Here are a few of my book recommendations. These books will help you gain an understanding of an area of the law. While they are no substitute for having your own attorney, they will help demystify the process and you may even feel more comfortable working with an attorney. However, be careful if your attorney asks to borrow your copy!
A number of these authors have appeared as guests on Legal Line.
Understanding Living Trusts, by Vickie Schumacher –
This is a plain english guide to a complex topic. Whether you do a trust or not, get your planning done!
Plan Your Estate, by Denis Clifford –
This book provides a great overview of estate planning.
How to Settle an Estate: A Manual for Executors and Trustees, by Leimberg and Plotnik –
I also like The Executor’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Settling an Estate for Personal Representatives, Administrators and Beneficiaries, by Hughes and Klein –
Serving as a Personal Representative and settling an estate requires patience and hard work. Even if you have an attorney help you, have a look at these two books. You will make better use of your attorney’s (expensive) time.
The Ultimate Gift, by Jim Stovall, is an easy, fun read that will make you laugh and may bring a tear to your eyes (but don’t tell anyone). You don’t have to be a billionaire to make an impact on your family and leave a legacy. But you’ll feel like a billion after you read Jim’s best selling novel about a grandfather’s final and lasting lesson for his grandson. When you’ve read the book, you’ll want to watch the movie version of The Ultimate Gift, starring James Garner. Yes, there’s a message, and you will love it.
Be sure to catch Jim Stovall’s interview, available as a podcast on the Legal Line page. Jim discusses his new book, A Christmas Snow and the DVD version of A Christmas Snow.
Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce by Emily Doskow, This will get you started on the right track, but with a divorce there is no substitute for advice from an attorney. Ask about “unbundled” legal services if you are short on cash. Think personal safety and think about mediation
I also like Divorce & Money by Violet Waterhouse and Dale Fetherling. People first but money issues are a close second. Be prepared.
Your Rights in the Workplace, by Barbara Kate Repa –
A must read for any employee. This will get you started and pointed in the right direction regarding just about any employment problem, from hiring to firing, COBRA, retirement, discrimination, sexual harassment and more.
Solve Your Money Troubles: Debt, Credit & Bankruptcy – by Leonard & Reiter
Everyone has them sometime. If you have any type of money troubles, this is the book for you. From identifying the issues to helping you prioritize, solve and even eliminate some of your debts, Robin does a great job with a tough topic.
How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Stephen Elias –
This book will help you decide whether you should file for bankruptcy and answers most questions about the process and life after bankruptcy.
Personal Planning; Asset Protection:
You’re Fifty–Now What? Investing for the Second Half of Your Life, by Charles Schwab –
A must read if you are (or think you will ever be) over 50!
Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, by Suze Orman –
A classic work by financial planning guru Suze Orman. She has written a number of books, but this may be the best, providing a foundation for young and “old.” She discusses all of the critical steps, from debt reduction to wealth building and preservation.
101 Law Forms for Personal Use, by Ralph Warner –
Miscellaneous forms heaven! You will find forms to authorize temporary care of a child, a pet care agreement, landlord-tenant “stuff,” agreements to loan money to friends and neighbors, etc., etc., etc., -just imagine documenting all of these things! This really is one a lawyer might want to buy for the library.
Neighbor Law, by Cora Jordan and Emily Doskow –
If you are a neighbor, read this book. I have found in my law practice and from years of dealing with legal questions on the radio that sometimes you just need to talk to your neighbor – what a novel idea!
Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business, by Fred Steingold –
If you are in business or thinking about starting a business, you need this book on your shelf. Aside from helping you decide on what form of business is best for you, the author provides practical advice for most aspects of running your business and avoiding some of the land mines.
Low-Budget Online Marketing for Small Business, by Holly Berkley (Self Counsel Press) –
Holly helps you market online with confidence, providing great tips and useful worksheets.
Boating and Sailing:
Boatowner’s Legal and Finance Guide, by Larry Rogers –
If you own a boat, you’ll want this in a waterproof bag.
