another reason why the caregiver is often under suspicion and this is a hard thing to take for an honest caregiver. Still, caregivers that are not family members are the most likely to take from or cause harm to a senior or elder.

Other areas of elder law that have increased in recent years is medical fraud where overzealous operations and surgeries are recommended and billed to medicare or insurance companies, thus, jacking up the health care cost for all. Then, there are overbillings from ambulance services, hospitals, and other services.

Of course, there are also outside scamsters such as corrupted telemarketers, sales people and such that try to befriend the elderly to get them to give them money for a something they do not really want or money for something they will never receive. This is why elder laws are so robust, even though at first glance they seem to be quite frustrating. Please consider this.

Lance Winslow - Lance Winslow's Bio. Lance Winslow is also Founder of the Detail Guys, a cool little Franchise Company;

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FAP Unfairly Denies Access to Users

Fair Access Policy, which might be more accurately described as a bad policy gone amuck, many Internet users are not aware of the term FAP or Fair Access Policy which is an arbitrary use case scenario where a figure is picked that is then enforced as a punitive measure if you exceed the limit.

The limit is the bandwidth that you are allowed to use on any given 24 hour period.

As you might imagine, no policy can be perfect, because this is designed to limit your use of a service over a period of time, there are some that use more bandwidth, than other users, and still others that use much more than the average user, this policy is designed to level the playing field among all users, however the problem is that the policy does not actually work very well in doing that.

The limit is apparently calculated during a 24 hour period and if you exceed the speed limit of this bandwidth you are then penalized and punished as a speeder on the network. The problem comes in many different situations, for instance this user was just penalized, after a period of time where I was unable to use the service at all, in other words, the service was down. Now, I did not get a refund on that amount of bandwidth that I was unable to access, this is where this problem begins to get out of hand, and also this is where the policy becomes unfair.

The ISP, (Internet Service Provider)

Creates this speed limit, yet does not track the long term offenders of this speed limit, they just penalize everyone at the same rate of penalty, this creates further issues with regard to providing a smooth and happy customer service experience.

One wonders what is up with the people in charge of these companies. I for one and I suspect there are many others, would rather there be different levels of speeding, different speeding tickets in other words. If you constantly offend the speed limit, then the punishment should be different than say someone who offends just once a month, yet currently the punishment is the same for every offender. Here is an excellent example, on the 30th of last month, the Internet service was unavailable for use, (in other words the service was not working). On the next day the 31st I used up more bandwidth than normal because I had no access the day before there was additional need to catch up.

Yet I was punished at a rate far in excess of the violation.

So really I should get credit for the time in which I was unable to use the service. This is really like having your cake and eating it too for the ISP. They get to limit your use on a daily basis, yet if they cannot provide service for any given period they feel no responsibility to the user at all, its tough luck the way the policy works is entirely in the favor of the ISP and has no basis in good customer service.

It creates negative feelings among subscribers and leaves out many useful marketing stratagems, say for instance you get a speeding ticket one day out of the entire month. You are then penalized, at the same rate as say offenders that get speeding tickets every day, this is just not right nor is it fair in any meaningful way.

When you compare Satellite service with other comparable ISP services, bandwidth is hardly ever an issue, in fact speeds for cable provide performance speeds at many time that of satellite services, which begs the question, Are you really getting the most for your money using satellite services to access the Internet.

ReelStuff is a published author in both magazines and books both online and off line.

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Can You Be Sued For Posting in Forums?

The web has created a new medium for people to speak and trade information. One needs only look at the current state of newspapers to know how big of an impact this development has been. That being said, many people are not aware there can be legal ramifications regarding what they say when posting in forums. Yep, you could get sued.

Forums and boards are a place of free flowing ideas. This is particularly true since people can post using anonymous titles and avatars. Once anonymity is believed to be achieved, any common sense prohibition against saying inflammatory things seems to go by the wayside. This is a mistake. There is little or not anonymity on the web if someone or a company wants to find your true identity. Let's take a look at a common situation.

A debate is taking place on a forum about the merits of some product from Company X. You don't own the product nor have you ever tried it. You have, however, owned another product from the company. It was cheap and didn't perform as you expected. As a result, you post on the board this new product is a piece of junk and of low quality. You pop offline and think nothing else of it.

Two months later you get a notice in the mail. It is from the company with the forum. Company X has sued and the court has ordered the forum to turn over your profile information and your IP address. You have 10 days to appear in court to object or the forum will have to comply. Now you have a big problem.

