Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office PLEASE NOTE SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE WILL NOT BE GIVEN THROUGH THIS FORUM. PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION. HOURS OF OPERATION: • Mon, Tue, Wed, & Fri, 0830-1600 • Thu, 0830-1500 • Closed on Federal Holidays & DONSAs APPOINTMENTS: • Next day business day appointments are made by calling (315) 772-7545 at 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. • Powers of attorney, notarizations, and a variety of informational pamphlets are available on a walk-in basis.

All other matters require an appointment. ELIGIBLE CLIENTS: • Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members. • Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members. • Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces who are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance). • Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5. • Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.

Mission: The mission of the legal assistance program is to assist those eligible for legal assistance by (1) meeting their needs for information on personal legal matters, and (2) resolving their personal legal problems whenever possible.

06/11/2020

In recent weeks, the United States Secret Service has received reports of fraud targeting State Unemployment Insurance programs. Banks and Credit Unions have experienced a rise in automatic electronic deposits from State Unemployment Insurance Programs. These deposits range from $4,000 to $10,000. To make these fraudulent deposits, scammers reach out to individuals using various tactics to get personal information including account and routing numbers.
Common tactics used include:
• Scammers pretending to be a close friend, family member, boyfriend, or girlfriend, residing out of state, who need your account details to receive unemployment benefits because they do not have access to their own bank.
• Scammers impersonating the State Unemployment office. The scammer will say you received the payment in error and must return the money immediately and ask for account details.
• Scammers also have asked individuals to withdraw money and send it back in the form of gift cards, cash, official bank checks, money orders and wire transfers. Unlike a check, which financial institutions often put holds on to ensure the check will clear, electronic deposits do not commonly have holds, providing targeted individuals full access to unauthorized funds immediately. Since funds are unauthorized, financial institutions are required to return the money. If a member has taken that money out of their account before the funds can be returned to the State, the member may be responsible for the full amount of money taken. If the money has been sent to a scammer through wire or gift cards, you may not get that money back.

To protect yourself from this scam, consider the following tips:
• If someone asks for personal information through email, text, or over the phone, including your account and routing number, do not provide it. Real financial institutions will already have your account information if they initiated contact with you.
• Verify where the person lives and works. Do they actually live or work in the state where their unemployment benefits are coming from?
• If someone asks you to send money via gift card, cash, or wire transfer money, do not do it. These methods are non-refundable are some of the most common ways a scammer asks you to send money.

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office's cover photo
05/19/2020

Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office's cover photo

05/19/2020

We are happy to announce we have reopened for limited services. From Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., or between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., you may walk into Room A2-68 in Clark Hall for powers of attorney and notarizations. Attorney-client consultations will continue to be done by telephone, not face-to-face, until social distancing rules are relaxed. To make an appointment to speak with an attorney, please call 315-772-6587, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., or between 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The office will be closed on federal holidays and days of no scheduled activities (DONSAs).

04/20/2020

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS. Here's what people should know about the Economic Impact Payments:

* The IRS will automatically deposit Economic Impact Payments into the bank account taxpayers provided on their 2019 or 2018 tax return for a direct deposit of their tax refund.
* Those without a direct deposit account on file may be able to provide their banking information online through a new secure tool, Get My Payment.
* Anyone who is eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and doesn't provide direct deposit information will receive a payment mailed to the last address the IRS has on file.
* The IRS does not charge a fee to issue the payment.

Be cautious - scammers may:

* Ask an individual to sign over their Economic Impact Payment check to them.
* Ask for verification of personal or banking information.
* Suggest that they can get someone tax refund or Economic Impact Payment faster by working on their behalf.
* Issue a bogus check, often in an odd amount, then tell a person to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

04/20/2020

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS-RELATED SCAMS. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for IRS impersonation calls, texts and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus or COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. These scams can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

Here's what taxpayers should know:

* The IRS will not call, email or text you to verify or request your financial, banking or personal information.
* Watch out for websites and social media attempts to request money or personal information. The official website is IRS.gov.
* Don't open surprise emails that look like they're coming from the IRS or click on attachments or links.
* Taxpayers should not provide personal or financial information or engage with potential scammers online or over the phone.

04/15/2020

NATIONAL HEALTHCARE DECISION DAY. Thursday, April 16, 2020, is National Healthcare Decision Day, a day to inspire and educate the public about the importance of advance medical directives. Advance medical directives are legal documents people sign to ensure their wishes for medical care and treatment are followed if, for whatever reason, they become unable to make their own decisions (for example, they are unconscious, heavily medicated, suffering from dementia, comatose, etc.). There are two types of advance medical directives – “living wills” and “health care proxies” (also known in some states as medical powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney for health care). The format and content of advance medical directives vary from state to state, but the purpose and intent of the documents are recognized by all states.

