Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

Estate Planning

Everyone should make plans for their family should the unthinkable happen. This is not difficult, especially when you have an estate planning solicitor to guide you. Making a Will is an essential part of it, although there can be much more to it. But for those who own a business it is a little more complicated because they have to decide what they want to happen to the business and those who work in it, then implement steps to ensure it happens.

If the business is a partnership or has several owners, there must be plans to ensure they are taken care of. One way to do this is to draw up a legally binding buy-sell agreement. This will outline what you want to happen if a partner or co-owner dies, decides to leave or is forced to leave for some reason.

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The Impact of Litigation on Small Business

Litigation-on-Small-Business

If you have a small business, litigation lawyers will tell you it is absolutely essential to take out insurance against litigation. You may think that litigation only happens to other people and it is not likely to happen in your business, but this is not so. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time and if someone on your premises or on your payroll is injured or worse, litigation is likely to be the outcome.

In fact, even if you do have enough insurance to cover the costs involved in a litigation suit, there are many other factors involved that money cannot help.

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Property Settlements With Divorce

Property-Settlements-With-Divorce

If you have gone through recent divorce, you will need to think about fair and equitable property settlements if you and your ex have any property. Even the family home may need to be sold so that the proceeds can be shared fairly. Divorce lawyers can give you a lot of advice regarding property settlement after your divorce.

In fact, you don’t have to wait till the divorce is finalised before working out the details of property settlement. That said, often a divorced couple will not be able to agree on what is fair and just, so the court has to decide. It’s a good idea to try Family dispute resolution in order to reach a fair decision as this is much quicker and it costs less.

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Why Estate Planning is so Important

estate-planning

If you have any major assets, then getting estate planning legal advice from a family lawyer or commercial lawyer should play a major part in your life, especially as you get older. If you die intestate – without a will – your assets will not go to your loved ones in the way you want. In fact, there might be very little left of your estate by the time it is released by the government.

Have your say

There are many reasons why estate planning is important, and why using a professional estate planner will benefit you and your heirs. No one knows what the future holds for them. We may hope to will live to a ripe old age, but even so, the end will eventually come. And it is increasingly likely that accident or disease will have a hand in an earlier release from this life.  While few people like to think about it, wiser ones work to get everything in hand so that their loved ones are less traumatised by their passing and their assets are safely distributed the way they have chosen.

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Company Shareholder’s Rights to Dispute

shareholder-disputes

Those who own shares in any proprietary company (which means it has a “Pty Ltd or P/L in the name”), might have right that they are not aware of. This could include the right to access certain information regarding the company. It could also include the right to ask the company to hold a meeting of its members, which would be done under specific conditions.

Any company that does not follow through in providing what shareholders are entitled to, might be subject to dispute between members and the company, including the directors which could require experienced commercial lawyers to sort out. Some of these disputes about rights might include the following:

  • Not enough general meetings.
  • A company not acting in the best interest of the members.
  • Not providing access to the company’s register.
  • Legal action being brought against directors by members.

The constitution of a company details what the company has the right to do, and what it is obliged to do, including the rights and obligations of directors, officeholders, and members. In this manner, the constitution works similarly to a contract, but a breach of it is not a criminal offence. Private actions must be taken in order to enforce this contract. Disputes need to be settled by the parties, but the court system can be involved when this fails to happen.

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Finding a Lawyer for your Business

rosenet-ca.org Finding an Attorney for your Business-min

There’s a common thought that business owners have. They think that they can deal with clients on legal issues and still not need a Lawyer; well, the truth is that this false belief can be a bane for them. So let’s talk about how to find a Lawyer.

Where to look for a Lawyer?

Referrals

Yes, this can be an easy method to find a Lawyer. All you have to do is ask your family members or friends. However, you have to be careful here. Your friends and relatives may suggest you an attorney who is not really specialised in these matters. Watch out for that, you don’t need an attorney who doesn’t know the tools of the trade.

Looking Up Online For a Lawyer

Here, if you decide to go on the internet to find a Lawyer, something like Upwork can be of great help. But beware! A fancy profile can be deceiving. Look up for an attorney who is in your state. Go to their LinkedIn profile and read more about them and also find out the reviews on them by other clients. You don’t want all of it to be a disappointment. It’s advisable to schedule a meeting with the chosen candidate before finally selecting them.

