93.1 KISS FM – Ask A Lawyer, Part 13

KISS-FM's Ask A Lawyer Segment with Michael J. Gopin

Announcer:

Waking up with Mike and Tricia on 93.1 Kiss FM.

Tricia:

Okay we’re back with Michael Gopin for “Ask A Lawyer.” Hello Mr. Gopin. Hi Mr. Gopin. Uh-oh.

Mike:

I got it. I got to…

Tricia:

You need to…

Mike:

I keep pressing…

Tricia:

Ai, Michael.

Michael Gopin:

I know.

Mike:

I keep pressing all of the wrong…

Tricia:

Michael loves to…he loves to play with the buttons. He’s like, “How about this one? Well, should we press this one?”

Mike:

And they’re clearly labeled. I’m an Idiot. I’m such an idiot. I really am.

Michael Gopin: Oh, man. You can’t…

Tricia: And you know, here’s what’s going to happen…

Michael Gopin: Yeah. Can you hear me now?

Tricia: Yes. So here’s what’s going to happen, our poor engineer’s going to come racing down the hallway wondering what you’re doing wrong. Poor guy.

Mike:

And I’m just an idiot. That’s all there is to it, you know. I think I’m cross-eyed.

Tricia:

Yeah, sure.

Mike:

I think that’s what I am.

Tricia: That’s what it is.

Mike:

I think I’m cross-eyed.

Mike:

Do I have a case, Mr. Gopin?

Michael Gopin:

You have a case for sure.

Mike:

Okay. So it’s “Ask A Lawyer,” it’s our monthly feature. Michael Gopin is our expert specialist, and you ask us to ask him these types of questions.

Tricia:

Okay. So Laura from West El Paso says her grandmother recently passed away, and they are having trouble obtaining her property because there’s no will set in place. She wants to know is there anything we can do? We’re not even sure what steps to take.

Michael Gopin:

I’m really sorry to hear about your grandmother but, yes, there are steps that you can take to take care of this. What you need to do is probate her estate. And most people think of probate as only when you have a will but it also is necessary when you do not have a will. So, in this case, she needs to go to a probate attorney who can set up a probate of her estate so all the assets in the estate can pass and tested is what they call it without a will. There’s a certain order of beneficiaries in this case and so depending on who is alive that is related to your grandmother, her spouse, her kids, and so forth, that’s how it will transfer. So set it up. It’s not that hard. It will take, you know, three months or so and you’ll be all set.

Tricia:

Okay. Matt wants to know… Ooh, this is a tough one. I think this is a very common problem here in El Paso, will get a family member to do some work for us, and then the other family member doesn’t want to pay up. In this case, Matt’s father owes him thousands of dollars for doing work around his dad’s house. And he said, “What can I do to get paid for it even though we didn’t have a written contract?”

Michael Gopin:

Well, that’s a simple question, technically. There’s more…you know, other issues going around, but technically you can file a lawsuit against anyone if you believe that they owe you money for services that you provided. So the simple answer is, yes, you can go to court, you can file a claim against your dad, and sue him and hopefully get it all worked out. But you know, on a more personal level I wouldn’t really recommend that. I would, you know, talk to your father. I don’t know how old you are, if you’re, you know, a 4-year-old guy or an 18-year-old kid living in the house. So I would just talk to your dad, work it out. I wouldn’t cause permanent problems with your father, you know, over money. I have seen too many relationships in the past ruined over dollars. And hopefully you and your dad can work it out and have a great relationship.

Tricia:

Yeah, that’s a tough one. See, it’s always better to pay somebody with a 12-pack of beer. It’s always better.

Michael Gopin:

Exactly.

Tricia:

Way less expensive and you can just run to the store and go pick that up.

Mike:

Definitely El Paso currency.

Tricia:

Totally, totally. Okay, this one comes from…

Mike:

It’s better than bitcoin around here. Budweiser is better than bitcoin in El Paso.

Tricia:

It totally is.

Michael Gopin:

Unless you can pay with bitcoin, you know.

Mike:

Well, yeah.

Tricia:

Okay. This one is from Monica in Clint. She says her landlord is threatening to kick her out because they haven’t paid rent due to damages around the property that hasn’t been fixed. She said, “We’re trying to get them fixed before we pay anything but the landlord refuses.” I guess he refuses to fix what they need fixed. She said, “We love the property but we don’t want to leave but it’s becoming unbearable. Do we have to leave or should we file a lawsuit?”

