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Crossroads Law, Sponsored by: Cole, Cole & Easley, P.C.

Question: I am a landlord with 8 apt units. One of my tenants is under a lease until June. He is a hoarder. This poses many health and safety issues. Is there grounds for eviction.

Answer by Rick Stafford:
The answer to your question is possibly. Your lease is controlled by your contract and the property code. The property code does give you the ability to evict based off of waste, but this is fact and case law specific. Your contract may also give you more broad rights to evict; however, your tenant also has protection under the property code and if you violate some of his rights he could have a claim against you. Best advice I can give is to contact a lawyer about your options on how best to proceed with an eviction. The money you spend up front just might save you more in the long term.

Question: I was in an accident, not my fault, my doctor told me to file under my personal injury protection on my insurance and I would not have to pay it back even if the other insurance company pays the bills. Is this true?

Answer by Luther Easley:
Robert, your Doctor is exactly right. Personal injury protection (PIP) generally covers medical bills and lost wages up to $2,500 related to car crashes, among other things. You should call your insurance company to see if you have (PIP) coverage and they will give you the details which your insurance company requires to release payments. If you are injured and believe that you are going to continue to suffer harms I would recommend consulting an attorney before making any agreement with the other persons insurance.

Question: My son has joint child custody. My son pays child support out of a weekly draw (so she gets her money). My son and family are not allowed to see the kids. She will not allow any visitations or phone calls; she has even remarried and moved. My son took his orders with him and called the Nueces County Police but they said it was a civil matter and wouldn't help out. We've wasted more money and time doing our part and don't get to see the kids. What if any suggestions can you offer?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Child support and visitation are not necessarily tied together. The child's support payment is to pay for your son's share of raising the child. Visitation has to do with access to the child. Your son will likely have to pay child support unless his parental rights are terminated. Whether he can see or have access to the child is another matter that is usually the subject of a court order. If a court has ordered that he has the right to see the child, then he can petition the court to enforce the order. If there is not a current order that addresses the issue, then he can petition the court for the right to see his child. From your question, it appears that he needs to ask the court to enforce the order. This is difficult to do without the help of an attorney that handles family law cases.

Question: My brother died in Lady Lakes, Florida and left all his 401k to my sister, who died a few months ahead of him. Does the money go to his kids or to her siblings since she had no children?

Answer by David Coffey:
When a beneficiary dies first, the proceeds from a 401(k) (or any account with a beneficiary designation) will pass to any named contingent beneficiaries. If there are none, then the property will pass in accordance with the terms of the agreement creating the account. Many times the agreement provides that when there are no living beneficiaries, the property passes to the estate of the person who created the account. However, that is not always the case so you will need to contact the plan provider in order to determine who receives the 401(k) proceeds.

Question: How long does my former landlord have to either return my deposit or tell me he will return nothing?

Answer by Will Sciba:
The rules related to security deposits in Texas are found in the Texas Property Code, §92.101 - §92.109. Texas landlords have 30 days after the you vacates the premises to return the security deposit. If the landlord is keeping all or a portion of the deposit, he is required to provide a written description and itemized list of all deductions.

Question: My aunt & uncle from Colorado deeded their interest in their parents home to my Dad, who is their younger brother. My dad held on to the deeds and never had them filed. The paperwork was drawn up by my aunt's attorney in Colorado in 2006. My dad passed away in 2007 and recently we came across the deeds. My aunt contacted her attorney and he told her the deeds were still good and we can have them filed with the original paperwork as it is. Do you know if we can do this, knowing my dad would have 3/4 interest in the home that would then be equally split between his children now, or do we have to have new deeds drawn up by an attorney since so much time has passed?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Your aunt's attorney is correct. New deeds are not necessary. The prior deeds do need to be recorded in Colorado so I would take care of that as soon as you possibly can.

Question: Can a payroll clerk change your time sheet after you signed it and not tell you about it?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Your employer has an obligation to pay you for the hours you work. If the time sheet is accurate, it probably does not matter that it was changed. If the time sheet is inaccurate, then you may be entitled to compensation for the time that was not paid. Cases like this are often over looked because the unpaid wages do not justify the expense of a lawsuit, but they can add up over time especially if a large number of people are affected. You may also try contacting the Department of Labor.

Question: My husband of 33 years has a daughter from a previous relationship. He was ordered to pay some back child support due to him quitting his job at the Post Office. He has never seen the child/adult and doesn't even know where she lives or if she even finished high school (one of many of the court order conditions the mother has violated). My question is how long is my husband required to pay for back child support that he could not pay for 1.5 years after leaving his previous empoyer?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Generally, the back child support has to be paid. The worst situation I ever heard involve a man who had to pay 14 years back child support for a child he did not even know about. The premise is that we have a responsibility to support our children. This obligation is not dependent on the actions of the other parent. If the other parent is not complying with other terms ordered by the court, then your husband may be able to ask the court to enforce those terms. There are also provisions that may allow the court to modify the amount of child support based on a change in income and other circumstances. I recommend that you and your husband contact an attorney that specializes in family law. The best way to select an attorney is to talk to someone you trust who has used a family law attorney or look in the phone book for attorneys who are board certified in family law or advertise that they handle family law. Then find an attorney you are comfortable with.

Question: I have a Life Insurance policy with a benificiary. Does my Will over ride this benificary or do I have to change the benificary on my life insurance policy?