Posting in a forum does not relieve from the threat of liability. For better or worse, you can still be sued for anything from character assassination to invasion of privacy to...well, anything that you can be sued for in the brick and mortar world. Laws in the physical world apply to the virtual world as well.

Ah, but what about anonymity? Well, you leave a trail when you post online. Many people assume that they will be okay as long as they don't put their true name, address and whatever on the forum profile. Wrong. A company will sue the forum for your IP information. It is recorded when you sign up. They will then track backwards to the company controlling said IP and get a court order forcing the company to reveal who has the account.

You are probably thinking this is a lot of work to just find someone who posted something on a board. You're right. However, many companies now take reputation management seriously. They have lawyers on staff whose sole job is to do this. Whether they bring 5 or 50 actions makes no major difference from a cost perspective. More and more companies will be taking this step as well in the future as they try to protect their reputation.

So, should you not post in forums? Of course not. You need to simply be careful. Truth is a defense to any defamation claim. If you wouldn't say it in public, don't say it on a forum.

Thomas Ajava writes for - where you find more internet law articles.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Typical Techniques of Police Interrogation

The "Reid Technique" of Police Interrogation

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. But I have worked in the law enforcement field in private security.

Before the interrogation starts: Police do their homework. They have already likely interviewed witnesses and collected evidence before you land in the interrogation chair. So if they're grilling you hard, this might be a sign that they either have nothing on you unless you confess, or that they only have a partial conviction but could have a full conviction with your cooperation. If they already have overwhelming evidence and witness testimony, interrogating you will be a mere formality, if it even happens.

Look to the left or right when you're seated in the interrogation room. See the huge mirror on the wall? That mirror is actually one-way glass; behind it is usually several detectives, police, psychology experts, and anybody else who might help. They'll be watching and recording the process, perhaps even coaching the interrogator when he steps out of the room for a minute.

Also be aware: There is no law that says police have to tell you the truth when they interrogate you! They are free to concoct elaborate lies and use any psychological trick they please - and they're trained in this from day one. Every good interrogator is part actor. And this technique is designed to play on your emotions. So, to start with, the first step is:

1. Confrontation. They start by presenting the facts of the case that they know and the evidence against you. Remember, this "evidence" might be completely made up! Typically, the interrogator will act as if they already have enough to convict you; the impression that they want to give is that you might as well make things easier on yourself since if you lie they'll know it.

A detective might enter with a huge folder full of paper, plop down, fan through it, and look at you while shaking his head. They may say they have your crime recorded on tape, your partner already ratted you out, they have multiple witnesses, etc. Once more, this is theater. They're looking for signs of you squirming uncomfortably, which will show that they're on the right track. Actions speak louder than words.

2. Theme development. Forget you telling them what happened, first the interrogator will tell you what they "know" happened. They may minimize the crime at this point, giving you a chance to jump in and justify your actions. If you start talking as if you accept that what has been said at this point is the truth, they'll be smiling and writing it down. The interrogation is over; you just confessed! If not, it's on to...

3. Stopping you from denials. If you make any objection, they will hush you with words like, "You'll get a chance to talk later, but right now you need to listen!" The object here is to stop you from saying the magic words, "I didn't do it!" If you make denials now out loud, that will strengthen your resolve and make it tougher to sweat a confession out of you later. A related method at this point is...

4. Overcoming objections. An objection is very, very different from a denial, and it's very important at this point to understand the difference between the two. An objection is an appeal to logic. Let's say for example that you're in for kicking a dog.

* An innocent person will flatly deny it: "I did not kick the dog, no matter what people think they saw."
* A guilty person will instead say: "I couldn't have kicked that dog, because I'm a member of PETA and the ASPCA and I have two dogs of my own and love them like family!"

See the difference? Look for the keywords "couldn't have" and "because". In this example, the detective will smile wide and say something like, "Of course you love dogs, which is why this one time was just a momentary lapse of judgment! Isn't that right?" If you nod your head here, you have just confessed to the "momentary lapse of judgment"! For which you will be prosecuted the same as if you did it on purpose with deliberate intention. The interrogation is over! But if you didn't crack here, the next step is...

5. Getting your trust. The interrogation will switch to a friendlier, more relaxed tone. The interrogator will sympathize with you, offering you alternative, more socially acceptable justifications for your actions. They might offer you a drink of water, a cigarette, or hint that confessions sometimes result in a lighter sentence. They might pitch questions out of left field, seemingly unrelated, asking if you have been drinking or are suffering from depression, and so on.

