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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Friday, May 12, 2017

Becoming Incorporated - The Pros and Cons Of Incorporation


So you currently have your own business and you're pondering over whether or not you should incorporate it, or carry on as a sole trader?

Before you make the incorporation decision, you need to consider all of the advantages and disadvantages that incorporating brings.

This article will set out to explain the benefits and downsides to incorporation, starting with the benefits ...

Benefits of Incorporation:

Personal Liability Protection

An incorporated company is a separate legal entity responsible for its own debts. Shareholders only have responsibility for servicing debts and liabilities up to the value of their equity in the Company.

Creditors of a corporation can only seek payment from the assets of the incorporated business and not from the personal assets of shareholders, directors and officers.

As a small business owner of a non incorporated company, your personal assets are at risk if your business fails to service it's debts.

Personal liability protection is therefore a major benefit of business incorporation.

However, owners forming new corporations with small amounts of invested capital may well be asked to provide personal guarantees that credit will be honoured to reduce the risk of the lender.

Also, owners of incorporated businesses are required to personally ensure that the company makes its required tax repayments.

Protection From Legal Action

As with personal liability protection from debts above, the personal assets of the company's owners is protected by the separate legal entity status in cases where the incorporated company faces legal action.

Note, incorporation does not protect a company's officers from liability and prosecution in cases where the company is found guilty of criminal negligence.

Tax Advantages

Some incorporated businesses can enjoy lower taxation rates following business incorporation compared with partnerships and sole traders. One way of achieving lower taxation is to minimise the salary paid to the owners to reduce higher rates of personal taxation, and draw income from the business in the form of dividends which are taxed at a lower rate.

Obviously professional advice from a qualified taxation expert should be sought in all instances as all personal circumstances are different.

Other taxation benefits of incorporation are that once incorporated, many additional items of expenditure become tax deductible. For example medical expenses, entertainment expenses, vehicle and travel costs, recreational facilities and pension costs all become tax deductible. This can be a significant cash benefit. In particular money placed in an approved pension plan is tax free as is the funds growth.

Raising New Capital

Once you've incorporated your business, the ability to issues shares simplifies the process of raising capital investment. It's also easier to get loans and other finance approved from financial lending institutions if you are an incorporated company.

Transferring Ownership

The existence of shares also simplifies the sale of your business in the future. Also should an owner or director die, the business can continue to operate indefinitely.

Business Credibility

Having the words Inc or Corp in your business name gives a positive perception of long term financial stability.

Disadvantages of Incorporation

Double Taxation

Once incorporated, earnings are subject to double taxation, whereby, company profits are taxed, and then the dividends paid to shareholders from the "net" profits are also taxed.

With a non-incorporated business, the income the owner receives from the business is only taxed once. Double taxation can be avoided if the corporation is registered as an "S-Corporation"

Statutory Compliance Costs

Compliance with legal and accounting requirements places a significant burden on companies in terms of staffing, cost and time. There are also fees associated with the initial company incorporation, and ongoing operations.

Loss of flexibility The separate legal entity status of incorporation also means that the company finances are separate from the individual's, therefore the individual cannot "borrow" money from the accounts of the corporation, and statutory requirements in general reduce the flexibility of what can and can't be done with the business and its finances.

The above are some of the key advantages and disadvantages that you as a business owner need to consider before you begin the process of incorporation. You should always seek legal advice as all cases are different.

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

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

How to Get an Annulment


Divorces are often easier to get than annulments because annulments require proof that the marriage was procured or initiated through fraud. Get a marriage annulment and understand misconceptions about annulments with advice from a certified family mediator in this free video on legal self-help.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Making a Will - What You Should Know About Creating a Will


A will is an important document for any person to have. This document simply provides directions on how your property will be handled when you pass on. Many times, when people die without a will in place, a lot of misunderstandings can arise within the family and the community at large. It is therefore important to specify how one's property or estate will be handled to avoid these misunderstandings.

A will writing service is important to help you come up with your will. It is possible for you to write your will without any help but if you are not familiar with this process, you need guidance so that you can write a will correctly.

