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Latest Blog Posts

Women Leaders in Business: The Bottom Line

Posted on: June 13th, 2017
Do women have it tougher than men in the corporate world? Many signs point to yes, but a 2015 report released by New York analytics firm MSCI suggests companies with strong female leadership show greater returns on equity than those without. The report found companies with strong female leadership held a 2.7% return on equity advantage over those without a similar leadership profile (10.1% vs. 7.4% respectively). And businesses that lacked gender diversity in board positions faced more governance issues than the average. ...

Your Rights as the Parent of a Young Adult - What You Need to Know When a Medical Crisis Hits

Posted on: June 13th, 2017
As a parent, you are most likely quite accustomed to managing the legal and medical affairs of your children, as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care usually can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, and are now adults in the eyes of the law, and need of urgent medical attention far from home? The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult, and have the legal rights of an adult. What this means for you is that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child, unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents in place, accessing medical information, and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible. ...

Is Your Small Business Being Audited? Stay Calm and Read On

Posted on: April 17th, 2017
Audits can happen to any business. Small businesses are no exception. The IRS can conduct an audit on your business when your tax filing contains questionable deductions, your business is of particular interest to the IRS or by random selection. Contrary to popular belief, being audited doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. And for those who are prepared, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. If your small business is being audited, don’t panic. If you stay calm and seek expert help, you can get through your audit easily. The key to surviving your audit is all in your response. Audits vary in their complexity. The IRS conducts three types of small business audits, each of which call for a different course of action. Here’s what you need to know: ...

How Can I Plan for a Strategic Retirement?

Posted on: April 17th, 2017
Are you approaching retirement? Not sure how you can ensure a smooth transition from working life to retired life? Walking away from regular paychecks and employer-provided benefits can feel a little nerve wracking. Minimize the impact of these major life changes by planning accordingly. Time It Get your timing right. Review and understand your employer’s policies on 401(k) matching and profit sharing. Make sure you plan to retire at a time when you can reap all the vested benefits you have coming to you before they expire. Sit down with your company’s HR department to maximize your retirement benefits. Bridge the Insurance Gap If you are retiring before the age of 65, you could have a lapse in insurance coverage before you are eligible for Medicare. If your employer doesn’t offer retiree health insurance benefits (and most don’t), look into COBRA insurance to extend your current coverage or an individual insurance plan to carry you over until Medicare kicks in. Don’t forget about life insurance and long-term care insurance either. If you do not have an insurance advisor you trust, we can refer you to someone, and we can also provide an objective backstop review on any insurance you do have in place to make sure it’s the right amounts and right types for you. ...

Is Your Family “Too Young” to Need an Estate Plan?

Posted on: March 24th, 2017
Young families face different estate planning needs and challenges than those who have had a long life behind them. While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established! But here’s the thing … if you have children, or anyone else you care about, you may not have an “estate”, but you do need estate planning, if you want to ensure your loved ones wouldn’t be stuck in Court and/or conflict, if anything happens to you. Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:...

How to Incorporate Family Values in Your Estate Planning

Posted on: January 13th, 2017
Baby boomers know money isn’t the only important aspect of estate planning. A 2012 study released by the Allianz Life Insurance, Co. showed baby boomers wanted to leave their family more than just financial assets. Researchers found baby boomers identified family values as some of the most important things to pass down to heirs....

Hiring? Great! Here's How to Get Started with Your First Employee

Posted on: January 13th, 2017
Up until now, you alone have been running your small business. Now you need help. The moment when a small business owner decides to hire his or her first employee is one of triumph. Conversely, knowing how to start the hiring process can be a moment of confusion....

Millennials and the Family Business: When New Values Meet Old

Posted on: December 23rd, 2016
Millennials are taking their places at office desks around the nation. This burgeoning generation is just starting out, which means changes for family businesses with millennial family members who stand to inherit the family business. Of course, this scenario raises certain concerns for baby-boomer business owners as they look to the next generation of workers....

The Value of Love and Family

Posted on: December 23rd, 2016
As we approach the holidays and the end of 2016, many of us may find that the occasion offers a valuable time for reflection; reflection on our pasts, our futures, and all the things that really matter....

How to Continue Your Family Values for Generations

Posted on: November 25th, 2016
Most of us want to make a mark in the world. That’s a big part of what gives our lives meaning. And whether or not we have children, our history and stories can be a unique and irreplaceable gift to our families. With just a little effort, we can preserve our family values for generations to come. It can be difficult to pass on our traditions and our values, however, especially when we feel no one is listening. Too often, by the time younger generations care about life lessons and stories, the older generations are gone or their memories have faded....

Can Facing Your Death Actually Increase Happiness During Life?

