Archive for Child Custody

Do You Need To Update Your Estate Plan?

Have there been any significant changes in the lives of your appointed decision makers that would affect their ability to serve on your behalf?  Are there people you would like to have as decision makers who are not listed on your original estate plan documents?

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

An estate plan is critical for same-sex couples.  Why?  Now that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages, married and same-sex partners should receive the same federal income and estate tax treatment as other married couples.  However, states may differ in their approach to domestic partnerships; still too early to say how each state will roll out the federal changes.  Considering the challenges, it is important to consider reviewing or initiating estate planning.

Types of Business Insurance


  • Business Property Insurance (buildings, loss of income, earthquake and flood)
  • Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Auto Coverage Company Vehicles
  • Health Insurance
  • Excess Liability Coverage
  • Employment Practices Liability Coverage
  • Fidelity Bond
  • Life Insurance


Intellectual Property Protection / Trade Secrets

If you want the opportunity to stop your employees from competing against you once they leave your business, you must have a strong non-competition agreement, as well as an agreement that deals with the company’s trade secrets.  Trade secrets don’t need to necessarily be the secret formula of a soft drink, but can simply be your customer lists.  This is an area where an expert needs to be consulted.

Buy-Out Agreements

Whatever form of business organization is selected, if there is multiple ownership, a buy-out agreement should be considered.  This will help avoid an unwanted and often disruptive change of ownership.

Employment Agreements

Employees who work exclusively for one business will typically have an “at will” agreement that is terminable by either side at any time.  While this is adequate is most cases, some employees come with special skills for more complex financial rewards which deal with benefits and conditions for termination.  It is these arrangements that warrant a written employment agreement.

Contracts Within Your Own Business

Just as a business needs contracts to protect against its dealings with third parties, a business must also protect relationships within the business with employees and investors.

Small Business Legal Issues

What makes a contract?

A contract is basically a series of mutual promises.  Promises may be clearly stated or may be implied.

Generally contracts require an “offer,” a promise by one person in exchange for a promise by another person, and an “acceptance,” which is the other person’s agreement to the proposed deal.  Sometimes these terms can be implied by actions alone.  Sometimes validly formed contracts will not be enforced, for example, when one party is a minor.  In other cases, it may be uncertain whether the parties had a contract at all.  Each case should be evaluated by an attorney on an individual basis.


As a small business owner, you have likely received plenty of advice, solicited or not.  One of the most erroneous pieces of advice preached to small business owners is to delay incorporating until getting an income or personal net worth threshold.

Planning for Your Kids

If you have minor children, you have probably had a “plane crash” nightmare:  You and your spouse are on an airplane when it plunges from the sky leaving your kids at home with Grandma and Grandpa – for the rest of their lives.

This scenario should alert you to an important part of estate planning:  Who do you want raising your children into adulthood if the unthinkable happens?

Many factors go into choosing a guardian for your children or a substitute if your first choice is unable to serve.  Among the characteristics to consider:

  • Similar values and lifestyle
  • Flexibility
  • Good sense of responsibility
  • Good health
  • Physically fit and good at handling finances
  • Likes children and has a nurturing personality

This list is just to get you thinking.

There are actually two aspects when considering a guardian:  One is that the guardian will serve as the guardian of the child and, in other words, taking care of the personal needs of the child or children.  The second aspect is financial:  Will that person be responsible for the finances or will there be a separate trustee who has the duty of prudent investing of the assets and following the directions left in a trust as to how the money is to be spent for the children and when they would get the ultimate distribution of the estate that you leave.

There is a general inclination of parents to avoid the guardianship issues, but it is not something you really want to delay; it’s too important a responsibility to leave to chance.