93.1. Kiss FM – Ask A Lawyer – Part 1 – March 24, 2022

Ask A Lawyer - Michael Gopin

Woman: Waking up with 93.1 KISS FM.

Host: Oh, this is such a treatment. Not only do we have Michael Gopin, the star of outrageous television commercials but helping me out this morning because, you know, Tricia will be gone for a bit, is Hall of Famer, Steve Kaplowitz.

Steve: I can’t believe I’m on KISS.

Host: Is this the first time ever? You’ve been on the show before, haven’t you?

Steve: I think this is, like, the third time.

Host: You’ve done a couple of things, right?

Host: You must be nervous or something.

Steve: You should be nervous. Twenty-seven years at this radio station and, yeah, I mean, it’s like Haley’s Comet when I come on this radio station. It really is. It just never happens.

Host: Yeah. You know, you’re like the sports dude and we’re not really a sports type of morning show.

Steve: Yeah, but I could talk about anything.

Host: Can you though?

Steve: I mean, you know, absolutely.

Host: Can you though?

Steve: Sure. I mean, pop culture, music, food.

Host: I hear your opinions in the hallway, and I’m not so sure.

Steve: Oh, I have opinions on everything. You know that.

Host: I know you do. Some I’m not so sure should be vocalized.

Steve: Well, and here’s the thing too. Okay, people don’t realize this in your listening audience, but Michael Gopin and I go back at least… We’re figuring this out, like about 40 years, maybe 41 to 42 years.

Host: No, really?

Michael: He was, like, 7 or 8 years old.

Steve: He was my summer camp counselor, Michael was. Yes, he was.

Michael: In the ’70s.

Steve: Yeah, in the ’70s, that’s right. He was still in college. We had just moved here from New York and there was a summer camp years ago that I went to and Mike was the counselor. So, it was fun because I’ve known him for so long in so many different capacities. And it’s incredible to see what he’s turned into in terms of his law practice and his career. It’s wild because I knew him back when he was just, you know, a teenager going to school. So it’s really nice.

Host: And, Michael, was Steve always sports a geek?

Michael: He was always the sports guy. You know, his little brothers may have beaten him in sports but, you know, he…

Steve: Yeah, that never happened. You can try to talk all you want. The only person that could beat me in sports is my dad. That was about it.

Michael: He’s a good shooter.

Host: Well, see, that’s why we’re having Steve help out this morning because, you know, these two do know each other quite well. And, you know, somebody’s got to do the actual work behind the scenes to keep things going. That would be me.

Steve: There you go.

Host: And with Tricia gone, we need somebody to set up the questions for Michael to answer. So let’s get Ask A Lawyer going, Steve.

Steve: Here we go. We’ll start with Jen who has this to say, “My husband and I have been separated for almost a year. Legally, we are still married but are going to file for a separation so I can continue to be on his insurance. Once this is done, he wants to file for bankruptcy for things that he did financially. Will this in any way affect me? I have nothing to do with his debts.”

Michael: Well, first of all, in Texas, there’s no legal separation. So you can’t be filing for a legal separation in Texas. So even if you were planning to do so, there’s no such thing in Texas, so you can’t do it.

Host: So it’s either divorce or you’re married.

Michael: Divorce or married. So, in terms of the bankruptcy, it just depends on what debts those are. Like, if you have a community property house and you’re filing for bankruptcy separate, that can certainly affect you and your credit and your mortgage. If you have these debts on credit cards but your spouse isn’t named on them, she’s not or he’s not on the card, then it won’t affect them. So depending on the debts that there are and what exists is the answer to that question. So I would advise before he does that, to talk to a bankruptcy attorney, find out exactly what the debts are, and see if there will be an effect on you or not. And you would know your own debts, but that’s kind of the key.

Host: Well, what in Texas is considered community property?

Michael: Everything you bought and acquired during marriage.

Host: Together or…?

Michael: It doesn’t matter.

Host: Okay. So even if, like, let’s say you have a mortgage in the name, it’s only one name on the title.

Michael: If you bought the title or the property during marriage, it’s community property.

Host: It doesn’t matter whose name is on the title…

Michael: It doesn’t matter whose name is on the title.

Host: …whose name is on the mortgage, none of that. Same thing with a car, with a vehicle.

Michael: Correct. Anything. Anything that you acquire during marriage is community property.

Host: What about student loans?

Michael: It’s a community debt. So if you acquire it during marriage, it’s your…

Steve: Yeah, so this is a lesson to everybody out there. Once you get married, it’s not just…

Michael: It’s a financial commitment.

Steve: That’s right. Yeah, a big one.

