Did you ever wish you could have an ongoing relationship with a legal advisor, someone who could answer your questions whenever you need them as you operate your business? For aspiring, new AND existing business owners, we can help you with a variety of issues, such as choosing the right entity type for your new enterprise, writing & reviewing contracts or evaluating your current legal needs. This is sometimes described as serving as your “outside general counsel” for your business.
Do you have a written, legally-binding contract in place with your customers and clients? With your vendors? With your partners? By planning ahead, you can save yourself the hassle, time and expense of having to deal with “deals gone wrong” – make sure that you have the right contract terms in place, to legally bind the other parties you do business with, whether they are your partners, customers, or vendors. We have over 15 years of experience in drafting and preparing contracts for businesses in various industries and unique situations, and we can adequately address your business’ legal needs by ensuring that we include the most important terms for your business.
What’s your legal question or legal issue? If it’s something that we can help you with, we will.
If not, we will gladly provide you with referrals to other specialized attorneys in employment law, intellectual property, real estate, tax and business litigation, to name a few. We are committed to helping you find a solution to your problem, and that always means sending you to the right professional, even if they are at another law firm. We believe in building a congenial network of attorneys and professionals so that we can be the best resource to you and your business.
Closely-Held Business (General Counsel)
Are you the owner and operator of your business, serving as Shareholder, Director (or Member/ Manager) and President, CFO or some other officer? Then your business qualifies as a closely-held business, since the number of owners and decision-makers are limited, even though the business itself may be large and thriving. Maybe you are running a business with other family members, with a few different generations working together. Do you have questions about how to hire or fire employees? Do you need to draft a contract with a customer for a special project, or to bring on a new business partner? Do you want to protect the business you have built thus far, by planning ahead and implementing effective legal practices and solid strategies? Our practice is focused on providing practical solutions for your business as various legal needs arise during the daily operations.
Basic Estate Planning
The “basic” part of it means that we will help you with establishing a relatively simple estate plan that will apply to most middle-class families and individuals. However, if you have a complicated estate (in the types of assets you own), complicated family situation, OR net worth that could grow to above $10 million, then you require the assistance of an estate planning expert. Since this is not our area of specialty, we would be happy to provide you with referrals to trusted specialists in complex estate planning to meet your needs.
Everyone needs a will. Regardless of if you are single with no family, or married with children, unless you want the state of California to dictate where your assets go when you pass away, you will want to have a will in place sooner than later. Writing a will may help you think about not only the people whom you want to benefit financially, but also what kind of legacy you will want to leave behind.
Even if you have a living/ revocable/ family trust, you will still need a will, since every individual needs to address their tangible personal property, their funeral wishes and appoint guardians for minor children in a will.
By the time a person is married and has their first child, they should already be thinking about establishing a revocable living trust for the benefit of themselves, their spouse and their children as beneficiaries of their estate.
The rule of thumb to keep in mind with regard to a revocable or “living” trust is that if you live in California and you own more than $150,000 in assets, you definitely need one. In other words, if you own your own home (chances are, it’s worth much more than that, especially in California), you may need a revocable or “living” trust, in order to avoid a probate administration of your estate when you pass away.
Durable Powers of Attorney
If you were to get into some kind of car accident that left you mentally incapacitated and unable to manage your own finances, this document would ensure that your desires would be executed. You would have appointed one agent (with two successor agents) to make financial decisions for you, if you were still alive but unable to make these decisions yourself.
Advance Health Care Directives
Remember what happened to Terri Schiavo? This document will ensure that your loved ones and trusted friends can make informed decisions about your health care, if something were to happen to prevent you from making these decisions on your own. In this document, you can write specific instructions about life support treatment, whether you want to donate organs upon death, and appoint at least 2 agents to make health care related decisions on your behalf.
check out What Our Clients Are Saying
Gahram clearly explained my options and presented me with additional things to consider when protecting my personal and business interests. I felt I had the information I needed to make the best decision.D.H. – Capistrano Beach, CA
We appreciated the detailed explanation of the process and the fact that the frequent communication allowed us to complete the process in a timely manner.M.A. - West Covina
[Our] situation was unique, Gahram accommodated [our] needs for her assistance, twice she came to where I was with little notice and helped [us] resolve/ complete [our] estate plan. I could not have asked for a better representative, kind, thoughtful, very professional, very honest, and a great person. I will use her again as needed.Todd M. - Rancho Cucamonga
I have what I think is a pretty good invention/ product idea. What do I do next?