The object here is to come on as a friend. The interrogator is trying to help you through this difficult situation, you see? It's up to you. You can make it easier on yourself, or you can play the tough character. This is also a great opportunity to play "good cop, bad cop": one officer will act angry and impatient with you, and then storm out of the room... giving the "good cop" a chance to present a contrasting sympathy, hoping that you'll jump at the opportunity to have your confession handled by the "good cop" instead. Then it's on to...

6. Pouncing on defeat. If you're actually guilty of a real crime that hurt someone, and you're not a clinical psychopath, this is the time when you'll typically be showing cracks in your resolve. They're looking for signs of a nervous breakdown:

* drooping head, slumped posture
* tears of remorse
* covering your face with your hands in shame
* looking around the room from one face to another in a silent plea for mercy

A moment of silence will go by, as the team holds its collective breath waiting for you to crack. If you do, the interrogation is over. If not, it's on to...

7. Presenting alternatives. A new round of constructing a theme will begin in earnest. Two alternative explanations of your action will be presented. One makes you sound like a terrible person, and one justifies your actions to make it sound like your crime was just a "mistake". The only difference here again is your motive to commit the crime; they'll both carry the same sentence! To use the "kicking the dog" metaphor again:

* You're a dog-hater! You deliberately went over and kicked it!
* You were walking and didn't pay attention and the dog got in your way. You didn't know what you were doing until it happened. You were drunk. You were still fuming from an argument with your spouse. You have a suppressed fear of dogs, etc.

They'll present these as your only two options, and repeat them over and over; this is designed to break you down. The interrogator will talk and talk, getting more rote and boring, as he goes over the two scenarios again and again. They'll go back and forth. They'll be watching for you to show any sign of agreement at all at any point, even a slight nod of the head or a slip of the tongue. At this point, if you still haven't cracked, the interrogation will eventually taper to an end. The last two steps only happen in the case of a confession:

8. You open up and confess. As soon as you show the tiniest sign of concession to any of the above tactics, more officials will enter the room. This is because confessions carry more weight in court if there are more witnesses. The more you talk, the more they'll smile. And if you're confessing, you'll be feeling a great sense of relief as you, the confessor, suddenly have the floor before a happy audience. You almost expect the room to burst into applause when you're done, but instead it's...

9. Recording your confession. It will be written down, recorded on tape, confirmed by witnesses. Suddenly you're back in your cell, while detectives meticulously go over your every word. Enjoy your fast trial and speedy sentencing!

That's the whole technique by the proverbial book. And remember that this doesn't scratch the surface of what goes on off the book. Remember that they cannot legally practice coercion and torture. Remember that you have a right to a lawyer to advise you. Remember that you have every legal right to sit there like a statue and not say a single word.

The term "Reid technique" is a registered trademark of the firm John E. Reid and Associates, which offers training courses in the method.

"Penguin" Pete Trbovich maintains the website, which includes a blog, wallpaper gallery, webcomic, and resources revolving around Free and Open Source Software and the wonders thereof. He is also available for freelance work in writing, graphics art, and some light web design including small Flash games.

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A Good DUI Defense Attorney Can Clear Your Name

Anyone convicted of driving the influence or DUI can be get his records blemished. The convicted person can get in trouble in future due to bad previous records. A DUI Attorney can help to get the charges dropped. This can be good for you as it will help you keep your name clean in records and you will still have a good standing in the local community. The DUI Lawyer can be very helpful in such cases.

We never recommend you to drive while you are drunk. Doing this is a serious offence and you may end up causing serious injuries to people. You should never drive while you are drunk. But if you are already convicted, you can get in serious trouble. You need the best DUI attorney to help you at the time. You need to cooperate a lot with the DUI lawyer. You should try to tell everything in detail to him. You should tell him about the whole incident honestly and in complete detail. It is very important that you are honest and open in what you say.

You should try to remember every event that led to yourself being pulled up by the officer. This is all the DUI attorney will have to use against the prosecution. There are several important points where the lawyer can help you get out of the mess.

Witnesses are very important in such cases. If you are pulled up over drinking, the bartender can be a witness to the fact that you didn't drink a lot. Cities like Los Angeles have a lot of such accidents.

A good Los Angeles DUI-Lawyer can make sure that everything possible is done to help you get out of the mess.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roadside DWI Tests

Anyone who has ever watched "Cops" or other police procedural television shows has probably seen an example of the roadside tests administered when an individual is suspected of driving while intoxicated. While breathalyzer machines and blood tests are extremely scientific ways to determine a person's blood-alcohol-level, the field sobriety test often helps establish a reasonable cause for the officer to make an arrest.