Posted on: October 31st, 2016
Bhutan is an independent state in Southeast Asia, bordered by China to the north and India to the south. Nestled in the Himalayas, Bhutan is the last remaining Buddhist state in the world. But one of the most unique aspects of Bhutanese government is the country’s use of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index to measure the society’s level of happiness. The country reports 91.2% of Bhutanese are narrowly, extensively, or deeply happy. What could be causing all this happiness in Bhutan? Culturally, the Bhutanese are “expected to think about death five times a day.” Some people feel that reflecting on death causes greater focus and increased appreciation for life. ...

What Is Elder Abuse and How Can You Keep Yourself (or Your Parents) Safe?

Posted on: October 31st, 2016
One day, you will be an elderly person, you hope. Maybe you are already there. Or, your parents are. And, unfortunately, as more of us age, there is more and more cases of elder abuse, and in order to stop it, we must first spot it and understand the totality of the problem. Physical abuse is obvious. Signs of physical abuse include bruises, broken bones, and scrapes, often resulting from sexual abuse, hitting, pushing, and restraining. Physical abuse also includes dispensing medicine that affects a person’s ability or desire to function properly. For example, administering additional pain or sleeping medication may lead an elder to be bedridden when they would otherwise be active and mobile. ...

Do We Really Have to Write It Down? Which Contracts Must Be in Writing Explained

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016
Have you ever wondered which types of contracts must be in writing to make sure you get the benefit of your bargain? All of the U.S. states have some form of what is known as the “Statute of Frauds.” Under this law, or laws, some contracts must be in writing to be enforceable....

Name Legal Guardians for Your Kids

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016
One of the hardest things to do as a human being is to acknowledge our mortality. Some people even seem to think that if they ignore their eventual death, it will not happen. This is risky behavior for anyone, but particularly for those who are parents of young children. If parents are the victims of an untimely death or disabling accident, and have not already taken appropriate action, a court will step in and decide who will take care of their children....

Overcoming Small Business Challenges through Operational Strategies

Posted on: August 19th, 2016
As with so many things in life, some of the same qualities that help small businesses succeed, can also lead to their demise. Fortunately, much of that risk can be lessened through operational excellence. For example, the owners and managers of small businesses often know each other before they go into business together. Sometimes, they’re even related. Preexisting relationships can help propel small businesses forward, especially when there are high levels of trust and competence. ...

Even Celebrities Like Queen Latifah Act as Caregivers for Their Aging Parents

Posted on: August 19th, 2016
We may not think about it often, but even celebrities take care of their aging parents. Actress, singer, and songwriter Queen Latifah plays an active role in caring for her mother, Rita Owens, who was diagnosed with heart failure more than 10 years ago. Owens learned of her condition when she passed out at work one day. She moved from New Jersey to California to recover and be close to her daughter. There, Queen Latifah cared for her mom and acted as a coordinator for a network of healthcare providers, family, and friends. After her recovery, Owens was able to return to her home in New Jersey. Now, the two are working with the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart failure. Queen Latifah’s story is far from unique, and can help you remember that if you are a caregiver of an elderly or sick parent, you are not alone. And there are resources available to support you. ...

Personal Growth as the Path to Support Financial Growth of Your Business

Posted on: July 29th, 2016
Many businesses can be started with a small financial investment. Online consignment, pet-sitting, and rideshare driver are just a few. But to grow your business, you need not just capital but internal insight. You need to understand just what makes you tick, otherwise the business will either quickly take over your life or it is likely to fail, sending you back to work for someone else. Owning a business will bring up all of your personal issues. Whether you are a workaholic, over caretaker, or control freak, your personal issues will invariably surface and block you as you grow your business. This is nothing to shy away from, but instead an opportunity! Your job is to see the issues, take 100% responsibility for them, and learn, grow and evolve as a result. And, even though you may not think of a lawyer as being able to help with these issues, we can. ...

Work-Life Balance: A Personal Perspective

Posted on: July 29th, 2016
Pick up the latest copy of just about any business magazine, and you’re likely to find at least one article on work-life balance. Employers all over the country are talking about how to retain employees, particularly millennials, by enhancing work-life balance. But the conversation really can’t stop or start with employers. It must start with you. For the next two weeks, use a tracking calendar to track all of your waking time. It’s easy to do this using a google calendar that you set up specifically for identifying what you spend each hour of your day doing. Then, at the end of the week, identify how much time you spent on self care, how much time you spent on family, and how much time you spent working. You’ll quickly be able to see where you might be out of balance. ...

The Benefits of a Business Succession Plan

Posted on: July 8th, 2016
When most people think about planning for death, they envision personal estate planning. But even if you are already proactive in that area, you may not be finished if you own a business. Succession planning for business owners is at least as important as personal estate planning, maybe even more so because you have a whole other family to consider - your team and your clients. Plus, the success of your business in the event of your death may be an integral part of the well-being of your family, after you are gone, or if you are no longer able to work. ...

Kelly Clarkson Starts Blended Family: What She Needs to Consider

Posted on: July 8th, 2016
Starting a new family is always exciting and even a tad scary. This natural apprehension can be enhanced when a couple creates a blended family. Bringing children from different parents together presents challenges - and those challenges are multiplied when the couple have new children of their own....

