Monday, May 22, 2017

Start an Online Business: Sole Proprietor, Corporation Or Limited Liability Company?


Who Is This Article For?

First, let's identify for whom this article is written. This article is for new entrepreneurs thinking about starting an online business which operates in the United States.

The information contained here is "entry level" for people just starting out in online business. It is not written for people in more sophisticated situations. That being said, let's get going.

Most new online business owners seem to "jump off the deep end" without giving much thought or doing much planning as to how they will operate their businesses.

That is a poor approach to starting a business. In reality, there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account at the outset if you want to succeed with your online business and not expose yourself to problems down the line.

Forms of Business Entities

One of the first matters to consider is whether to form an entity to operate your business. Let's begin at the very basic level and quickly identify your options with respect to operating your business.

For most new businesses, your options are:
  • Sole proprietorship

  • Partnership

  • Corporation (S-corporation or C-corporation)

  • Limited Liability Company

There are other forms of doing business, but they are usually for more sophisticated enterprises, so we'll confine our discussion to the ones listed above.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the default option, one that many new entrepreneurs wind up using because they never really think about the issue.

Basically, a sole proprietorship is just you doing your thing. You and your business are not separated legally. That can be quite significant, as we'll see below.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Here are the advantages for choosing to do business as a sole proprietor:
  • Ease of Formation. A sole proprietorship is the simplest business format to form, because there is no formation. It's just you doing business as you. There is no separate legal entity within which you are operating your business. You may still require business licenses, tax id numbers, etc., but there is no separate entity to be formed and operated.

  • Low Cost of Formation. Since it is not necessary to form a separate entity to operate as a sole proprietorship, it is less expensive to get started because you don't have to pay an attorney or company to form a special entity for you and you don't have to pay any of the fees to you state that are required to form a corporation or LLC.

  • No Separate Income Tax Returns. Because there is no separate entity involved in the operation of a sole proprietorship, the IRS doesn't require you to file any separate income tax returns. You will normally just add a schedule (Schedule C) to your good old Form 1040 and file away.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Here are the disadvantages of operating as a sole proprietorship:
  • Personal Liability. This is the overriding disadvantage of doing business as a sole proprietor. Because there is no separation between you and your business, if you get sued all of your personal assets (house, car, investments, etc.) are at risk. Given the fact that we live in a litigious society where people are suing other people over ridiculous claims, and sadly prevailing sometimes, this is a major concern. If you end up with a judgment against you, you risk losing most of your personal assets.

  • Less "Professional" Image. Doing business as "John Smith" doesn't present the professional image in the business world that, for example, "World-Wide Multimedia, LLC" would. This may not be a major concern for you, but it is something to consider, especially if you are trying to get other businesses to recognize you as a joint venturer, affiliate, or member of their CPA network.

Partnerships

We won't spend much time on this one, because it is relatively rare in the online world. A partnership is an association of two or more people or entities for the purpose of engaging in business.
So, for example, if you and your brother-in-law want to start a business, a partnership could work. It is not something that is normally recommended, though, for reasons explained below.

Advantages of a Partnership

Frankly, in most situations there are none.

Disadvantages of a Partnership

Here are the primary disadvantages of a partnership:
  • Separate Tax Returns. Partnerships are required to file their own, separate income tax returns, so paperwork is increased without commensurate advantages being offered.

  • More Complicated to Form. Partnerships normally require paid assistance in the formation process, so costs are increased, again without offsetting advantages in most circumstances.

  • Increased Liability. This is the big one. A partnership does not protect your personal assets. Even worse, since you have one or more partners involved, you potentially become liable for their activities too, whether or not you actually participated in a given transaction. In addition, your partners can normally obligate the partnership to financial obligations and contractual agreements, sometimes without your knowledge. So, there is definitely increased personal risk to you financially in a partnership.

And, you must be cautious when pursuing business objectives with other people. You can end up in a partnership without meaning to.

Since there are normally no formal organizational requirements for a partnership, a handshake may be all that is required. Just the act of doing business and sharing profits and losses with one or more other people can result in the courts declaring you to be in a general partnership, whether that was your intent or not.

