17 Year Old Debt

I am 35 years old.  When I was about 17 – 18 years old I got a department store credit card.  Well I thought that I paid it off.  The company went out of business.  Seventeen years I am getting a call from a credit collection company saying that I owe the money.  I have not heard anything from anyone until now.
I think that in most states a collecting a debt that has been outstanding for 17 years would be barred by statutes of limitations.  Technically the expiration of the statute of limitations does not mean that you do not owe the debt.  It means that the courts will no longer enforce the obligation.


Bad Checks from a Bad Boss at a Bad Company

Our company has been writing us NSF payroll checks. I can not cash my checks and my co-worker can not cash her checks at our respective banks anymore because our owners have written us so many bad checks. We have gone so far as to open accounts at the bank that the checks are drawn on and we went there to cash them this last week and there was not enough money in there account to cover either one of them. This was a holiday weekend and no money for food or bills or anything. We live from check to check what can we do legally to rectify this situation? We are looking for new jobs but until we can find one we are stuck!

In North Carolina, it is a crime to write a check knowing that there are insufficient funds in the account to cover the check, if you could convince the District Attorney to prosecute, that might give you some leverage.  You could also try to contact a state agency like the Department of Labor.
The laws of man cannot overcome the law of physics one of which is “You cannot get blood from a turnip.”  If your employer is in financial trouble your chance of a meaningful recovery for unpaid wages is low.


Default Judgement and Payment Plans

Discover Bank has acquired a default judgment against me via a North Carolina law firm.  I’ve attempted to work out a payment plan with the law firm that I can afford, but the amount that they are requesting is more than I can pay.  We are considering bankruptcy.  My question is this:  Can a consumer creditor, such as Discover Bank and their NC attorneys, seize and/or take money from my bank account in NC?  I know they can’t garnish my wages, …and I’ve completed my motion for exemptions form that I was served.  My fear is that they will take money from our bank account on my payday (I’m a teacher and get paid once a month) and then my family will be unable to pay our bills such as electricity, car payment, house payments, etc.  I know bank levies can go into place for tax bills and such, but can this by done for outstanding credit card debt for which a judgment has been issued?
The procedure for enforcing a money judgment is called “execution.”  In an execution the sheriff is required to locate any non-exempt assets the debtor has and seize them to sell or apply toward the money owed.  A bank account is an asset and and if the money does not qualify as an exemption, it is subject to seizure.  Whether or not that will actually happen depends on how aggressive the creditor is.
If you cannot pay and are unlikely to be able to pay for the foreseeable future, you should consider bankruptcy since it would probably eliminate the debt for good.


Extra Deadbolts for the Ex-Stay-At-Home Dad

My husband moved out of our house today. He was a stay-at-home dad for our two young children.  He wants to continue to watch them while I am at work which will allow him access to our home.  I am fine with him watching them for now since daycare for two would be very expensive and it is not in my budget. I would like to install deadbolts that would lock him out of the house when he is not supposed to be here such as at night or weekends.   I can lock him out right?  He mentioned to me this afternoon, if he can not afford rent where he is at he will move back.  Can he move back in with out me agreeing?
Usually when one spouse leaves the marital residence, the spouse who has remained there can bar the other from moving back in.  However as long as the house is titled in both names, both spouses are legally entitled to the use of the property.
Often I see that spouses who have separated try to resolve things informally.  Sometimes this works, but it also puts off problems that have to be dealt with later when it has become a crisis, such as each parent insists on having the children for Christmas.  What you and your husband need to do is establish clear ground rules on several things:
  • Who is going to keep the children and when is the other parent going to get visitation?
  • What is going to happen to the house?
  • Who is going to pay any debts that you have?
  • How are the parents going to divide financial responsibility for the children?
  • Will there be any form of alimony?

If the two of you cannot work out the answers to these questions between yourselves, you will need to get the help of a lawyer or mediator.  If you wait until there is a confrontation over one of these questions, it will be much harder to work out.


Assisted Living and Divorce

My husband has suffered with MS 25 out of the 27 years of our marriage.  He was recently placed in an assisted living facility in Oct. 7 2004.  We have not been husband in wife for 6 years due to sexual dysfunction from his MS.
Now that he is in an assisted living facility with cognitive memory loss and impaired reasonability why can’t I file a separation with the courts having to appoint him a lawyer so I can live life finally without fear of being sued.  I am only 50 yrs old and he is 52.  How does the law read and play into this?
I am going to assume you live in North Carolina.  Divorce laws vary considerably from state to state so if you live elsewhere don’t rely on this answer.
There is no procedure for “filing” a separation in North Carolina.  I get about 5-10 calls per week from people who want to do this though.  North Carolina allows for a no-fault divorce based on spouses living “separate and apart” for one year.  Many couples decide to separate and agree on:
  • how they will divide the marital property
  • how to divide the marital debt
  • how the children will be cared for
  • whether there will be any alimony

Once there is an agreement on those points, the parties put their agreement in writing.  That writing is a separation agreement.  A separation agreement does not have to be “filed” to be valid, but sometimes separation agreements are recorded in the county Register of Deeds office.

