How to Sell Your House Without a Real Estate Agent

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For more information on buying and selling without a real estate agent, I suggest For Sale by Owner by Nolo Press.

You do not need to have a realtor or a real estate agent to sell your home in California.

Although rare, thousands of buyers and sellers purchase or sell a home without a real estate agent every year.

In California, home buyers and sellers typically are represented by a California Department of Real Estate-licensed agent or broker.

However, in other states real property sales are commonly handled by a lawyer.  This is less common in California.

You can also market the home on your own (i.e. handle all the advertising, open houses, and private showings yourself), but use an attorney to process the paperwork, while paying a flat fee to have the house put on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which nearly every real estate agency website uses for its listings. There is also another option. Check out https://www.ctcashhomes.com/ and get a fair cash offer for your house.
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to selling a home without an agent, which must be weighed by anyone considering selling a home on their own.

How to Determine When Works Are in the Public Domain

The following guest post was written by Dave Owens, a 2010 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.copyright, copyright law, intellectual property

The public domain refers to works that do not have copyright protection. Thus the public has a right to use the works without permission from the author or the author’s heirs. In other words, you can use the work without having to pay for a license.

There is a lot of confusion about what is actually in the public domain. This confusion partly arises from the fact that the Copyright Act has changed dramatically over the last one hundred years. Whether or not a work is in the public domain largely depends on what year the work was created.

Find Out What’s Actually in the Public Domain

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How to Sell Alcohol in California

The below guest post was written by Joe Wilson, an attorney with the Law Offices of Joseph C. Wilson. alcohol, liquor license, sell alcohol, ABC,

The ability to sell alcohol is critical to a variety of business, such as restaurants, bars, markets, and wineries.  Alcohol is a billion dollar industry, evidenced by the amount we as consumers drink.

In 2009 in California alone, consumers drank approximately 677,579,000 gallons of beer, 133,906,000 gallons of wine, and 50,522,000 gallons of beer.  Suffice to say, alcohol is a big business.

It’s also a business that relies on entrepreneurs to participate.  Indeed, some of the most profitable businesses in the alcohol industry were started right here in California.  For example, in 1992 an entrepreneur in San Francisco set out with a goal to make the world’s best vodka.  The result? He created Skyy Spirits LLC, maker of Skyy Vodka, and one of the largest spirits companies in the United States.

Whether you are a chef who wants to open up your own restaurant in San Francisco, a grape farmer who wants to start bottling your own wine, or a person who has the next big idea for a competitor to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, the ability to sell alcohol will be critical to your success.

How to Manufacture or Sell Alcohol in California

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How to Draft a Living Will or Advance Healthcare Directive in Less Than Ten Minutes

A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life-prolonging health care or medical treatments if they are unable to speak for him- or herself. It is referred to by different names in different states. In California, the document is known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, while in other states it may be called a living will, health care directive, or a physician’s directive.

If you have a family that you love, you should have an Advance Healthcare Directive.  Below, I will explain how you can fill out an Advance Healthcare Directive in less than ten minutes right now online, using my guided step-by-step process.  Think of it as you have a lawyer sitting next to you as you sit at your computer screen, giving you advice and tips as your complete the process.

How to Create Your Own Living Will in Less Than Ten Minutes

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Five Myths You Need to Know About Fair Use

The following guest post was written by Dave Owens, a 2010 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Copyright law gives an author exclusive right to his or her work. An author, however, is limited from enforcing this right if the use is a fair use. Most people have heard of fair use, but don’t understand how it is applied in real life, nor the major myths and misunderstandings about how it affects them.

What is Fair Use?
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How to Write A Demand Letter

Demand letters come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are long and involved; others are short and directly to the point.

Whether you are writing a demand letter for breach of contract or some other reason, every demand letter is crafted to achieve a specific goal – to compel its recipient to do some action.

Demand letters are most commonly used at the beginning of litigation, prior to filing of any lawsuit.

Lawyers will frequently send a demand letter as the initial “shot across the bow” to a potential Defendant to lay out the facts, explain their client’s damages, and set out a specific monetary demand.