The first thing you need to do is identify a good will writing service that has the requisite experience and reputation to ease the process of making a will. There are a number of benefits that you will get when you work with a will writing service. Some of these benefits include:

• Correct Structure

Certain things are required when you are drawing up your will. You must indicate that you are of the right age and of sound mind. You must also indicate that this is your last will and testament. You still are able to amend your will at any time you wish to.

These services will also help you to understand technical terms used when writing a will. A man writing a will is called a testator while a woman is called a testatrix. The will has to be signed by the testatrix or the testator and signed by two other witnesses.

• Tax Implications

Certain assets or estates can have tax implications. If you leave your estate to someone else other than your spouse, they might be required to pay taxes on it. It is important to know this in advance and plan for it accordingly.

• Will Execution

Another important aspect to consider is the executor of the will. This is the person who will carry out the terms of the will should you pass on. The person who helps you write the will can also be the executor if they have that capacity. If not, you should name the person or company to carry out this function.

Making a will should not be a problem for you. With the right people to help you, this process will be easy. It will allow you to rest well knowing that your estate will be handled correctly when you pass on.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tony_M_Mason/1175640

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

An Overview on LLC Taxation


Calculating and paying for taxes is never easy. It's especially tricky if you are a member of a limited liability company, since this business structure allows for a wide range of tax treatment options. Lucky for you, there's this guide to help you navigate the murky waters of LLC taxation.

General Rules

How your LLC will be taxed depends on whether the IRS views your company as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an S corporation, or a C corporation. The IRS may tax the individual members, the LLC as a whole, or both. Remember that the LLC is legally considered a different business entity from the members comprising it. Understanding this distinction will make the concept of LLC taxation less confusing.

Sole Proprietorship

LLC taxation for one-member companies is straightforward: the lone owner pays the LLC's taxes based on the company's net income. There is no need to file separate returns for the owner and the company.You can choose to have your company treated as a corporation-provided that you also allow it to be taxed as such.

Partnerships/Multi-Owner LLCs

Multi-owner LLCs file two separate tax returns: the 1065 partnership tax return for its business income, and the Schedule SE tax form for the self-employment taxes of each member. Self-employment taxes depend on the agreed profit-loss sharing between the members.

C Corporation

LLC taxation rules for this business structure work like that of a standard corporation. Essentially, the aggregate profits of the C corporation are taxed according to the prevailing corporate tax rate, and any profits distributed as dividends among members are taxed according to the dividend rate. Though the members don't need to file individual returns, they still need to pay payroll taxes in behalf of their employees.

S Corporation

The LLC taxation system for S corps is unusual. A return is filed in behalf of the LLC (i.e. Form 1120S), but the company's profits aren't taxed as a whole. Instead, tax money comes straight out of the individual members' pockets, again according to their operating agreement. The members declare these taxes via individual returns.

The LLC taxation system is only one of several considerations you have to bear in mind when choosing an LLC structure. All of these have their pros and cons, and it's important that you do your research on which structure is in the best interest of your company. Always take time to consult the experts, like your lawyer, accountant, or even registered agent.


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

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys Help to Make Sure Your Wishes are Met


No one can foresee problems that may arise should he become incapacitated. Yet, you can avoid negative consequences of unforeseen problems by creating Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys (HCPOA).

Setting up a Living Will or HCPOA is a relatively simple task. The first step it to consult with an attorney that specializes in estate planning to ensure that your documents are clear. Here's an overview of what you can expect from your Living Will and HCPOA.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

The HCPOA, otherwise known as a "healthcare proxy" is a legal document that enables an individual that you appoint (your "agent") to act as your healthcare representative if you become incapacitated. The agent becomes your acting representative at the moment you become incapacitated, thus eliminating the need for your loved ones to argue over your rights and wishes in court.

Your agent has the authority to request or deny any medical treatment that he determines to be appropriate. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose someone that you trust as your agent. Please note: In most states, your spouse will be your default agent. If you are not married but are in a lifelong relationship your partner, he does not automatically become your agent. Make sure that you appoint your partner as your agent to ensure that he or she has control over your medical decisions if you are unable to make them.