A living will is a signed, witnessed (and sometimes notarized) document that instructs an attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical interventions from its signer if the signer is in a terminal condition and is unable to make decisions about medical treatment. A health care proxy is a very similar document, but goes one step further than a living will by appointing a particular person to be the signer’s health care decision-maker. In other words, the document is a medical power of attorney that appoints an agent to act and speak on behalf of the signer when the signer is temporarily or permanently unable to communicate with medical staff. An agent must be chosen with care since the agent will have great power and authority to make decisions about whether health care will be provided, withheld or withdrawn from the signer. It is extremely important that the signer carefully discuss his or her values, wishes and instructions with the agent. New York State adopted the health care proxy format over the living will format in Public Health Law section 2981.

An advance medical directive is an important part of estate planning, and many people have an advance medical directive prepared when they have a will prepared. However, an advance medical directive is an entirely separate legal document from a will, and you can have one prepared anytime by making an appointment with a Fort Drum Legal Assistance Attorney by calling the phone number above.

MILTAX ON MILITARY ONESOURCE.  Our office received a report that some Servicemembers trying to prepare Schedule E using ...
04/08/2020
Military OneSource – Support for Military Personnel & Families

MILTAX ON MILITARY ONESOURCE. Our office received a report that some Servicemembers trying to prepare Schedule E using MilTax on Military OneSource were re-directed to a paid version of the H&R Block software. This is not supposed to happen. H&R Block is addressing the issue and, if not already corrected, should be soon. Military OneSource is a terrific resource where Soldiers and their Families can access free tax preparation software to prepare their own income tax returns. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/

Military resource website providing 24/7 support for military personnel, spouses, family members and survivors on taxes, moving, spouse employment, MWR and more.

04/08/2020

STILL NEED TO FILE YOUR TAXES? As you have probably heard, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the extension of the filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020, extending the filing season by an additional 90 days. The extension was granted because numerous VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) tax preparation sites, like the one at Fort Drum, have canceled or postponed their face-to-face operations because of the COVID-19 crisis. But if you would rather not wait until VITA sites reopen to file your taxes, the Fort Drum Legal Assistance Office now has the ability to help you if your taxable income is $66,000 or less!

The IRS recently authorized an alternative filing method for VITA sites to prepare tax returns for the remainder of this filing season. This method is called the “Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process.” This process was developed for taxpayers to be serviced with no in-person contact, and is available only for the remainder of this tax filing season. The Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process requires the following steps:

(1) THE TAXPAYER MUST CONSENT TO THE VIRTUAL PROCESS. You must agree to participate in the Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process by signing Form 14446 (Virtual VITA/TCE Taxpayer Consent). You must sign the form, scan it, and send it to us by email.

(2) THE TAXPAYER MUST COMPLETE THE INTAKE FORM. You must complete Form 13614-C (Intake/Interview and Quality Review), scan it, and send it to us by email.

(3) THE TAXPAYER MUST PROVIDE PHOTO IDENTIFICATION AND TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS. You must scan a valid form of photo ID for each adult taxpayer (drivers license, passport, etc.) and the Social Security Card of every adult AND child included in your tax return, and send it to us by email.

(4) THE TAXPAYER MUST PROVIDE ALL TAX RELATED DOCUMENTS. You must scan your all tax documents (W2s, 1099s, etc.), and send them back to us by email. After we receive all your documents, we will prepare your federal and state tax returns. Once we complete the returns, we will call you to review your return telephonically.

(5) THE TAXPAYER MUST CONSENT TO ELECTRONIC FILING OF THE RETURN. After the telephonic review of your return with our tax preparer, you must sign Form 8879 (IRS e-file Signature Authorization), scan it, and send it to us by email. When the Legal Assistance Office in Room A2-68, Clark Hall, reopens, you will be able to come in and pick-up a copy of your return for your records.

THE CHOICE TO TRANSMIT DOCUMENTS ELECTRONICALLY TO THE LEGAL ASSISTANCE OFFICE IS SOLELY THAT OF THE TAXPAYER. BECAUSE THE TRANSMITTED INFORMATION IS SENSITIVE IN NATURE, YOU SHOULD ONLY TRANSMIT THE INFORMATION BY A SECURE/ENCRYPTED EMAIL.

Remember, this is simply an alternative filing method temporarily authorized by the IRS allowing us to prepare your tax with no in-person contact. When we are able to return to work, we hope to once again provide in-person tax preparation services up until July 15th. If you would like to use the Expanded Virtual VITA/TCE Process, please 315-772-6587, Mon-Fri, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and 1:00-4:00 p.m., to start the process.

04/02/2020

THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT AND THE RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY. We have all seen movies where a police officer reads someone his or her Miranda rights – “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” You know it by heart. But did you know the Army requirements add more protection for Soldiers than Miranda does for civilians? Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires Military Police officers, Criminal Investigations Division agents, and Investigating Officers to not only read you your rights, but tell you what they are asking about. Unlike Miranda, this applies even if you are not in custody, and this applies even when the investigation has just begun. If someone slides a rights warning waiver form across the table for you to sign, invoke your right to remain silent and ask to speak with an attorney. For more information, call the Legal Assistance Office at the phone number above.

