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Phoenix, Arizona, Business Law Blog

Estate plans encompass more than just a will

When people count on you, making sure that you have your affairs in order is imperative. One way that you can do this is to set up your estate plan. You have to think carefully about what you are going to want everyone to get. Once you have that plan, you will be able to determine how to make your wishes happen.

One area of estate planning that is often misunderstood is trusts. People tend to think that these are reserved only for the wealthy, but this isn't the case. Many people don't realize that even smaller estates might benefit from trusts.

Do you want to change your sole proprietorship to another entity?

Starting your own company may have been one of the most joyous times in your life. You had this idea in your head for many years, and the day your ideas became reality will be one that you always remember. Of course, as your business continues to grow, you likely understand that what worked when you first opened your doors may no longer work for the good of the company.

When you first formed your business, you chose to create a sole proprietorship because it best suited the needs of your small business. Now, you may think that you need to change your business entity to fall more in line with the direction your company has moved and to protect yourself and your business from financial pitfalls. Fortunately, you can change your type of business if you feel it is necessary.

Contracts aren't always in written form

Business disputes can come in all forms. One of these has to do with contracts that businesses use. For some businesses, the reliance upon verbal agreements and understandings is great. In these cases, you need to make sure that you are thinking about how your actions might be construed to others.

Sometimes, there are instances in which you might receive a notification from someone you do business with. You have two options when that occurs. One is that you can acknowledge the notification and let the person know that you either agree or disagree with it. The other is that you can remain silent.

Create a will now or Arizona will decide who gets what

Whether you have a massive estate, including a house, investment accounts and other valuable possessions or you only have the equity in your home to your name, you should take the time to create a last will. Doing so provides you with control over how your assets get allocated when you die. It also provides peace of mind, because you know the people you care for the most will receive your assets.

You may think that you don't necessarily need a last will to have your family members receive your assets. While that belief is correct, there are consequences you may not have considered to dying without a will in place.

Lawsuits can sometimes come up in the course of business

Running a business comes with the possibility of facing a lawsuit. There are thousands upon thousands of reasons why a person might sue a company. While you can hope that this won't happen, it is best if you plan for it so that it might not be as stressful if it does happen. This could enable you to spend more time focusing on running your business and less time having to field problems.

Recently, we discussed deceptive trade practices and how those can impact your business. This isn't the only type of lawsuit that you might face. Some customer might slip and blame your business. A person might steal your company's logo or slogan. A trusted employee might divulge trade secrets to a competitor. In all of these cases, you might be able to turn to the court for justice.

Deceptive trade practice cases can be devastating

Business owners usually try to take all the steps they can to protect their business. One thing that they need to make sure that they are doing is protecting it from deceptive practices claims. These can be devastating because Arizona laws stipulate that these issues can be treated as misdemeanors.

One thing to note is that Arizona doesn't consider the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Instead, it relies on state law to handle these matters. Some of the things that are forbidden include bait-and-switch cases, false advertising and tampering with the odometer of a vehicle.

Business owners need to consider their estate plan carefully

In our recent blog post, we discussed how some individuals use gifts to pay down an estate's value so that their loved ones aren't burdened with tax debt after you pass away. This is only one factor that matters when you are creating an estate plan. We know that you have a lot on your plate already since you are trying to run a business. We can't take all the work off your shoulders but we can do our part to try to make your estate planning process a little easier.

As you are creating your estate plan, you might want to focus on the transfer of assets. There are more components to your plan than just the will and trusts. One important thing to plan for is your medical care. You might not be mentally able to make decisions as your health declines. In order to make sure that your wishes are considered during this time, you need to get a power of attorney for health care appointed, as well as getting a living will created.

What happens if your title search reveals a problem?

Whether you decide to buy commercial or residential property, as part of the buying process, you will need to obtain a title search. This search looks back at all of the records relating to the property to determine whether any impediments to your future ownership exist.

If the search does turn up something that could keep you from having a clear title to the property, you will need to deal with it before you finalize your purchase. If not, someone could come back at a later time and make a claim to your property depending on the circumstances.

Consider giving gifts to reduce estate tax burden

If your estate is going to be a considerable size when you pass away, you might want to take steps now to reduce the size of it so that your loved ones won't have to pay estate taxes. While there isn't an estate or inheritance tax in Arizona, there is an estate tax imposed by the federal government. This tax only applies to estates that are valued at $5.49 million or more.

It is important for you to realize that you can't just go giving things away without thinking about the value of the items or assets you are handing over. There is a chance that if you give someone something that is worth too much, they might have to pay a gift tax. This would negate some or all of the estate tax savings you are hoping to achieve.

Understand the valuation process of intellectual property

When you are selling a business, one question that will come up is the value of the company's intellectual property. This is important but it can be difficult to put a number on it that can be used in the purchasing process. You should be prepared for the process that will help someone familiar with valuation get this aspect of the business sale together.

The main reason why it is hard to valuate intellectual property is because it isn't tangible. Things like patents, trademarks and processes do have a value, but coming to that amount requires that you take a close look at a host of factors.

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