The Bledsoe Firm - January 2020

The Bledsoe Firm JustFamilyLaw.com | 949.363.5551 JANUARY | 2020 THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MY FATHER Charles R. Bledsoe

wagon. Somehow, one of us shifted the car into neutral and released the emergency brake. As I recall, the car started rolling in reverse down the driveway. It went through the back alley and crashed into the neighbor’s block wall, breaking through to the other side. Well, my dad happened to be at home sick that day. So, he got up from bed, went to the hardware store, bought some blocks, and fixed the wall. Then he went back to work. He figured being at work would be more restful than being at home. A few years later, our family moved up to Agoura Hills. My dad wanted the best for us, so he made considerable sacrifices for us to live there. He was working for the LA County Fire Department and would work 24-hour shifts, as well as double shifts totaling 48 hours. The overtime was great. You’d work a shift and have a couple days off. It’s great if you have hobbies, and for my dad, his hobbies were his kids! But soon after we moved to Agoura, he got a business opportunity servicing bars and restaurants. It was a cleaning business, and he worked with various cleaning chemicals that we stored in the garage. On service days, he’d call from the fire department, where he still worked, to let us know he was going on his route. We needed to load up his 1965 Dodge van with approximately 90 gallon-sized bottles of detergent, chlorine, or other such chemicals. My dad bought the chemicals from the franchise. About a year into being a franchisee, he decided he could make more money if he mixed his own chemicals. We started mixing these chemicals in our garage. It got to the point that if you visited our house and walked into the garage, you’d think you walked into a brewery or a factory. We kept three 50-gallon vats to help Dad mix chemicals for his route. Some mornings, I’d have to get up before school to mix chlorine or soap. It was a lot of work. Then, we’d load the truck, and Dad would be off. I say all of this because I want to talk about one incident in particular. I was in the seventh grade, and one early morning, my mom got me up to mix and bottle the chemicals before my dad got home from the fire department. It was before school, and I was not in the mood to work for 2 1/2 hours mixing and bottling chlorine. So, I really let my mom have it. I yelled at her about how unfair it was that all of this work had been put on me. I wanted to go back to bed. I didn’t want to do any of this. Of course, I did the work very grudgingly. Then, I went to school. A few hours later, I was sitting in class when my dad walked into my classroom. When I saw him, I was both embarrassed that he was there and fearful that I was in big trouble. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, you have really done it this time.” He announced to my teacher that I was leaving and would not be back at school that

You grow up with a certain perspective on your family, but as you get older and raise your own children, you gain new insight into your childhood. I’ve reflected quite a bit on this the past several weeks, as my dad passed away in November. By the time my parents were 25, they had six children. That’s the age I got married. Looking back, my dad was gone working a lot. I often wonder what must have been going through his mind at such a young age with all these active little boys running around. I think he felt tremendous responsibility, and I appreciate the huge sacrifices he and my mom made to raise and support us. I can assure you that we were extremely active, energetic, and curious boys. I remember him coming home and being bone tired. Most of the time when he was home, I’d find him in a horizontal position, resting. He couldn’t always keep up with us. For example, when we lived in Anaheim, I was about 5, and I took a bunch of newspapers and matches out to our small side yard. I wanted to see if these newspapers would burn up. Well, they did, and my dad wasn’t particularly happy about that.

This was not an isolated incident. Not long after that, my brother David and I were playing in the family station

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HELP YOUR KIDS ACHIEVE MORE THIS YEAR

on your own resolutions. When you proclaim that you will read more books or finally get a gym membership, do you actually try to do it? Your kids will assign as much importance to New Year’s resolutions as you do, so by sticking to your own commitments, you can help them stay on track too.

Keep things simple and achievable.