Corporations

A corporation is a separate legal entity that is formed to operate your business. It is that separation between you and your business that can be a major advantage.

You will hear two broad types of corporations discussed: C-corporations and S-corporations. Those distinctions are a topic for another article, but they will be mentioned briefly.

In a nutshell, a corporation is a corporation, the S-corporation/C-corporation distinction is merely an election made by a corporation as to how it wants to be treated for income tax purposes by the IRS.

Advantages of a Corporation

Here are the principal advantages of using a corporation to operate your business:
  • No Personal Liability. The main advantage has already been hinted at. A corporation is a separate legal entity from you personally. Assuming you set things up properly and adhere to the operational requirements of a corporation, if your incorporated business gets sued only the assets owned by the corporation are potentially exposed to the business's liabilities. Your personal assets are shielded from liability.

  • More Professional Image. As discussed above, a corporation presents a more professional image to the world than a sole proprietorship.

  • One or More Owners. The owners of a corporation are called "stockholders." The law allows a corporation to have one or more than one stockholder. S-corporations may not have more than 100 stockholders (at the time of this writing). C-corporations may have an unlimited number of stockholders.

Disadvantages of a Corporation

Here are the main disadvantages of a corporation:
  • More Complicated to Form. Articles of Incorporation and other formation documents must be prepared and filed with the state in which you incorporate. Normally, you will need paid assistance and there will be certain filing fees paid to your state, so there is expense involved. At least with a corporation you are getting the offsetting benefit of limiting your personal liability.

  • Requires Separate Bookkeeping. Since a corporation is regarded as a separate enterprise from you personally, you will be required to keep separate books and records for business and tax purposes. This may require an accountant or CPA to assist you in setting them up properly.

  • Separate Income Tax Returns. Generally, a corporation will be required to file its own separate income tax returns. You do not report the corporation's income and expenses directly on your personal tax return.

  • Annual Filing Requirements. You state of incorporation will require at least one annual report to be filed for your corporation, and there will be a small fee charged by the state in connection with that filing.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

Limited liability companies are probably the most popular entities these days. They are gradually replacing corporations and the "go-to" business entity.

So as to not over-extend the length of this article, I'll just list the advantages and disadvantages without more discussion, since they are almost identical with the remarks about corporations. Where there's a difference, it will be pointed out.

Advantages of an LLC
  • No Personal Liability (See discussion under corporations)

  • More Professional Image (see discussion under corporations)

  • One or More Owners. An LLC's owners are called "members." The law allows an LLC to have one or more members.

Disadvantages of an LLC
  • More Complicated to Form (See discussion under corporations)

  • Requires Separate Bookkeeping (See discussion under corporations)

  • Separate Income Tax Returns. A multi-member LLC will be required to file its own income tax returns. For single member LLCs, there are some special opportunities with respect to how they are taxed for income tax purposes. Often, the single member can choose to have the LLC disregarded for income tax purposes. That does not, however, jeopardize your liability protection from lawsuits.

  • Annual Filing Requirements. (See discussion under corporations)

Summary

I think it's fair to say that limited liability companies are the most recommended entities, especially for online businesses. As a general proposition, they offer the same protection of your personal wealth from business liabilities that a corporation does, and LLCs are usually considerably more flexible as far as what the law allows in their management structure.

There are a lot of subtle nuances that professionals can debate when considering the pros and cons of the various forms of doing business.

In reality, though, the main concern for most smaller businesses is liability protection for the owner's personal assets.

Liability protection can be gained by using a corporation (S or C) or an LLC as the entity for operating your business. Liability protection is not gained by operating as a sole proprietor or in a partnership (formal or unintended).


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Robert_L._Page,_JD/32457

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

What Is Probate in Relation to a Will?



