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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Liens And Probate

What if you have a fairly large judgment against someone who never did have any available assets; however recently, their widower father passed away. Dad's two heirs are his daughter and his son, your judgment debtor.

One of many judgment articles: I am not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

Continuing the "what if" example; the daughter is the executor of the late father's estate, and she will inherit a house. Your judgment debtor will inherit an expensive Corvette automobile. As a judgment recovery expert, your first thoughts for possible recovery actions might include:

1) Serving a notice of your lien on the daughter. Because she is the executor of the estate, in theory she would have no trouble paying off your lien. The problem is, you might need to serve her attorney as well, and you may not know who that attorney is.

2) An assignment order served on the daughter. You might have the same problem as above.

3) Have a debtor examination (and/or perhaps later, a bench warrant) served on your debtor. This may defeat your end judgment recovery purpose because the debtor might put the eventually inherited Corvette in another name, and hide any other assets he may receive.

4) Subpoena the daughter with a subpoena duces tecum, for a copy of the will and/or trust.

However, a notice of lien is almost always a slow-payment approach. Courts take the position that a notice of lien is effective, however in probate court, liens have no legal significance until the court makes a disposition of the assets; and the ownership rights are transferred from the decedent's estate to the debtor, as an heir of the decedent's estate.

What the will says in terms of distribution of the estate, is not final at the beginning of the probate proceeding(except that it names the executor on whom to serve legal papers). Someone could contest the will (including the naming of the executor), and all such issues need to be litigated in court.

Lots of things can happen during the time that the daughter administers the estate of the decedent. Your debtor will get nothing (except perhaps, the cost of funeral expenses), and you may get tied up with appearances in probate court every time something happens with the estate. If you skip hearings, you take the chance of missing something important.

Just because you file a notice of your lien, or a request for a notice of the proceedings; does not mean that you will get a copy of every motion made by the executor, all papers filed, or noticed on every court appearance by the executor.

In a will situation, during the time that asset distributions are being considered by the court, you will have to wait. Many things can go wrong.

If you file a notice of lien, you can intervene (in California, under CCPs 387 and 708.440), because there is no one in the probate action that represents your interests as a judgment creditor.

Once you are granted status as an intervenor (not every court allows this), then you can fight to maximize the distribution of the estate to your debtor as a beneficiary, according to what the will states (or what you interpret it as stating).

The executor can do what is in the best interest of the estate, and some have interpreted this to mean that the executor can pay you, but only if you can come up with a settlement offer that benefits the estate, including avoiding the expense of further litigation.

Some courts will deny your right to a legal standing, however it is usually a good idea to ask the court for an order that the executor of the estate obtain a probate bond.

Even if the will states that a bond is not required, a bond will ensure that the distribution to your debtor gets made with a minimum of risk to the recovery of your debtor's share of inheritance. It is worth it to mitigate the risk of having an executor with no experience in administering a probate estate.

Most probate bond companies will not sell a probate bond to an executor attempting to administer the affairs of a probate estate without legal representation; unless the executor has real property of their own to pledge as collateral for the bond. This means the executor will need to pay an attorney to get a probate bond.

In many states, the attorney will by statute, get 4% of the first $100K of the estate, 3% of the next $100K, 2% of the next $100K, and 1% of anything beyond that, up to $1 million.

The executor may be reluctant to pay the extra attorney fees from the assets of the probate estate, if they figure out that you will probably get the money you are owed, anyway. The executor may wish to settle with you, rather than incur this additional cost.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Labor Board Judgments

What if you have a state labor board judgment, can that judgment be recovered? The short answer is it depends on the current status of your previous employer.

One of many judgment articles: I am a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

There are three potential problems with labor board judgments. The first potential problem (especially these days) is the company that owed you money may now be out of business. If it is out of business and the judgment is small, you are probably out of luck.

The second potential problem is the labor board must register their award with a state court to get a judgment. (In California, this is the DLSE.) Usually, they do this automatically. However, sometimes you have to remind them.

The third potential problem (especially if the judgment amount is small) is that labor boards rarely make the owner(s) of the business liable on their awards. That means it is rarely possible to collect from the company owners personally.

