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Real Good Lawyerly Advice at NO Charge!

10 Legal Tidbit's to Save Yourself Money, Time and Grief.

colds and flus, cold remedies, natural cold remedies, natural flu remedies
By Peter Ballantine

The objective of this article is to distil into a succinct, easy to read & understand document some words of advice that will very likely save you time, money and grief. Read this, copy it and share it with your loved ones as you’ll no doubt need to refer to it someday.

1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks as they maintain your signature card.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".

3 When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For/Memo" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers of the credit card as the credit card company knows the rest of the number. This way, anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through the mail and all the other check processing channels won't have access to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SIN# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone and everyone can have easy access to it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also consider carrying a photocopy of your passport when travel either local or abroad.

6. To limit the damage in instances where your wallet is lost or stolen:

  • Keep the contact numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call and report your missing credit cards immediately.
  • File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc. were lost or stolen. This starts an investigation and proves to credit providers you were diligent. This is an important first step towards protecting against any potential liability.
  • Call the national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Insurance Number. The alert ensures that any company that checks your credit will know that your information was stolen, and they must contact you by phone to obtain authorization prior to granting any new credit.

7. Bought a new vehicle that is nothing but trouble? All states in the United States now have "Lemon Laws" that protect new vehicle buyers against defective vehicles, commonly referred to as "lemons"...

The laws typically cover any new car, truck, motorcycle or motor home you buy or lease, even if you register the vehicle in another state. They typically also cover a "demonstrator" or "executive" vehicle that is no more than a year old and still under warranty. The laws rarely cover mopeds or trailers.

The Lemon Laws entitle you to a replacement vehicle, or a full refund, if your vehicle meets certain qualifications set by your state.

8. Don’t have a will?... you’re potentially leaving a huge problem to your loved ones.
A quick review of why you need to prepare a will.
If you die without a Will, you have died in testate. Your property must go through the probate process in order to have the legal title to the property transferred to your heirs at law. Your heirs at law are defined by applicable state statutes. The law of the state where you live controls the distribution of your personal property.

The rules for determining who gets property distributed from an in testate estate have many variations. Subtle differences between the rules states can have a material effect on who inherits when there is no Will.

An example of an in testate estate distribution rules, taken from the community property state of California, is:

If married, the spouse gets 100% of the community property, but only one-third or one-half of the separate property left, as children, parents, and any issue of children or parents, can share in the distribution.

If not married (this includes widows and widowers), the property is distributed to relatives in the following order:

(1) All to your issue - your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., if there are any. If none, then

(2) All to your parents (equally), or to the surviving parent, if any. If none, then

(3) All to the issue of your parents (your brothers and sisters, then your nieces and nephews, etc.). If none, then

(4) All to your grandparents (equally) or the surviving grandparent, or the issue of your grandparents (your aunts and uncles, then your cousins, etc.). If none, then

(5) All to the issue of any predeceased spouse (your step-children). If none, then

(6) All to your next of kin. If none, then

(7) All to the parents of a predeceased spouse (your mother- and father-in-law), or the issue of the parents of the deceased spouse (your brothers- or sisters-in law). If none of the above exist, then

(8) All to the State of California

In addition, in common with many other states, California has many special rules that apply to widow/ers, half-siblings, children born out-of-wedlock, foster- and step-children.
The rules for in testate estates are very technical. The simple alternative is to control how your property is to be distributed, by preparing a valid Will. Do it now and save your loved ones the burden of having to sort out your wishes during what will likely be an extremely trying and stressful time.
9. Suggestions for alternatives to declaring bankruptcy.

There are a number of different strategies for handling debt. For starters, contact your creditor(s), ask for their cooperation, and try to work out different payment arrangements or options. For example, if you are snowed under by credit card debt, get in touch with the company, explain the situation, and ask them to temporarily reduce your minimum monthly payments, waive late charges, and extend the payment period – with smaller payments at "no" interest.

A second recommendation is to turn to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a nationwide nonprofit organization that will work with you and your creditors to devise a more manageable repayment plan suited to your finances.

A third might be to sell any of your assets that have a resale value and apply the proceeds to your debt. Any balance due can be negotiated with the creditor.

Finally, another solution is to consolidate all outstanding debts into a single loan (often through credit card balance transfers)—but read the caution about balance transfers elsewhere in these materials. This approach relieves you of being saddled with debt from multiple creditors, since you will be making payments only to one lender. It’s generally a bad idea to borrow against your home to pay off credit cards, however: you’ll be trading dischargeable credit card debt for a secured loan and could end up losing your home.

