Seeking Help From a Lawyer

Three Things To Be Sure You Do When Planning Your Estate

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Things To Be Sure You Do When Planning Your Estate

Planning for after your death might seem like a grim thing to do, but estate planning can be a wonderful way to provide for and protect your loved ones after you are gone. In order to ensure that your loved ones can avoid probate proceedings, be sure to do the following things when planning your estate. Set Up Agreements of Joint Ownership When you own property or a business with someone, to make sure that it goes to them after you pass away, it is a good idea to set up an agreement that grants both of you joint ownership. After your death, all your interests in the property or business will pass seamlessly to the other person. It is important that you realize that once a joint ownership contract is in place, your will cannot supersede that agreement. For example, if you have entered into a business with a friend who now has joint ownership, even if your will names your son as the heir to that business, the joint ownership agreement will still stand. Update the Status of Your Retirement Accounts One easy way to help your loved ones avoid probate proceedings is to have your retirement accounts go directly to your family. If you are like many people, the payee on your retirement accounts is you. To make things easier for your family, make sure that each retirement account is set to “pay on death” to your beneficiaries. You may think that happens automatically, but in many cases it does not. Reassess Regularly When you have finished writing your will and setting up your insurance policies and other documents, you might not think about estate planning anymore. However, in order to help your family avoid probate, you need to be sure that you’re reassessing your beneficiary list on a regular basis. Your spouse might die, or your daughter may get married, or other life events may prompt you to make changes in your will. If you do not reassess what you’ve done and make changes accordingly, when you die, some of your assets may still be going to someone who has also passed away or someone you no longer want to give anything to. Take the time to look over your documents at least once every few months so that your most current wishes are known. Use the information above to help you make the right decisions when working on estate planning. Talk to a probate attorney like Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers or others so you can be sure your family can avoid having to go to probate court after you pass...

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Incorporating The Unincorporated: How The Corporate Attorney Plays A Part

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Incorporating The Unincorporated: How The Corporate Attorney Plays A Part

How do you define your type of business? At present, you may describe yourself as “unincorporated,” simply because you are not incorporated. An incorporated business is one that has applied to become a legal entity within a particular state and is funded by shareholders. (In the beginning, the shareholders may be you and a couple of partners or silent investors, people who invest in your company but do not participate in daily operations.) If you want to become an incorporated business, then there are some legal procedures involved. However, if you do not know what the legal procedures are, a professional corporate attorney, like those at Strauss Troy, does, and will help you in several ways. Defining a Business as It Becomes Incorporated If you initiate the incorporation process with your lawyer, your small business will be temporarily referred to as “unincorporated.” After the state and federal governments have approved all of your paperwork and legal documentation for incorporated status, you are then labeled and listed legally as “incorporated.” (You cannot become an incorporated business if you already claim sole proprietorship, because incorporation requires that your company have shareholders and a handful of paid employees.) Filing the Incorporation Paperwork Your “Articles of Incorporation” are professional and legal statements and documents that your corporate lawyer will first meet with you to discuss, then write and file. His or her legal fees and retainer are entirely separate from the fees you need to pay to become incorporated. Most of the federal fees required for your incorporation are the same, no matter what state you live in, but state fees vary. Your lawyer will see to it that all of the paperwork is filed with the corresponding fee amount, and that all the necessary documents are in order prior to filing. Receiving the Finalization and Acceptance Documents If you have not already assigned the duties associated with your company’s registered agent, now is the time to do so. The registered agent, for most incorporated businesses, is the corporate attorney who will manage any future lawsuits, file and receive documents regarding your company’s incorporation, and manage other legal matters for you. Since the registered agent has to receive lawsuit documents, it is just more convenient and less of a legal headache to keep your corporate attorney on long-term. If you choose not to hire and assign the duties of the registered agent to your lawyer, you will still have to have an attorney at the ready to manage these important business and legal...

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Protecting Your Product Ideas: Three Myths About Patent Protection

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the most confusing parts of entrepreneurship is determining what you need to protect and how to protect it. Although commercial insurance policies are widely accepted as necessary protections, you may not feel the same way about patents. Despite how long patents have been available and the consistency of the process, there are many misconceptions that can leave new business owners feeling uncertain at best. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about the patent process and the protection that patents offer. Applying for Patents Will Limit Your Investor Options Some small business owners believe that they’ll have a hard time finding an investor for your business if you’ve protected your product with a patent application. This belief often stems from the fact that a patent application will lock your product design in as it is, limiting what you can change without losing that protection. In fact, many investors actually prefer to work with entrepreneurs who have patents in place for their products, because it shows a level of faith in the product, initiative to protect the concept and a limited competitive market. Applying for a Patent Just Makes You a Target for Infringement Lawsuits While it’s true that there are a vast number of patented products on the market that could potentially have some similarities to the product that you created, that doesn’t mean that you make yourself a target for infringement by filing a patent application. If you work with a patent attorney when you fill out the application, he or she can help you put the necessary details into the “Claims” section to protect yourself from this potential. The more detail you provide about the intended use of the product, the better your protection will be against infringement. In order to claim infringement, a company would have to show sufficient similarities between your claims and theirs. This could be more difficult with a highly specific product description. There’s No Competition in my Market, I Don’t Need a Patent You may believe that there’s no obvious competition in your marketplace. While this could potentially be true, you may have overlooked someone. Even if there isn’t anyone in the marketplace using the same exact technology that you are, there are probably businesses out there with products that can accomplish similar tasks. If you don’t protect your ideas with a patent, you’ll run the risk of losing your product idea to a competitor that you didn’t even know you had. With so many misconceptions about patents, it’s no surprise that many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start. Now that you know the truth, you can understand the importance of patent protection. Talk with a patent attorney for guidance and support as you fill out your...

