LEGAL CORNER: What are employers’ responsibilities to employees regarding payroll during an evacuation?

LEGAL CORNER: What are employers’ responsibilities to employees regarding payroll during an evacuation?

Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

QUESTION: Just curious, with hurricane season knocking on the door, what are employers’ responsibilities to employees regarding payroll during an evacuation?

ANSWER: Great question, as there is never a more dire need for resources than when you have to evacuate – not just the standard expenses of gas, lodging and food, but the unexpected expenses such as trying to board a pet!

If what the viewer is asking is whether or not they are entitled to possibly draw an early, pre-evacuation paycheck, the law does not require the employer, even during a disaster declaration, to change the normal pay period and procedures. Conversely, an employer is not freed from the obligation to pay employees during a disaster, and in fact, one of the very rare instances in Louisiana law where one can recover attorneys’ fees is if someone is forced to sue for their paycheck. However, to avoid such a situation, an employer could probably send your check to your last known address, which is likely the one you evacuated from! Still, with the changes in technology allowing electronic communication at all times and from different areas, logically it makes sense for employers to coordinate their employees’ getting paid, but they are not legally obligated to change anything.

QUESTION: Can you write a will at home that will be legal? Can you type it, or does it have to be handwritten?

ANSWER: You certainly can write a will at home that is valid (a preferred term over “legal," as the term legal implies there is also such a thing as an “illegal will”).

There are two types of wills, called “testaments” in the Civil Code: olographic and notarial. Notarial is the most common, and whose requirements can be found in Civil Code articles 1577-1580. For example, the code requires that a notarial will be signed at the end of each page and at the end, and the signature must be witnessed by a notary and two witnesses. Olographic refers to a handwritten will. Both the definition and the requirements of an olographic will can be found in Civil Code Article 1575:

“An olographic testament is one entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the testator. Although the date may appear anywhere in the testament, the testator must sign the testament at the end of the testament. If anything is written by the testator after his signature, the testament shall not be invalid and such writing may be considered by the court, in its discretion, as part of the testament. The olographic will is subject to no other requirement as to form. The date is sufficiently indicated if the day, month, and year are reasonably ascertainable from information in the testament, as clarified by extrinsic evidence if necessary.”

To answer the viewer’s question specifically, if the will is to be handwritten, there is no requirement to have the signature witnessed by a notary and two witnesses, nor is the testator required to sign each page. If the testator decides to type the will at home, all the requirements of a notarial will come into play.

QUESTION: If I spray Round-Up on my property and it kills a bush of my neighbors, am I liable?

ANSWER: Maybe, so some precautions:

As a viewer in a similar situation wrote in a few weeks ago, the principle of Civil Code Article 688 are relevant:

“A landowner has the right to demand that the branches or roots of a neighbor’s trees, bushes, or plants, that extend over or into his property be trimmed at the expense of the neighbor.”

The article may not be relevant to the situation the viewer describes as the article refers to “branches or roots” wherein the viewer in this case is dealing with the neighbor’s “plants."

Here’s the rub – the law allows the neighbors’ plants to “trimmed at the expense of the neighbor;” the viewer asks is he/she can spray weed killer.

The problem is spraying – some sprays are airborne activated, and may drift and kill other than what it was intended for. Other sprays attack the roots of the plant in order to kill the plant. One is not allowed, under Louisiana law, to kill a neighbor’s plants because the branches or leaves are on your fence.

So if the viewer can safely destroy the plants overrunning the fence, they are probably within their rights.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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