A will is a legal document that outlines what one would want to happen after their death in terms of their funeral, care for their children and most important of all, distribution of their estate. When a person dies having drafted their will, they are said to have died testate in legal terms. The opposite of this would be dying intestate. A will usually specifically states the name of an executor, a person entrusted by the testator or testatrix with the task of executing the will after their death. An executor could be a close family member, a relative, trusted friend or even an attorney. An executor is usually referred to as a 'representative of the estate in probate' in a will in order to cover executors of both gender.
A will is very important because it makes things a lot easier for the family of a deceased person especially when it comes to estate distribution issues. A will reduces the possibility of disagreement or misunderstanding between family members when trying to figure out the deceased's death wishes. Administering a will is however not as easy as it may sound. This is because the law requires wills to be validated by a court which could take a couple of months to do. Validation of a will is done by the executor by applying for a Grant of Probate in a probate court.
Probate is the legal process of identifying, validating and distributing the estate of a deceased person under strict court supervision. The probate process includes payment of outstanding debts to creditors and payment of outstanding taxes such as death and inheritance tax. A probate court is a special court that interprets the will and validates any claims on the estate made by third parties such as the creditors of the deceased. The court oversees the probate process right from when the executor files for a grant of probate, up to when it is granted and ownership of the estate is transferred to the beneficiaries.
For the executor of a will to be granted probate, they will have to first present to the probate court registry, the deceased's will and a solicitor approved oath. The oath shows that the executor is committed to administering the wishes stated by the deceased in the will. The executor named in the will is usually not recognized by the law until the probate court officially appoints them as the representative of the estate in probate.
If a will was properly drafted, it takes the court a shorter time to grant probate. Incase the beneficiaries are not completely satisfied with the court's decision, probate law allows them to contest the validity of the will in the same court. In such a case the estate remains frozen until the court makes a validity judgment. In the event of intestate death, or if there is no executor is named in a will, the grant of probate is referred to as a 'Letter of Administration'. It is also acquired through a court process and is issued to the person that the court deems fittest to execute the will or distribute the estate.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9326024

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Keys on How to Incorporate in California



You might be questioning what is the meaning of incorporation. Incorporation is giving your business a mind of its own, an independence. When incorporated, your business becomes a legal body with its own function separate from its owners and cannot be owned by only one owner.
When incorporating a business, one should decide whether he should incorporate his business federally or provincially.
In incorporating federally, the advantages are; (a) your corporation should be able to carry on business in all provinces as long as you register your business in a province or territory where you would conduct your business in, and (b) your corporation can use the same name even if another company is already using the similar name. The disadvantages are; (a) federal incorporation is costly, and (b) there's a lot more of paper work to do annually. When incorporating provincially, your business has the right only to undergo business within the province or territory where your business is incorporated.
It depends upon the limitation of the business to be incorporated whether to choose a federal incorporation or provincial incorporation.
How to incorporate in California?
First, you should select a proper name for your corporation. Selecting a corporate name is more difficult than selecting a name for single proprietorship or partnership because it requires legal, distinctive and descriptive elements in choosing a name.
Second, prepare or print the articles relating to how to incorporate in California, the Memorandum and the Notice of Offices. The articles of how to incorporate in California sets out the rules and regulations that will govern the conduct of staffs and members of the company. The Memorandum sets out the rules for the conduct of the company. And, the Notice of Offices states the location of the two required offices for your incorporation, the registered office and the records office.
Third, file your incorporation documents and apply for incorporation. Find the Secretary of State office and take the completed forms with at least three copies. The incorporation fee in California costs $100.00 and $15.00 if you want to get it on the same day or they just mail to you the finished documents.
Fourth, the last step is to file the list of officers at the same office. As long as you know who the officers are and they know what are their duties, you just have to fill the names of the officers and their addresses. It only costs $25.00 to file this paper. Then, you could start your incorporation business at any time.
I hope this article would be helpful to those enthusiastic businessmen who want to find solutions on how to incorporate in California.
Incorporating in California has become more and more popular with entrepreneurs and business-minded people searching to make their company popular so as to attract investors. Many have asked how to incorporate in california and thought it's quite difficult to apply for an incorporation. There are a number of factors to be considered but though, California incorporation is still best for your company.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6053060

Friday, May 19, 2017

Durable Power of Attorney



Have you ever thought about what would happen if you became unable to make your own decisions, perhaps because of illness or medical condition, such as a stroke or coma? Using a relatively simple legal document known as a Durable Power of Attorney you can legally empower another person -- such as a trusted relative or friend -- to act in your behalf, even if you became physically or mentally unable to manage your own affairs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

7 Important Reasons to Form a Corporation or LLC for Your Business



Are you operating your business as a real business or as a hobby? It's time to make your business OFFICIAL before the summer push for business!

