Archive for January 2010

Addressing Personal and Business Issues as You Start the New Year

January 21, 2010

As we now start the new year, and begin a new decade, it is a good time to do a bit of self examination and determine what (often ignored) personal and business legal issues may need to be addressed, and make a resolution to address those issues in 2010.

Personal Legal Matters.

On a personal level, one issue about which people routinely procrastinate, both young and old, is estate planning. No matter your stage in life, nor your net worth (estate planning is needed by both the wealthy and the not so wealthy) proper estate planning, which addresses both lifetime and death issues, is very important to do. For the young, the most important aspect often relates to the appointment of a guardian for minor children within a Last Will and Testament. For older couples, designating an agent to make healthcare decisions (within a Health Care Proxy), and executing a Power of Attorney can be crucial in the event of a unexpected disability.

Even if you have done some estate planning, when was the last time you reviewed your estate planning documents to determine whether they still meet your needs? The beginning of the year is a good time to review what you’ve implemented and determine whether any of it requires any changes. As you may have heard, there is significant uncertainty right now regarding estate taxes, which may justify changes in tax formulas contained in wills and trusts. Very often a change in family relationships (i.e. births, deaths, divorce, etc.) also requires changes to an estate plan.

Business Legal Matters.

If you own your own business, January is a good time to take care of some legal housekeeping for your company.

Very often new laws which may affect the operation of your business go in effect at the beginning of the year. You should make yourself aware of whether there are any new laws which may impact your business.

Each year, you should be reviewing the contracts and processes that affect the vital areas of your business to assess where changes need to be made or action taken. Not sure where to start? Here are a few items you should address at least once a year.

1.  Employee Manuals/Handbooks. Update Employee Manuals/Handbooks to revise any policies which require change based on changes in law or business operations, or to include new policies which may not have been previously included. More importantly, if your company does not have one, consideration should be given to having one prepared.

2.  Corporate Meeting/Resolutions. One of the corporate formalities which must be followed in order to insure the personal liability protection afforded by the use of corporations (and limited liability companies) is the adoption of annual corporate resolutions or the holding of annual meetings of the shareholders and directors.

3.  Shareholders’ Agreement. Shareholders’ agreements requiring annual revaluations should be updated. In the event of an increase in value, consideration should be given to increasing any life insurance on the lives of the shareholders intended to fund a buyout in the event of the death of a shareholder.

4.  Lease Agreements. If you have lease agreements for property and equipment, review them to make sure the obligations of your company are being properly performed.

5.  Business Filings. Make sure all business licenses are up to date, and required filings are made with local governmental agencies.

Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or need any assistance in accomplishing your personal and/or business New Years resolutions.