Answer by David Coffey:
A will does not override the beneficiary designation on your insurance policy. Insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. which have beneficiary designations pass according to the designation regardless of the terms of your will. The same is true for assets held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or with a pay on death designation.

Question: I was hired by a company and then was told that they would need a letter from my doctor in order to put me on the schedule. I got the letter and then was told I am no longer employed. What actions could I take against them?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Texas is what is considered a "right to work" state. The phrase "right to work" is a little counter-intuitive. It basically means that you can be fired at any time for any reason. It also means that an employee can quit at any time for any reason. There are some exceptions to this general rule. The most common exceptions are racial discrimination, sexual harassment, discrimination based on sex, age discrimination, and discrimination based on a disability. There are other laws that may apply depending on the circumstances. There are also laws that protect employees from retaliation for complaining of illegal discrimination.

Question: My Ex-husband passed away, we have 2 kids and we were living together since the divorce. Could I ask for all government benefits as a widow and mother of his children? In Texas when are you consider legal married?

Answer by David Coffey:
If your children are either under 18 or are under 19 and still in high school, they are entitled to survivor benefits. If you were married more than ten years to your ex-husband, you will be eligible to receive survivor benefits at retirement regardless of whether you were married at the time of death. A common law marriage exists when a man and woman a) are living together, b) hold themselves out as being married, and c) both intended to be married. You have two years from his date of death to establish that you were married.

Question: While in a pet store a customer reaches to pat my dog without me knowing, (back turned talking to store rep),and my dog snapped at the customer 's hand before I could snatch her away, and breaks the skin (1" scrape and draws blood) am I liable for that?

Answer by Will Sciba:
Typically a minor injury such as a scratch will not result in a lawsuit because the cost of pursuing the claim will be more than the claim is worth. If a claim is made you should turn it over to your home owners or renters insurance if you have it. In order for an injured person to recover from a dog bite, the injured person will typically have to prove that the owner had reason to know that his/her dog posed a danger to others. This can be shown through prior instances where to dog has bitten or shown aggression towards people in the past.

Question: How do I make sure I am being paid the right amount of royalty by the oil company?

Answer by Robert McKay:
The check stub will contain a decimal interest attributable to your royalty. This decimal interest should equal the interest you own in the royalty.

Question: If the wife owns the house before the marriage or (common –law marriage) and her name is the only one on the deed, can the husband be granted any claim to the property?

You can contact an attorney that specializes on workers comp to make sure you are being paid the right amount. Typically you will be limited to the benefits you are awarded through the comp system; however, you may have a third party claim if someone other than your employer caused your injury. If you collect from a third party, you will have to reimburse the comp carrier before you can put any money in your pocket.

There may be a claim for reimbursement if improvements were made or mortgage payments were made during the marriage.

Question: I was hurt at work and I am receiving comp benefits. I am having trouble making ends meet can I do anything to make up for the money I am losing?

Answer by Jim Cole:
You can contact an attorney that specializes on workers comp to make sure you are being paid the right amount. Typically you will be limited to the benefits you are awarded through the comp system; however, you may have a third party claim if someone other than your employer caused your injury. If you collect from a third party, you will have to reimburse the comp carrier before you can put any money in your pocket.

Question: I fell at a store. Do they have to pay my medical bills?

Answer by Will Sciba:
You should ask whether the store has no fault medical payments coverage. If it does, then it should cover medical expenses up to a certain amount. The limit of medical payments coverage is typically between $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. If there is no medical payments coverage, or if your injury is more severe; you will have to prove that the store is at fault. To prove the store is at fault, you must present evidence that (1) there was an unreasonably dangerous condition on the premises (2) the store employers know or should have know of the condition, and (3) the store employees failed to act reasonably to warn of the condition or make the condition safe.

Question: My husband of 10 years was previously married for 20 years. She signed the deed away to my husband; however both of their names are still on the mortgage loan. If he passed away can she come back and claim the house?

Answer by David Coffey:
No, she assigned all right to the house by signing the deed.

Question: My neighbors have an oil well on the property next door that is producing. My property is leased but no well has been drilled. Is there anything I can do?

Answer by Robert McKay:
Yes. If the well is causing drainage of oil or gas from your property, you can insist that the company which has your land leased drill a well on your land to prevent drainage.

Question: How can I make sure my family does not fight over my stuff when I die?

Answer by David Coffey:
There is no way to guarantee that your family will not fight over their inheritance but I would recommend having a will and sharing with them your desires regarding the division of your estate.

Question: I was in a car wreck and it was the other person's fault. I need to get my car fixed but the other drivers insurance will not pay. What can I do?

Question: I have a loved one that just passed away. What do I need to do now?

Answer by David Coffey:
First, take time to celebrate the life of your loved one and take time to let the grieving process occur. Then contact an attorney to assist you with the next steps. He or she will need a copy of the death certificate and the original will. If there is no will, gather all information regarding your loved one's next of kin before meeting with your lawyer.

Disclaimer: This site is published by Crossroads today and sponsored by Cole, Cole & Easily, P.C. It is intended to provide a forum to discuss general legal concepts. Cases are always very fact specific and the application of the law will vary from case to case. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice from Crossroads Today, Cole, Cole & Easley, P.C, or any of the contributing authors. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us or Cole, Cole & Easley does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us or Cole, Cole & Easley, P.C. until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Filed Under:

Topics: Human Interest, Law Crime

Social: Law Crime

People: Chuck Cole, David Coffey, Jim Cole, Robert McKay

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