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Tuesday, November 1, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Office Football Pools Legal, If Done Properly

Q: Please settle a bet. My co-worker says our office football pools are illegal. I say they're OK. Who's right?

A: You are, but only if they're conducted properly.

For non-sport buffs, a football pool is a game utilizing a 10-square by 10-square grid, which allows participants to win a certain amount of money after each quarter of a football game.

For example, if the first quarter score of the next Seahawk game is 7-0, the person who picked that square would win 1/4 of the pool. All grid numbers are assigned on a random basis. There is no skill involved.

Washington law allows unlicensed sport pools if they meet the following conditions:

1. The outcome depends solely on the score or scores of the game;

2. The pool sheet has 100 squares, each of which are offered at $1 or less;

3. The contestants sign their name on each square they purchase; and

4. The proceeds are awarded only to participants with winning squares. Except for taxes (which I'm sure you've diligently reported), no money can go to anyone else.

Obviously, the pool must close before the start of the game. After the pool closes, a number from 0 to 9 is randomly assigned across the top, and down the side, of the grid. Only the last digit in each team's score is utilized when determining a winner.

A person or organization conducting a pool may conduct only one sports pool per event.

Q: My grandmother told my brother and me that she's going to set up a trust for us. I have no idea whether I should be pleased or upset. I don't even know what a trust is. Can you explain?

A: A trust is merely a device which manages money or property for others. There are several reasons for creating trusts, including avoiding taxes, or making sure that money is properly managed. A trust must have three entities to be valid: a trustor, a trustee and a beneficiary.

The trustor creates the trust, and provides the money or property which the trust holds. In this situation, your grandmother is the trustor.

The trustee is the manager of the trust property.

The beneficiaries are the individuals who benefit from the trust.

There are two broad types of trusts: living trusts and testamentary trusts.

Living trusts begin during the life of the trustor. Testamentary trusts are usually created as part of a will, and begin upon the trustor's death. There are many sub-categories of trusts, and this can be a complex area of the law.

My advice to anyone considering a trust is to choose an attorney experienced in estate planning, and to discuss in detail what you want the trust to accomplish.

Robert H. White serves as in-house counsel for a Seattle real estate/insurance firm. Address your general legal questions to: Robert H. White, c/o Real Life, Scene Section, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98101. He is unable to respond personally to reader questions.

Cut through computer confusion

Buying a computer can be one of the most confusing purchases. To cut through the computerese, check out the November issue of Consumer Reports magazine. It tells what to look for in hardware, where to buy and how much to pay - whether you're buying a new system or upgrading. The magazine also rates top-model IBM-compatibles and Macintosh computers. - Gannett News Service

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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