5 Essential Questions for Anyone Forming a New Business | Yee Law Group

If you’re starting up a new business, either by yourself or with a group of colleagues, it can be an exciting and intimidating process all at the same time. Starting a new business can give you opportunities to bring a new product into the market or develop a new service that your local customers will appreciate. Perhaps most importantly, it gives you the chance to participate in your local economy and community while supporting yourself financially.

If you feel apprehensive about forming a new business on your own, this is completely normal. One of the most important steps is to think about some fundamental aspects of your business before really getting started. While we encourage you to come speak to our legal team in person, here is a quick look at some basic questions you may want to address:

  1. What type of structure will your company have?

It’s important to determine the structure of your company for legal reasons. For example, if you own and operate the business by yourself, without any employees, you might be running a sole proprietorship. If a group of individuals choose to own and operate the company together, you may need to decide if you’re operating as an LLC (limited liability company), a corporation, a cooperative, or a partnership. The structure of your business will determine things like insurance regulations, taxes, and liability restrictions.

  1. What paperwork will you need to submit?

You’ll likely need to submit several legal documents in your local, state, or federal government offices. For small businesses that intend to hire employees, you’ll need to acquire an employer identification number (EIN) for tax purposes. If you have investors, you may need to fill out additional forms that inform these parties about the profits and losses of your business. Any business with multiple owners may also benefit from having written contracts among the owners, and any business providing an ongoing product or service to customers may want to draw up various contracts for these transactions.

  1. What types of liability issues could your business face, and how will you deal with them?

Depending on the type of business you have, you could be held liable for damages if a customer or employee is injured. If a customer is injured while using your product, or if an employee slips and falls in your office building, your business could be held legally responsible. Liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance may be options if your business faces a high risk of liability issues.

  1. If you’re starting up a business with a group of people, what will happen if/when a founder wants to leave?

There may come a time when a founder decides that he or she no longer wants to be a part of the company. Before this time comes, it’s a good idea to determine what relationship — if any — this individual will have with the business after leaving. Some businesses allow founders to own an equity stake in the business, while others redistribute or sell this individual’s stake upon their exit. Regardless of what you decide, it is beneficial to have the plan written out ahead of time to avoid needless drama or potential lawsuits.

  1. If the company needs to be dissolved, how will it happen?

Unfortunately, not all businesses are successful. If you decide to close your business, it’s essential to know how to dissolve your company the right way, as a business law or business litigation lawyer Memphis TN trusts can attest. Some businesses can simply stop offering their product/service, but others may need to formally notify their state that they are closing. This may be important for reasons related to taxes and any fees the business owes.

If you’re wondering how to start up your own business, these five questions are only the beginning. It’s perfectly okay — and perhaps advisable — if you want to speak with a Memphis TN business attorney about starting up your business before opening your doors. Even as your business continues to grow and evolve over time, it can be invaluable to have a concrete business plan to rely on when complicated situations arise.

Wiseman Bray AttorneysThanks to our friends and contributors from Wiseman Bray for their insight into business formation.

What Does Probate Mean? | Yee Law Group

The term “probate” is the process that establishes the validity of a will by the court system. When a person draws up a will, they name an executor of their estate. When the person dies, it is the executor who is in charge of overseeing the estate, including filing the will with the court. The executor is also in charge of verifying and paying any debts the decedent had and distributing all the assets per the instructions left in the will. It takes 12 months for an estate and will to be probated before assets can be dispersed.

All assets must be probated in order to be distributed per the will instructions. Assets must also be probated if the decedent left no will and there is no other form of ownership, such as a deed to a property which lists co-owners. If the asset is owned jointly with another party or parties, then it does not have to go through the probate system. Another instance where probate is not necessary is if the decedent had placed the assets in a living trust. Life insurance proceeds with specific beneficiaries also do not have to be probated.

Why Is the Probate Process Important?

Many people do not want to have their wills probated. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that people feel it violates their right to privacy. Probate cases are public record, so when a will is being probated, all of the decedent’s financial records can be viewed by anyone.

