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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
September 09, 2017
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 7 Issue 9; September 2017


Members and Friends


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


Announcements


FALDP 8th Annual Conference Postponed

Unfortunately we had no choice but to postpone our 8th Annual Conference to a date yet to be determined. Reservations at the Fountain Beach Resort for registered attendees were canceled as well. The path of Irma remains uncertain and it is not the right time to hold this event as everyone will be affected by this storm in some way.

 

We are offering refunds or credits to conference registrants as follows:

 

1. You can request a $95 credit for the conference which will be applied to the conference fee when it takes place. In addition to the $95 conference fee we will also waive your membership fee for next spring - $75.

 

2. You can request a $170 credit to apply towards any of our online courses.

 

3. You can request a refund of $95 for the conference fee. If your conference fee was waived because of a special offer such as a three course bundle – you are entitled to a credit in the amount of $95 for either the conference fee or toward online course fees, but not a refund.

 

Please note if you are requesting a refund and you paid through paypal, we can refund you through paypal if you have a verified paypal account. If you paid through paypal as a guest and do not have a paypal account we will issue you a paper check. The reason for this policy is that if you did not pay through a verified paypal account, and simply used a debit or credit card, paypal will not credit your card.

 

Stay safe throughout the hurricane.


Loans For DACA Available

Our FALDP Get Documented I-Team can prepare DACA documents and refer eligible consumers to a low cost non-profit lender for USCIS fees and document preparation services. More information will be posted on our site soon. Our FALDP Get Document I-Team members contact information is on this page FALDP Get Documented Initiative - http://www.faldp.org/FALDP-Get-Documented-Initiative.html

USCIS Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 2017 Announcement


On Sept. 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated the orderly phase out of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DHS will provide a limited, six-month window during which it will consider certain requests for DACA and applications for work authorization, under specific parameters. Read the memorandum from Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke for details.

Next Steps for Phasing Out DACA All DACA benefits are provided on a two-year basis, so individuals who currently have DACA will be allowed to retain both DACA and their work authorizations (EADs) until they expire.

USCIS will adjudicate, on an individual, case by case basis: Properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) that have been accepted as of Sept. 5, 2017.

Properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for EADs from current beneficiaries that have been accepted as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted as of Oct. 5, 2017.

Individuals who have not submitted an application by Sept. 5, for an initial request under DACA may no longer apply. USCIS will reject all applications for initial requests received after Sept. 5. https://www.uscis.gov/daca2017

WHAT IS DACA?

In June 2012, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It allows young unauthorized immigrants who meet certain criteria to apply for a commitment from the federal government for "deferred action" — that is, a commitment not to initiate deportation proceedings — for two years. Successful applicants also receive a work permit. Additional requirements were:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012; 6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

DACA applicants had to provide evidence they were living in the United States at the prescribed times, proof of education and confirmation of their identities. They also had to pass background, fingerprint and other checks that look at identifying biological features.

The fee to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, including employment authorization and biometric services, was $495.

In the most recent survey of 3,063 DACA recipients, conducted in August 2017 by Tom Wong of UC San Diego (for the Center for American Progress and other immigrant advocacy groups), the average age that respondents said they’d arrived in the US was 6-and-a-half years old.

From the perspective of DREAMers themselves, their parents came to the US to give their children a better life, just as any other immigrant parent does — and they resist efforts to make themselves look better by making their parents look like the real villains.

DACA was never a legalization program — technically speaking, immigrants who are “DACAmented” are lawfully present in the US, but don’t have legal status.


My Hurricane Story

I've been obsessed with hurricanes since I was eight. Our house in Mandarin Florida got a direct hit from Hurricane Dora. A 100 year old magnolia tree came down on our roof, went right through our picture window and demolished the living room. We lived on the St. Johns River, there were two flights of brick stairs down the twenty foot river bank leading to the dock and the river. The water came up to the top of the top step. Jacksonville flooded that year, 1964, but I only remember our house. We were without power for sixteen days. During the eye of the storm we, two parents and five kids, ran through the orange groves to take shelter in our bomb shelter. We were that family with the bomb shelter, someone I met in that neighborhood recently knew exactly the house and who we were as soon as I said we had a bomb shelter in the yard. We were that family with the bomb shelter, another story for another time. The only time we ever actually used the bomb shelter was during Hurricane Dora. Since it was supposedly built to withstand a nuclear blast, it easily withstood the hurricane. As an eight year old I thought the hurricane was an exciting adventure. I don't remember being scared, except maybe when we had to run through the living room to get to the other side of the house after the tree fell and my dad yelling at us to cover our eyes and hurry up. Running through the orange grove during the eye of the storm was fascinating. Dad was still yelling to hurry up, although I couldn't see why. It seemed like any other overcast day.

