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General Counsel Legal Services On An On-Demand Basis

Outside general counsel is an innovative approach to legal services for growing a mature business.  Mr. Rupprecht is a senior business lawyer with substantial in house experience who can provide corporate counsel services as needed at a fraction of the cost of either hiring a full-time, executive level general counsel or relying exclusively on law firm counsel.

Selecting A Real Estate Attorney

Real estate attorneys need deep knowledge about the business of buying, building and operating real estate assets.  That practical knowledge is acquired only through experience and exposure to clients and deals, especially deals that go bad.  It takes years to learn industry practices, many of which vary among different asset sectors.

The Two Partnership Killers

You’ve probably heard a business owner say, “Partnerships don’t work.”  That statement is usually followed by a story of what a former partner did or didn’t do.  I have found that no matter what the story, there are two primary things that lead to the death of partnerships.  Though rarely noticed early on, these two things start small and over time cause stress to grow into tensions and tensions expand into disputes and disputes evolve into outright conflict.  So what are these partnership killers? Unstated expectations and verbal agreements.

 

Probate Attorney Fees in California

Lawyers charge a “statutory fee” which is an amount that is a percentage of the value of the gross assets that go through probate.  The current rate starts at 4% of the first $100,000 of gross value of the probate estate and that percentage decreases as the gross value of the estate goes up.  For example, if you have a gross estate value of $750,000, the attorney’s fees will be $18,000.  If there are extra services that need to be performed, for example, selling a house, additional fees can be ordered by the court.  Please note that this is the amount for just one fee.  If both the executor and the attorney take the statutory fees, this amount would be doubled.  Avoiding this process is one of the benefits of a living trust.

Basic Probate Process

If probate is necessary, someone must come forward to start the process.  If there is a will, the executor is named in the will.  If there is no will, then a family member would generally ask to be appointed as administrator.

 

The job of an executor will generally last from six months to a year assuming there are no disputes between beneficiaries.  There is a filing fee charged by the court of about $400 depending on the county.

 

Once the executor has the authority from the court, then the process of gathering the deceased person’s assets begins.  The executor needs to open an estate bank account, apply for a tax ID number, and set up a filing system.  The executor will need to compile and file with the court an inventory and appraisal of all probate property.

 

In California, creditors have four months to come forward with their claims.  When all of the bills and taxes have been paid, the executor then asks the court to close the estate.  That’s when the executor can distribute all of the estate assets to the people who inherit them.

Living Trusts

The wealthy are diligent about planning to protect their families.  One of the simplest things you can do to protect your family is to establish a living revocable trust.  A key benefit to using a living trust to own your core assets is that if you pass away, those assets will avoid probate – a costly and lengthy procedure of allowing the courts to sort through your assets (making everything public record).  But unlike a living will, a trust can also protect you and your family while you are alive.  If you become ill or incapacitated, you can include an incapacity clause that allows someone to step in to handle your bills and other affairs.

Buying a Company and Due Diligence

Due diligence for a business buyout or access acquisition is a process that usually begins after signing a letter of intent which sets forth the parties’ desire to buy and sell a company or assets.  People frequently use the term “due diligence” loosely but it is a process that should be structured and conducted in a controlled and disciplined way.

 

Knowledge is power for a buyer, but it can also be a liability, especially if the buyer decides not to make the purchase after conducting due diligence.  In that case, the seller may be suspicious that the buyer just wanted to acquire its proprietary information for an improper purpose, and even if the buyer did not have any improper motives, it would be possible for the buyer to accidentally misappropriate trade secrets or to negligently expose the information to theft or misappropriation by the parties.  In order to act defensively, the buyer should define the essential goals of the business acquisition by limiting the scope of the documents needed for review.  You should define the scope of the due diligent information you will request.  A buyer should also document all of its existing intellectual property.  Specifically, the buyer should record all of its own past and current work similar to or relating to the services or products of the acquisition target.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is essentially planning for the management of assets that have been collected over your life and beyond.  Here are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself when starting the estate planning and wealth transfer process:

 

  • Can you make certain that money left to the grandchildren is used first for education?
  • How do you keep your loved ones from fighting with each over their inheritance?
  • How can you keep a disgruntled family member from impeding the administration of your estate?
  • What can be done to minimize the amount owed to the government in estate taxes?
  • How can you protect a loved one from future creditors?

Estate Planning

Estate planning is essentially planning for the management of assets that have been collected over your life and beyond.  Here are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself when starting the estate planning and wealth transfer process:

 

  • Once you are gone, how can you protect a beneficiary against their own poor financial decisions?
  • How much is too much to leave someone?
  • Do you need to treat children or grandchildren exactly the same in terms of what they inherit?
  • Should you skip a child who is already wealthy?
  • Can you create a plan which gives beneficiaries financial incentives to reach certain milestones like graduating from college or receiving other degrees?

Estate Planning

Estate planning is essentially planning for the management of assets that have been collected over your life and beyond.  Here are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself when starting the estate planning and wealth transfer process:

 

  • Who will make medical decisions for you during incapacity?
  • Who will manage your assets to make financial decisions if you become incapacitated?
  • What safeguards can be put into place to minimize the chances of undue influence, fraud or embezzlement being exercised against you if you become incapacitated?
  • What can be done to make certain your wishes concerning life support are followed?
  • How do you pass down your own investment philosophies to individuals inheriting your assets?