Your Family Business Legacy Matters Enough to Do These Three Things

Posted on: June 17th, 2016
Your family-owned and run business can be the greatest gift or the greatest burden to the people you love, if and when something happens to you. If you’ve planned well and properly for your business to be continued, managed or sold, it will be the gift that keeps on giving and shows your family just how much you cared about them. If you have not planned well and properly, it will be the gift that keeps on taking and creates an energy, time, and resource drain that costs your loved ones years of headache and leaves them with a nightmare of a mess to clean up. ...

Talking with Your Family About Your Estate Plan

Posted on: June 17th, 2016
Is it time to have “the talk” with your kids? We’re not talking about a “birds and bees” talk but one that is equally important, perhaps more so. Everyone has concerns about what will happen when they die. Some people worry about their homes, cars, or money. Others worry about their children. Rare, however, is the person who actually wants to talk about these things with their families. Opening these conversations with your family will be difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as it would be on your family in the absence of advance planning. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before the conversation - and during the conversation - to help it go more smoothly. ...

When Is the Purchase of Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016
Elder Care is emerging as a significant issue for many people as life spans continue to increase. It is nice to know that because of health care advances, we can expect to live longer, but there are no included guarantees on the quality of life in the later years. Many people eventually face a period in life when they can no longer do for themselves. Daily living tasks such as walking, bathing, cooking, and managing household affairs are beyond their physical and perhaps even mental capabilities. Frequently, that period has not been planned for by the person or family members. And sometimes, this period in life comes suddenly, such as when a debilitating fall takes place. One thing which people and their families should consider before this difficult period is the purchase of long-term care insurance. This type of insurance provides coverage for the expense of daily living assistance. It can cover in-home assistance as well as assisted living or nursing home costs. Most people, however, buy it to cover in-home living expenses so as to avoid a nursing home. ...

Family Business Options When Dealing with Divorce

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016
If you co-own a family business with your spouse and you are facing divorce, a likely concern is how your business will be handled through the separation proceedings. The good news is, it’s really all up to you. And, so much of it depends on the legal counsel you have representing you. Much of how this situation is handled depends on your desires and your ability to work together, so make sure you find a lawyer who is committed to supporting both of you to get what you want, rather than who is focused on a win/lose paradigm that will simply end up costing everyone more and only making your legal team rich....

Partnerships and LLCs, Take Heed of New Tax Law

Posted on: April 29th, 2016
Beginning with tax year 2018, all partnerships and limited liability companies (LLCs) taxed as partnerships will be affected by a new federal tax audit law. In 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act repealed the earlier audit system, known as TEFRA, and replaced it with entirely new taxation audit provisions. It is important for those affected by this change to address certain issues under the new system by taking affirmative action now. Who Will the Law Affect? The new law will affect many small business owners, particularly those who are in a partnership or are members in an LLC that is taxed as a partnership. What Will the Law Require? Several provisions are similar to the old law, but there are at least two major differences which will impact many small businesses. ...

Recent Superstar Death Brings Estate Planning to the Forefront of Discussion

Posted on: April 29th, 2016
The untimely death of superstar Prince has brought a surprising issue to American living rooms: estate planning. If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his sizeable estate. It is also likely that taxing entities will take a bigger bite out of his estate - costing his family millions, unnecessarily -- before anyone inherits anything. All of this could have been avoided and there’s an important lesson here for you and your family. Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He had one half-sister, Tyka Nelson. He also had six half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and had no living children. ...

Why Diversity?

Posted on: April 1st, 2016
Most of us have been exposed over the years to discussions in the media around the issue of diversity. The concept is applied to most of the structures of our society -- schools, employers, governmental bodies, and so on. For businesses, the interest in diversity stems largely from legal mandates such as the federal Civil Rights Act. But there is another way to look at the issue. The common axiom "two heads are better than one" speaks to the notion that one person, thinking alone, will likely reach a conclusion that is lacking. If you introduce another person into the thought process, the reasoning goes, they will help prompt and facilitate a broader discussion, bringing in different aspects of the issue, and ideally, a more accurate or useful conclusion will be reached. ...

Pay Off My Mortgage Now or Save More Money?

Posted on: April 1st, 2016
To many people, living debt-free is a lifelong dream. It’s the picture of the easy life. Retired with no debt. . . You may be surprised to learn, however, that debt-free is not always the best decision - particularly if the choice is between paying off a mortgage or using the money more wisely to invest in a future using low-interest rate funds. What? I Shouldn’t Pay Off My House? Most of us don’t have that much extra cash lying around. We simply don’t have the luxury of being able to pay off our family home and maxing out our retirement contributions and investing in a side business. It’s pretty much an either-or proposition. ...