Typical roadside tests measure an individual's balance, dexterity, and mental sharpness. A person who is intoxicated beyond the legal limit will often struggle with tasks that would not be difficult for an individual who is completely sober. It is up to the arresting officer to determine which sobriety tests will be administered in the event of a traffic stop.

One common roadside test is to have the suspected drunk driver balance on one foot at a time. Significant amounts of alcohol can have serious effects on a person's balance, and the inability to stand on one foot is a big "tip-off" to any officer of the law. Another physical test includes walking a straight line, while placing one foot in front of the other. Again, this task should be simple for someone who has not consumed alcohol, but difficult for one who is intoxicated.

Tests that determine manual dexterity often include, using one's hands and fingers to demonstrate sobriety. It would seem that the simple act of touching your finger to your nose could never be difficult, but a person who is drunk often cannot mimic the motion in a precise manner. Officers may also have the person try to touch each finger to their thumbs, again checking for precision in the small movements. Other tests, such as the "eye test", where an officer will ask a person to follow a moving pen with their eyes, are designed to help the officer other physical signs of intoxication.

Tests that require a level of mental sharpness may include counting backwards from a certain number, or reciting the alphabet backwards. Interestingly enough, some intoxicated individuals find themselves unable to perform the tasks required in even simpler manners (such as reciting the alphabet in the correct order). Officers can also discern a level of intoxication from the person's manner of speech, paying close attention to slurring, mispronunciations, and lack of clarity in their words.

Although blood testing and breathalyzer analysis may be more precise methods of determining the sobriety of an individual, the roadside tests administered by officers of the law are effective in establishing probable cause for arrest.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Filing For an LLC

An LLC or limited liability company is a business structure that allows for the protection of the owner/s from personal liability resulting from business debts, very much like how it is in a corporation. Unlike it however, an LLC do not pay corporate taxes since it is a pass-through entity. As such, the losses or profits of an LLC are passed through to it's members who will in turn report them on the personal tax return, very much like in a partnership/sole proprietorship. These two important benefits are the reasons why many businessmen are filing for an LLC instead of other forms of business structures.

Filing for an LLC is actually much easier than forming a corporation. The basic steps in filing for an LLC are the following:

1.Think of a name for your LLC that will comply with the LLC rules provided in the state where your business is located;

2.File the Article of Organization of your LLC and pay the required filing fees which ranges from $100 to $800, depending on the state's rules;

3.Prepare your LLC's operating agreement. This is for the members of the LLC which lists down their rights as well as their responsibilities;

4.There will be a need in a few states to publish a notice of the intent for filing for an LLC;

5.The last step would be to acquire the required permits and licenses in filing for an LLC.

It is best to know the details contained in each step. This may be done easily since information on filing for an LLC abounds in the internet. For instance, in choosing the name of the LLC, it is important to note that the name you choose is not the same as the name of other LLCs that are already in existence, that the name should be ended by an LLC designator, e.g., LLC, L.L.C., Limited Company, Limited Liability Company, etc. Other guidelines are provided about the choosing of the name online.

After choosing the proper name, you need not register it since it will automatically be registered upon your submission of the Articles of Organization, also called certificate of formation/organization. The Articles of Organization may be short and simple. It can even be prepared in a matter of minutes if you will choose to just fill up the forms provided by your state's filing office.

With regards to the operating agreement, although many states do not require it when filing for an LLC, it is still ideal that you prepare one to give members clear-cut rules on the business operation and the ownership guidelines. An operating agreement may include the percentage interest of members, their responsibilities, their rights, how profits or losses should be allocated, etc.

The publication notice is needed in some states to make the LLC's existence official. It could be done by publishing it in the local newspaper where you will need to indicate your intent in filing for an LLC.

When all of the above are done, your LLC is now official. For you to be able to operate however, you need to secure the pertinent permits and licenses such as a business license, a zoning permit, a seller's permit (if applicable) and a federal employer ID number.

For more information about an LLC Definition or want to know about starting an LLC, be sure to check out the leading source of information about LLCs: How To LLC.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Copyright Law Basics

What EXACTLY are Copyrights?

I will begin with a basic description of copyright law with a brief example. A Copyright is best described as a set of rights granted by the government for the expressions of ideas or information.

Quite literally, it is the set of rights the owner has to allow copies of the expression to be made.