Trouble-Free Travel, by Colwell and Shulman –
With travel such a pain these days, take along a copy (in a brown paper bag).
Going to Court; Small Claims:
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court, by Ralph Warner –
This is a national publication, but it will give you some great pointers on handling your case. You will also want to go to our “Links” page to find a link to the fantastic handbook put out by the King County Bar Association.
For those of you who wish you had gone to law school, you may want to have a look at the Washington Lawyers Practice Manual, published by the King County Bar Association. This multi volume work is available at your local law library (usually on reserve). It is actually used by lawyers to help them practice. Use with care because you will be held to the standard of a real lawyer!
Landlord Tenant Issues:
Every Tenant’s Legal Guide, by Janet Portman –
This is a great resource and really cheap to buy. Don’t rent without it.
Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart
This is a must for anyone thinking of becoming a landlord, full of tips and pointers to keep you safe and sane.
Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-have Book for Your Owner, by Anthony Mancuso-
This is a personal favorite of Annie and Brutus.
All My Children Wear Fur Coats, by Peggy Hoyt-
If you are a pet lover, you will want this book. Peggy does a terrific job of detailing what you must know if you are going to be a responsible and caring friend of your pet. Petting is not enough (although usually welcome). You must also be legally prepared and this book will help you understand what you must do.
Living Together, by Toni Ihara –
This book has great ideas for avoiding problems if you choose to live together under the same roof. You’ll even find sample forms.
A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, by Curry, Clifford and Hertz –
This is the definitive work in the area.
How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Joseph Matthews –
This is best used as a resource when you are represented by an attorney. Don’t take chances when you have been injured – seek out an attorney for representation or coaching!
Beat Your Ticket: Go to Court & Win!, by David Brown –
This is a national publication, but with good tips and pointers for fighting that unjust ticket.
Taxes and the IRS:
Tax This!: An Insider’s Guide to Standing Up to the IRS, by Scott Estill –
Former Senior Trial Attorney Scott Estill helps you to know your rights as a taxpayer.
Charitable/Tax Exempt Organizations:
The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, by Bruce Hopkins –
You have to be serious to read this one!
Copyright, Patent and Trademark Law:
Patent It Yourself, by David Pressman –
Closet inventors unite!
The Copyright Handbook, by Stephen Fishman –
This is a great starting point for copyright questions.
Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference, by Stephen Elias –
If you really want to know…
Supreme Court, Constitution and Bill of Rights:
The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2005.
This is the definitive work on the Supreme Court. If you can think of anything that has to do with the Supreme Court, you can probably find a comment on it in this fantastic work. From antitrust to court curbing, equal protection to the Fourth Amendment, Roe v. Wade, and more, if it has to do with the Supreme Court, you’ll learn about it here.
The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin.
The subtitle is “Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court,” and it is living up to expectations. Toobin does a great job of taking you inside the Court, artfully weaving historical decisions into present cases and currently sitting Justices.
The Pledge, by Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer.
A fun and historical tour of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thinking Like a Lawyer:
Winning Every Time; How to use the skills of a lawyer in the trials of your life, by Lis Wiehl (Ballantine Books) –
No need to attend law school, Lis will have you “practicing” in no time. This book will help you think and act like a lawyer, but still be a nice person! Whether you are buying a car, dealing with your boss, or trying to stay a step ahead of your kids (or parents), this book will help you with real life practical tips. And, it is based on the best of ethics!
Dealing with Lawyers:
What Your Lawyer Doesn’t Want You to Know, by Douglas Eikermann –
Doug offers tips on choosing the right lawyer and controlling your legal affairs.
On Being a Lawyer:
Transforming Practices : Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life, by Steven Keeva –
If you are a lawyer who is disillusioned with your life as a lawyer, have a look at this book – definitely worth the read.
Pay a visit to one of our great public law libraries. Although the law librarians are not able to offer legal advice, they are extremely helpful. Tell them Bob sent you!