Because your agent has whatever powers you give him or her, make sure that he or she understands your desires. Some of the decisions he or she may need to make include but are not limited to:

  • Deciding whether or not you will receive medical treatment
  • Withdrawing life-support

Living Will

A Living Will and HCPOA should be used in tandem, since one document complements the other. Your Living Will is a document that clearly expresses your desires. In short, your Living Will provides your medical team with instructions for how to carry out your wishes should you become incapacitated. For example, if you become brain dead, you can state in your Living Will that you wish to receive or not to receive life support.

By creating a Living Will, you ensure that your desires will be carried out without court involvement that can be costly and stressful for your family. Criteria for enacting a Living Will vary by state; so make sure that you consult with an attorney to ensure that your Living Will complies with the rules in your state.


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

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Living Trust and Wills - By the People



Living Trust or a will? Rene talks about some of the differences and what sets one apart from the other to help you make the best decision for your needs. Call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 with any questions you may have, and see their website at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Friday, May 5, 2017

Advance Directives: A Special Insurance Policy That Everybody Needs



What is insurance? A thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.

Given the advances in medical technology, there are many possible circumstances in which my body may be kept alive even if my mind may have ceased to function. This could result from accident or disease. It could occur in the near or distant future. Under these circumstances, I have very specific desires of things that I want to be done and others that I want to stop or prevent from occurring. Can I take out an insurance policy that will protect me against institutions or people taking actions that are against my wishes? Yes, it's called an Advance Directive.

This form of insurance can be acquired without an agent or attorney. To get this coverage you must invest some time and energy to get your state's forms and fill them out. This is usually a two-part form with the first section designating who can make health care decisions for you in the event that you are not capable. This is usually called a Medical Power of Attorney designation. The second part, sometimes referred to as a living will, is where you are able to give physicians and family specific instructions regarding your care. The forms can be downloaded on-line from several different sources or can be picked up from any hospital in your area.

The mechanics of the process can be a little difficult and uncomfortable. This small discomfort allows for procrastination to jump in and convince you that this is a good idea and you really should do it someday, but not today. Maybe you'll do it next week or next month. One way to help you get over the hurdle of procrastination is to really look at some of the many benefits that you get from completing this task.

Three benefits of Advance Directives:

  • Peace of mind from knowing that you have insurance in place.
  • A huge gift will be given to your family and loved ones. In the event that it is needed, they will be greatly helped and assured that you are guiding their decisions.
  • Protection of your estate and financial assets. Medical institutions are allowed to utilize their technology to prolong life even when the outcome may be futile. This process can drain your financial resources and possibly impoverish your family.

When you discipline yourself to create an advance directive, set aside adequate time to consider specific details. The more specific you make your wishes, the better the quality of your policy. After completing the process you will enjoy a deep sense of satisfaction. So set a deadline to help you guide the process and make it happen.


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

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

What Are the Different Business Legal Structures?


There are several common legal structures that you can set your business up under. Which one you chose is going to depend on what kind of business you are setting up, who else is involved in this plan with you, your own personal preferences, among several other factors.

Here is a quick overview of your options.

Sole Proprietorship

This is still the most common type of business structure, particularly for small businesses that are just starting out. This means that one person owns and is responsible for the business. They make all the decisions, but they also hold all the financial responsibility. The profits or losses from the business are reported on the proprietor's personal taxes.

General Partnership

This is very similar to a sole proprietorship, except that there is more than one person involved in owning and operating the business. The business is still connected to you, but also to your partners. This means you all share in the management and financial responsibilities of the business.

Corporation (LTD or INC)

A corporation is an entity that is formed and does business on its own, separate from anyone personally. This means that the financial situation of the business does not roll over onto the person who owns the business.

While this may seem like the better option to avoid personal liability if something happens within the business, it can be extremely tedious and expensive to set up and maintain. This is not a viable option for most small business owners because most of them cannot afford the set up fees or maintenance of records required.

Limited Liability Company/Corporation (LLC)

This is a newer and very popular type of business structure because it offers the benefits of a corporation, does not require a lot of the same hassle. Unlike a limited liability partnership, you can set up this type of company with only one person. It provides a lot of the financial protection of a corporation, but does not require as extensive measures to upkeep.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

This is a different type of partnership, but it also provides some of the financial protection of a corporation. Unlike an LLC, you must have at least two partners. However, it is easier to maintain and keep your structure than an LLC. This business structure is also much more common in the UK, which LLCs are more popular in the US.