Another reason many people do not like the idea of probating an estate is the costs associated with it. In most cases, you need to hire an attorney. There is also a cost for the probate process itself. Those costs are approximately 5 percent of the total value of the estate. The more complex a case is, the longer it takes, and the higher the legal costs.

And finally, it is important to remember when you are formulating your estate plan that when an estate has to go through the probate process, none of your heirs and loved ones will be able to access any of the assets that you are leaving them. This can cause financial difficulties, especially if there are children involved.

How to Avoid Probate

There are steps you can take to avoid the probate process and a skilled estate planning attorney can help. Some of the options you may have include:

  • If you are leaving property to a loved one, place the property in joint ownership with that loved one. Once you pass, the full deed/title can then be transferred directly to them.
  • Make sure to name beneficiaries on all IRAs, retirement plans, and any other type of financial accounts. This will enable those beneficiaries to have access to those funds without going through the probate process.
  • Create a revocable living trust. All of your assets can be put into the trust, which you are entirely in charge of. When you pass, all of the assets will be distributed per your written wishes, just like they are in a will, except there is not probate process. You maintain complete control over the trust and change or cancel it at any time.

Estate planning, drafting wills, and avoiding the probate process are all complex legal issues that require a skilled attorney, like an experienced Peoria IL probate attorney, who is knowledgeable about all of the estate and tax laws which can affect your estate, as well as the financial obligations of your heirs.

Smith & Weer LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Smith & Weer, P.C. for their insight into probate law.

Why You Need to Update Your Estate Plan After Divorce | Yee Law Group

When your divorce is finalized, it is important to update your estate plan so that your will, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney and trust documents accurately reflect your new marital status. While some states and courts will use their discretion in invalidating references to ex-spouses listed in estate planning documents, the majority rule requires you to make updates. In addition to traditional estate planning updates, you should review your life insurance, bank accounts and any financial investments or assets that designate another person to whom the benefits would be payable upon death.

Meanwhile, with experienced divorce lawyers Collin County TX has come to trust, you can discuss a premarital agreement you would use if you were to remarry. When there are children of a previous relationship, a premarital agreement can ensure your children will still inherit your estate and not your new spouse.

The following estate planning documents should be updated:

  1. Your Will: The best course of action after a divorce is to have a new will prepared, which will revoke the prior will which named your former spouse. If you were to leave your old will in place and you pass away, your ex-spouse could claim their share of your estate as the will is written. If this happens and you have children, there is no guarantee they will receive anything under the will.
  1. Power of Attorney for Healthcare: Should you become temporarily or permanently disabled, or are simply under anesthetic for a surgical procedure, the person you have given power of attorney can make all healthcare decisions as you would do. Failing to update your healthcare power of attorney could put your ex-spouse in the position to make choices you might regret. Additionally, if your power of attorney for healthcare is someone with whom you are estranged, they might not even be available if the required conditions and need were to arise.
  1. Power of Attorney for Finances: After spending time and resources protecting your rightful share of money and property, allowing your former spouse to have access to your accounts, sign checks and enter into agreements in your name could be disastrous. While we do not presume that people will do the worst things to others, why leave the key out on the table when you can better protect yourself by updating your financial power of attorney and naming a new person to have control over your finances if you become disabled or unavailable.
  1. Revocable Trusts: If you have a revocable living trust, it is important to update the documents to prevent your ex-spouse from becoming a trustee or beneficiary. If, however, your trust is irrevocable, you will not be able to change the beneficiary designation from your former spouse to another. With trusts established for children, there should be no need to make any changes. Trusts are useful to shelter assets and monies held by a trustee bank or law firm with instructions as to how and when to pay your named beneficiaries, such as your children.
  1. Beneficiary Designations: Any financial policy you may hold will contain a beneficiary designation through which your name the person other than yourself who will be legally entitled to receive the asset value named in the policy at the time you pass away. Life insurance, bank accounts, investment plans and pensions all contain beneficiary designations and if you fail to change them when you divorce your spouse, they will still be legally entitled to receive all the money in your policies and accounts if you pass away.