Copyright law only covers these eight types of works:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.

What rights does a copyright owner have?

"[T]he owner of copyright ... has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

(A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".)

Works created on or after January 1, 1978 have a copyright that lasts generally for 70 years after the life of the author. That means that the copyright expires 70 years after the author's death. In the case of a joint work, the 70-year time period is measured after the last author's death. In works that are made for hire, the term is 95 years from the date of its first publication, or 120 years from the date the work was created.

What is a "work for hire"? A work for hire is a work that falls under the copyright statue whose owner is not the person who created it. A work for hire must be made within the context of a written agreement that states the work is made for hire. Control and responsibility of the final version of the work rests not with the artist, but the person to whom control is ceded.

Now that you're happy I cut-and-pasted straight from the Copyright Statute, let me give you an example - viral marketing. Any copyright owner is allowed to hold on to these rights as tightly as the owner wants to. The copyright owner can let any of these rights go, also.

What is a Viral Marketing campaign? Simple, it is a campaign where someone's work is allowed to spread as much as possible (like a virus) so that people become interested in the work and then follow the work to the source. It is, basically, a free sample. It can be listening to 30 seconds of a song and telling friends to go hear the song. It can be one video being passed along so that people then go to the source of the video (a website that hosts that video and others or, for example, a TV show). This is something we are all familiar with. The earliest example I can think of is "South Park." When I was in college, the video clip called "The Spirit of Christmas" was passed along from student to student via the Internet.

In a Viral Marketing campaign, the owner of the copyright in the work(s) has allowed some rights in the copyright(s) to be let go. Generally, it is allowing copies of the work to exist elsewhere and allowing others to distribute the work. All of this is done for no compensation, only to hope that compensation comes down the road in another form.

-Anthony M. Verna III
Law Firm of Anthony Verna
14 Wall Street, 20th Floor, NY, NY
P: 212-618-1210
F: 212-618-1705

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Copyrighting Your Work is Work

There was an article in Digital Pro Photo magazine about the steps to follow if you think your copyright has been violated and how to proceed smartly. Basically it said "be reasonable" in your expectations. This not only will help protect your copyright, assuming you filed one correctly, but it will enhance your chances of having a judge find in your favor and not lose the whole judgment because of legal fees, etc.

This is a great article for budding photographers as well as seasoned professionals. And, it got me to thinking about my own copyright...which Margo Pinkerton (from the Barefoot Contessa's Photo Adventures) has helped me correct on my images. I've discovered that I need to do a lot of work on currently available images and that I have to steam line my work flow to make certain it protects my work in the future. A lot of work for certain, but what's the alternative. If, or perhaps when, someone accidentally or deliberately uses one of my images without permission I don't want to be left high and dry.

By the way, let me pass on Margo's advise on how a copyright needs to be written to be correct. There are three ways (without the quotes, of course):

* Copyright 2008 "Your Name"
* Copr. 2008 "Your Name"
* © 2008 "Your Name"

As it turns out Digital Pro Photo's website has a lot of good information, from back issues of the magazine, on the subject of copyright. Anyone interested might want to check it out.

Photography has been part of Tom Dwyer's life since he was a photographer for Airman magazine back in the 60's. Today Tom focuses his creative talents on discovering the beauty in the world around us. You can follow Tom's journey at his nature photography blog and you can also view Tom's growing collection of nature pictures at his online gallery.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Creative Commons Explained

Creative Commons explained in non-technical terms, is a licensing committee that allows people who create works of art to allow others certain uses for their work which can include the ability to edit or re use for either commercial or non-commercial purposes. As of right now there are four different levels of licensing that a creator can grant. And they are:

Attribution - This is most common of the four and this license allows users to make editions to the creators work. Usually there is a stipulation that the design by link stay in the footer of the page.

Share alike - Under this type of license any changes to the works must become licensed under the original license.

No derivatives - Doesn't allow any type of modification at all.

Non-Commercial - Means that works can be used for informational or personal purposes but not for any type of commercial uses.

These licenses can pretty much apply to a variety of different type of works, such web design templates, word press templates, movies, broadcast footage, and even some formal publications. You typically see these type of licenses on many of the template design sites and the creator will generally tell you what type of whether or not you are allowed to use the works in a personal or business setting. Additionally, if you are searching for clip art for the web page a lot of times, you will see that they have creative commons license as well, however the art work in this category is general non-commercial.