Occasionally, a labor board will help with "alter-ego" situations and add company owners to the award and judgment, however you will probably lose any accrued interest, and must ask the state court for a new judgment with a new case number. Also, the labor board will ask you to assign your previous judgment to them.

If a labor board award is filed with a court, it will be filed at a civil court, never at a small claims court, no matter how small the amount is.

In California, Labor Board Code 1194.3 states that an ex-employee creditor can recover attorney's fees and the costs incurred to enforce a judgment for unpaid wages, however only against the named company. If the company is now out of business, usually it is game over.

How do you know if your labor board award has been entered in a state court? Look up your name or their name on the court's records, perhaps using the court's website. If your name is not in the court's register of actions, it probably is not lodged at that court. The court can confirm this, and so can your labor board.

How do you know if the company that owes you money is still in business? Besides doing a drive-by, you can check your secretary of state's website and see if they are still active.

Labor boards make their decisions as arbitration awards, and then the awards are usually sent to a court, and given a court case number. After it becomes a final judgment, then it can be enforced.

The state courts used to take about three weeks to two months to process labor board judgments, however with recent court cutbacks, it may now take longer.

For judgment enforcers; the labor boards will not talk to anyone except the ex-employee, so if there is a question whether an award was entered in a state court, have the original ex-employee ask them.

Also for enforcers, one thing to watch out for are assignments to the state franchise tax board for collection. In this case, make sure that the original ex-employee gets a re-assignment back to them, before you take an assignment of their judgment. Otherwise, the creditor lacks the authority to assign you their judgment.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Court Translators

What if you are suing someone to get a judgment, or at your post-judgment debtor or third-party examination; the other party claims they do not speak English well or at all, and has their (perhaps court-appointed) interpreter with them.

One of many judgment articles: I am a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

Use of translators in court proceedings is not rare. Some translators are certified and others are not. Some courts make non-certified translators swear in, and let certified translators skip being sworn in. If you suspect shenanigans (for example, for every word you say, the interpreter says 25 words to your party), get them sworn in anyway.

Some lawyers and judgment enforcers, get a sworn declaration from the interpreter that they declare to interpret correctly, word for word, and not to inject any opinions or suggestions. The court reporter should have a copy of the oath handy, and so should the court clerk. Court reporters usually swear the translators in, before the proceedings start. Different states have different oaths:

In Texas, the court reporter would say to the interpreter, "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the interpretation you will give in this deposition will be from English to (another language) and from (another language) to English to the best of your ability?".

In Tennessee, the oath is: "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will interpret accurately, completely and impartially, using your best skill and judgment in accordance with the standards prescribed by law and the Rules of Ethics for Spoken Foreign Language Interpreters in Tennessee Courts; that you will follow all official guidelines established by this court for legal interpreting or translating, and discharge all of the solemn duties and obligations of legal interpretation and translation?".

In Florida, the oath is: "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will make a true interpretation to the witness of all questions or statements made to [him][her] in a language which that person understands, and interpret the witness's statements into the English language, to the best of your abilities, so help you God?".

There are court translation companies that can be hired to provide translators. There are websites for court translators, and often you can save money by shopping around for the ones that service courts in your county.

Each state has its own laws concerning court interpreters. In California, interpreters are covered by Evidence Code sections 750-755.5. Sometimes, a judge will challenge the interpreter when they use a lot more words than they were told. Sometimes this cannot be avoided because certain languages such as Vietnamese, typically use several words for each English word.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.

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Mark D. Shapiro – Judgment Broker,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Benefits Of CBD

What is CBD? It is one of the many compounds/molecules found in the marijuana/hemp plant. CBD is the part of the plant that is legal in all 50 states, and does not get you high. CBD is very safe and has a stellar record, when it is used in moderation, instead of pills or alcohol for many medical conditions.

I am a judgment referral expert (a judgment broker) who writes a lot. CBD is not at all like the more popular (legal in some states) THC molecule/compound. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most popular and potent part of weed that can make you high.

Most of the medicinal value of weed comes from cannabidiol (CBD). CBD does not get you high, however it has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. CBD even helps THC usage be a more enjoyable experience.