Host: Okay. So I guess in Jen’s case then, it doesn’t look that good for her if he files for divorce, if they file for divorce.

Michael: No, not necessarily. It won’t affect her credit if those credit cards are not in her name, for example. It could still be community debt, they could still hold her responsible, but it wouldn’t affect her credit rating. So the husband’s debt could be taken away and gone, but she would still be responsible for the debt if she doesn’t enter the bankruptcy with him.

Host: Oh, man.

Michael: So there’s lots of different issues here.

Host: All right. Second question from Glo.

Steve: All right. Glo wants to know, is a lawyer required to create a power of attorney? And if not, where can I find the form? Also, are there different powers of attorney?

Michael: Well, first of all, a lawyer isn’t required to create a power… If they want to be hired for, you know, that job to do a power of attorney, they certainly can do it but there’s no requirement that they take on that job. There’s many different types of power of attorney. There’s a medical power of attorney. There’s a limited power of attorney. There’s a general power of attorney for everything. So there’s many, many different types of power of attorneys, and they’re actually pretty easy forms. You can find one online if you want it to, but you have to be sure it’s going to help you for what you want it to do.

So if you want it to be just for a limited one transaction, then you want to make it limited, so you don’t give the person who you’re granting the power of attorney all this additional power. If it’s general, you know, then it is for everything. They could wipe you out, you know, take everything because you gave them the permission to. Some of them are medical. Just in case you’re disabled, then they [inaudible 00:06:16.088] incapacitated. So it just depends what you need and what you want. But, you know, you could find a lawyer to do it for sure. If you Google it, you should be able to find the form for yourself also.

Host: And your personal opinion, is it best to go that route or…?

Michael: You know, for certain things, if it’s more complicated like a medical power of attorney, I would probably recommend that, yes, you go to an attorney to do it. If it’s a very simple power of attorney for one little thing, you can probably do it yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable, you know, with the form or researching it, then definitely go to an attorney. It’s not that expensive and you can get it taken care of.

Host: Okay, all right. Soak in Michael Gopin. He can take care of you, man. That’s why he’s part of Ask A Lawyer. And so we put all these questions you have for him in front of him. And you can, you know, ask for yourself on the KISS El Paso website, by the way. You look for ASK MICHAEL GOPIN at the top of the page. He comes by monthly. So, ask a question and we’ll put it in front of him the next time he’s around.

Steve: You know, what also is really great? There’s been a lot of questions coming in on the KISS app, and that’s great too because I know a lot of people that listen are able to just send in their question while they’re listening. And that’s such a handy way to do it too.

Host: Third question from Juan.

Steve: Here we go. “A couple of months ago, I went to a pawnshop. It was busy that day, and people were looking at guns.” You kind of feel where this is going. All right, Juan. Someone was holding a BB gun, and it accidentally went off, and it hit me in the corner of my eye. I did not go to the hospital or need medical attention. Is there anything I can do now a couple of months after the incident to get recompensated after what happened to me?

Michael: Well, you certainly could make a claim for getting hit in the eye with a BB gun. From the sound of it, it doesn’t sound like you had much damages in terms of what happened luckily. You didn’t need any medical attention. You didn’t go to the doctor. No urgent care clinic, no hospital. So it doesn’t look like your damage is very much, if any. I’m not sure who was holding the gun either. Was it a customer? Was it an employee? You know, was it something they were selling there in the store? I don’t know that. I’m assuming that it is. But, you know, technically you could hold the the store responsible if it was, you know, an employee of theirs and it accidentally shot off. And it sounds like it would be negligence to me, but it doesn’t sound like you have damages in this case. So there really wouldn’t be much of a recovery, if any.

Host: What if it was a customer? You’d have to track down the customer, huh?

Michael: I mean, if it’s the gun that’s being sold in the store, it’s a different store, then it can certainly be the store’s fault. But if it’s a customer’s BB gun and then he just walks into the store, it’s certainly not going to be, you know, the pawnshop’s fault. You’d have to track down the customer in that case.

Steve: You would also think you wouldn’t have a loaded BB gun in a pawnshop.

Host: You would think, you would think but when you let people, just anybody walk in, you never know what you’re going to get into.

Michael: He was pretty lucky though, not be injured from that type of accident.

Host: I’ll tell you what, I know. I’ve seen that Christmas movie, you lose an eye.

Michael: Exactly.

Host: Okay. So we’ll be, we’ll be right back with more questions for Michael Gopin, Ask A Lawyer. Steve Kaplowitz from 600 ESPN is filling in this morning for Tricia who’s going to be gone for a while, and somebody’s got to ask the questions because I can’t read. So we’ll be right back with another set of questions from you.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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