Let me ask you two important questions:
  1. Are you operating your business under your own name, a DBA or fictitious firm name, basically as a sole proprietorship or maybe as a general partnership? AND/OR
  2. Are you or your family at risk because of business or personal assets that are unprotected from unexpected losses or legal issues?
If you answered YES to either question please read on for important news about why NOW is the time to form an corporation or LLC for your business.
  1. Make it Official. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership sends a message that you are still "testing" your business, or that you're not sure you'll really make it. Perhaps your accountant told you that incorporating is an unnecessary expense or that it won't help you save on taxes due to an expectation of low profits. This is the WORST marketing message you can send when you want to attract new clients and partners to your business, who want assurance that you're about your business and here to stay.

  2. The Law of Attraction. You get what you focus on. Testing, hoping and "seeing if things work out or not" BEFORE you decide to step-up and make your business official by incorporating broadcasts a clear message to the universe that you're not really serious about your business or committed to a positive outcome. The Law of Attraction states that the universe returns not what you wish for, but what you program into your deepest belief system through your dominant thoughts, actions and feelings. Making your business official and really stepping up says, "I am ready to receive!".

  3. Limited Personal Liability. You may be thinking "I already lost everything in the market collapse from 2008" and still recovering. If you're one of the few that managed to survive and grow your assets since then, but are still holding them in your own name, you're playing a VERY RISKY game (similar to those with assets in unstable European banks). Even if you don't have any assets right now, a lawsuit or judgment will destroy any credit you are looking to build in the future PLUS you may be looking over your shoulder for years waiting for someone to come after you when you finally do start to turn things around. That's no way to live your life. One lawsuit from an unprotected business can ruin your chances of getting a personal auto loan or refinancing your home. Good people who "play by the rules" can still be sued for the most unexpected reasons. You may be thinking "my business insurance will help me out" but are you really covered? Even if your business is never sued, what if you're unable to pay a vendor and they come after you? Do you want to be personally liable? Put a halt to greedy people looking to take what you have worked for! This is the best time to form an LLC or corporation to limit your personal liability.

  4. Reduce Your Taxes. The bottom line is that operating as a sole proprietorship will cost you the most in employment taxes (up to 15.3% on earned income up to $113,700 in 2013). That means that your income will be taxed as the HIGHEST possible TAX RATE as a sole proprietorship. By the way, filing a Schedule C (the form filed for earned income from a sole proprietorship) also means that your business is among those MOST LIKELY TO BE AUDITED. Why? The IRS has a $300 BILLION tax gap and they believe the biggest tax cheats are the little business owner like you. Why? Their stats show them that sole proprietorship are MOST likely to UNDER report their income and OVER report their expenses (two big no-no's with the IRS). Operating as an S corporation or LLC taxed as an S corporation in many situations is a much better approach for two reasons. You will have part of your profits as distributions which are NOT subject to the 15.3% employment taxes AND move that profit to schedule E, not schedule C which is more likely to be audited!

  5. Access More Funding Options. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership limits you when it comes to funding options. You are also DAMAGING YOUR PERSONAL CREDIT SCORE by operating this way. How do you finance your business as a sole proprietorship? You use your PERSONAL CREDIT cards which will drive up your revolving debt which will in turn DRIVE DOWN your personal credit score! When you form a corporation or an LLC you will SEPARATE your PERSONAL and BUSINESS CREDIT. Yes, any type of cash funding with a personal guarantee will come into play, but that DEBT does NOT show up in the personal credit bureau which is HUGE for future funding! As you form a new LLC or corporation NCP will help (if you choose) to build your business credit scores quickly and get your business in a position to secure funding to grow. But the first step is to form a separate legal entity.