It is safer, more positive, and healthier to have some CBD in the weed that one inhales or consumes. Nature wisely put both THC and CBD into this wonderful plant.

Right now, you can buy CBD extracts online all over the US, because it comes from the legal hemp plant having almost no THC. Think of hemp as the brother to its sister plant marijuana, the plant that can get you high. Right now, CBD products seem overpriced, perhaps due to the demand; more competition will help.

Historically, THC is what sells. Currently, the vast majority of weed plants are grown and raised to produce the highest THC levels, and relatively low CBD levels.

Thankfully, now growers and dispensaries are selling higher-CBD weed/hemp products, in addition to the weed products that may get you high. Without going into detail, small nightly doses of CBD cured my medical problems when 7 months of many different (and dangerous) doctor's RX pills could not. Here are some of the ways that CBD has helped others:

1) CBD might reverse alcohol-induced brain damage.

2) CBD might be a very effective treatment for social anxiety problems.

3) CBD may be an anti-tumor and anti-cancer supplement.

4) CBD may be a potent anti-psychotic/anti-schizophrenia medicine.

5) CBD helps certain people having mild seizures and/or shaking limb-syndromes.

6) CBD is legal, however you may find it only on the web. CBD comes in a variety of forms including oils, smoking, vaporizing, electronic-cigarettes, tinctures, food and drink (edibles), capsules, and chewing gum.

Uninformed people (including a shocking number of doctors) think that CBD is evil, some consider CBD to be a vitamin, and most consider it to be a medicine. CBD is legal because it does not get you high and has almost no abuse potential. CBD needs a lot more marketing and competition, to drive down the price of CBD extracts.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Probate And Wills

Some people think that if they have a will, then when they die, everything will go instantly and automatically to their kids (or their spouse, or...) just like they stated in their will, period. It is not that simple.

One of many judgment articles: I am a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

When someone dies, with or without a written will, their belongings must usually go through a probate court first, prior to being passed on to the named person(s) listed in the will. Think of probate as proving to the court, the ownership status of the deceased person's possessions.

Just because Dad's will says Frank gets the house and Cindy gets the Jaguar, does not mean that the day after Dad dies, Frank and Cindy immediately get them, or any other possessions listed in Dad's will.

First, it must be proven in probate court that Dad actually owned both the house and the Jaguar, free and clear. The actual checking of ownerships is done by the Executor (as named in the will) or the Administrator (as appointed by the court when there is no written will).

The executor or the administrator, files documents with the court identifying the legal titles, and whether all liens and/or loans have been cleared on the listed possessions. After it is proven in court that Dad solely owned all the possessions listed in his will, then the court looks at the will for the disbursement instructions for the possessions.

If an estate is small, then there is no need to probate the deceased's estate. The estate dollar amount limit, varies over time and by state. In California, the limit is currently $150,000. If the estate is smaller than the state limit, then the affected parties can skip probate court.

Probate court records are public records. Anyone can go into a state court and view probate records. One can even look up celebrities or anyone else and see who got what.

To avoid the expense and public disclosure possibilities of the probate court process, many people with lots of assets set up a revocable living trust; and transfer ownership of most of what they own into that trust.

When you look for a property deed at the recorder's office and it says Jack Rogers and Sally Rogers owned the house as husband and wife, but they transferred title to Jack Rogers and Sally Rogers; Trustees of the Rogers Family Trust dated June 5, 2010, you will know they have a trust. Most likely it will be a revocable living trust. Revocable trusts can be changed at any time.

Properly set-up trusts usually bypass probate courts because they have already "proven title" to the estate's property. Properly set up trusts can keep an estate out of the public records, a potentially important privacy feature.

People with their assets in the name of their trusts may also have a will, for anything they may have forgotten to put into their trusts. Revocable living trusts are not a separate legal entity apart from the trustees, because person(s) own each asset in the trust. This means assets in such trusts are not shielded from judgment creditors.

