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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
December 18, 2017
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 7 Issue 12; December 2017


Members and Friends


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


Announcements

PEACE.


YEAR END SPECIAL - BOGO COURSES

Buy One Get One Courses through December 31. We're offering a offering a Buy One Get One (BOGO) on our online courses through 12/31/2017. Our FALDP courses are informational courses open to consumers, document preparers, and FALDP members. Each course focuses on a specific type of legal document preparation and most courses include necessary forms or templates. Our courses are:

  • Preparing Florida Divorce Documents
  • Family Adoption
  • Parental Responsibility ~ Parenting Plans & Modifications
  • Debt Defense
  • Notary Signing Agent Prep Course
  • Post Conviction Document Preparation
  • Introduction to Florida Legal Document Preparation
  • Immigration - Sponsoring a Foreign Spouse
  • Becoming a Successful Landlord
  • Living Trusts & Estate Planning Document Preparation
  • Bankruptcy Basics - Chapter 7 Personal Bankruptcy
  • Summary Administration of Estate


  • Choose any course and receive a second course of equal of lesser value for free! Offer good through12/31/2017. When you submit payment for your course, include your free choice in the notes on paypal OR send an email to staff@faldp.org with "My Free BOGO course" in the subject line and we'll send you the course link. *This offer does NOT apply to course bundles and cannot be combined with any other specials or discounts.

    Contact us today for more information - 800-515-0496 or staff@faldp.org . Visit us online at www.faldp.org . And learn more about our online courses here - https://www.faldp.org/Online-Courses.html


    FALDP 8th Annual Conference Rescheduled to May 5th

    El Cinco De Mayo!

    We have rescheduled our 8th Annual FALDP Conference to Saturday, May 5, 2018. The conference will be held at the Fountain Beach Resort in Daytona Beach as was originally planned. Our agenda and guest speakers will be substantially the same. The $95 conference fee is the same, and if you did not previously register for the conference, we will offer the same combination of conference fee and membership/ renewal fee as we usually do. The agenda and conference registration will be up on our site within the next week.

    he accommodation rates for the new May 5 date have increased slightly. Accommodations at the Fountain Beach Resort for conference attendees are $89. per night. We encourage you to register for the conference and make your reservations early. The discount code for accommodations will be provided to you once you register for the conference. Although there is no public event that weekend (besides our conference), spring in general is busier than the fall.So, make your plans and register early.

    For those of you who already registered for the conference in September, you are entitled to a refund, providing you request the refund by December 31, 2017. The conference date for September 16 had to be postponed due to looming Hurricane Irma. Reservations at the Fountain Beach Resort for registered attendees were canceled as well.

    Through December 31, we are offering refunds or credits 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.

    If you do not request a refund we will assume that your choice is to attend the conference on May 5, and have your renewal fee waived.


    Introduction to Preparing Florida Legal Documents

    This was our very first online course, created in 2011, and added to over the years. It is a compliance course to keep document preparers safe in the marketplace. The course explains as many of the fine points as we know about avoiding the unauthorized practice of law. In the next several months, after we have expanded it once again, this course will be mandatory for new members. We already require new members relocating from other states to take this course; and recommend this course to new members who only have law firm experience.

    CORRECTION


    We are adding an entirely new course rather than updating our Intro Course. Our Intro Course is fine as far as it goes, the New UPL Course will be mandatory, and the Intro Course will remain substantially the same.

    New mandatory UPL compliance course coming in January 2018. For the first time we are requiring members to complete a compliance course about the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Despite our best efforts at distributing information about UPL and how to avoid it, we find that members need better and more specific information. We have never tried to set ourselves up as the “UPL Police” and have no intention of doing so now. Rather we seek to insure that all members have all the information that we have regarding UPL. We found that our course, “Introduction to Preparing Florida Legal Documents”, doesn't go far enough in explaining the vagaries of UPL. So we removed some of the UPL information from the Intro Course and added it to the New UPL Course.

    Beginning January 2018, new members are required to take the New UPL Course when applying for FALDP Membership. The course fee for new members is $59. All existing members are required to complete the course prior to membership renewal. The course fee is waived for existing members.


    Divorce & Paternity Preparedness Training

    No one begins a marriage or relationship planning for it to end. The fact is that some marriages and some relationships don't last. Depending on the length of the marriage or relationship, the couple's lives may be deeply intertwined. Untangling the many aspects of any relationship takes forethought and careful consideration. When there are children of the marriage or relationship the requirement to think and plan ahead is even more important. The lives that a couple brought into this world should not be permanently damaged because their parents could not continue in the relationship.

    FALDP is in the process of developing a consumer course that will help people who are at the beginning stages of a break-up or contemplating a break-up. Our course is designed to help people sort through the debris to focus on the truly important and productive aspects of what their new life could look like.