For more information be sure to visit find copyright free which has all kinds of copyright free and creative commons resources. Additionally, check out the copyright free clip art section for a great directory of sites offering free materials. Hopefully this was informative and now you understand a bit better what this licensing is all about. Until next time, take care.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Common Law Liability of Dog Owners - Part 1

Washington State's "Dog Bite Statute" holds dog owners strictly liable for damages caused by injuries inflicted by their dogs. The phrase "strictly liable" means that the dog owner is liable regardless of whether the owner knew about the dog's dangerous propensities and regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong. To impose strict liability under the law, you simply must meet the elements of the statute.

But there is another basis to hold a dog owner liable for damages caused by the dog. In Washington a dog owner can also be held liable for damages under the common law. In this chapter I explain what "common law" means and how a dog owner can still be obligated to pay damages even if the terms of the "Dog Bite Statute" cannot be met.

What Is "Common Law"?

In our system of government, laws are usually created in two ways. The first way is when elected representatives draft a law and then enact it. At the state level, this body of representatives is called the "legislature." The Washington state legislature creates laws known as "statutes." At the local or city level, the body is often called the "city council" and it can create laws known as "ordinances." At the county level these laws may be called "codes." The "Dog Bite Statute" is an example of a law created by the Washington state legislature.

The second way that laws can be created is through the courts. This is also called "judge-made law" or more accurately, the "common law." Essentially, the "common law" refers to a body of law that is created by the decisions or opinions of judges. These judge-made decisions must be followed and enforced by the lower courts, often called trial courts. A leading judge-made law is often referred to as "precedent" because a lower court must comply with the decision and also enforce it in other cases with similar fact patterns.

The courts are only permitted to decide issues of law based on the narrow set of facts before it. The courts cannot make law based on hypothetical facts. This means that the common law can take many years to develop. As a result, the common law may be created in a patch-work fashion. At times, seemingly inconsistent or contradictory laws can be reached by two different courts when the facts of the case are nearly identical or similar. The application of the common law can be much less predictable since the facts giving rise to the laws may be slightly different in subsequent cases. The existence of a new fact or the omission of a small fact in a new case can give rise to new exceptions or changes in the common law addressing that particular issue.

It is important to understand that the state legislature can enact a law that overrules or changes the common law on a particular subject. This can only occur if the legislature's law is determined to be constitutional, which is a question left up to the courts. For example, by enacting the "Dog Bite Statute," the Washington state legislature essentially supplemented or added to the common law by creating a new cause of action as long as the elements of the statute are met.

In Washington, there is a body of judge-made law (or common law) that has been created over the years with respect to liability of dog owners for injuries or damages inflicted by their dogs. The "common law" liability of dog owners is more fully explained below.

Christopher M. Davis is a Seattle attorney focusing on personal injury cases. He is also known as a animal attack and dog bite lawyer and has written the book 'When The Dog Bites' as a legal resource for dog bite victims. For more information about Washington State dog bite law visit:

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Frankly - If You Want to You Can Even Trademark Your Hairstyle!

Why not? If you have a unique hairstyle and want to commercialize it, you can indeed trademark it with the patent and trademark office. A hairstyle is a human creation and like most creations, it can be an asset, and in this case, it is an intellectual property. If it gets a trademark, other people will have to get your permission just to copy it. However, you will be required to officially file it with the patent and trademark office first and pay the official fees and do the necessary paper work for the filing. Of course a trademark needs a name, so you will have to come up with one, as unique as possible, so that the trademark office will not have reasons to reject it. But for all intents, trade marking is a means to prevent others from using the same idea and form whether for own or commercial purposes.

Whether you will be allowed to trademark it will however depend on the trademark office, but there is a very good chance that it will be allowed. Now, in order to be allowed for a trademark, its form has to be unique, something that can stand out from the crowd, so that people can identify it as different from the norms. Like company logos, your particular hair style got to be reproducible and it has also to be identifiable by a name. For the purposes of trade, the form and name will be easily identified so that others will be able to communicate to others about it.

A hairstyle need not only consist of hair alone, for it is also possible to weave it with some other items like hair bands and bangles. In fact you can make it unique looking with a whole range of hair accessories or with something that you design yourself. And remember, if it is new and nobody has it, you can file it and make it your own. After which you can commercialize it and license other salons to recreate that particular hairstyle. Of course, you will need to make it so desirable that others would want to copy it and pay you a fee for doing so.

And thinking about it, perhaps those people who had been promoting fashion shows should have filed for trademarks for all the lasses who had sported unique hairdos as part of the fashion presentations!

