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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
April 17, 2017
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 7 Issue 4; April 2017
April 2017


Members and Friends


This is our monthly newsletter. We publish this for the benefit of FALDP members, legal document preparers, and friends.


Announcements


Early Renewal!

Members can renew early during the month of April for only $55. This is a $20. savings from our low annual fee of $75. One of the tremendous benefits of renewing early is that your listing will be placed at the top of the page in your home county the Member Directory, and stay there throughout the year, unless a new member chooses your home county also. Listings in your other two counties also are moved up the page to the top of the page for member listings of those not claiming the county as their home county. This is your opportunity to have your information displayed "above the fold" which is a distinct advantage. Many consumers will not scroll very far down any web page, and you will likely receive more calls and contacts.
EARLY RENEWAL - $55 - APRIL


When you renew your website and/ or business information will be posted on our FALDP Facebook page. Giving you more exposure. And the 2018 Renewal Star, will be placed next to your listing on the Member Directory.

The Stars are Out

Renewal stars that is. April kicked off our renewal period. Members can renew membership for only $55. during April. Only $65 during May. In June the membership fee increases to $75 and stays there until we have our annual membership drive in January, when the membership fee is half price. And, when you renew, your member listing on the Member Directory climbs up higher on the page, giving your listing additional exposure.

New Member Directories

To help consumers find our members more easily, and to help our members increase their business income, we are building More Member Directories The categories are:

  • Spanish Speaker Directory
  • Bankruptcy Petition Preparer Directory
  • Family Law Document Preparer Directory; and
  • Immigration Document Preparer Directory.

    (We may add additional directories in the future.) If you would like to be included in these additional member directories, forms to submit your information are linked to the Members Only page The Spanish Speaker Directory is displayed on the

    Spanish Help page. Bankruptcy Petition Preparers information will be displayed on the bankruptcy petition preparers page. The list of Bankruptcy Petition Preparers who appear on that page will be removed and replaced with the information from members who submit a form to be included. For some time we have maintained informal directories of various types, And, we feel that it is more fair to include members who submit their information. Family law document preparers information is listed on family law issues. We have removed the informal list and are including only those members who submit the form requesting to be included. The same is true for our immigration document preparers, whose information will appear on Immigration page.

    Members are entitled to submit their information for two directories at no charge through June 1. If you would like to submit your information to more than two directories, the cost to be included in each additional directory in excess of two directories is $25. After June 1, the cost to submit your information in any of these additional directories is $25 per directory. Inclusion in these additional directories follows membership. So next year, 2018, when you renew your membership, you will also renew your directory listing.

    Inclusion in these directories is apart from and in addition to our main Member Directory. Inclusion in our main Member Directory and a Mini-Page is part of your membership. Members are entitled to listings in three counties, and the Premium Member logo is displayed in your home county. Our goal in creating these additional member directories is to help members gain more exposure, and to make it easier for consumers to find you.


    FALDP Get Documented Initiative - LAUNCHED!

    Our new >b>I-Team is launched. We are set to assist immigrants by referring them to a non-profit lender for an accessible immigration loan. The loan can cover document preparation fees, USCIS fees, and other costs and expenses related to immigration. We searched and found a solution for people who are not yet documented because they just can't afford the fees. No credit required. Loans are between $700 and $20,000. If you know someone who could use this type of assistance, please refer them to one of our participating document preparers. And if you are an FALDP member who has lots of experience preparing immigration documents, please submit the application to take part in this exciting initiative. If you do not have enough experience to participate in this initiative, but prepare immigration documents, we will add your information to the Immigration Document Preparer Directory. That way you can increase your exposure and gain the experience you need to be part of this elite team - not the A-Team - the I-Team!. (And don't feel bad if you don't have the experience, your Director, Ruth Tick, doesn't have the experience herself!).


    FALDP Certification - Exams Now Open

    The Certification Exams are open through May 15. If you are considering becoming FALDP Certified, be sure to take the exams by that date. Otherwise, you will have to wait until 2018. Many members are close to completing the process, and have only a few details preventing them from becoming FALDP Certified. Our certification will help you create more credibility with consumers by showing them that you have gone the extra mile in your profession to achieve FALDP Certification. The Certification Exams are inside the Members Only area. Call or email any questions.