How you set up your business is an important decision. The structure you choose could make a big financial and legal difference. It will depend on many factors, including local laws. Take the time to research your options and talk to an accountant or other business professional and anyone else involved in your business before making your decision.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Eric_D_Cooper/1217463

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Making A Living Will Impacts End Of Life Care



New research by Lauren Nicholas at University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research shows that making a living will impacts the end of life care of individuals. This is the first national study involving sample from across the US.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Probate Process - What Is Probate? The Steps to Administering an Estate


Most people have heard the word probate before, but they might be wondering 'what is probate?' The probate process can refer to several things. The probate court determines whether or not a will is valid. If an executor is not named in the will, the court will assign an executor to perform those duties. However, the entire process of administering the estate of the deceased according to the will's instructions can also be referred to as probate. Many people think that an executor simply reads the will and hands out the bequests to the heirs. There is so much more involved in the duties of an executor during probate.

The actual court probate process is only a part of the responsibilities of the will's executor. The first duty is to file a petition to start probate in each of the states where the deceased owned property. Because each state has slightly varying probate laws, the answer to the 'what is probate?' question will change a little depending on a specific state's legal code. However, there are some common events between states when it comes to processing wills and other estate administration. Before the executor of the will can even be formally appointed or approved, a petition has to be filed, a notice of petition must be published with a certain amount of lead time (usually at least 15 days), the legal documents must be given to the judge for approval, and the concerned parties (such as beneficiaries) must be notified.

Following these notifications, the court hearing will formally begin the probate process and approve the named executor of the will. After the court hearing, the executor needs to inventory all of the deceased's assets. This information has to be filed with the probate court. Next, all creditor's claims are addressed and paid off. The IRS also has to be paid. It is the executor's responsibility to file all taxes, including income, estate, and others, by their respective deadlines. The timelines are not adjusted due to the death of the taxee. What is probate? It's probably a lot more than most people realize.

Once all debts and taxes are paid, the executor of the will files a petition for the judge's approval of the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. The concerned parties are notified, and there is a court hearing where the judge approves the distribution of assets. Finally in the probate process, the executor transfers those assets to the beneficiaries. These steps are the main answer to the 'what is probate?' question.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Juan_Mabry/1314349

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Partnerships, LLCs, Corporations What’s Best for Your Business


Don't know if you should choose an LLC or a Corporation? Learn some tips here on what's best for you business.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

How Thinking About An Uncontested Divorce Figures Into Your Decision About Divorce


An uncontested divorce is the most common type of divorce. An uncontested divorce is a divorce that occurs when there are no disagreements between spouses over divorce related issues like custody, finances, living arrangements, spousal support, child support, etc. An uncontested divorce can be an easy way for people to get divorced without the hassles of a legal struggle and undue wear and tear on emotions.

But, you may not be ready to seriously consider uncontested divorce if you're just thinking about it.

Thinking about an uncontested divorce can mean a variety of things from a psychological perspective...it could mean that you are really on the brink of divorce.

It could also mean that you're feeling frustrated and just want to end things as fast and quietly as possible. If this is the case, you may want to make sure that you aren't just being lazy and you should examine your reasons for divorce first before you go any further.

"Does it mean I am really ready for divorce just because I am starting to think about an uncontested divorce?"

Maybe, maybe not.

Here's a few things you might want to think about before going onto next steps with regards to an uncontested divorce, just to make sure that you're really ready to go through with it.

Uncontested divorce situation 1:
You're thinking about an uncontested divorce because you want out but you aren't sure if your spouse is ready to call it quits.

This can be tough if you aren't careful. The main point of an uncontested divorce is to have both parties agree on things. If your spouse doesn't even know that you're thinking about getting a divorce, mentioning an uncontested divorce may result in an explosive discussion.

Uncontested divorce situation 2:
You've both agreed that you'd like a divorce, but haven't really clearly defined why, you just know you both feel ending the marriage is best.

Maybe there's a chance to make your marriage work! Don't be too hasty. If you can't clearly define why you and your spouse want to end your marriage, you're acting on emotion rather than a healthy combination of emotion and logic. Sit down, think it through and have a detailed discussion around all of the details.