Trusts and probate are complex subjects, and this article is a summary of how things usually work. Of course, there are many exceptions, lots of red tape, and legalese too. When recovering a judgment, the divorce and probate court records are a wealth of information.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taxi-Related Judgments

What if you have a judgment against a taxicab company or a taxi driver? How could you enforce such judgments? What if your debtor owns a taxicab medallion, can you levy that medallion? This article discusses how taxi drivers, taxicab companies, and taxicab medallions work, and how some have recovered these kind of judgments.

One of many judgment articles: I am a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

Taxicab medallions are often owned by taxicab companies and leased to the taxicab drivers. Sometimes, an assignment order is the right way to recover a taxi-related judgment. If an assignment order is used, one must figure out where to serve it.

There are two ways that taxi companies operate. The first model is more common, the second is relatively rare. The first taxicab operation model is called the "cab-lord" model.

In the cab-lord model, taxi companies provide dispatch services to taxi drivers under a contract with them. The taxi drivers lease their cabs from the cab-lord (who is not necessarily connected with the taxi company). The cab-lord provides car insurance for each cab, and paints the vehicles for use by each cab company.

A typical cab driver pays the cab-lord about $90.00 per day often for a 12-hour shift, and the drivers often fill their gas tanks at the end of their shifts. The drivers are also supposed to clean the windows and wash their cars at the end of their shift, however few do. An experienced cab driver often nets about $150 to $200 per shift.

Under this first cab-lord model, dispatched fares are broadcast to screens in the taxis, and any available taxi driver can take it; first-come gets the fare. The driver gets fares and tips. The driver might gross $35 an hour (perhaps even more with tips), however after paying the cab-lord, the taxi company, and for gas, the driver might net about $9 an hour.

The second taxicab operation model is not as common. The taxi company owns all the taxicabs and medallions. It hires the drivers as employees. The employees keep a log of all their pick-ups (both dispatched and hailed) as well as the meter readings and mileage. The drivers write down or record everything, except for their tips.

At the end of the shift, the driver hands over the total fares received that day, except for their tips. Every week, the taxicab company totals the fares received by the driver, and pays them (e.g., 40) percent of that total as their wages; deducting taxes of course. In this second model, the company pays for the driver's gas and all expenses.

If your debtor owns a taxi medallion but not a taxicab, they are often paid by a cab-lord who affixes it to their cabs. You need to know what the taxi business model is, to figure out how your debtor is getting paid. Often, a judgment debtor and/or third-party examination will be needed to learn who is paying your debtor.

If your debtor owns a taxicab and a taxi medallion, that is really good news because your debtor probably earns a lot more. When your debtor is not working, other taxi drivers probably pay them to use the debtor's vehicle. In this situation, you will need to find the names of those other taxi drivers, if you want to intercept the funds before they get to your debtor.

The cab company may not be paying your debtor/medallion owner. Cab-lords sometimes lease medallions from the owners. If your debtor owns a medallion, and you want to intercept the funds that go to your debtor, then you must find the company that is functioning as their cab-lord.

Often, the cab-lord is paying the debtor, and that is where you should direct your assignment order, so they can start paying you money that would otherwise go to your medallion-owning debtor, who is leasing it to the cab-lord.

You could waste a bunch of time and money getting an assignment order against a taxicab company whose only service is to the drivers. Some companies provide only dispatch services, and they pay zero dollars to your debtor. If your medallion-holding debtor does not get paid by the taxicab company, your assignment order would capture zero dollars. Target the cab-lord instead, and you will find the income-stream.

To enforce a judgment against either a taxi driver or a taxi company, you would use either an assignment order or an accounts receivable levy. Often, an accounts receivable levy is better than an assignment order, when the levy on is an intangible asset. This is because it is faster, and the debtor never sees it coming. Also, if there is a contract in use, often an intangible levy is required. In California, the relevant laws are primarily CCPs (Civil Codes of Procedure) 680.210, 680.130, 701.010, 700.170; and Commercial Code 9102(a).

Medallions are transferable, and worth a lot of money, because often you cannot pick up paid fares without one. (Although a medallion is not needed to drop people off in most places.) If your debtor owns a taxi medallion, why not levy that medallion and have the Sheriff sell it?

Medallions are very valuable, so if you schedule the sheriff's sale, they will come. That debtor will probably then pay you in a New York minute.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Referral Expert - - where Judgments get Recovered.