Michael Gopin:

Well, that really depends on what type of damages around the property that you’re talking about. In most leases, you cannot stop paying rent because of issues with regards to repairs. So you have a duty to pay rent regardless of that. However, if this place is uninhabitable and it’s just not livable, then you really have no choice but to leave. So what I would do to protect yourself is to send a letter in writing to the landlord, telling him exactly what you need fixed and why it’s causing, you know, serious issues with your family and yourself in this house. And give them a time limit. Give them a reasonable time limit, maybe 10 days or so to cure and fix everything. If they don’t do it and your family is at risk, then your only choice is to leave. You can file a suit for monetary damages in leaving but, you know, the best way, in that case, would probably be just to leave it alone and just leave because the landlord could also sue you for failure to pay rent so you’ll get into a big mess. So my recommendation would be to send him a letter and see if you can work it out. And put him on legal written notice that he has to fix these things.

Mike:

Would you also recommend lots of photos and/or video?

Michael Gopin:

I would definitely do that, document, document, document, so yeah. Send photos, keep photos. You know, you have your phone right there so show him what’s going on, show him why you need these thins fixed, and make your case because that’s what you’ll need to do, preserve the evidence.

Tricia:

Okay. And then the last one is from Isella on the Westside. Okay. So, a couple of weeks ago there was a that horrible story about that poor woman who had blood dripping down into her apartment, through the fan because somebody had passed away above her and she didn’t have any renters insurance, so she was out, you know, all the stuff that she had lost because of the damage. Well, Isella says, “I’m renting a home from a friend and recently someone broke in and took a lot of her stuff.” She said, “At that time, my friend said they had renters insurance for the house but now the friend is claiming it’s not valid.” She said, “We are not sure what to do as a lot of things have been taken and we are hoping the insurance would have covered it.”

Michael Gopin:

Well, in that case, what you want to do is to see exactly what type of insurance your friend had. Most likely your friend is telling you the truth now that they didn’t buy renters insurance, they bought homeowners insurance, which is a completely different thing, which would protect the home in case, you know, there’s, you know, a fire or something like that. So renters insurance just covers the contents of what the renter brings to the house or apartment. So, it’s two different types of coverages. So I would ask your friend to give you the insurance information so you can find out for yourself if what they are telling you is true. If they don’t have coverage that would protect you, there’s nothing you can do because you don’t have renters insurance.

Tricia:

It’s probably always best to buy your own renter insurance, right?

Mike:

Yes.

Michael Gopin:

It depends on what you’re insuring. I mean if you want to protect your furniture and assets that you have in your home, yes, that’s the only way to protect them. So, it’s definitely important to do. And you know, if you are not worried about it being stolen or if you want to ensure that loss by yourself and don’t want to protect yourself, maybe they are not worth that much and it’s just a pain to get insurance, then don’t do it. A lot of people don’t have renters insurance, but if there’s a lot of property to protect, then definitely go ahead and get it.

Mike:

Yeah. It sounds like she is going to be looking for a new friend.

Tricia:

Yeah, and a new place to live.

Mike:

And it sounds like Matt’s going to be looking for a new father, from earlier.

Michael Gopin:

Oh no [inaudible 00:08:29].

Tricia:

I know, from earlier because, you know, his dad owes him thousands of dollars.

Michael Gopin:

It sounds like they’ll work it out.

Mike:

Yeah, same but, you know…

Tricia:

It’s…yeah. That’s why it’s always best to have a contract no matter what.

Mike:

Yeah. But mijo…

Tricia:

I know.

Michael Gopin:

Well, you are not going to have a contract with your dad. I mean, you know?

Tricia:

I know, but, ugh, but then you get into this situation where, you know…I mean, how about just say, “You know what, dad, I don’t have the time to do that.”

Mike:

Yeah, right.

Tricia:

You should probably tell somebody else to do it.

Mike:

All right, Michael, I thank you so much for your time and your expertise.

Michael Gopin:

Well, thanks for having me guys.

Mike:

And then we’ll do this again next month. Thanks a lot, man. Have a happy Memorial Day weekend.

Michael Gopin:

Okay, you too, guys. Thanks.

Mike:

“Ask A Lawyer” with Michael Gopin on Mike and Tricia Mornings.

headshot 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. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting. He received his juris doctorate degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. Michael has successfully handled countless cases of medical malpracticeproduct liabilitypersonal injury, and nursing home negligence. He enjoys helping people “get their lives back in order” by providing high-quality legal representation and compassionate customer service.