But what if someone copies it without paying you for the idea? Well, getting a trademark is one thing, enforcing it is another thing altogether! The onus is that you will have to report any form of infringements and to institute legal action yourself! But even if you don't get a cent for the idea and supposing that the particular hairstyle becomes a hit, just people talking about it will inevitably boost the value of your idea and your trademark. If it is a buzz, you will benefit from it many times over. Also, that trademark need not be associated with only a hairstyle as you can use it for other things as well, provided of course you also register it under other item categories with the trademark office. The opportunity is limitless as we are not only talking about human beings, but also others like pets and anything that needs a unique dressing!

You can find out more about patents and trademarks at PatentAgentip

Terry Yap Tat Meng.
Inventor, author, manufacturer and marketer.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

FTC VS Apple & Google - Investigation is Questionable

After the attacks on Microsoft by the Federal Trade Commission and then the standing by as AOL and Time Warner Merged, and later the wait and watch strategy with Google, one has to ask what on Earth the FTC is trying to convince us of. Now, they have a new appointed head, from San Francisco and apparently, they are looking into the "Apple-Google Connection" or the fact that each of their boards of directors share members, which looks as if they are in cahoots and thus, horizontally, and vertically integrating a strangle hold on the tech sector.

Neither company currently competes with each other, but this does set up an interesting anti-trust issue. I mean if you are going to go after Microsoft for their dealings with bundling and working with hardware distributors then you Must look into this. Still, this is a really weak case considering the size of Google and all the other issues that might cause one concern.

Therefore, let's ask another question; is the Federal Trade Commission looking into this as a legal issue, merely so critics of Google will not claim the FTC is letting them get by with their monopolistic tendencies due to their size? And other question concerns the fact that the FTC is constantly trying to get industries to develop standards so that consumers are protected from obsolescence. Remember all the people who bought Beta Video Home Units instead of going with VHS? I mean how many of those old units have you seen over the years at garage sales?

Personally, I have a little trouble trusting the FTC with anti-trust cases, as every time they have a case, it ends up hurting the consumer, delaying technology and costing us all more money. Then eventually everything is all back together again and business as usual. Remember the AT&T breakup? This really appears to be more FTC PR, as they try to pretend like they are doing something; must be Congressional Budget hearings coming up again for them? Bet me.

Lance Winslow enjoys community philanthropy - Lance Winslow likes small business. Lance Winslow has also been involved in the Oil Industry;

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TILA Mortgage Rescission - Complete Defense to Foreclosure

Truth in Lending Act (TILA) Mortgage Rescission

I was on the phone yesterday with a loss mitigation rep from Washington Mutual Bank. I was calling to get the specific address to send a "Notice of Rescission" to for WAMU. Every lender/bank/servicer has specific addresses for these types of correspondence. I asked the lady in Loss Mitigation for the "address that I can send a rescission notice to." At first, she said, "a what?" "A notice to rescind the loan" I said. "Sir, you can't rescind a loan" she said. I said, "ma'am, please just give me the address I can send an official notice to rescind the loan to." She says, "why? did you just close on this loan within the last three days because I'm pretty sure you can't just cancel a loan." I said, "ma'am you most certainly can, up to three years from the date of closing actually if it's a refinance loan of a primary residence and there are certain violations of the truth in lending act; but I'm not going to argue with you, just give me right address!" This little back and forth madness just goes to show how even the bank/servicer employees don't know the law! A legal right to TILA mortgage rescission can extend up to three (3) years out from the date of closing if:

1. It's a REFINANCE loan transaction
2. It's on your PRIMARY residence
3. It was closed in the last THREE years
4. A forensic loan audit reveals a MATERIAL disclosure violation

TILA mortgage rescission is a COMPLETE defense to foreclosure. In fact, it is the most POWERFUL foreclosure defense you could have. Why? When you effect a lawful TILA mortgage rescission, you are literally and legally canceling the loan. Here's exactly what Regulation Z says, 12 C.F.R. § 226 et seq. ("Reg. Z") (a) Consumer's right to rescind. (1) In a credit transaction in which a security interest is or will be retained or acquired in a consumer's principal dwelling, each consumer whose ownership interest is or will be subject to the security interest shall have the right to rescind the transaction. (3) ...If the required notice or material disclosures are not delivered, the right to rescind shall expire 3 years after consummation...