Avvo and Lawyers List are great sources to find lawyers too. All you have to do is ask a question here. If a lawyer from your region answers, you can view his or her profile, then you may decide on a meeting and if things go well, you have struck a deal.

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Best Interests – Shareholders and the Rogue Director

rosenet-ca.org best-interests-shareholders-rogue-director-min

Shareholders (members) of private companies continually experience angst over their investments.  There is always the greater element of risk when investing in a private and/or start-up company.  More frequently after about six to twelve months they will find themselves bolt up-right in bed at 3am suddenly realising that they might not see their money ever again.

The person they have linked their financial fate with is the director (and self-appointed CEO) who promised if they brought the capital he would bring the ideas and execution.  Around the time the first set of accounts are prepared it becomes obvious that he has used most of the money for ‘business development’ activities like lunches with friends and travel.

The avenues that are available to the member depend on the character of the director’s activities.  That is, are the actions fraudulent, negligent, intentionally misleading or just bad business.  The legal remedies available to shareholders will be a combination of the:

Finding Out What Went On

The initial challenge is always finding out exactly what the director has been doing and what kind of transactions the company has been engaging in.  While directors have usually complete and unfettered access to the records of the company automatically, members need to request access.

In most cases the constitution or a shareholder’s agreement will provide for shareholders having access to inspect records.  However, if that is not the case, of if the director is resisting giving them access s247A Corporations Act provides scope for members to make application to the Court for an inspection of the company records.

The application must be made in good faith and for a proper purpose.  The situation where access is requested because the member is considering litigation against the company or the director raises the question of whether it is in good faith or not and depending on the circumstances the application can still be granted.[1]

In the event that the records are not properly maintained, have been destroyed or the member feels that an independent expert is required then s241 Corporations Act allows the Court to order a director to do, or not do any act; and also to appoint an independent person to investigate the financial affairs of the company.

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Faulty Powers – Challenges to Roadside Drug Testing

rosenet-ca.org Challenges to Roadside Drug Testing-min

Most states and territories have “declared war” on drug driving in the last couple of years. New South Wales is presently leading the charge by announcing that by 2017 they will increase the number of roadside tests to 200,000.[1]

Our alcohol driving laws have been around for many years and there are now enormous amounts of data regarding its effect on driving, blood concentration levels that give rise to impairment and the likelihood of being involved in an accident.

This pervasive concept inherently coaxes us to evaluate the drug driving laws by similar standards.  Unfortunately, the policy behind these laws and the manner in which they are being enforced is not at all like alcohol driving laws and consequently we must assess them from other perspectives or consult experienced criminal lawyers for advice..

Each state and territory has now enacted some form of roadside drug testing legislation.  However, the incidence of that legislation and the now increased focus on enforcing it has not been complimented with any educational material or even a consistent approach.  Some commentators say the reason for this is that it’s merely a campaign against drugs cloaked as a road safety campaign.

That is an interesting conundrum because users who are prosecuted for drug driving do not ordinarily face criminal charges for possession or use of illegal drugs; and yet the possession and use of the drugs that are tested for is itself a crime.

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Top 5 Intellectual Property Tips Entrepreneurs Should Not Ignore

Something that keeps lawyers busy in this day and age is Intellectual Property (IP) issues that comprise a series of legal ownership claims that include trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets and industrial design rights. Small businesses or startups focus less on IP and consequently involve in legal issues. This article shares useful tips to help entrepreneurs guard their ideas and IP policy.

Tip#1: Solemnize Ownership Agreement   

A precise agreement formalizing the ownership amongst the people involved in the business should be made. The agreement should clearly state the business owner/s and how the dividends created by IP will be shared among the founders; upon company’s expansion or merger.

Tip#2: Spend Wisely on Patent Filing

Patent expenses should be focused on strategic IP protection because patent filing is expensive. Sensitive business ideas and core  patentable schemes should be revealed to a selected few who have agreed to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Consult a legal professional and opt for a provisional patent application first with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an intelligent way for creating temporary IP protection.

Tip#3: Protect Writing Materials

To protect manual, guide, documents and publicity material from infringement, U.S. law supports copyright notices since 1989. Therefore, to avoid legal hassles in the future, ensure that your company stamps all the materials with the copyright symbol or the word “copyright” and the year of creation and first publication.

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