  6. Simply Your Life. Yes, in fact operating as a sole proprietorship will complicate your life, not the opposite. Separating your business and personal life will make it much easier for you to navigate both from a financial and legal point of view. Now you will have each in its own compartment where it belongs to protect your overall success.

  7. Asset Protection. Forming an LLC for your safe assets like investments (those outside a retirement plan) will help you sleep better at night knowing you don't have all your "eggs" in one basket. If you are using a LIVING TRUST to protect your assets that will NOT work and everything in your trust may be vulnerable. Do you own other businesses that really should be operating through a separate bank account in a separate entity? Do you own real estate in your own name that may be sending a message that you are rich and have assets worth taking? Have you been in business for years or are you operating more than one business in one entity? Are you doing some business with a new partner and making the big mistake of running that revenue through your current business? Avoid these costly mistakes and form a separate company for that separate business.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Scott_Letourneau

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Power of Attorney



Rene at By the People in Fairfield CA talks about just some of the reasons for a need for a Power of Attorney. These documents can be really important aids in helping loved ones.

For any questions about the types of Power of Attorney, and what may be beneficial for your individual needs, call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 and visit the website at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Selecting a Legal Structure for Your Business


Starting a business requires prospective entrepreneurs to make hundreds of different decisions before opening their doors to customers. One of the most important decisions is selecting the right legal structure for your enterprise. The manner in which you choose to organize will impact your taxes, personal liability exposure, and fundraising options.

Sole proprietorships are the most common arrangement for people who work alone. This structure is a popular choice because it is the easiest to arrange and does not require any filings with the state. One of the biggest disadvantages of the sole proprietorship, however, is that entity does not exist apart from the owner. Consequently, the owner is personally liable for all financial obligations and damages resulting from lawsuits filed against the company. Another disadvantage is that it can be difficult to raise capital. Banks are reluctant to make loans to sole proprietorships, leaving the owners to rely on home equity loans or borrowing from family.

For enterprises with more than one owner, a partnership might be a good arrangement. Each partner contributes capital, labor, or expertise in order to turn a profit. The partners share in the profits, but like a sole proprietorship, they are also personally liable for debts and damages. One way in which partners can reduce personal exposure is by forming a limited partnership. This form consists of general partners who make decisions and assume the risks and limited partners with no control in the operations in exchange for reduced liability. Tax treatment is one of the main reasons this arrangement is selected. Profits and losses are passed through to the individual partners.

Limited Liability Companies, or LLCs, are a type of structure that is becoming very popular. This structure creates an entity separate from the owners. As a result, the owners are not liable for debts or judgments against the venture. Unlike a limited partnership, all members are free to participate in the management and enjoy protection from personal liability. LLCs also enjoy pass through taxation. However, the tax rules for these structures are complicated. The amount of paperwork is a huge hurdle, and members must file articles of organization with the Secretary of State or sign an operating agreement.

The right structure for your business depends on a number of different factors unique to your enterprise. For example, a small boutique selling handmade cat collars will obviously have less risk and perhaps less revenue than a company that provides window washing services to high-rise office buildings. Prospective entrepreneurs are advised to contact their attorney or accountant in order to discuss the taxation and liability consequences of the different entities. A number of free or low-cost resources to help you make your decision are available from your local chamber of commerce, Small Business Administration, or volunteers with the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Selecting the organization for your business is one of the most important decisions you and your partners will make. Research all of the available options and seek advice from experienced professionals before making your selection.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrew_Stratton

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Don't "Lose" Your Living Will - Storage Places to Avoid


Question: I just came back from my attorney with my estate planning documents.  One of my documents is a "living will," but I have no idea where to put it.  How about putting it where it will be safe, like in my bank's safe deposit box?

Answer: Remember that a living will is only useful if it is found!  You should store your living will (also called an "advance healthcare directive") where it will be found when it is truly needed.