    PLEASE NOTE: There has been a slight change in our Certification process. Members no longer need to renew their membership and submit their certification application at the same time. Members can renew now or at any time up to 7/31; and submit Certification Applications up to 6/30. ALL CERTIFICATION EXAMS MUST BE COMPLETED BY 5/15 - NO EXCEPTIONS

    FALDP Certification testing opened on February 1, 2017 and remains open through May 15, 2017. Last year when we introduced FALDP Certification we encouraged all interested members to earn certification. Once earned, members are certified as long as their membership remains in good standing. There is no requirement to take exams after a member earns initial certification. The only continuing requirement is to complete 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year.

    We allow a wide variety of ways to earn CEUs such as: taking FALDP courses;

  • attending FALDP webinars;
  • answering questions on the Ask the Members forum;
  • writing articles or guest blogs;
  • attending the annual FALDP conference;
  • attending seminars or conferences related to document preparation;
  • volunteering to assist with FALDP projects;
  • community outreach efforts;
  • posting on our Facebook Page (see below);
  • and we welcome your suggestions about how you would like to earn CEUs.


  • When we introduced FALDP Certification there was no cost to become certified, but we announced that there would be a cost associated with FALDP Certification in the future. The basic cost of certification is $125, a one time fee. For that fee you will have completed and passed the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam and submitted the accompanying essay; completed and passed one Focus Area Exam; and completed 10 CEUs. If you want to be certified in additional Focus Areas, the fee for certification for each is $25. At present we have 6 Focus Areas for certification.There is no requirement to take any of our courses prior to certification.

    Five Simple Steps to Certification

    The Certification Testing Centers are within the Members Only area. If you have lost the password, please email us. For information about FALDP Certification go to -

    Certification Information Members can also find more information within the Members Only pages.

    1. Join FALDP. Visit our Membership page to learn more.
    2. Complete and pass the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam and submit the essay. Exam links are located inside the Members Only area.
    3. Complete and pass at least one Focus Area Exam. You have three attempts to pass the exams. Passing score is 70%.
    4. Accumulate at least 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) between July 1 and the time you renew your membership.
    5. Submit the Application for Certification and pay the required fee.

    First, FALDP Certification is important for a number of reasons. First, FALDP Certified members gain credibility by showing consumers that they have gone the extra mile to certify in their industry.

    Second, our association gains increased credibility as more and more members become FALDP certified.

    And, third, FALDP Certified members enjoy increased confidence as their business credibility and knowledge increases. So, why wait? There is plenty of time to certify before renewal time. May 15th is fast approaching, don't miss out on certification just because you missed the deadline to take the exams!


    Ask the Members Forum

    We encourage members, document preparers, consumers, actually anyone who knows the answer to answer questions on our Ask FALDP pages. For a member document preparer's post to get past the monitor there are a few things to know. First, answer the question in a way that may help not only the person who posted the question, but also others who may have similar or related questions. We like answers to be around 200 - 400 words. Although we encourage all who answer our questions to include an authoritative source, we require our members to do so. An authoritative source could be a Florida Statute, a court case citation, a government website, an attorney's website, or various other types of sources. We sometimes accept news articles as authority. Member document preparers are encouraged to include a link to their website and contact information. Answers that do not answer the question and/ or do not include authority are discarded. So, if you wonder why your answer never appeared, consider what you may have left out.

    Members can also earn Continuing Education Units (CEU's) by answering questions on our Ask the Members forum. Three accepted answers equals one CEU. We are always behind on answering the questions on the Ask the Members forum and request people who know the answer to post it. Thanks!

    Social Media

    We have a new Facebook page and presence - FALDP Facebook It is set up as a public page and others can post. We encourage members to post on our page and members can even earn CEU's just by posting informative articles, link to their site, and specific information about your services. Post three times, three different posts, at least 24 hours apart and earn one CEU. Page guidelines are simple. Articles and links must pertain to our industry in some way. No politics allowed, except for free speech as related to document preparers; and pro se litigants rights to access the legal system. Total possible CEU's for posting on our Facebook page is three - so a total of nine accepted posts, posted at least 24 hours apart.

    Fishing is an occupational hazard...