We all work hard for our money and assets and failure to be proactive could mean our savings falls into the wrong hands. At the end of your divorce, do not delay in updating your estate plan, especially if you have children.

Scroggins Family LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Scroggins Family Law for their insight into estate planning and divorce.

What is wealth management?

Estate planning lawyers and financial advisors work closely for their high-net-worth client facing financial challenges that did not exist 20 years ago. So who will help them handle their fiscal future?

Defining Wealth Management

Wealth management is a complex, professional service entailing a mix of financial and investment advice. It also includes accounting, estate planning, retirement, real estate, and law.

Cases of Wealth Management

A wealth manager or financial advisor Washington DC can count on uses an advanced level of technical expertise, experience and knowledge to assist high-net-worth clients. For example, estate planning for someone with $30 million would encounter issues with a Charitable Remainder Trust or a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust. A wealth manager will be familiar with the challenges faced by someone with a larger estate and can provide tax saving advice.

Additionally, someone with a net worth of $1 million would not be concerned about a Credit Shelter Trust and its federal mandates that apply to the 0.1 percent of the elite population.

Industry Overview

Though the history of wealth management goes back thousands of years, in today’s world the practice of transferring titles is handled by wealth managers that work at banking institutions such as like Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Chase, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

But they also secure positions at full-service investment companies like USAA, Edward Jones, Raymond James, and Charles Schwab. Within the last two decades, affluent clients have moved to Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas and private wealth managers have followed them.

Trends in Wealth Management

With the new Trump administration, the industry is expected to experience a lot of changes. Consider these five areas.

  1. Fiduciary Rules. Wealth managers will become fiduciaries if the Employee Retirement Income Social Security Act of 1974 is enacted. They will be morally and legally bound to meet a conflict-free standard.
  2. Global Policies. Compliance with global regulatory procedures may prove to be difficult, but nevertheless will be mandatory.
  3. Emerging Market of Millennials. Millennials account for eight percent of investable assets and overwhelmingly have a desire to use Internet technology instead of a human advisor.
  4. Offshore Banks. Foreign banks that act as tax havens will be required to address issues of tax evasion and compliance. Wealth managers will have to be more discerning regarding the locales of deposits and their product offerings.
  5. Fluctuating Market. Varying account levels and pricing will prompt more oversight of regulatory measures. New policies could adversely affect wealth managers’ profits.

Education and Training for Professionals

So what are the skills needed to become a wealth manager? A bachelor’s degree in finance, banking, accounting, or real estate is required. Some wealth managers have master’s degrees in law or business. Equally important in today’s competitive climate are exceptional client service and interpersonal skills.

Professional development

Some wealth managers take the General Securities Series 7 exam for registered representatives. This license allows them to procure business in a similar manner to a broker-dealer as well as trade stocks.

Certification

The Association of International Wealth Management is the governing body that handles the designation of Certified Wealth Manager and the Certified International Wealth Management diploma.

Investment Management Consultants Association administers the Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) certification. This nonprofit organization has 11,000 members with 1,184 CPWA designates.

The intricacy of today’s tax laws could jeopardize affluent families. For this reason it’s important to be educated about the maintenance, protection and growth of assets. An experienced wealth manager can offer the guidance needed to protect one’s legacy.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from CIC Wealth Management for their insight into wealth management.

revising will lawyer divorce

Revising Your Will After Divorce

Divorce in itself can be a tumultuous time, so it’s understandable that for many newly divorced people, revising their estate plan can be overlooked.  However, it’s absolutely critical that you do so, for multiple reasons.

  1. Your ex-spouse may be able to inherit assets

Your ex-spouse is most likely your main beneficiary on legal documents.  This includes your will; they’re most likely named as the administrator.  After your divorce, you may not want your ex-spouse to distribute your assets or inherit any.  You’ll want to revoke your will and execute a new one that aligns with your new plan.

  1. If you have children, your ex-spouse will automatically have custody.

This is especially important if you currently have full custody.  You’ll want to write the reasons why your ex-spouse shouldn’t have custody if you die, and attach the statement to your will for a judge to consider.