But, be careful...this can be a volatile situation if you haven't talked everything through and mutually agreed on how you'll actually implement your divorce decision to have an uncontested divorce.

If one of you is more demonstrative than the other or is usually the person who drives the decisions, that sense of control may carry over into the discussion of the terms of the uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorce situation 3:
You both agreed that you'd like a divorce (and you both know why), and you've successfully talked about and agreed on all of the details regarding the uncontested divorce.

Although it can be a sad situation most of the time, sometimes a divorce is actually a good thing unfortunately. If you and your spouse have amicably decided to part ways and can continue on as responsible happy adults, then an uncontested divorce can be an easy way to sever the relationship and all legal obligations. This is the best situation to be in if you're looking for an uncontested divorce...it should be simple to finish from this point.

Lots of people think about uncontested divorces and never go through with getting one because they actually work things out...and that's a great thing! And, some people think they want an uncontested divorce but haven't agreed on the details and terms, they're just looking for the fastest way to end the marriage. If this is the case, the relationship can turn from being amicable (and each party thinking they want a divorce) to being nasty and a resulting tug of war ensues with each person striving to get what they feel they deserve out of the divorce...and this can lead to a drawn out negotiation which certainly is not an uncontested divorce.

Be smart when you're considering an uncontested divorce...make sure that you're really ready to go through with it. Don't let the term 'uncontested' fool you, an attorney can ethically and legally on represent one of the married parties. But, if you and your spouse can truly be amicable and truthful, an uncontested divorce can be easy.

Karl Augustine

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Karl_Augustine/1746

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Personal Finance Tips - How to Set Up a Financial Power of Attorney To Help Handle Your Affairs



If you have a good deal of money or assets it is probably a good idea that when you are planning your estate that you also consider setting up a financial power of attorney. What this is, is a document that will give another person the legal power or right to handle all of your financial affairs. To do this you don't even have to go to court. You just need to be of sound mind when you set up this type of an arrangement.

You being the principal in this document will then choose someone called the agent who will handle your affairs should there come a time in which for whatever reason, you can't. They can also be asked to handle your affairs if you are going to be gone and won't be able to take care of your affairs while you are away.

When you sit down to figure this out you are going to need to decide upon just how much authority that you are going to allow the agent to have. You may decide to give them general powers to handle all of it or you may just give him power to just take care of certain kinds of transactions like your stocks and bonds. They can even be asked to take care of financial issues while you are away on an extended vacation if need be.

You also need to figure out just how long you want their authority to last. It can be durable or it can be nondurable. A nondurable agent will lose their authority the minute you should become incapacitated in any way. So if you want to have them to continue on should you not be able to take care of things if you were incapacitated then you would want to make sure that you made them a durable agent.

You also need to figure out when the power of attorney will take effect. Understand that it will go into effect immediately as soon as the document is signed unless you set down a date in the document when it will take effect. Some documents with durable agents will not kick in until you might be declared incompetent or incapacitated by a doctor. You will also need to make sure there is a stipulation in the document that dictates when the power of attorney is ended, for instance you might stipulate that once a doctor says you are going to be OK and will be recovering, then the power of the agent will end.

Once you have your document written up you will need to have it signed by all parties involved and most states will require that you have the document notarized in front of two witnesses. If you don't want to do all of this yourself, you can always pay an attorney to write up your document for you.

When you decide to write up this kind of a document, the person that you pick needs to be someone you really believe that you know and trust well enough to honestly take care of your affairs for you whenever you might not be able to. Also remember that anything is possible so you might want to also name a second agent in case something should happen to the first one. Also make sure that if you would like to pay this person for performing their agent duties to state this in your document, otherwise they don't get paid for doing this.

Once you have your document written up and signed you should give a copy of it to your agent, a copy for yourself and you should also make sure that any agencies or businesses you do business with have copies as well and that would be banks, brokers, IRS or SSI.

Note: You can revoke your power of attorney at any time during your arrangement with them as long as you are mentally stable and you make sure that you send them a letter in writing stating you are going to revoke the document.