Benefits of a Home-Based Business

Posted on: February 26th, 2016
With the advanced connectivity options available through the internet and associated devices and applications, more and more people are earning a living by working from home. Many of us, however, may be so ingrained in the notion of being employed and reporting to work at a fixed location that we may not be able to envision the benefits of self-employment in a home based endeavor. Test Drive Your Business One of the best things about a home-based business, is that it allows you try out your business concept before investing in office space, employees, and other overhead. These traditional business expenses can put a new business in the red very quickly. ...

Legal Strategies to Avoid Guardianship

Posted on: February 26th, 2016
As senior citizens continue to age, the likelihood increases that they will become physically or mentally incapacitated. Hopefully, people in such a situation have family members who step in and help keep their affairs in order. That is not always the case, however. If no one steps in to help, courts may be petitioned to appoint someone–a guardian–to look after that person’s very existence. This often happens when a person becomes incapacitated by illness and cannot make decisions. What Can I Do? For medical situations, a medical power of attorney - a document that identifies a person of your choosing (your agent) to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity - should be executed. Your agent can be family member or friend. The key is to make sure it is someone you trust. ...

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Communications With Your Lawyer

Posted on: February 1st, 2016
When you engage the services of a lawyer, an important thing to keep in mind is confidentiality. If you are a business owner in need of advice or representation, confidentiality of your business information can be critical. To understand the confidentiality present in your relationship with a lawyer, you need to understand the three distinct forms confidentiality takes within the context of that relationship. ...

Holiday Bonus + Tax Refund Spending: Where to Put it For Max Return

Posted on: February 1st, 2016
Did you get a holiday bonus from your employer? Or maybe you have a tax refund coming. If so, do you have any of it left, have you already got it spent in your mind, or are you thoughtfully considering how you can best utilize this surprise resource? Annual bonus payments and tax refunds are nice windfalls, which can be used to create more stability in your life. While it is fun to treat such income as “mad money” to be spent on frivolous endeavors, it may be more effective to use it to create more for your long run. ...

How Can I Avoid Business Identity Theft?

Posted on: January 19th, 2016
It seems like major retailers report breaches of their customer’s private data almost weekly. But businesses themselves are also subject to identity theft, and unfortunately, they are more apt to not discover the theft until much later in the game, after significant damage has been done. Businesses identities can be stolen in various ways. Often, bank account information is accessed through cyber attacks, and then purchases are made or money withdrawn. Sometimes, thieves will make such a big splash that the theft is immediately noticed, but many thieves are more gradual, and purchases or withdrawals are made over a period of time, often going unnoticed...

Planning for Charitable Giving

Posted on: January 19th, 2016
January 1 wipes the slate clean for your tax deductible charitable contributions. That might be a good time to reassess your approach to donating to charities. Most of us respond to some of the appeals which come through various avenues such as unsolicited phone calls, campaigns at work, or church related charities. Whatever the source of the appeal may be, however, most people are inconsistent givers and fret when finding a way to say no....

Is There an Income Tax Time Bomb Lurking in Your Estate Plan?

Posted on: December 22nd, 2015
As the federal estate tax exemption has ballooned from $1.5 million ten years ago to $5.43 million today, the need for estate tax planning has drastically decreased. Instead, higher income tax rates that were ushered in under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) have shifted the focus of estate planning to a new frontier: income tax basis planning. The Basics of Income Tax Basis In its simplest form, income tax basis is the cost to buy an asset. Basis must be tracked because when an asset is sold, income tax liability in the form of capital gains is calculated by subtracting the basis from the sales price. Basis plays an important role in estate planning in two ways: ...

How to Make Your Inheritance Last

Posted on: December 22nd, 2015
A 2012 study by Ohio State researcher Jay Zagorsky found that about one-third of Americans who receive an inheritance have negative savings within two years of getting their money, and of those who receive $100,000 or more, nearly one in five spend, donate or simply lose it all. If you are about to receive an inheritance, there are several steps you can take to insure your funds will last longer than a few years....

Tis the Season to be Gifting: How to Do It Right

Posted on: December 8th, 2015
Not many people would view the IRS as a charitable organization, but you might if you plan your gifting appropriately - i.e., in a way that will benefit you on your income and gift taxes. Here are guidelines when gifting to charity or your own family members this season: Charitable Donation Rules Household items. These must be in good condition or better in order to qualify for a deduction, unless you are donating an item with a value of over $500 and have a qualified appraisal. If the value of your donated household items exceeds $250, you must have a written receipt from the charity that describes the items. If the total of your non-cash contributions exceeds $500, you will need to complete a Form 8283 and attach it to your tax return. ...

How to Have an Office Holiday Party with No Legal Hangovers

Posted on: December 8th, 2015
Holiday parties that had fallen victim to the economic recession are now back at many offices across the country, and are a wonderful way to show your appreciation for your employees and their hard work during the year. However, business owners are also wary of hosting parties that could leave them with a legal hangover. Here are some tips for minimizing your risk while maximizing the enjoyment of a holiday office celebration: ...

