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November 3, 2017: Review, Reflection, and Giving Thanks
During the last few weeks of the year I like to spend some time reflecting on the year, giving thanks for people and opportunities, and making decisions on how to best serve my clients in the coming year.
As part of that process, I encourage you to take time for review and reflection as well. If you have estate planning documents - do you know where those documents are, and have you reviewed them in the last few years? With life changes such as marriages, divorce, moves, additional or growing children, and unfortunately the passing of loved ones, it is important to review your existing plan documents. This can be adding a codicil to a will, amending a revocable trust, revoking or changing a power of attorney, etc. It is also an opportune time to review your accounts and insurance policies not only to make sure you have the coverage and policies in place that you want but also that your beneficiaries are correctly identified.
If you haven’t created any of these documents yet, please consider checking that off your list.
Below is a sample list of items to review or consider.
- Know location of existing documents
- Review documents for changes
- Personal Representatives/Trustees/Power of Attorney
- Guardians for minor children
- Property changes
- Deed changes
- If you have a revocable Trust, have you correctly transferred property and assets into the name of the Trust?
- Accounts and Insurance Policies
- Review coverage and beneficiaries
If you have a business, have you met your business goals for the year, and what changes do you want to make? What would happen to your business if something happened to you? Have you reviewed your contracts with vendors and customers? Do you have employee policies in place? An ongoing relationship with an attorney can help you plan to meet your goals, make changes, review and update your documents or draft new ones, and plan for the future. Below is a sample list of items to review or consider.
- File annual paperwork for corporate structures
- Review or create corporate structure and keep records updated
- Revise or create contracts with vendors, customers, clients
- Revise or create employee handbooks and policies
- Review your insurance policies
- End of year bookkeeping and tax planning
Maybe you have a dream about starting a business or buying a business? An attorney can help you work through those steps even when you are in the planning phase. Some considerations are pros and cons to the distinct types of corporate entities, operating documents, and licenses that may be needed.
Planning Ahead for 2018
In 2018, I plan to expand my work with business owners and am able to offer affordable and flexible options for ongoing legal services. I take a proactive approach with my clients to solve problems, minimize risks, and find the best method to resolve disputes for clients. I also have a large network of other trusted professionals I can connect with clients to meet other needs, such as insurance, accountants, realtors, administrative support, and more.
I also plan to continue providing free speaking engagements on topics such as estate planning, business legal services, and mediation/alternative dispute resolution.
I am blessed with wonderful family, friends, and clients. Wherever you are in life, I would encourage you to take some time to review your plans and goals. I would love to help you in that process.
August 21, 2017
So you want to start a business?
In deciding to start a business, one of your first steps (other than choosing a name) should be deciding on the business structure. Options include corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, etc. Each one has different requirements and different pros and cons depending on the type of business and your particular situation, but the two main reasons to have a formalized business structure are to limit liability where possible and to minimize tax consequences for your business. If you simply start a business with no structure (commonly called a sole proprietorship) you are not taking advantage of all your options and are exposing yourself to greater risk. An attorney can discuss the various options with you and explain how each may impact your business.
Once you have made a decision and sent in the required paperwork and fees to the Secretary of State, there are still a number of items that you should discuss with an attorney.
First, you will need internal documents for your business, such as Bylaws for a corporation. If you have an LLC or a Partnership, I strongly recommend an Operating or a Partnership Agreement. Even if you are the only person in your business, it is good practice to have the appropriate documents completed not only for the legitimacy of your business but also in case anything happens to you so that others can carry on or wind up the business as you have designated.
On the financial side, once you have established a business structure with the state, you may want to use a Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) instead of your social security number for business purposes. It is also critical to keep your personal assets separate from your business assets, so you should establish a business bank account. Most banks will want to see your business formation documents as well, so that step should already be completed. Check with your bank about their requirements.
Next, consider whether your business requires licenses or permits. For example, if you sell taxable goods or services, you will need to be registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. If you have employees, you will need to be registered with both the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Depending on the type of business, there may be other permits or licenses needed as well, such as through the Department of Health.
Finally, consider areas where you may need outside assistance. Find a good insurance agent who understands commercial and professional insurance to help you determine the types of policies and level of coverage you need for your business. Hire an attorney to help you with the business formation and ongoing issues. Consider hiring a bookkeeper, accountant, and/or payroll service if you have employees.
As you can see, there are many steps to starting a business. Having a good business plan and professionals you can contact to guide you through the process can make it manageable and help you get your business up and running.
To schedule a consultation with me to discuss the specific needs of your business: 918-770-7810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you want to buy a business?
When you are buying an existing business, whether you are a first-time business owner or have been in business for years, it is critical that you devote the time and resources necessary to understand what you are buying, a process known as “due diligence.” This process typically occurs after you made an offer on a business but before you have purchased the business. During the due diligence process, the prospective buyer needs to request information on the business to evaluate the potential risks and liabilities before committing to the purchase. The information requested may vary somewhat based on the type of business, but in general the prospective buyer needs to receive financial documents to verify the financial shape of the business, including its profits and losses, assets, debts, contingent liabilities, and ongoing expenses. Utilizing a financial professional in this area is often a good idea and well worth the expense. It is also critical to evaluate the business from a legal perspective to understand the potential liabilities involved. An attorney can assist you with this process, which typically involves reviewing the business structure, corporate records, copies of contracts, licenses, permits, intellectual property rights, pending or threatened litigation, past judgments, any employee or personnel issues, and so on.
There is a lot of information to consider before committing to the purchase of a business, whether you are just buying the assets of the business or the entire business structure. If you need assistance with this process and would like to schedule a meeting with me, please contact email@example.com or 918-770-7810.