  1. Financial power of attorney and health care documents

In the event that you can’t make financial or medical decisions for yourself, your ex-spouse is most likely appointed as the advocate to make those decisions on your behalf.  You’ll want to designate someone else after your divorce.  This will not only ensure that you are protected, but your family as well, as a financial power of attorney can have broad powers, such as removing funds from your accounts or selling property.

  1. Take into consideration if your parents or family may have also designated your ex-spouse as any beneficiaries.

They will also want to update their estate plans should they no longer wish your ex-spouse to be the advocate for any of their legal needs.

You’ll want to work with an experienced Sacramento estate planning attorney to get everything in order after your divorce.  There are many legal documents that you may not have considered, so it’s best to consult an attorney about what needs to be done.

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

paid in full

“Paid in Full” and Accord and Satisfaction

Have you ever received a check in the mail with the notation “paid in full” or “payment in full?” Sometimes, if a check is not written “paid in full,” the business or person paying might send a letter with the check stating that the payment is for the full amount of the account or debt.

As a business litigation attorney Memphis, TN trusts with its important business matters, we’d like to warn you about the potential consequences of cashing checks with such notations, or which come along with correspondence indicating full payment. Under the laws of some states, if you cash a check marked “paid in full” or with other similar language, or if you cash a check sent with a letter stating that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt, you might be prohibited from collecting any additional money, even if you are really owed more.

In breach of contract cases, a person who proves an “accord and satisfaction” is relieved of further liability to the creditor. To prove an accord and satisfaction, the person paying must prove that the amount owed to the creditor was disputed; that a check was sent which was clearly marked “paid in full,” or with other language establishing that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt, or was sent with a letter saying that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt; and, that the creditor cashed the check.

Here is an example of a breach of contract case where an accord and satisfaction defense was successful.

  • Creditor agreed to do certain grading and other work on Debtor’s property.
  • The parties orally agreed that Creditor would be paid $2,500 total, and the Creditor was paid $1,000 up front.
  • Creditor ended up performing additional work beyond the work to which the parties had agreed, but the parties never discussed what Creditor would be paid for the additional work.
  • After the job was complete, Creditor sent Debtor a bill for over $9,000.
  • Debtor told Creditor that he did not believe he owed more than the $1,500 he still owed for the total job cost of $2,500 as initially agreed.
  • Debtor sent Creditor a check for $1,500 with the notation “pd. in full.”
  • Creditor marked through the “pd. in full” notation on the check and cashed it.

The trial judge found in favor of Creditor, finding that Debtor was liable for breach of contract and had not proven accord and satisfaction.  But, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge, and held that the fact that Creditor had marked through the notation before cashing the check made no difference. The court stated that Creditor’s act of marking through the notation would have prevented an accord and satisfaction only if Creditor had notified Debtor of that fact beforehand and Debtor had agreed that he was willing to allow Creditor to cash the check and to still claim the balance owed.

One important point is that a debtor’s expression that the payment is in full and final satisfaction of the debt cannot be ambiguous. If this is not clear, then the accord and satisfaction defense will not be successful. It is also important to keep in mind that there may be state specific rules or statutes which can affect the analysis and end result of accord and satisfaction cases.  For example, in the state of Tennessee, if a creditor pays back the amount paid by the debtor within 90 days, the creditor can avoid an accord and satisfaction defense. Likewise, creditors are allowed in certain states to designate to whom exactly any check marked “paid in full” must be directed in order to be effective.

If you need help with any business litigation matter, contact the trusted a business litigation attorney.

Wiseman Bray PLLCThanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience in business formation and organization and litigation.

Pros and Cons of a Living Trust

A living trust, also referred to as a revocable trust, places your assets into a trust throughout your lifetime and then transferred to your heirs upon your death. It is a legal document just like a will, but it has several differences.