Succession Planning for the Family Business

Posted on: November 20th, 2015
We know that building a thriving family business takes a lot of hard work, and to ensure the business continues to thrive, it takes foresight and planning. When business owners are preparing to transition the business to the next generation of leadership, it is critical to have a well-considered succession plan to guide them. To ensure a successful transition, there are three critical areas to focus on: ...

Plan Now for an Early Gift-Giving Season

Posted on: November 20th, 2015
While traditionally the holiday season is the time for giving thanks and exchanging gifts, you should consider making gifts sooner rather than later to avoid the year-end rush. Below are some gifting ideas you can use now to benefit your family, friends, church, alma mater or those in need...

How to Save Big Money on Your Taxes This Year

Posted on: November 6th, 2015
It can be shocking to realize that our biggest personal and business expense, bar none, is taxes. The good news is that just a little time and effort focused on strategically reducing your taxes can pay big dividends. The first thing to know about taxes is that it is not illegal to strategize to save money on your taxes. Many people are held back from using creative tax strategies because they have a fear that it’s dangerous or risky. It’s not, as long as you are smart about it. It is illegal to evade taxes. As Martin Ginsburg (my tax professor in law school and also husband of Ruth Bader Ginsburg) often reminded us “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered....

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Posted on: November 6th, 2015
Most people know they need a will. And many of them fully intend on writing a will … someday. But life is busy and the will keeps getting put off. Eventually, someday becomes never.. In fact, nearly half of American adults will die without a will in place. So what happens if you die without one? The Legislature Writes Your Will Your state’s legislature has passed laws that dictate who will get the property of someone who dies without a valid will. These are called the laws of “intestate succession.” (“Testament” is simply another name for a will. If you die without a will, you are said to have died “intestate”—that is, without a testament.) ...

5 Steps to Protect Your Business From a Divorce

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015
With the U.S. divorce rate at around 50% for first marriages and even higher for second marriages, a divorce’s impact on the fate of your business should be cause for concern. The best thing that business owners can do is take preventive measures to ensure their companies will not suffer from a divorce – either your own or a business partner’s marriage breakdown. Here are 5 preventive strategies:...

Could an Amber alert save your child?

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015
As a parent, your number one job is to keep your children safe, and that’s not always easy. In our imperfect world there is no shortage of potential dangers to innocent children. One of a parent’s worst nightmares is the thought of the abduction of a child. We hear stories of abductions by one side in a custody battle, or even more chilling, by a complete stranger intent on hurting the child. Occasionally a child may even become an inadvertent victim of abduction when a vehicle is stolen with the child strapped inside. If your child ever goes missing, your family may benefit from the AMBER Alert system. ...

Choose the Right Business Entity

Posted on: October 9th, 2015
One of the first decisions an entrepreneur should be making is the selection of the right form of business entity. This is a critical decision because of its ongoing legal and tax consequences. Liability protection is the most important non-tax consideration in the business entity selection process. The business owner has to have a shield or umbrella of liability covering his or her business activities in order to protect their personal assets from liability exposure. There should be no debate over whether or not to create a liability-shielded entity in which to operate the business or to go “bare” and operate as a proprietorship or a general partnership. If you intend to build a successful business, then you should either incorporate or set up a limited liability company (LLC). ...

Digital Life After Death

Posted on: October 9th, 2015
Have you ever thought about what happens to your social media accounts after you die? According to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Internet users maintain a social media presence using websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. The far majority of those use Facebook. Who Owns Your Online Accounts? Many people assume that the online accounts they use are "their" accounts and that they have the right to decide what happens with those accounts after they die. That is simply not true. While a few states have adopted laws to give family some ability to obtain or access online accounts, access is usually a matter of contract. When you sign up for a social media, email, or banking account, you agree to the company's terms of service. Those terms of service typically dictate what happens to your account after you die. The good news is that many social media providers are beginning to recognize that consumers should have a say in whether their accounts die with them. ...

Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act Decision and Small Businesses

Posted on: September 25th, 2015
The United States Supreme Court's recent decision in King v. Burwell clears up a final lingering question surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Issued June 25, 2015, the decision upheld the tax credits that are intended to make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans. The credits are available to those whose employers do not provide insurance and who do not qualify for a government program such as Social Security. People in that situation are expected to purchase insurance through a state or federal insurance exchange. ...

Why Not Every Child Should be Equal When It Comes to Your Estate Plan

Posted on: September 25th, 2015
It is natural for parents to want to treat their children equally when it comes to inheritances. However, equal treatment is not always the best course of action when it comes to estate planning and gifts. Here are some situations that call for unequal treatment:...

5 Situations Where You Definitely Need A Business Lawyer

Posted on: September 10th, 2015
Every business owner at one time or another needs legal advice. While it may be tempting to turn to the Internet for your legal needs, there are three important instances when you will want to consult with a real live Business Lawyer: 1. Entity Formation 2. Intellectual Property Protection 3. Creation of Legal Agreements 4. Structure of Employee/Independent Contractor Relationships 5. Partnership Navigation...