Congratulations! Before you go in the direction of filing for a patent, have you made a workable model of the product? Maybe you should experiment with various materials to see what works best. Once you have a model in place, then you can look into asking investors from various places, such as family and friends for help to fund this idea and reproduce samples for potential investors to inspect. If it is truly a spectacular idea, I’m sure that the right people will come alongside you and help to move it forward.
You should also spend some time talking to as many successful business owners (especially in similar industries) as you can. This will help to give you perspective in terms of what works in that particular market/ industry, what is viable and can truly succeed as a product (as well as what it took for them to get started). There is a ton of valuable information that you can find on the Internet to answer a lot of your questions.
Furthermore, you will want to invest some money (to hire an attorney) in making sure that you don’t reveal or discuss your product idea to anyone unless and until they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) so that they are not allowed to “run” with your idea and make money from it.
I want to start a small business from home. What do I need to do?
Congratulations on starting your own business!
Once you obtain a Fictitious Business Name, in other words, instead of “Judy Smith”, you are “doing business as” (DBA) “Smith Data Entry Services”, you can then open a bank account in the name of the business as a sole proprietorship, to keep things separate from your personal finances. You could then keep track of your business expenses and income on Schedule C of your Form 1040 for your federal tax returns.
You should still consult with a business formations attorney to see if it makes sense for you to form a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), based on the type of business you are running, your long-term goals and the types of liabilities you may be exposing yourself to.
As for generating a basic contract between you and your customers, please do not try to put something together on your own. You should instead spend a reasonable amount of money with a competent attorney who can ensure that your contract has the terms that you need for your type of business. If you put in the time and effort and money to establish your business properly from the outset, then you won’t have to pay for the consequences of skimping on expert advice later.
I am not a US citizen or permanent resident. What kind of business can I start in California?
There are many options for citizens of other nations to start businesses in the U.S., since certain business entities, such as limited liability companies (LLCs) or C-corporations do not require that their owners be U.S. citizens. A local business formations attorney can advise you as to the options for foreign-owned business entities in California.
However, for someone whose immigration status is for example, a student visa (F1), you may not be allowed to work in the U.S. This is not my area of expertise, so you should definitely consult with an immigration attorney who will know all of the restrictions for your type of visa.
I am involved in a business with two other partners. What kind of rights do I have?
It depends on the kind of entity you have — are you a corporation, partnership or LLC? If you are a partnership or LLC, do you have a partnership agreement or operating agreement in place (executed among the 3 of you at the outset)? If so, your rights to see the “books & records” of the company as well as your ability to vote on company decisions (either as an shareholder/ member or director) are typically defined and spelled out there. Also, what are your ownership percentages among the 3 of you – is it 33.3% each, or is there a dominating partner who actually owns more than 50%? Each of the partners likely has a fiduciary duty toward you (and vice versa) to make decisions in the best interest of the business, and to be loyal and responsible.
Please start with your formation documents, i.e. bylaws of corporation, partnership agreement or LLC operating agreement, and if there is nothing mentioned there, you should consult with a local business / corporate attorney to find out what your state’s default laws are.
I want to write a contract to protect my business from anything that could go wrong with my customers. Where do I start?
At the very minimum, you will want to include the date of the agreement, the parties to the agreement (identify them by their names and addresses), the terms of the agreement (what services or products are being exchanged for payment?), payment terms, how long the agreement is in place between the parties, grounds for termination, etc.
But the absolute best way would be to consult with a business transactions attorney who deals with drafting contracts, so that you can ensure that you don’t overlook a situation that should have been addressed in your contract. If you do it wrong from the beginning, because you are trying to “pinch pennies”, it could cost you MORE money in the end, when you try to address a situation that was not properly addressed by your self-made contract.
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Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is general information only, and does not constitute legal advice; this information should not be relied upon without consulting with a lawyer. Furthermore, neither use of this website, nor transmission or receipt of materials from this web site creates an attorney-client relationship or an offer to represent you. No duty of any kind shall arise in favor of anyone accessing this site. Sending an e-mail to Avodah Law Group®, a PLC also does not establish an attorney-client relationship, and the contents of such communications may not be confidential. Avodah Law Group®, a Professional Law Corporation © 2017