Beware of counseling services that are actually fronts for profit-making companies. A common scam is to divert the consumer into a debt consolidation program and to charge excessive administrative fees. Sometimes, the initial fees go to the “counseling” company rather than to creditors, which obviously makes the debt situation worse instead of better. As a rule of thumb, a company that is advertising extensively on TV or radio is probably making a profit at the expense of hapless consumers.

10. What to know about your rights related to changing your mind on a purchase.

If you buy something at a store and later change your mind, you may not be able to return the merchandise. But if you buy an item in your home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business, you may have the option. The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more. Under the Cooling-Off Rule, your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale.

The Cooling-Off Rule applies to sales at the buyer's home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as hotel or motel rooms, convention centers, fairgrounds and restaurants. The Cooling-Off Rule applies even when you invite the salesperson to make a presentation in your home.

Under the Cooling-Off Rule, the salesperson must tell you about your cancellation rights at the time of sale. The salesperson also must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send) and a copy of your contract or receipt. The contract or receipt should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel. The contract or receipt must be in the same language that's used in the sales presentation.

Some Exceptions:
Some types of sales cannot be canceled even if they do occur in locations normally covered by the Rule. The Cooling-Off Rule does not cover sales that:

• are under $25;
• are for goods or services not primarily intended for personal, family or household purposes. (The Rule applies to courses of instruction or training.);
• are made entirely by mail or telephone;
• are the result of prior negotiations at the sellers permanent business location where the goods are sold regularly;
• are needed to meet an emergency. Suppose insects suddenly appear in your home, and you waive your right to cancel;
• are made as part of your request for the seller to do repairs or maintenance on your personal property (purchases made beyond the maintenance or repair request are covered).
Also exempt from the Cooling-Off Rule are sales that involve:
• real estate, insurance, or securities;
• automobiles, vans, trucks, or other motor vehicles sold at temporary locations, provided the seller has at least one permanent place of business;
• arts or crafts sold at fairs or locations such as shopping malls, civic centers, and schools.

How to Cancel
To cancel a sale, sign and date one copy of the cancellation form. Mail it to the address given for cancellation, making sure the envelope is post-marked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date. (Saturday is considered a business day; Sundays and federal holidays are not). Because proof of the mailing date and proof of receipt are important, consider sending the cancellation form by certified mail so you can get a return receipt. Or, consider hand delivering the cancellation notice before midnight of the third business day. Keep the other copy of the cancellation form for your records.

If the seller did not give cancellation forms, you can write your own cancellation letter. It must be post-marked within three business days of the sale.

You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind.

If You Cancel
If you cancel your purchase, the seller has 10 days to:

    • cancel and return any promissory note or other negotiable instrument you signed;
    • refund all your money and tell you whether any product you still have will be picked up; and 
    • return any trade-in.

Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up the items left with you, or reimburse you for mailing expenses, if you agree to send back the items.

If you received any goods from the seller, you must make them available to the seller in as good condition as when you received them. If you do not make the items available to the seller -- or if you agree to return the items but fail to -- you remain obligated under the contract.

If you have a complaint about sales practices that involve the Cooling-Off Rule, write:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

The Rules' complete name and citation are: Rule Concerning Cooling-Off Period for Sales Made at Homes or at Certain Other Locations; 16 CFR Part 429.

You also may wish to contact a consumer protection office in your city, county, or state. Some state laws give you even more rights than the FTCs Cooling-Off Rule, and some local consumer offices can help you resolve your complaint.

In addition, if you paid for your purchase with a credit card and a billing dispute arises about the purchase (for example, if the merchandise shipped was not what you ordered), you can notify the credit card company that you want to dispute the purchase. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, the credit card company must acknowledge your dispute in writing and conduct a reasonable investigation of your problem. You may withhold payment of the amount in dispute, until the dispute is resolved. (You are still required to pay any part of your bill that is not in dispute.) To protect your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must send a written notice about the problem to the credit card company at the address for billing disputes specified on your billing statement within 60 days after the first bill containing the disputed amount is mailed to you.

If the 60-day period has expired or if your dispute concerns the quality of the merchandise purchased, you may have other rights under the Act. If you have questions about the Fair Credit Billing Act, write for the free brochure entitled Fair Credit Billing.

Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

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