TILA mortgage rescission is real. But I haven't explained to you yet WHY TILA mortgage rescission is a complete defense to foreclosure. What Reg. Z says (12 C.F.R. § 226.23(d)) is that when a consumer rescinds a transaction, the security interest giving rise to the right of rescission becomes void and the consumer is not be liable for any amount, including any finance charge (ie. interest or closing costs).

Don't know if you caught that but I bolded it for you. Yes, that's right the mortgage (the security interest) becomes VOID. Further, the borrower is NOT responsible for ANY finance charge. That means any/all closing costs and interest paid on the loan from closing to current is refunded to the borrower as a credit against the original loan amount. So, let's get to the foreclosure defense issue... the mortgage gives the owner of the Note the legal authority to foreclose. If the mortgage is voided by operation of law, there is no longer any legal instrument to foreclose on. The creditor becomes unsecured just like a credit card creditor; and, by the way, that debt can be discharged in a federal bankruptcy court. The security interest has been voided by operation of law. Foreclosure becomes a legal impossibility. The lenders don't just roll over and go away but if they violated the federal law in your loan transaction, its black and white. It's not some subjective "he said, she said" issue. It's recognizable and quantifiable and can be adequately explained in a competent court of jurisdiction.

You absolutely want a forensic loan audit done by a knowledgeable analyst. Hopefully, this short article will help you see that a valid TILA mortgage rescission is the best remedy and defense to foreclosure if you qualify for it!

In short, TILA mortgage rescission is the best defense (and really offense) you have to fight foreclosure. The lender must have committed "material disclosure violation(s)" in order for the "extended right to rescind" to be afforded to you. Don't let anyone tell you that any old violation of TILA or RESPA or some state statute affords you the right to rescind. I have seen too many borrowers/consumers sold this bit of goods by people claiming to be experts or professional auditors. The scope of TILA mortgage rescission is precise but very powerful.

If you'd like to retain me for my audit services, go to my contact page at to get a hold of me.

Author Info: Lane Houk is Forensic Consumer Debt Analyst and has 8 years of mortgage banking and finance experience. He also maintains an active real estate license in Florida. Lane has done well over 400 hours of research on Foreclosure Defense and Consumer Rights Issues in the areas of Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, RESPA and more. He has combined his research, reading and experience in the real estate and finance industries to develop resources to help others who find themselves in a tough situation. You care read more on Lane's Educational Blog at

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Help Me Buy Or Sell My Home?

The risk of not hiring an experienced Real Estate Attorney can cost a buyer/seller thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. Since the purchase or sale of your home may well be your most significant financial transaction, you should not be penny wise, pound foolish.

Most people don't realize how complicated buying and selling a house really is. The procedure involves reading and drafting complicated legal documents (i.e. long, small print sales contracts) and requires a familiarity with the standard practice in real estate transactions. In addition, each step from negotiating terms to drafting to closing entails a significant amount of paperwork.

The Complex Process Most people will sell or purchase a home only a few times in their lifetime, but a Real Estate Attorney will close a sale or purchase of a home a couple of times a week. Plus, no two real estate transactions are the same. In fact, with each transaction you are likely to encounter different circumstances, obstacles and risks.

In order to buy or sell your house you have to complete a number of complicated tasks including the following:

1. Negotiate the terms of the Sales Contract: Experienced attorneys want to get the best deal for their client (even if it's at your expense).

2. Meet strict legal deadlines: Many real estate transactions fall through because deadlines are not met (this could cost you your dream home).

3. Obtain financing: Most contracts are contingent on financing and at closing the purchaser signs hundreds of pages of loan documents that only your attorney can explain.

4. Obtain inspections of the property: Your lawyer will conduct a title search to assure the seller is actually the owner of the property, has paid all the taxes, and there are no judgments existing against the property. In addition, your lawyer will hire an engineer to inspect the land and structure to ensure there are no hidden defects.

5. Obtain insurance for the property and/or mortgage: Mortgage lenders will require the home to be insured to protect their security interest.

Lots of Paperwork New York State laws can be particularly convoluted for home buyers and sellers, and each transaction involves a significant amount of paperwork. The documents are voluminous (i.e. hundreds of pages) and are filled with technical and legal terminology that is difficult for anyone not familiar with real estate transactions.

A buyer/seller should always have an attorney read the legal documents and explain the documents in laymen terms. In fact, even an attorney who does not practice in Real Estate law should hire a Real Estate Attorney to help him/her understand what each document means.

To learn more about New York real estate law, and for more information on how to buy or sell your home, please call 1-516-938-3100.

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