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

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Choose the Best Legal Entity for Your Business


Choosing a legal entity can be complicated, but it can help protect your business's assets. Attorney Mark Kohler explains.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How Do I Set Up an LLC Without a Lawyer?


Limited Liability Companies (LLC) are business entities that got their start in 1977 and are considered to fit somewhere between sole proprietors/partnerships, and fully incorporated companies. Existing to fill the gap between corporations and sole proprietors LLCs can help to segment personal and business assets and liabilities while at the same time maintaining a simplified tax structure. An LLC is not corporations but is a company structure to operate like a corporation.

Liability

An LLC is in itself its own legal entity so long as it is treated as one. The LLC can assume obligations of debt. In other words the LLC, not the members, hold a loan and the liabilities that go along with it. If however the members of an LLC use the entity as their personal bank or for personal matters it is possible that the LLC will not be recognized as a separate entity if a lawsuit is filed.

Taxes

As far as taxes go LLCs are considered by the IRS as pass-through entities. This means income passes through the business and goes straight to the LLC members just as they would with a sole proprietorship or partnership. These profits or losses are filed on each individual's tax return. A caveat to this is that LLCs can be taxed as a corporation if the members elect to do so. So, if treated appropriately an LLC can shield its members from the liabilities of a corporation without assuming the tax overhead a true incorporation must maintain.

How to File

If you are thinking about forming an LLC for your business, spend the next 20 minutes educating yourself on the difference between Sole proprietorships, LLCs, and S corporations. My guess is that for most people starting out as a sole proprietorship will be sufficient for current needs and much cheaper than filing for an LLC.

If you have done your homework and have decided that an LLC is the way to go, what next? The steps to filing an LLC are not complex and although requirements vary from state to state, setting up an LLC is a simple process that can usually be done in an hour.

  1. Articles of Organization

    The first step is to contact your secretary of state and obtain the required form for filing a LLC. In some cases this will be a simple fill in the blank form. The state of Washington for example has an online application. The processes guides you through establishing a legal name, completing the certificate of formation, establishing the registered agent, defining the members, and guides you through the initial annual report. The fee for WA is roughly $200.00, additional costs may apply depending on how you file. Google your secretary of state to find out more of the specifics.

  2. Registered Agent

    As you fill out your articles of organization you will be required to define the registered agent for the LLC. In most cases this will be you. The registered agent is the person or business that is designated to receive important documents on behalf of the LLC. The most appropriate individual for this is generally the one spear heading the business.

  3. Operating Agreement

    The operating agreement is the internal agreement between the members of the LLC. It is not required to form the LLC but it should be drafted to state the rights and responsibilities of the members. The operating agreement should contain but is not limited to the following;

    • Capital Contributions. How are the members expected to make capital contributions if the business needs additional capital?
    • Management Decisions.When the members are faced with important management decisions, does each get one vote, or do they vote according to their percentage interests in the LLC? Majority shareholders may feel they deserve a larger say.
    • Financial Withdraws. How do owners go about draws from the profits of the business?
    • Buy Out/Cash out. How do members leave the LLC? Will they receive an immediate payout of their capital contributions?
    • Compensation. If a member does leave how much should they be paid?
    • Share. While there are not actual shares within a LLC it should be defined how or if a departing owner is allowed to sell an interest to an outsider?

Publish a Notice

Some states require a notice of intent to be published. This can be as simple as running a classified ad in your local paper. Specifics on this will vary and your secretary of state can provide you with the steps required.

Licensing

The last bit to think about is obtaining other appropriate insurance, permits, and licenses for your new LLC. Each industry had its own unique set of requirements so be mindful of this once your business is established.

Conclusion

LLCs are considered by many to be a great way to establish a small business. There is little required to get one started and protection they provide could be priceless. That said an LLC may not be needed for everyone. Only you know the entity type most appropriate for your business.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/TJ_Mollahan/289985

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Power of Attorney = Power in Your Hands


If you manage your property remotely and use a local trusted friend or family member to handle the rental issues for you, you need a contract or a power of attorney. It is a contract involving the details on the work and the compensation in return. It should also define what happens in the case the contract is breached.

With a power of attorney, you grant the person permission and authority to make decisions on behalf of you. Your power of attorney is like a backup and you can revoke it any time you want.