If the the spouses cannot agree, they can still separate.  This means someone has to leave the marital residence.  If spouses still live under the same roof, even if they don’t sleep in the same room, that is not considered living separately.

As of October 7, 2004, you were living separate from your husband.  As far as being sued, I’d have to know by whom and for what.  Until the end of marriage each spouse owes the other a duty to support.  Sometimes health providers try to collect from one spouse to cover treatment costs for the other, but this is fairly rare.  After the marriage, a dependent spouse may get support through alimony.  The amount of alimony awarded depends on the needs of the dependent spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay.

A last word.  All this is general advice based on the limited information you gave me.  This matter is too complicated for you to try to handle on your own.  You need to hire a lawyer to guide you.


Not So Nice Neighbors and No Trespassing Signs

We recently purchased 7 wooded acres of land and are building a new home.  I have posted No Trespassing/Private Property signs all over.  My not so nice neighbors took it upon themselves to remove the signs, bend them and toss them into my garage.  The house is still under construction.  I had a sheriff’s deputy assist me in putting new ones back up.  My reason for having the signs up is to protect myself against law suits from people entering the property and getting hurt or damaging my property.  Am I wrong in doing this?  This is becoming a major issue with the neighbors.  It is in the country and only 4 homes on the street.
You are free to post whatever kind of signs you choose on your property.  If your neighbor is tearing them down he is trespassing by removing the signs and also maliciously damaging your property, a misdemeanor.
I’m not sure the signs do much to keep someone from suing you if they get hurt while on your property, though.  They could help you establish that any uninvited person on your property was trespassing.
Your best option may be to talk things over with your neighbor. If he continues to remove your signs you would probably need to catch him in the act to prosecute.


Can Sue for Pay-on-Death Monies?

My father died Oct 2005. I am one of 5 siblings. My father had a money market account with $205,000.00 in it. It was POD (stands for “pay on death”) to me. I went to the bank with his death certificate and claimed the money.  My brother who is executor to the will is now threatening to sue me for the money. He says it belongs to the family and not just to me. Doesn’t POD mean Pay on Death? Isn’t the money legally mine? Can he really sue me for it? He thinks it is very unfair that I receive all that money. What should I do?
In most states designating an account POD is an instructionas the depositor telling the bank “at my death the balance in the account belongs to (name of beneficiary).”  The balance in the account does not go through probate or become part of the deceased’s estate.  Your brother may be able to sue you but unless he can show some sort fraud or other misconduct the money should be yours.  If he does file suit against you, contact an attorney immediately.  Do not try to handle this without an attorney.

Legal to Carry a Sword?

I have searched everywhere, even going to the extent of asking local police officers, and no one can give me an actual solid answer on this question. 

The question is:
In North Carolina is it legal to own and carry a sword as long as it is not concealed.  I know that it is unlawful to carry any weapon concealed.  And I know that is is unlawful to carry any weapon in or to certian legal and state buildings and events.  But I can’t determine if it is legal or not to simply carry a sword, sheathed but not concealed.  If you could help me out i would be greatful and most honored.
I haven’t found any North Carolina statute that prohibits openly carrying a sword.  It is possible, but unlikely, that a city or county ordinance might.

The Worst Neighbor in the World

Hello, I really hope you can give my wife and I some much needed legal advice. We leased a newly renovated home here in Charlotte and have found our neighborhood to be unlivable due to constant harassment from a thirty-five year old single man that lives one house up from ours. He nor I have ever spoken to each other and I am guessing that his dog barking for four months twenty-four seven is why I was finally forced to call animal control and have them ask him to try and let his neighbors have a break during the night from his Rottweilers’ deep bark. I asked them to let me remain anonymous and they said they would but the next day animal control pulls into my drive and asked me to identify the home where the dog lived. My neighbor saw this and for two years he has made our and the other neighbors lives HELL. He started out riding his Jeep in the snow the winter of 2003 and spinning doughnuts in the intersection near our home at three a.m. Then it became summer and he started revving on his motorcycle at all hours of the night, also spinning black doughnuts in the city street. … Well the straw that broke the camels back came this February when he shot ten rounds from a forty-five caliber handgun in front of our home at three a.m. I called the Police they came out and told me that were not going to file a report, even I know that a report has to be filed in order to take a warrant. … What can we do?? We can’t move due to being out because of my surgery and pain.
You are not going to like my answer, but here it is: move somewhere else.  You can spend thousands on attorneys and many hours in court, but the only way you will get any peace is to move away from this guy.