What You Must Pay Attention to At Your Next Home Sale Closing

Posted on: September 10th, 2015
A home sale closing is the end of the process of buying a home. It is the point at which the seller gets paid and the buyer receives title to the property. In addition to the seller and buyer, the parties present at a closing are usually the following: ● the closing agent; ● a representative of the title company; ● a representative of the lender; ● the buyer's and seller's respective real estate agents; and ● a notary public. At the closing, the buyer will deliver the funds to the seller through a combination of a down payment previously made, loan proceeds, and funds at closing. ...

Alternatives to Trial: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Posted on: August 27th, 2015
If you are involved in a lawsuit, the thought of going to trial may be intimidating. Many people have never been in a courtroom, so they envision a large, formal room with wooden trim, an overbearing judge in a long, black robe, and a jury that appears condemning. Most lawsuits, however, never go to trial. Instead, they are settled through “alternative dispute resolution,” known as ADR, for short. ADR just means that different methods are used to resolve legal disputes, rather than a traditional trial. The most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration....

Legacy Planning: Leaving More To Your Loved Ones Than Money That Will Be Lost Quickly

Posted on: August 27th, 2015
The assets you leave to your loved ones can either be a source of relief or, sometimes, a source of panic if they don’t know how to manage those assets. Unless properly prepared, your loved ones may not know how to deal with sudden wealth -- even just fifty thousand dollars can either be squandered quickly or built into a true legacy of love. Your loved one’s may lack trusted advisors to help them, and they may not always share your values or your vision on how to put the money to good use or ensure it lasts for future generations. Unfortunately, there are many stories of heirs who have spent their inheritances unwisely, or who have neglected to consult with knowledgeable attorneys or financial planners on the best ways to minimize taxes while maximizing the opportunity to grow that inheritance. I’m sure you can even think of a friend or family member who squandered what they were left quickly. ...

Ridesharing: Who Cares Whether Drivers Are Employees or Independent Contractors?

Posted on: August 13th, 2015
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been front and center in recent media stories and court decisions. All across the country, drivers have brought lawsuits arguing that they are employees of these companies, rather than independent contractors. If you own a business and think these stories have no relevance to you, think again. What Are the Potential Consequences for Businesses? All business owners who pay others for services should understand the difference between employees and independent contractors. That’s because a business that employs workers is required by law to do the following things: ● Pay minimum wage and overtime; ● Withhold federal and state taxes; and ● Provide certain benefits such as mandatory meal and break periods....

5 Ways to Keep Your Family Out of Court After You Die

Posted on: August 13th, 2015
You have likely heard over and over that there are many advantages to creating a comprehensive estate plan. One of the most important benefits for many individuals is that it allows you to help prevent disputes among your loved ones after you are gone. Below are a few steps to follow when establishing your estate plan to help prevent litigation over your estate:...

Asset Protection for the Small Business Owner

Posted on: July 30th, 2015
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, small businesses create almost two of every three jobs in the U.S. every year, and half of working Americans are either owners or employees of a small business. As a small business owner, you are subject to the same laws and regulation as a large corporation, so it helps to have a Business Lawyer by your side as you begin your venture to provide experienced legal advice on: ...

Consider Your Estate Plan Before Your Summer Travel

Posted on: July 30th, 2015
It’s summer, when travel is the busiest and careful planning is necessary to nab the best airfare or book that awesome beach cottage before it slips away. One thing that is probably not on your travel to-do list is estate planning, but it should be so you can travel with peace of mind. Here are some tips to pack away your worries before you board that flight:...

Could Your Email Form a Binding Contract?

Posted on: July 16th, 2015
The Internet has changed the way businesses negotiate, review and revise their contracts. Sending emails back and forth can make the process faster and more convenient, but you should be aware that it can also lead to inadvertent liability. The use of electronic evidence or digital data has drastically increased in courtrooms across the country. Thus, before you click “send” on that email, stop and consider the legal consequences. Your email correspondence could be used as proof (or to disprove) the existence of a contract. According to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999, electronic records can form a legally binding contract. The necessary elements of contract formation must be present for the agreement to be binding. This means there must be an offer, acceptance and an exchange of consideration between the parties. However, if the electronic evidence is sufficient to prove that these basic elements have been met, your email exchange could be used to prove that the parties intended to form a contract and to be bound by it. ...

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Posted on: July 16th, 2015
The term “blended family” has become commonplace in our society and refers to a family where one or both spouses were previously married and have children from the prior marriage. In some instances, the new couple goes on to have children of their own. With children, stepchildren and ex-spouses involved, estate planning can get quite complex. When you are trying to take all the different interests involved with your blended family into account, you need help to ensure you provide for everyone adequately. And to ensure you avoid conflict after your death or incapacity, as that’s quite common in blended family situations. ...