The Pros

Living trusts offer several benefits, so many estate owners are choosing them over wills. Here are a few upsides of living trusts:

  1. A living trust lets estate owners appoint a trustee to carry out their wishes upon their death or if they are no longer able to manage their financial or legal affairs while still alive.
  2. A living trust will not be vulnerable to estate taxes, lessening the tax burden on families.
  3. With a living trust, a trustee can take care of an estate owner’s assets if he or she becomes sick.
  4. A living trust offers the benefit of privacy. It doesn’t have to go through probate like a will, so details about assets won’t be open to the public. Families do not have to worry about the public having access to their sensitive information.
  5. The probate process can be avoided with a living trust. This means heirs don’t have to pay probate fees and can receive their assets a lot faster.
  6. A living trust can be favorable to individuals who own substantial assets, have complex finances or other unique personal circumstances.

The Cons

  1. Individuals who choose to establish a living trust have to be meticulous in transferring ownership of all their assets to the trust. An experienced estate attorney can help them do this in an efficient and timely manner.
  2. A living trust might not offer many benefits to individuals with no minor children, few assets and limited wealth.
  3. A living trust might not be needed for estate owners who live in states with uncomplicated probate processes, like as New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer

It is never too early to plan your estate. However, the planning process can involve many complications, so it’s important to hire a qualified estate planning attorney. He or she can ensure all legal requirements are met and that all the necessary information is included in your living trust. Schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ relies on soon to discuss your estate. Many estate planning lawyers offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose by speaking to one.

Hildebrand LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into living trusts and estate planning.

will lawyer Sacramento CA

Just Married? Here’s Why You Need To Write A Will

Getting married means starting your lives together as a partnership; and that partnership often comes with a lot of joint ventures, whether that be property, assets, or even raising your children together.  So, whether you have a will already or not, you’ll want to write/re-write one with your partnership in mind.

Here are a couple of things to think about:

Recognize what happens if one of you dies without a will

If you or your spouse do not write a will, the law has provisions to distribute your estate for you called “interstate succession.”  This creates a hierarchy of spouse and relatives to whom the property may go to.  In California, it also depends on whether the spouse who died had community property or separate property (or a combination).  Community property is generally what was acquired during the marriage while separate are assets brought in before the marriage.

Although rules vary state-by-state, in California, if it’s community property, and you had no kids, the living spouse will get all the property.  If it’s separate, the property will go to the surviving spouse in totality if there are no children, parents, siblings, or siblings.  If there is one child, it will be split between the surviving spouse and child, if there are no children, but the spouse’s parents are alive, then it’s also split in half by parent and surviving spouse.  The list goes on by hierarchy of relatives and the split for remaining spouse.

As you can see, you may want (or not want) your surviving spouse to split property with relatives even if it’s separate.  By creating a will, your wishes are understood and clarified through a legal document.

Recognize that you won’t be able have a say for who takes care of your children should you both pass.

The state will nominate a guardian for your child should you both die without a will.  While the state will attempt to appoint a correct guardian, it may not align with your views.  Creating a will ensures your child’s best interests are at heart and will be fulfilled should you pass.

Consider getting a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement

Much of these complications can be avoided with a pre-nup or post-nup, especially if you have large assets that you want distributed in a non-standard way.

Writing a will with your partner may not be the most romantic date, but it’s incredibly important.  Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA respects to help you navigate the complex laws of estate planning and wills.

Yee Law Group, PC

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Probate Lawyer Sacramento CA

Duties of an Executor or Administrator of a Will

Unfortunately, the death of a loved one sometimes comes as a shock. Many people are unprepared for such a change in their life. Even with a Will in place, the probate process and the responsibility of those who distribute the belongings can be chaotic and cause discourse within the family. This process can become more complicated if there is no Will in place to help the courts and family determine who will oversee the estate of the deceased, and who receives what in the event of a passing.

Executors

Typically when someone draws up a Will, they appoint a person they trust to oversee the distribution of their assets. These assets could include money, their home, the property within their home, life insurance policies, and etc. The person appointed to gather and distribute the estate is called an executor. Normally this person is someone trusted by the family, and that may be a skilled estate planning lawyer Arlington TX trusts instead of a relative.