    This course is not one on one coaching. This course is also not document preparation. And, this course is definitely NOT legal advice or representation. There is absolutely no obligation to purchase anything else after completing the course. After the course is completed students will be referred to a FALDP member document preparer for document preparation, or one of our referral partners who has agreed to provide life coaching, divorce doula, or mediation services to our online students.


    American Divorce Day - January 5th

    According to history.com, in 1643, the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two children, for another woman, with whom he had another two children. He also stated his refusal to return to his original wife, thus giving the Puritan court no option but to punish Clarke and grant a divorce to his wife, Anne.

    The tradition continues ... family law document preparers know that inquiries and requests for divorce assistance spike during January -- even to this day, nearly 400 years after the first recorded divorce. The reasons consumers most frequently give for their choice of month, is that they did not want to upset the children, the in-laws, or life in general over the holidays. They wait, sometimes biting their tongues and holding their breath until Christmas is long gone and the New Year's party is well over before making the move to file for divorce. The decision to file for divorce may have been made months earlier.

    Filing for divorce is a stressful time for all involved. There are almost always emotional issues, financial issues, and property issues to be sorted our and worked through. Here are some do's and don't's from someone who has been through it personally a time or two; and prepared documents for hundreds of divorces.

    Do:


  • Try to settle as many issues amicably as you possibly can.
  • Tell the children of the pending divorce in a reasonable and loving way, assuring them that you will always be a family -- its just that Mom and Dad will no longer be married.
  • Cherish the memories. Even if the love has died, remember that you loved this person once.
  • Take care of yourself by making sure your support system is intact - whether it is your friends, a formal support group, a counselor, or divorce coach.
  • If there are children of the marriage, be especially aware that the children are experiencing as much or more upheaval than you are due to the pending divorce.
  • Resist the temptation to involve yourself in a new relationship too soon.


  • Don't:


  • Allow yourself to be pulled into needless emotional turmoil.
  • Let your guard down completely. Even though you want it to be amicable, that doesn't mean that you need to be careless.
  • Manipulate the children to hurt your soon to be ex.
  • Hide money. Be truthful about your finances, and expect the same from your spouse.
    Say unkind things about your ex in front of the children, other family, or friends.
  • Don't dwell on blaming your spouse, the blame game doesn't help anything.


  • Document preparers may not provide legal advice or representation. Obvious as it sounds -- document preparers prepare documents. We can also give legal information and explain procedure. Most family law document preparers are also good listeners and don't mind hearing their customer's stories.

    Sometimes consumers ask whether they need an attorney. There is more than one answer. If both parties are in complete agreement and understand exactly what they're agreeing on, then there may be no need for an attorney.

    If someone thinks they need an attorney, then they probably do. If the customer is afraid of going to court without an attorney; they expect nothing but a fight; feels bullied by their spouse; their spouse has an attorney; or if English is their second language are all good reasons to retain an attorney.

    A pro se litigant can always retain an attorney if the proceedings become contentious. Family law attorneys are specifically allowed to unbundle their services, they are not required to take on the entire case. Document preparers charge on average between $200-$300 to prepare divorce documents, usually as a flat fee. Attorneys hourly rates may well be $200-$300 per hour.

    The Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers has member document preparers throughout the state, many of whom prepare divorce documents. To locate a document preparer in your area for assistance, look through our member directory or call 800-515-0496. We're here to help.


    Proper Display of our Logo

    The FALDP logo is a Registered Collective Mark specifically for members in good standing of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers. As long as you are a member of our association, you are authorized to use our logo in any and all of your advertising, including print and virtual. We expect former members to stop displaying our logo within 30 days of terminating membership. We know that some members will drop out to go to work in a different field, or take a position with a law firm, or any number of reasons that FALDP is no longer the right trade association for you. We protect our mark vigilantly to protect all of our members. We know that document preparers join us to add credibility to their services, because joining a trade association shows consumers that you're serious about your business. For that reason, we are zealous about infringement on our mark.

    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.

    Memorize this:

    As a document preparer its your responsibility to make sure that everyone you speak with about your services knows perfectly well that you are not an attorney. Consumers will call and the first thing they say is - "I have a question". I say:

    As you probably know, I'm not an attorney. I am a Florida legal document preparer. What that means is, I can prepare documents, give you legal information, and explain procedure. I cannot offer advice or representation. But I will answer your question as I can.

    Sometimes I have to interrupt their question to get these words said. I don't mind ... better safe than sorry. I would never want a consumer to be misled about what I can and cannot do.


    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.

    More Member Directories

    We created additional member directories to help consumers find our members more easily, and to help our members increase their business income. If you prepare any of these documents, you are missing out on business if you do not submit your information. 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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