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The lease you sign is the one that binds you.

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Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

The People’s Lawyer

www.peopleslawyer.net

Q. I signed a lease with my friend that does not end until February. She is now getting married and wants to move out and have her name removed from the lease. Even though my credit is good and I can afford the rent, the landlord will not remove her name. What can we do to get her name off the lease? She is having trouble renting another apartment.

A. A lease is a contract between the landlord and the tenants. In this case, the three of you have entered into a contract for the lease of the apartment. That lease cannot be changed unless all of the parties agree. If the landlord does not want to change the lease, there is no way you can force him to do so. I suggest you speak with him and try to work things out. Maybe if you agree to a larger security deposit, he will allow you to sign a new lease with just your name

Q. I live with my fiancé. We have decided not to get married and split up. Do I have the right to sell the engagement ring and use the money to get a new place to live?

A. As a general rule in Texas, an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift. The gift is given on the condition that you get married. Whether the ring must be returned, however, usually depends on who breaks off the engagement. If the man calls it off, most courts say the woman may keep the ring. If the woman calls off the wedding, or the decision is mutual, the ring probably must be returned. Based on what you say, you have mutually agreed to end your relationship. If that is the case, my opinion is that you must return the ring, or get him to agree to allow you to sell it.

Q. A credit card company is threatening me with a lawsuit. If they sue and win, do they have the right to take the money I have saved in my IRA? It is the only savings I have.

A. Even if you are sued and lose, the money in your IRA cannot be taken. Under Texas law, an IRA, including a ROTH IRA, is “exempt.” This means that even if you are sued and a judgment is entered against you, your creditors may not take the funds in your account.

Q. My sister and I are named as beneficiaries in our father’s will. The will says we divide everything equally. My father also had an insurance policy that named only my sister as the beneficiary. Is her share of his property reduced by the amount she recovers from the insurance policy? Do we split the proceeds of the insurance policy?

A. A will determines how the estate of the deceased person is divided after his or her death. In your case, your father directed that his estate should be divided equally between his two children. The “estate,” however, is what your father owned at the time of death. It does not include property that automatically goes to another at the time of death, such as the proceeds of a life insurance policy. In other words, your sister receives the money from the insurance, you are not entitled to any of the proceeds of the policy, and your sister is still entitled to half of all the other property in your father’s estate.

Q. How do I get a copy of my credit report? How much should it cost?

A. Under federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, once a year. I suggest you stagger your requests, and get one every four months. This way you will always get current information.

To obtain a copy of your free report, go to the website set up the government, https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Be careful of all the other “free” credit report sites, which often have hidden fees or costs.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights?

Check out my website, www.peopleslawyer.net

 


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