Roles and duties: Following are some of the duties an executor:

  • Giving notice to each beneficiary named in the Will whose identity and location you or the courts know of
  • Giving notice to creditors and identifying debts
  • Performing an inventory of all assets of the person who died and submitting that inventory to the court
  • Managing and overseeing the assets of those that have passed
  • Paying the remaining taxes that the deceased owes
  • If the Will states the beneficiaries and what they are to receive then the executor must distribute all articles and property to the appropriate people
  • Closing the estate

The role of an executor is very important. It is a role of great responsibility that if mismanaged may result in court action. It is very important that an executor respects the devices in the Will and performs all duties stated by the deceased despite contract beliefs of the executor.

Who should be an executor? It is important that the person you entrust to oversee your assets is someone you know will be fair and respect your wishes to the fullest. Look for someone that you trust and if you have doubts you can always appoint an attorney to be your executor.

Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLCThanks to our friends and contributors from the Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into estate planning practice.

Estate Planning

What keeps you up at night? Security in Estate Planning

I have a husband, three kids, and two pets.  I love all of them and I want to do everything I can to keep them healthy and safe.  I buy organic food.  We drink filtered water.  We wear sunscreen.  We avoid BPA, the chemical used to make certain plastic products.  When purchasing personal care products, I try to choose ingredients and formulations that are not harmful to our health.  I’ve read up about clean beauty, and I try to avoid endocrine disruptors.  I look for non-toxic home cleaning products for my kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.  I avoid harmful pet products and I use lawn products that are safe for pets.

We keep a baseball bat by the door.  We have a watchdog.  We have a home alarm system. I have a taser.  And bear spray.  Earlier this year I attended a women only shooting event where we learned self-defense and how to safely use handguns and pepper spray.

All that said, the most important thing that I have done to keep my family safe is my estate plan.  Specifically, my incapacity plan.  Most people think that an estate plan is a bunch of legal documents that say what will happen to your stuff when you die.  This is true.  But to me, the most important part of the estate plan is where you say what will happen if you don’t die.  Imagine this, you and your husband are in a terrible car crash on date night.  You are both in a coma.  Your last will and testament says who gets your assets and who will raise your children if you both die.  But who takes care of them if you are alive, but in the hospital, incapable of making decisions?  And who is authorized to take control of your financial and medical decisions until you are able to do so yourself? There are three basic legal documents that typically make up the incapacity plan – the living will, the HIPAA Authorization, and the Power of Attorney.  If you are looking for the best Montana estate planning lawyer, you’ll want someone with experience. It may be in your best interest to contact an experienced Montana estate planning attorney to discuss the particulars of your specific situation.

The living will is a legal document that gives the person you select the authority to make life-sustaining and life–ending decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  The HIPAA Authorization gives your doctor or other health care provider the authority to disclose your medical information to the person you select.   Remember Terri Schiavo.  Terri’s husband argued that Terri would not have wanted prolonged artificial life support and elected to remove her feeding tube.  Terri’s parents argued in favor of continuing artificial nutrition and hydration.  The highly publicized and prolonged series of legal challenges presented by her parents caused a seven-year delay before Terri’s feeding tube was ultimately removed.  A HIPAA Authorization and a living will that clearly expresses your wishes could help you and your loved ones avoid a situation like the Schiavo case.

The Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document where you give someone else the authority to make financial decisions for you.  For example, you could give them the authority to pay your bills, manage your investments, file your tax returns, mortgage and sell your real estate, and address other financial matters that are described in the document.  Financial Powers of Attorney come in two forms: “Durable” and “Springing.”  A Durable Power of Attorney goes into effect as soon as it is signed, whereas a Springing Power of Attorney only goes into effect after your are determined to be mentally incapacitated.

The key to remember is that your incapacity plan must be in place before you are incapacitated.  So, don’t delay!  Before heading out on date night, protect your family and get these legal documents properly drafted and signed.  It is worth it.

Matrium Law Group PLLCThanks to our friend and blog author, Lili Panarella of Matrium Law Group PLLC for her insight into the estate planning practice.