Know your rights

Q. My father recently passed. Question is, he had made a will with a lawyer but never had it registered. Is the will still valid? What happens if he did not have a will? Does all the property go to the state?

A. A will is valid and enforceable once it is properly prepared and signed. In most cases, a will also is notarized. This is not necessary, but it does make it easier and less expensive to probate the will. A will, however, does not have to be filed or registered to be valid. The attorney may now file the will for probate.

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cracked windshield

Q. I was driving down the road when the large truck in front of me kicked up a small stone from the road into my windshield. I filed a claim with the owner of the truck, and it refused to pay. Do I have a case for small claims court? My friend was with me and can testify that she saw the stone thrown from the truck into my windshield.

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Q. I let a friend borrow the extra key to my apartment and he lost it. Can I require my landlord to change my locks?

A. Under the law, a landlord has an obligation to change the locks at his expense when a new tenant moves in. After that time, the landlord must change the locks whenever the tenant requests, as often as the tenant wants. The tenant, however, must pay the costs of installing the new locks. In other words, you can require your landlord to change your locks; however, you must pay the costs.

 

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Q. My son was hired as a mechanic’s assistant at $14 an hour. He told the supervisor that he had some experience, but he was willing to learn as he went along with the job. The supervisor was fine with this, and my son was given other duties as well. My son was very happy, always on time to work, apparently no problems. Last week he was called to the office and told they had hired a previous ex-employee to come back as the assistant. My son was given the option to go work in another job, but his pay would be reduced to $10 an hour. Is this legal?

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Richard Alderman

Q. I went to a big-box store last week and had an accident. The manager completed an accident/incident report. I am not sure quite what actually happened, but I wound up in the floor in a sitting position. I hit my knee, and elbow somehow on the way down. I have an appointment with my doctor this week to get checked out. I have never had to deal with something like this, and never expected it. I would like to know what procedures or steps I should take for something like this.

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Once again, it is time for the “People’s Law School,” the oldest and most successful law program for the layperson in the country. This is your chance to learn more about your legal rights, and have fun at the same time.

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Q. Is it against any law to negotiate rental rates? Could it be considered discrimination if a landlord charges different rates for the same size apartment?

A. Discrimination is basically treating one person better or worse than another. It is discrimination to charge different people different rent for the same apartment. Discrimination, however, is not per se illegal. In fact, it is not uncommon for a seller to charge different prices to different customers. I am sure that many people who buy the same type of car pay very different prices.

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Q. My daughter had a baby and is living with the baby’s father. Are they married? He says they are not. What rights does she have if he leaves? He is taking care of her and the baby but is threatening to leave her.

A. Under the law, if he is the father of the child, she has the right to receive support for the child. She is entitled to child support regardless of whether they are married.

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Q. Does a store have the right to limit who may park in its parking lot? Isn’t this public property? Can I be towed for parking where I shouldn’t?

A. As a general rule, a parking lot is not public property. Nearly all parking lots are private property, and the owner of the lot may limit who may park in the lot. Whether you may be towed, however, is a different question.

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Q. I am set to go to justice court. I think I have a good case and I am very comfortable representing myself. If I win, will he be forced to pay me? Does he have to pay court costs if I win?

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