The power of attorney can be very general or specific. To protect yourself, you should always use a limited power of attorney. A good limited power of attorney document for a rental property should specify the expiration date, the property on which it is authorized, and acts permitted. You can customize this according to your needs.

For an ongoing property management purposes, you can specify the expiration date for a year or two. On the other hand, if you are on vacation or just want your power of attorney to sign the lease with the tenant, you can set the dates for a shorter period of time.

You also want to restrict the properties your power of attorney has the authority on by specifying the address of the property. Or if you allow him/her to act on all the rental properties in a city or state, you can put this in the document.

Other important things to spell out in the power of attorney are the kinds of delegations you grant. You might allow your power of attorney to lease the property only, but not collect future rent payments for you. You might give the power to them to furnish the property or adjust the rent or not. It is entirely up to you to decide how much or little power you grant to your power of attorney.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Cliff_Tyler/570409

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Estate Planning Eases Confusion, Financial Worries



What you need to know about estate planning, including why having a will and assigning a power of attorney is crucial.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What is Probate and Will it Affect My Inheritance?


What is probate is a fundamental question. Financial planners claim less than 20-percent of heirs and beneficiaries receive their intended inheritance. Funeral expenses, unpaid debts, estate taxes and legal fees can financially deplete the estate, leaving nothing for those left behind.

This article answers the "what is probate" question and provides tips and techniques to keep assets out of probate. Estates will process through the court system faster when fewer assets are involved.

Probate is the legal process used to validate decedents Last Will and Testament and tie up financial loose ends. The last will is the instrument used to convey final wishes and designate who should receive money, personal belongings, real estate and valuable items.

Numerous options exist for creating a Will. Preformatted Wills can be downloaded online or purchased at office supply stores. Complex estates generally require assistance from a probate attorney or professional estate planner. Much depends on the estate's net worth and how many heirs are entitled to assets.

An estate administrator is designated within the decedent's Will. This individual is responsible for a wide range of duties, so it is best to appoint someone who is good with finances and able to cope well under stress. This is of particular importance when family discord exists.

Probate begins when the decedent's death certificate is submitted to probate court. The estate administrator must create an inventory list of assets and obtain property appraisals for valuable assets such as real estate, collectibles, antiques, artwork and heirloom jewelry. Other duties include paying outstanding debts, filing a final tax return and distributing assets according to directives outlined within the Will. Most Administrators require assistance from an attorney or estate planner.

The process of probate typically takes six to nine months to settle. This can be financially challenging for estates with business or real estate holdings. The estate is responsible for maintaining real estate properties and managing business entities. If the estate does not possess the financial means to maintain property or handle business affairs, the court can order these assets to be sold.

Probate provides a stage for disgruntled heirs to contest the last will. When family members are disinherited or do not receive assets they believe are rightfully theirs, they can file a petition through the court.

The plaintiff is responsible for legal fees. The estate must reimburse legal fees if the court rules in favor of the plaintiff. When Wills are contested probate can drag on for years and potentially bankrupt the estate. In most instances when Wills are the contested, the only people who win are the attorneys.
Estate assets can be exempted from probate by establishing a trust. A variety of types exist and most can be customized to suit the needs of the estate. Trusts are typically reserved for estates valued over $100,000.

Smaller estate can utilize various techniques to keep assets out of probate. These include establishing transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) beneficiaries. TOD is used with investment and retirement accounts, while POD is used for checking and savings accounts.

TOD and POD assignments can be made by filling out a simple form through the financial institution where accounts are held. Financial assets avoid probate through the assignment of beneficiaries.
Real estate can avoid undergoing the process of probate by titling the property as 'Tenants in Common' or 'Joint Tenancy'.

Titled property such as automobiles, motorcycles, boats and airplanes can be jointly titled and transferred to the name beneficiary upon death without passing through probate.

Another option to avoid probate is to give assets to loved ones while you are still alive. The IRS allows cash gifts of up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per married couple, per year. This option is oftentimes attractive to individuals with chronic or terminal illness.

Probate can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. By taking time now to execute a last will and testament and taking action to keep assets out of probate, you can rest assured knowing your loved ones will receive the inheritance you wish to leave them.


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