The approximately 15 x 15 shelter was made of four foot thick steel reinforced concrete, and was designed to accommodate ten. There were five plywood storage bins around the perimeter of the shelter which doubled as sleeping space, The idea was to put a mattress or bed roll on top of the bin, and voila a bed. Five wire cots pulled down from the walls above the bins, which were also supposed to have some kind of mattress or bed roll. My parents never stocked the bins with food or supplies, and also never added the mattresses. A real threat of nuclear attack never having been imminent. There was a periscope that poked up through the top, a chemical toilet, a hand crank air circulation device and an exterior steel door that opened and closed with a winch. All very gee whiz this is cool to an 8 year old.

My mom didn't exactly have the same attitude. Especially the part about being without power for 16 days and having to feed 7 people. I think her high point was having to throw out all the spoiled venison in the chest freezer, she always seemed happy about that. Threw it in the river for the alligators. Florida venison is quite gamey, so no argument from me.

Upon returning to school, the teacher asked us to draw a picture describing how we spent our summer vacation. I remember drawing a picture of our broken picture window and scattered shards of glass strewn across the living room floor.


FALDP Certification Update

We have opened the FALDP Certification Exams year round. We plan to keep the exams open all the time to allow members who are seeking certification to have easier access. The exam links remain inside the Members Only area. If you are a member and did not receive the email with the new login for the Members Only area, call 800-515-0496 or email staff@faldp.org and request it.

Words to the Wise

We make the following suggestions for operating a document preparation business - (some may apply to any business.)

  • Be very clear about payment arrangements, fees, etc. before doing any work.

  • Use a robust disclaimer or disclosure to make sure that your customer understands where his responsibility begins, and your's ends.

  • Make sure your customer acknowledges your agreements in writing, before doing any work.

  • Send a written email quote to every potential customer.
  • Use flat fees whenever possible.

    If you charge an hourly rate for some work, and bill as completed - don't let your customer experience sticker shock. Send invoices at logical stopping points, and give your customer the chance to pay before continuing.

  • Be responsive to your customers. Never let a minor disagreement escalate into a major fiasco.



  • TIPS FOR BUILDING REFERRALS

    • Create a list of business owners you know who target similar customers and interview them.
    • Ask them the criteria they use in making referrals and what they would like in return.
    • Set up a tracking system as part of your customer intake file and then review on a quarterly basis where those leads came from.
    • Reward your referral sources with a card, bottle of wine, tickets to a game,etc.
    • Don’t rely on random referrals. You cannot build a financially successful document preparation business with random referrals. You need people you can count on who consistently send you highly qualified leads. Your business is too valuable to be left in the hands of random acts of fate.
    • Identify your primary sources of current and potential referrals. Be sure you know who is currently sending you referrals and thank them and then look for the best possible sources for new referrals and cultivate those relationships.
    • Create a system for connecting with current and potential referral sources on a consistent basis. You can either wait half your career to build enough relationships with referral sources to fill your practice or you can intentionally take specific steps to create powerful win-win relationships with dozens of referral sources.

    Features v Benefits

    Sell benefits not features. Features are facts. List five facts about you or your business. Here are mine:

  • My business is completely virtual.
  • I am a charter member of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers.
  • This is a full time business, not a side job or part time business.
  • I prepare a range of documents, but focus on family law and probate for small estates.
  • I have been preparing legal documents since 1998.


  • Each fact has a corresponding benefit. A benefit answers the question "what's in it for me?" (the customer)

  • My business is completely virtual. And what that means is my overhead stays low, so I can pass on my savings to my customers.
  • I am a charter member of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers. And what that means is I have taken the time to join a trade association to better serve you, my customer.
  • This is a full time business, not a side job or part time business. And what that means is this is my livelihood. I take it seriously and make myself available to my customers all day everyday.
  • I prepare a range of documents, but focus on family law and probate for small estates. And what that means is that I can offer assistance in many areas, and promise superior service preparing family law and probate documents.
  • I have been preparing legal documents since 1998. And what that means is that I have been doing this for a long time, and so my experience will help you better navigate the court system on your own.


  • New Member Directories

    We created additional member directories to help consumers find our members more easily, and to help our members increase their business income. We built 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 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.


    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!

    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. Virtual provider status runs with membership, the time lines are the same. We will send invoices to Virtual Providers.
    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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