Why Every LLC Needs an Operating Agreement

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015
Many business owners make the choice to operate as a limited liability company (LLC) for the personal liability protection this business entity provides. Beyond that, they may not give much thought to creating an LLC operating agreement since most states have LLC laws with default provisions that dictate how the LLC will be managed. However, your state’s default provisions may not be the right fit for how you want your company to operate. For example, many states provide that the voting power or profit of allocations of each LLC member should be in proportion to their investment in the company. This may not necessarily work for you, especially if you want to recognize the “sweat equity” contribution of a member as equal to another member’s financial contribution. According to most states, the operating agreement can have specific language to limit the personal liabilities of managers & to protect the LLC from creditors of members....

Protecting Your Child With a Special Needs Trust

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015
When you have a family member with special needs, it is important to understand that your estate planning strategy is unique and requires the assistance of an attorney experienced in creating Special Needs Trusts. If an inheritance is left directly to your family member with special needs, it could result in the loss of essential government benefits that assist with the cost of his or her care. A Special Needs Trust permits an individual with special needs to receive certain resources beyond what is supplied by the government without making him or her ineligible to receive the government benefits. A Special Needs Trust can be created while you are living or, you can create a will or a revocable living trust that establishes a Special Needs Trust at your death and transfers funds into the trust when you die. ...

These 3 Legal Risks can Bust Your Business

Posted on: June 18th, 2015
While there is no such thing as a business with no risk, most savvy business owners look for ways to mitigate risk as much as possible. Being aware of these three legal risks will create an understanding for the future of your business. ...

What Every Single Parent Needs To Know About Estate Planning

Posted on: June 18th, 2015
If you are a single parent, life for you right now probably couldn’t get any busier. You are likely being pulled between work, school activities, sports teams and the inevitable emergencies that fill the lives of single parents everywhere. Being a single parent is a huge responsibility. You may have taken it on willingly or not but your children’s lives are now largely in your hands. So what would happen to them if something happened to you? Who would take care of them? Who would pay for their housing and food? Who would pay for their education? These are questions you need to get answered, and the best way to do that is through estate planning. ...

7 Asset Protection Strategies for Business Owners

Posted on: June 4th, 2015
One of the biggest risks small business owners take is not properly protecting their personal assets from business liabilities or judgments. In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, Mark Kohler, author of The Tax & Legal Playbook, offered these 8 asset protection strategies for business owners:...

The Conversation You Must Have About Healthcare

Posted on: June 4th, 2015
The Conversation You Must Have With Your Kids and Your Parents Every single adult needs to have an advance health care directive written, signed and in place. This includes your children, as soon as they turn 18. Without an advance health care directive in place, you would not be able to access your child’s medical records, if they are unable to communicate permission. This includes you and your parents as well! Without an advance health care directive in place, you would not be able to ensure your health care decisions will be made the way you choose. And your parents lose the ability to communicate their wishes and remain in control as long as possible. Here is what you can do to have the conversation you need to have about advance healthcare planning:...

6 Legal Snares That Can Sink Your Business

Posted on: May 21st, 2015
Entrepreneurs often make up in enthusiasm what they lack in business experience, but passion alone is not enough to ensure the success of a business. If you’re starting a new business, you need to watch for the following six legal snares that could potentially sink your business:...

What You Can Learn From the Estate Planning Mistakes of Others

Posted on: May 21st, 2015
There is much to be learned from the mistakes of others and the celebrity world abounds with cautionary tales when it comes to estate planning. Even with all the financial resources available to them, celebrities can neglect the basics when it comes to protecting assets. ...

Legal Considerations for Launching a Home-Based Business

Posted on: May 7th, 2015
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of small business startups in the last 10 years have been home-based. Whether you are contemplating setting up shop at home as a consultant, a baker or a handy man, there are certain legalities that need to be considered to ensure you have protected yourself properly. ...

How to Fund Your Trust to Avoid Probate

Posted on: May 7th, 2015
A common estate planning mistake many people make – including celebrities like Michael Jackson – is not ensuring the trust you have created holds all your assets. Unfortunately, most lawyers simply do not make sure this is properly handled for their clients, so if you’ve worked with any law office other than ours, you need to double check this critical issue. If you do not transfer your assets into your trust, it is an empty shell and does nothing to accomplish the objectives you had in mind when you established it....

What Will Happen to Your Family Business When You Die?

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015
Maybe you have dreamed of leaving the business you have built to your heirs, but if you do not have a buy-sell agreement, a business succession plan, a business transition plan or a business preservation plan in place, that dream may not be realized. Any number of factors can work against your dreams if you have not planned ahead. The IRS could value your closely held business for more than it can be sold for, and your family will not be able to pay the taxes. If it is a partnership, the other partners may not be able to pay someone to replace you, or have the cash flow to buy your share of ownership from your heirs. That’s why it pays to plan for the unexpected....