    Sad to say, unfounded allegations of the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) are part of our landscape. The Florida Bar has the time, money, and resources to actively search for document preparers who they say may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. No consumer complaint required - no allegation of consumer harm required. All that is required, is that an attorney thinks that a nonlawyer may be doing something they're not supposed to do. Consider the possibility of being under investigation by the Florida Bar UPL Committee as an occupational hazard, it goes with the territory. For reasons, most of us well understand, some attorneys would like us all to close up shop and go away forever. But, since that's not going to happen ... we need to be vigilant and educate ourselves about how to avoid these unsettling and distracting investigations. So that, we can focus on what we do -- prepare documents for our customers so that they can have access to the legal system.

    Document preparers, never doubt that the Florida Bar does have the time and resources to troll the internet to try and find document preparers who might be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). If a "consumers" questions sound fishy ... they probably are... "fishing". If a consumer seems to know some words that only attorneys, paralegals, and document prparers know, they just might be trying to trick you into saying the wrong thing. When someone calls and begins the conversation with: "I have a question", I immediately say: "As you probably know, I am not an attorney, I am a Florida legal document preparer. I can give you legal information, explain procedure, and prepare documents. I cannot offer legal advice or representation, but I will answer your question as I can". Don't feel bad about interrupting a potential customer mid-sentence to say those words. You never know when the time is right for fishing.

    UPL Summit Webinar - 4/29

    Scheduled for Saturday @ 11:00 a.m. a live webinar about how to avoid being investigated for UPL by the Florida Bar. As I used to tell my son when he was in grade school -- "you don't have to do anything wrong to get in trouble". Join us for the webinar if you can. Free to members, invitations to go out by 4/21.

    8TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE - 9/16

    We again looked high and low for another venue comparable to the Fountain Beach Resort but were unable to find anyplace that even came close. On the beach, discounted accommodations, friendly resort staff - what more could we ask? Our conference is scheduled for Saturday, September 16 at the Fountain Beach Resort in Daytona Beach. More details coming soon. Conference registration will open in June.


    Restoration of Civil Rights

    Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on a proposed constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation, and paid restitution. The proposed amendment does not address restoration of the right to bear arms.

    Florida is one of only three states that does not allow automatic restoration of rights. Iowa and Kentucky are the other two states. In Florida a convicted felon must wait five years at minimum to apply to have their voting rights restored. If Florida eases the restrictions, it would follow a national trend. Since 1997, 23 states have made it easier for ex-felons to vote again, according to the Sentencing Project, which advocates overhauling criminal justice laws.

    Again, it's a matter for fairness. Once non-violent ex-felons have paid their debt to society, they should be allowed to rejoin society. That includes having their voices heard at election time.

    If Restoration of Civil Rights once again, becomes a real possibility for Florida's convicted felons, document preparers can help with the application process.

    As it is, document preparers who prepare documents for Early Termination of Probation; and Expunge and Sealing Criminal Records, help offenders reintegrate into society by making it easier for them to find and keep a job. Just imagine how difficult it must be to find a job when you have a criminal record or on active probation.


    Virtual Providers

    The Virtual Provider designation is an upgrade to your membership. For just $30 annually your information and services can be displayed in 66 of the 67 Florida counties. We exclude Miami-Dade because of their local form requirement, and the difficulty in serving consumers virtually there. If your business model includes assisting consumers over the phone and over the internet, advertising your services as a virtual provider will expand your reach and increase your income. Become a Virtual Provider here. If you have not renewed your virtual provider status since May 2016, its past time to renew. Your virtual provider listing could be removed at any time. Please check when you submitted your virtual provider listing. Virtual provider status runs with membership, the time lines are the same.
    VIRTUAL PROVIDER - ANNUAL FEE $30


    Member's Announcements & Contributions

    Have something to share?

    We accept member's announcements and appreciate your contributions. If you have an announcement about your business, an expansion of services, moving your offices, or winning awards, please send us the information and we'll include it in our newsletter. Your announcement needs to be pertinent to your business, we are unable to include announcements about other trade associations, clubs or groups.

    If you would like to write an article, editorial, opinion piece, or web page please let us know. We are always in need of fresh information and insights.


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    FALDP Contact Information:
    Main number – (941)237-0951
    Toll free - (800)515-0496
    Email – staff@faldp.org

    PLEASE LINK YOUR SITE TO WWW.FALDP.ORG
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