When your kids are forming their resolutions, their first attempts will probably be very broad. Statements like “I want to be more kind” or “I will try to help more around the house” incorporate good values but don’t include any actionable steps. Help your kids think of tangible ways to act on those goals. For example, if they want to be tidier, a good resolution might be for them to clean their room once a week or take responsibility for one household chore every day. While it’s important for you to help your kids formulate their goals, be sure that you aren’t taking over. If they’re ultimately responsible for their resolutions, they’ll feel more compelled to keep them. Instead, suggest different goal areas they could improve, such as home, school, or sports, and let them elaborate. When it comes to creating habits, nobody is perfect, so even if your kids falter on their goals in the middle of February, don’t worry. The important thing is that you continue to encourage them every step of the way. Don’t do all the work for them.

With Simple, Actionable Goals

With every new year comes an opportunity to reinvent ourselves or start down a new path toward self-improvement. Making resolutions is a big part of many families’ New Year’s traditions, and parents often have a desire for their kids to take part in that tradition when they’re old enough. Following through on resolutions is tough, especially for young children, but with your help, they can achieve their goals.

Practice what you preach.

You are your children’s role model for almost everything, including following through on New Year’s resolutions. So, ask yourself if you follow through

It’s against the law to hide assets during your divorce. It can lead to criminal charges, including perjury and contempt of court. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it. People tend to do so out of either fear or spite. The best way to protect yourself is to work with your family law attorney to uncover those assets. Sometimes, this is a lot easier than many people imagine. Here are a few places you can check. Tax Returns Try pulling the past five years of tax returns. While a spouse may lie to you or in official court documents, they might be hesitant to lie to the IRS. After all, the IRS can levy much steeper criminal penalties against anyone who tries it. Look at the numbers on the tax return and compare them to your spouse’s stated income and assets. If you find discrepancies, show them to your attorney. Bank Statements Your ex might withdraw a whole bunch of money out of your joint account hoping you won’t notice. Sometimes they also fail to make deposits you know should be there, figuring they can just tuck them away into a separate account without you noticing. This is especially true for spouses who get bonuses or who need to reimburse expenses. What to Do if Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets During a Divorce

Business Records This applies if your spouse owns a business, especially if you haven’t been

involved with the business in any way. Look for delayed invoicing, sudden spikes in payout activity, or uncleared checks. You might need to involve a forensic accountant to find the full extent of hidden assets here, too. Consult with your attorney if you have reason to suspect something may be going on. High-asset divorces are more likely to be high-conflict and full of shenanigans like hiding assets. You need an experienced divorce attorney to help you protect yourself. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call. John Bledsoe can help you safely navigate tough family law problems.

For more informative articles like this one, be sure to visit our blog at justfamilylaw.com/family-law-expert-blog!

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FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE I t ' s a S erious P roblem and H ere ’ s W hat Y ou C an D o A bout it Elder abuse is an issue that’s not often discussed. It’s a subject that’s easy to sweep under the rug. However, over the past several years, the subject of elder abuse, including financial elder abuse, has been making more and more headlines. One high-profile legal battle centered on the late Stan Lee, one of the biggest names behind Marvel Comics. In the years leading up to his death in 2018, Lee was sitting on an estate worth tens of millions of dollars. Lee went public, alleging that an acquaintance and memorabilia collector had made attempts to take over his estate. It was a legal battle that outlived Lee. In May 2019, Lee’s former business manager was charged with five counts of abuse. While Lee did what he could to fight to save his estate from this unsavory business manager, many others aren’t as able or willing. This is particularly true when the family is involved — no one wants to cause rifts in the family. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, upward of 90% of those who take financial advantage of the elderly are known acquaintances, such as family, friends, neighbors, and caretakers. What can you do to protect yourself, your family, and your estate? When you are still of sound mind, that is the best time to plan for power of attorney as well as how to handle health care matters in the future. You want to make everything as clear as possible. For folks with aging parents, be sure to keep in contact with them through regular visits or phone calls. Ask them about their friends and the people they associate with, including caregivers and neighbors. Even look at medical bills. Duplicate medical billing can be a sign someone is attempting to take advantage. On top of everything else, never sign anything that you don’t have a clear understanding of, such as financial documents. Always ask for clarification or have someone you trust go over the details with you to make sure it is truly in your best interest.