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Tips For Handling Your Digital Legacy

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One aspect of estate planning that is usually overlooked is digital accounts. Your digital legacy will not mean much to you after death, but could impact your family and friends. If you are concerned with how your digital legacy is handled, you need an executor who can take care of those accounts for you.  Social Networking Most people today have at least one social networking account. Companies, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, have policies regarding accounts of the deceased, but in many instances, the accounts remain active.  If your social networking account has private conversations that you would prefer others not to see, leave instructions for an executor to delete them. Remember to leave the login information for all of the accounts with an estate planning attorney (such as Stuart W. Moskowitz, Esq., CPA) so the executor can access them. Email Accounts Some email providers offer the ability to have an email auto sent to a person you choose after a period of inactivity. If your email provider offers this feature, be sure to set it up. Inform the executor of what you want him or her to do with the account once the provider emails the password.  You could choose to have the account completely deleted or choose to archive the emails contained. You can also leave instructions to have the emails printed and shown to family members.  Online Selling Accounts If you have a merchant account with a site such as eBay, you can leave instructions on how to handle your account. For instance, you could instruct the executor to fulfill an outstanding order or refund money.  You can also choose to pass off the running of your selling accounts to someone else. If you have chosen to do this, your estate planning attorney can help you include this in your will and help you take care of the documentation to ensure that it is properly transferred to the person you choose.  Online Financial Accounts   Many people manage their financial and utility accounts online. If you are one of them, you need to leave login information for the executor of your estate to access those accounts.  Not only does leaving the information help your executor gain access to the accounts, but it gives him or her a chance to pay off outstanding bills and gain account information that is needed for other matters.  You are not legally required to leave information about your digital legacy, but it can be helpful for family and friends who are trying to take care of your estate. In many instances, a simple letter with all of the information needed will...

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Turning Your (Fabulous) Idea Into A Business: Five Questions To Ask Yourself Before Diving In

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In 2014, the United States Patent Offices issued more than 300,000 utility patents. That’s a lot of people with a potentially great idea, but not all of them will turn the idea into something successful. In fact, approximately 97 percent of patents filed never make enough money to cover the owner’s cost of the paperwork. If you’re dreaming of patenting your life into something greater, ask yourself the following five questions before you quit your day job. 1. Is the idea truly viable? Many people think they’ve succeeded in creating a better mousetrap or reinventing the wheel, when in reality, their idea, for one reason or another, could never work. What may look good on paper or sound amazing as you discuss it, might just not be grounded in reality. While the truth may hurt, you’re better off knowing before going any further. 2. Does your idea have a solid potential customer base? Even when an idea can be mass produced efficiently, pass rigorous safety standards and has a clear and logical purpose, you have to be able to sell it to go into business. Determining this requires a lot of research and the truth may come as a surprise. Ask people directly, but start with strangers. Your friends and family might not want to hurt your feelings. 3. Is working capital available? The cost of filing a patent alone may reach thousands of dollars, but there are other financial obligations to consider as well, such as getting a business model off the ground while you still sustain yourself and family, if you have one. Funding an idea from conception to production is a massive undertaking; if you haven’t figured out a way beforehand, you may be setting yourself up for failure. 4. Can your family and lifestyle endure the trials and tribulations? Even if your idea is viable, with millions of customers waiting to buy it and you have sufficient funding, the process you’re about to embark on may very well change your life forever, along with everyone else you’re close to. Are you okay working ’round the clock? Is your spouse? Can you handle the stress? Are you able to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve success? Face the changes and prepare well for them. 5. Have you considered professional help? While you don’t want to drain your savings account or risk your retirement funding your idea, you do want to take it to a professional, once you’ve done the leg work and if you realistically conclude you’re onto something. Try a patent search on your own, as a preliminary effort to determine the originality of your idea; conduct market research to be sure you’ll have enough people who will pay for your product and be certain you’re ready, willing and able to make the commitment to bringing your brilliance to fruition. Thereafter, the guidance of a patent attorney like one from Hamilton IP Law PC will prove invaluable to your success. Taking an idea and turning it into something that will change your life is no easy feat, but anything is possible. If you answered in the affirmative for the first four questions listed here, move on to number five and do so quickly: there’s no time like the present and someone else may be fast on...

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