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Name Beneficiaries

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015
Once you have chosen the people you want to receive any of your assets -- either from a will, a trust, a life insurance policy or a retirement or bank account -- the way you designate how they will inherit should be a key consideration. Here are five things you need to know before you name your beneficiaries:...

How to Divorce-Proof Your Business

Posted on: April 9th, 2015
Whether it is due to the high unemployment rates that hit several years ago or the entrepreneurial itch Baby Boomers are now scratching their entrepreneurial itch instead of retiring, many married people have started their own businesses. And these businesses could be put in jeopardy if the owners divorce. If you own a business, it is probably your largest single financial asset. If you divorce, your ex may be entitled to half of your business. If you started the business during the marriage, it could be considered marital property that is fair game in a divorce. ...

The Importance of Providing for Incapacity in Your Estate Plan

Posted on: April 9th, 2015
Avoiding the need for a conservatorship – the process whereby someone is appointed by a court to assume responsibility for the property or the personal welfare of an adult – and keeping your family out of Court can be accomplished by making plans for incapacity in your estate plan....

Unintended Consequences from the Case of the Missing Will

Posted on: March 26th, 2015
Even the best intentions can have unintended consequences when it comes to estate planning. A case now winding its way through the New York appellate court system provides a cautionary tale when it comes to the safekeeping of your estate planning documents. ...

4 Reasons Why DIY Legal Documents Won’t Work for Your Business

Posted on: March 26th, 2015
It’s pretty amazing to think of all the things we do online today that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But just because you can do something online doesn’t necessarily mean you should. And that certainly applies to fulfilling your company’s legal needs....

7 Items That Should Be Included in Every Contract or Letter of Agreement

Posted on: March 12th, 2015
Whether you are creating a written contract or letter of agreement to formalize a business deal, there are certain items that must be included in order to minimize risk in case of litigation as well as clarify the terms of the business relationship....

The Basic Estate Planning Task EVERY Adult Needs to Review Today

Posted on: March 12th, 2015
With the federal estate tax exemption at $5.43 million for 2015, many people think estate planning is unnecessary. But there’s one thing ALL adults over the age of 18 need to look at, regardless of estate taxes: beneficiary designations. You would be amazed at how many people neglect this simple step, and their heirs and estate wind up paying for it – sometimes dearly. Ex-spouses inherit large sums every day, and high court rulings have upheld beneficiary designation forms, even if they were woefully out of date or even if the ex waived interest in a divorce decree. ...

Facebook's Connectivity Vision

Posted on: February 27th, 2015
​When Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook, he had a vision that the website would one day be used by a billion people worldwide. To many, this seemed like an unattainable dream. But in 2012, less than a decade after its founding, Facebook hit that one billion user mark. It continues to grow even now, and the recent purchases of platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp have expanded the company even futher. Now, Facebook has a bigger dream. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Business, Mark Zuckerberg discussed his newest venture, internet.org, and his vision of connecting the entire globe to valuable online resources. Most people would agree that the internet is an invaluable resource in the modern world. What many may not realize, however, is that only a third of people worldwide have regular, consistent access to the internet. Facebook is now working to change that....

Robin Williams’ Family Fight Over Personal Property Not So Funny

Posted on: February 27th, 2015
Robin Williams’ wife Susan has gone to court over personal items she says were taken from the couple’s Tiburon, California, home without her permission. Williams’ children say their father set up a trust that bequeathed the items to them and that his wife of three years is acting against his wishes. Could this have been avoided?...

10 Essential Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Business Entity

Posted on: February 12th, 2015
If you are starting a new company or have an unincorporated entity that has grown to the point where protection of your personal assets may be desired, the selection of the proper business entity can be critical to the future success of your business. There are 10 essential questions you need to ask as part of the decision-making process before making your selection....

Reasons to Establish a Trust (and Being Rich Isn’t One of Them)

Posted on: February 12th, 2015
When you hear the words, “trust fund,” do you conjure up images of stately mansions and party yachts? A trust fund - or trust - is actually a great estate planning tool for many people with a wide range of incomes who want to accomplish a specific purpose with their money....

No One "Feeling Good" About James Brown Estate Battle

Posted on: February 6th, 2015
James Brown was known for his signature song, “I Feel Good,” but no one is feeling good about the battle that is still being waged over his estate almost a decade after his death in 2006. The majority of Brown’s estate – estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars – was distributed via his will to the I Feel Good Trust to provide scholarships to underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. None of those estate proceeds have been distributed to date, due to ongoing litigation between Brown’s fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, his seven children and the trust....

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Posted on: September 18th, 2014
Many people believe that once they set up and fund a revocable living trust, property held in the trust will avoid estate taxes after they die. In reality, this may or may not be true depending on your choice of beneficiaries and the terms written into your trust agreement....

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Inherited IRAs are Not Protected from Creditors

Posted on: August 31st, 2014
On June 12, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court--in a unanimous decision--ruled that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) inherited by anyone other than a spouse are not retirement funds and therefore are not protected from the beneficiary's creditors in bankruptcy....