Here’s a short video from Youtube on drafting a demand letter. Skip down below the video for detailed specifics on how to draft your demand letter.

How to Draft Your Demand Letter

Often this letter comes after many months in which the attorney’s client (the potential Plaintiff) has attempted to compel the Defendant to settle their differences without resorting to the courts. Thus, the potential Plaintiff is often very upset at the fact that the situation hasn’t been resolved.

Although there are great variations in how demand letters are crafted, the basic structure is as follows below. Keep in mind that this basic outline may need to be customized depending on the relationship between the parties and the facts of the case.

  • Summary. The first section explains who the author is and why they are writing, and may include a quick summary of the Plaintiff’s injuries or damages.
  • Background Information.  In this section, you can explain the relationship between the parties. If the matter involves a breach of contract between two businesses, this section should explain the business relationship between the two parties.
  • Facts. Here you should explain the details regarding the incident – the who, what, where, when, and why.  If the incident was a vehicle accident, then this section will explain how it happened. If the incident was a breach of contract, then this section will explain the creation of the contract and its breach.
  • Claim for Damages. In this section, you should outline the injuries or damages.  If the incident was a breach of contract, then the damages may be fairly easy to compute based on the failure of the Defendant to make payments due under the contract.  If the incident was a personal injury resulting from a vehicle accident, then this section will include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, future loss of earning capacity and benefits, and pain and suffering.
  • Demand. In the final section, you should explain what action you are demanding from the Defendant. In most cases, this will be a specific dollar amount. You should also include a deadline (typically 2-3 weeks) for a response, so that you apply some pressure.

Although demand letters are typically sent by a lawyer, anyone can send a demand letter. A demand letter is typically taken more seriously however when it is written on law firm letterhead, indicating that the Plaintiff went to the trouble of hiring a lawyer who is trained and skilled at fighting on behalf of their clients.

In order to make sure your letter has the best chance of success, you want to minimize common mistakes.  Here are the most common mistakes in demand letters:

  1. Taking Too Much of a “Hard Line.” You should have a serious demand in your letter, but you shouldn’t ask for the moon. If your demand is too extreme, it may backfire. Your opponent may become angry, or may determine there is no room for negotiation.
  2. Failing to Outline Your Damages. The Damages section to the demand letter is very important. In this section, your damages should be reasonable and directly tied to the actions of the Defendant.  Your lawyer can explain which damages arose out of the actions of the Defendant and which are not related.
  3. Failing to Specify Your Demand.  Your demand letter should specifically state what you are asking for. In most cases, this will be a dollar payment from the Defendant to you, in exchange for you giving up the right to file a lawsuit against the Defendant.  If you are demanding payment, then you need to pick a number which is reasonable and has a logical relationship to your damages.
  4. Wrong Defendant.  You want to be sure you are sending the demand letter to the right Defendant. For example, if the recipient of the letter was insured, you should send a demand letter to the correct division at the insurer’s offices. In addition, if your Defendant was an employee acting on behalf of his or her employer, you may want to send your demand to the employer as well.
  5. Too Short.  A demand letter needs to achieve more than conveying a dollar amount; it needs to clearly and succinctly lay out all of the reasons why you would be likely to win a lawsuit against the Defendant if you are forced to file a lawsuit. For that reason, your demand letter cannot be too brief.  Write the letter as if your recipient has very little knowledge about the facts surrounding the case or any previous negotiations between the parties, and you will be likely to include all the details that need to be included.

Finally, you should include with the demand letter any relevant documentation that supports your claim, including the contract if there was a breach of contract, and any relevant prior correspondence between you and the Defendant.

I also commonly include a final draft of the complaint with demand letters. I do this for two reasons: (1) the Defendant is likely to take the demand letter much more seriously if they see you have drafted a complaint and all you have to do is file it, and (2) since most demand letters are unsuccessful, you might as well draft the complaint and get the benefit of including it, since you will probably have to draft it later anyways.

Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked well in demand letters? Let us know in the comments below.

If you need help creating your own demand letter, you may want to take advantage of my firm’s $225 flat-fee 60-Minute Demand Letter Review & Consultations in person or over the phone.

 

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Photo credit: Flickr/Mike McCaffrey