04/02/2020

DRIVING ON POST. Many things change when you drive through the front gate into a military installation, but your duty to obey traffic laws is not one of them. Both New York State and Fort Drum traffic laws apply on post. Traffic violations occurring on post are handled by a Federal Magistrate Judge and almost always result in a fine. The Garrison Commander can also suspend your on-post driving privileges, even if you still have a valid state driver license that allows you to drive off-post. Notice of a ticket is often forwarded to your chain of command. To avoid the hassle, fines, appearances in court, and scrutiny from your chain of command, obey posted traffic laws, keep your license current, keep your vehicle’s registration and inspection current, and wear your seatbelt! If you are charged with a traffic violation, on or off-post, you can talk with an attorney at no charge by calling the Legal Assistance Office at the phone number above.

04/02/2020

6% INTEREST RATE LIMITATION. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides protections for servicemembers when they enter active duty. The SCRA benefits include a six percent interest rate cap on financial obligations incurred BEFORE entry into military service (see 50 U.S.C. section 3937). This provision does NOT apply to debt incurred AFTER entry into military service. To apply this benefit to a credit card, mortgage, or other loan, a servicemember must provide the creditor with notice and a copy of his or her military orders. In response, a creditor must forgive interest greater than six percent per year. Notice and proof of military service must be provided to the creditor within 180 days of the end of the servicemember's military service. A court may grant a creditor relief from the limitations of this section if, in the opinion of the court, the ability of the servicemember to pay interest upon the obligation or liability at a rate in excess of 6 percent per year is not materially affected by reason of the servicemember’s military service. In other words, if a servicemember’s income is equal to, or greater than, his or her income before entry into military service, a court may, upon request by a creditor, allow the creditor to continue charging the original interest rate. Call the Legal Assistance Office at the number above for more information.

04/02/2020

IF YOU CAN PAY YOUR RENT, PAY YOUR RENT. Several people have contacted our office asking if they are required to pay rent for the next 90 days. The answer is YES! The confusion stems from Executive Order Number 202.8 issued by Governor Cuomo on March 20, 2020. That Order said there shall be no enforcement of an eviction action against any tenant for a period of ninety days. The law was put into place to protect tenants who have had catastrophic losses of income because of COVID-19 job layoffs and terminations. When the Order was issued on March 20th, the hope was that life would return to some state of normalcy within 90 days and people would again start working and would again be able to pay rent (plus arrearages). The rent is not "forgiven" under the Order - it is still due and payable, but at a later date. The moratorium on evictions is not meant to be an excuse for tenants to not pay rent if tenants have sufficient means to pay rent. Servicemembers are expected to pay their debts. Servicemembers who fail to pay their debts, without legal justification, could be subject to military administrative or U.C.M.J. action.

04/01/2020

AUTO REPAIR. You can still get your vehicle repaired during this period of COVID-19 business closures. Auto repair was deemed an essential service under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.6. When taking your vehicle in for repair, follow some general consumer tips:

(1) Review your owner’s manual. Knowing simple information about your car, such as engine size, tire size, recommended maintenance periods, etc., not only provides helpful information to the mechanic, but also decreases the likelihood that you will be taken advantage of with unnecessary repairs.

(2) Decide between the independent corner garage and the dealership service department. Technicians at the dealer are specialists; they are manufacturer-trained and typically work exclusively on your make of vehicle. However, the dealer service department is usually the most expensive option. Many independent auto repair service facilities are extremely qualified and charge less, particularly if it is a routine service like an oil change, brakes, or inspection. Always do some research on the reliability and reputation of an independent auto repair shop before taking your vehicle to them.

(3) Inquire about pricing and labor rates. ALWAYS ask for a written estimate in advance. NEVER give a repair shop an unlimited directive like “go ahead and fix whatever you see that needs repair.”

(4) Ask questions. Lots of them. Do not be intimidated. Ask questions about why something needs fixing. As the customer, you have a right to know. Reputable repair shops are usually very willing to explain the repairs to you.

(5) ALWAYS get a receipt for the work completed before you leave the repair shop.

Address

Room A2-68, Clark Hall, Building P-10720, Mt Belvedere Blvd
Fort Drum, NY
13602-5100

Opening Hours

Monday 08:30 - 16:00
Tuesday 08:30 - 16:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 16:00
Thursday 08:30 - 16:00
Friday 08:30 - 16:00

Telephone

(315) 772-5261

Alerts

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Our Story

HOURS OF OPERATION: • Mon - Fri, 0830-1600 • Closed on Federal Holidays & DONSAs APPOINTMENTS: • Appointments are made up to one week out by either calling (315) 772-5261 or by stopping by our office at Room A2-68 in Clark Hall, between 0830 and 1600, Monday through Friday. Appointments fill very quickly, so call or stop by early. • Powers of attorney, notarizations, and a variety of informational pamphlets are available on a walk-in basis. All other matters require an appointment. ELIGIBLE CLIENTS: • Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members. • Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members. • Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces who are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance). • Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5. • Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.

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