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day. I was sure that I was in for a lot of punishment and a bad day. He said, “Come with me."

As we got to the school parking lot, he said, “I want to tell you something. I really appreciate you for helping me out. I’m going to buy you some Adidas shoes. I want you to come on my route with me and help me today.” It wasn’t what I was expecting. First, getting new Adidas shoes was a big deal. Second, I got out of school to spend the day with Dad. And third, I wasn’t in trouble for yelling at my mom. I went on his route with him. We drove a long way that day and had a great time listening to talk radio and talking about various things. We did not get back home until late that evening. Going on this long work route once a month became something I looked forward to doing. Over the years, I learned so much from him. In my next newsletter, I will share more about him and the things he taught me. —John Bledsoe

Inspired by The New York Times

Simple Pancakes From Scratch

Everyone should be able to make pancakes without a boxed mix. This recipe is no-frills fantastic and can probably be made without so much as a trip to the grocery store.

INGREDIENTS

• 2 eggs • 1 3/4 cups milk • Unsalted butter or canola oil, to grease skillet

• 2 cups all-purpose flour • 2 tsp baking powder • 1/4 tsp salt • 1 tbsp sugar, optional

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium-low. 2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (including sugar if you like a sweeter pancake). In a separate bowl, beat eggs into milk. Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. Mix only until flour is moistened. Clumps are fine. 3. Add some butter or oil to the skillet. If the butter foams or oil shimmers, the temperature is correct. Pour in a pancake of any size, cooking until bubbles form, about 2–4 minutes. 4. Flip and cook other side for 2–4 minutes. Serve warm.

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Inside

In Memory of My Father, Charles R. Bledsoe

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Helping Your Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions

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Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets During Divorce?

Financial Elder Abuse Is a Problem — What You Can Do

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Simple Pancakes From Scratch

The Curious Case of Roy Pearson’s Pants

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Who Wears the Pants? LADY JUSTICE! H ow O ne J udge L ost a F rivolous L awsuit and H is D ignity After the initial allegations, the dry cleaners scoured their business to find the pants and, to their credit, found the judge’s trousers untarnished. Even so, Pearson argued that he didn’t need to prove the pants were lost or damaged to satisfy his “satisfaction guaranteed” claim.

After losing an article of clothing from a dry cleaner, most would say “c’est la vie” and move on. At most, someone might leave a

bad review and ask for a few dollars to cover the loss, but for one administrative law judge, that wasn't enough. He decided instead to launch an all-out legal battle. Roy Pearson, a Washington, D.C., judge at the time, sought $54 million to cover the loss of his pants after his dry cleaner lost them. He argued that the “same-day service” sign located in the window of the dry cleaners meant that the company had to provide same- day service. However, Pearson never specified a specific time he needed his clothes returned. He also insisted that the “satisfaction guaranteed” sign meant that the cleaners had to satisfy a customer’s wishes without limit. Based on those arguments, he claimed the signs were fraudulent.

Unfortunately for the judge, the court found his position to be ridiculous and ordered him to pay the dry cleaner’s attorneys’ fees. In response, Pearson sought that his own attorneys’ fees be covered to oppose this motion. In the end, Pearson did pay the dry cleaner’s legal fees, but the case isn’t the only thing he lost. The verdict also cost the judge his job and any semblance of professional dignity. Ten years after the case closed, the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility sought a 90-day suspension. As the board put it, Pearson “failed to conduct an objective appraisal of the legal merits of his position. He made and continues to make arguments that no reasonable attorney would think had even a faint hope of success on the legal merits.” From a legal standpoint, we’d call this judge’s behavior “dissatisfaction guaranteed.”

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