10 Tasks, Tips and Traps for Business/Commercial Leases

Business/commercial leases can be dangerous territory for a company or business client's legal counsel. I have encountered many requests from business clients like, "If you have a few minutes, can you look over a new lease I am thinking of entering into for new or existing leased space?" and "I don't need a complete review, just the basics."

Don't Overestimate Legal Self-Help Sites

While legal self-help websites may be useful in some instances, there can be problems that arise in relying on legal self-help websites in the place of real expert advice. Self-help websites are not able to provide specific advice about your company and they won't be able to point out ongoing legal problems. Many business owners who try and save money by avoiding lawyers often face difficulties later.

Common Estate Planning Blunders Not to Make

When it comes to checking tasks off of your financial to-do list, estate planning is probably the last item you get to, and some people don't get to it at all.

It's really not your fault. After all, many people think it’s morbid to think about preparing for death, and others often don't know where to start, so they simply don't get started.

Case in point: According to the legal services site "Rocket Lawyer," 64% of Americans don't have a basic will. That is really amazing when you think about it.

Estate Planning Opportunities for Families with Special Needs Individuals

Unfortunately, too many families overlook the importance of carefully crafting legal and financial safeguards to protect their special needs children as they grow into adulthood. Many times, families have simply entered into a “pact” with one or more of the siblings of the special needs child whereby those children have “promised” their parents that they will take care of their special needs sibling.

There Are Challenges for Estate Planning Involving Special Needs Children

Tax Filing Requirements for 2014 Gifts of Real Property

On December 31, 2013, new law went into effect in Michigan allowing parents to gift their real estate to children during the parents' lifetimes without uncapping the taxable value of the property. As a result, several families took advantage of the new law, and parents actually transferred ownership of their homes to their children. However, preparing, signing and recording a deed transferring the ownership is not all that is required with respect to a transfer of ownership of the property.

Taxable Gifts Are Required to be Reported

Elements of a Worry-Free Estate Plan

Individuals sometime assume estate plans only deal with future concerns like planning for retirement, providing an inheritance for loved ones, specifying long-term care provisions, avoiding estate taxes and appointing guardians for minor children … all the "someday" or "what if" stuff.

While the statements above are true, your estate plan also eliminates (or at the very least reduces) issues that are usually present now – namely, stress and worry.

Flood Insurance Policies - Hard Lessons

In the month of August of this year and even early September, many areas in Michigan saw historic flooding and sewer backups after quick and intense storms blanketed various areas of the state. Based on several conversations I have had with clients regarding their homeowners insurance policies, many have learned the hard way about storm insurance coverage.

Planning to Plan Is Not a Plan

I recently represented a client who was appointed as successor trustee of his father’s trust. The father, just prior to his death, held a “family meeting” to announce his intentions to change certain distribution of asset provisions in the trust that would apply after his death. The family meeting was held, the changes were announced but nothing was done to actually amend the father’s trust.

Upon the father’s death, my client’s brother, whose share was decreased by the father in the family meeting, sued my client to obtain his original share of the trust assets.

Succession Planning with Life Insurance for the Family Business, Cottage or Farm

In my experience assisting families with succession planning for legacy assets such as their family business, cottage or farm, the biggest challenge I’ve found is making sure there is enough money to pay for the immediate obligations after the current owner’s death. These obligations can be in the form of taxes, possible interruptions to business operations, and revenue and debt service. The obligations also may extend to longer-term capital needs such as paying the bills for these assets. 

Should Your Business Have a Domestic Abuse Policy?

Domestic violence has been making news headlines lately, mainly because of the high-profile cases of the National Football League players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and others. This publicity has drawn attention to the ambiguity surrounding the NFL’s established policy on domestic violence and other off-the-field transgressions by players.

Factors to Consider