If your family has no idea where your living will is, the document is useless.  If it is never found, it is a legal document without any effect.  It will never serve any function.  The purpose of having a living will in the first place is to grant authority to your agent: Through that document your agent is given the legal authority to make essential healthcare decisions on your behalf.  But if your agent cannot find the document, he or she may never be able to make the decisions that you intend.

Where should you never store your living will?  Here are some places to avoid, the first being exactly where you are thinking of putting it:

Your safe deposit box.  Sorry, but think again!  If your agent does not have access to your bank safe deposit box, obviously he or she may never be able to get the living will in time so that it can be used.

Your home safe.  This is like placing your healthcare directives in the bank's vault.  If only you have the combination to the safe, then your agent will probably never find it.

Giving it to someone unknown to your agent.  This is another way to "lose" your directives -- giving the living will to someone other than your agent, without your agent's knowledge.  Again: If your agent has no idea where the living will is, then how can he or she get it?

Giving the original to someone at odds with your agent.  Some of you may have intra-family turmoil.  Obviously, never give your living will with someone who often fights with or is at odds with your designated agent.  Remember: The purpose of the living will is to ensure that your wishes are carried out.  PERIOD.  Your directives are not to be used in a way to be "fair" to another family member, or for any purpose other than ensuring that your wishes are followed.

Putting it where nobody would ever look.  This is a general category.  Never place your living will in a secret place, or in the middle of a "mess."  It should be kept in a place known to your agent, or otherwise where important papers are kept.

So many people go to the expense of preparing a living will, but give little thought as to where it should be kept.  Even more important, they place their living wills in entirely inappropriate places.  Make sure that your agent knows where you have stored your living will.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice, and the use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this article or any links from this article is expressly disclaimed. This article is not to be acted upon as if it were legal advice, and is subject to change without notice, or may include obsolete or dated information, or information not relevant to your jurisdiction. If you require legal services, you should consult with an attorney.



Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Larry_Stratton

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!


"To the world you are a Mother, but to your family you are the World."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Uncontested Divorce - Definition, Terms and Conditions


An Uncontested Divorce is a legal procedure in which the spouses mutually agree on certain terms and conditions, in order to adjourn their marriage. An uncontested divorce can be executed successfully if the spouses comply to a shared agreement in the matters related to the property partition, financial matters, any kind of support activities related to their children, and other litigious affairs.

A major benefit of consenting with an uncontested divorce is that unlike contested divorce, it doesn't have to deal with emotional and financial issues, is relatively inexpensive and quick, since most of the times the spouses may not find any need of an attorney or a court case for the divorce, if they are in good terms with each other, and plan to go with proper understanding. This is quite helpful essentially when the couple has much less assets to deal with and no children.

There are many "Do it yourself" forms available at concerned regulatory agencies, which can assist you in going ahead with the uncontested divorce activity yourself, without the need of any outside legal authority or attorney.But, in case of the issues for child support or the partition of community property, one must follow up with attorney related to divorce, before they proceed with signing off any legal documents.

Divorce is a quite tedious and sometimes displeasing procedure.Despite having mutual consent on many of the terms, there still exist loads of matters that need to be taken care of, before ending up the marriage. The couple needs to be capable enough to distinguish these issues and resolve them as soon as they can. To decide whether it is appropriate for a couple to go ahead with an uncontested divorce rather than a contested one, there are certain points that can be used as reference:

1) Are both the spouses agreeing to go for a divorce, or one of them still wants to re-establish the relationship?

2) Are all the financial issues, modes of income and other related assets properly understood by both the spouses, so that they can divide and decide on them accordingly?

3) In case, there are children, are all the issues regarding the child care and support,custody, periodic meetings and visits decided yet?

4) Are all the issues getting settled with mutual consent, and are devoid of any hard feelings?

5) Are both the partners in accord with the honesty or authenticity of the other partner's notions,regarding the resolution of these issues?

If either of the above mentioned questions, has an answer as "yes", then it is appropriate to go for an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorce can be carried on easily and without much hassles, but they can be derogatory to certain individuals in case the people involved in the divorce, do not know much about their appropriate rights with respect to the alimony amount, partition of pension, earnings from real estate, and other modes of income.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Camy_Divine

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