Common Reasons to Hire a Lawyer When You Start Up a New Business

Questions many people ask during startup of a business: When do they need a lawyer? Do they even need a lawyer at all? Can they start without one and save some money, then get one later if a problem arises? Unfortunately, there's not one easy answer to these questions. Whether you need a lawyer to start your business depends in large part on what legal type of business you're starting. The simpler your business, the less you'll need a lawyer.

1. A sole proprietorship is the simplest business form. It doesn't require that you register your business with your state, so no, you probably don't need a lawyer to start this type of business. No specific paperwork is required other than local business licenses, and even that can depend on the exact nature of your business and your area's unique requirements. Same is true for partnerships, but it's always a good idea to have a written partnership agreement, which is where a lawyer can be tremendously helpful.

2. Limited liability companies must register with the state. Documents must be prepared, such as a Certificate of Formation and an LLC Operating Agreement. You might be able to register online with your state or use an online service to register your business, but it might be a good idea to use a lawyer if your business is at all complicated.

3. Corporations must register with the state as well. They must prepare bylaws and other documents, and they have a far more complicated ownership structure. You'll almost certainly need a lawyer to help you start any type of corporation. An S corp starts as a corporation then elects S corporation status with the IRS. If it sounds complicated, it is. You might need legal advice.

The most common reasons for needing a lawyer when you start a new business are:

* You need help navigating the many forms and requirements of legal documents that are involved with startup, like incorporation documents.
* Having a lawyer can be expensive, but you'll know that startup is being done right.
* Having a lawyer frees you to focus on other aspects of startup so you don't have to spend time learning the legal processes.
* An attorney can help with specific tasks like trademarking your name, reviewing lease documents, discussing potential legal structures, and preparing incorporation forms.
* Online legal form providers don't always do it right. Businesses aren't one-size-fits-all, so blanket legal documents don't always work.

We have over 21 years' experience representing small businesses and their owners. If we can be of service to you, your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Although probate is relatively easy in Washington & Idaho, it helps to hire a lawyer with experience in probate and wealth transfer laws.

When someone dies, probate is usually necessary to transfer ownership of his or her assets (house, vacation property, securities accounts, etc.) to their heirs and beneficiaries. Although probate is relatively easy in Washington and Idaho, it helps tremendously to hire a lawyer with experience in probate and wealth transfer laws. We have over 21 years' experience in representing Executors of estates and advising them on how to administer and distribute an estate. Give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Changes to the Estate and Gift Taxes Under the New U.S. Tax Cut and Jobs Act

The new U.S. tax law (officially called the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 115-97) ushered in several changes to the American wealth transfer tax system, which took effect on January 1. Under the new law, the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (“GST”) tax exemption amounts will increase to $10,000,000 for individuals and $20,000,000 for married couples (before taking into account the necessary inflation adjustment; the 2018 amount that includes the inflation adjustment has not yet been released), from $5,490,000 and $10,980,000, respectively, in 2017. These exemption amounts are scheduled to increase with inflation each year until 2025. On January 1, 2026, the exemption amounts are scheduled to revert to the 2017 levels, adjusted for inflation. The gift tax exemption has also increased; it is now $15,000 per person per year. The highest marginal federal estate and gift tax rates will remain at 40% and the GST tax rate will remain a flat 40%.

This significant and temporary increase in the exemption amounts presents a unique opportunity for estate planning. We recommend that clients consider taking advantage of the increased gift tax exemption amount and possibly the GST tax exemption amount by making gifts to children and/or grandchildren either outright or to new or existing trusts.

If you have questions about how the new tax law affects estate plans and estate taxes, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment today.

Statutory Duties of the Personal Representative of an Estate

Although the probate process in Washington is relatively easy, there are still some tasks that the Personal Representative is required to do by statute. First and foremost, the PR is required to administer and distribute the estate as timely as possible under the circumstances. Further, within 20 days of his or her appointment, the PR is required to provide a Notice of Appointment and Pendency of Probate to all estate heirs and beneficiaries and to the Washington State Dept. of Revenue. Within three months of appointment, the PR must prepare an estate Inventory & Appraisement, a copy of which must be delivered to any estate heir, beneficiary, unpaid creditor who has filed a claim, or the Dept. of Revenue within ten days of their request.

If you've been appointed Personal Representative of someone's estate and have questions about the requirements of the job, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment today.

Estate planning has been tricky for a long, long time. Just ask Jacob and Esau.

"Esau held a grudge against Jacob, because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, 'The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.'" - Genesis 27:41

Estate planning has been tricky for a long, long time.

It's not enough to ask a client, "What do you want to happen to your estate?" We'll also ask, "Who is really going to be unhappy about this?" And that's when the true estate planning begins. A good part of estate planning is "lawyer-proofing" your Will. While it is impossible to protect against the most imaginative (and often misguided) legal minds, we often add provisions to Wills that we hope will make the most obtuse lawyer hired to fight the Will say, "That might be a problem." In this situation, there is no substitute to having been in these fights for over 20 years and knowing what works, what doesn't, and knowing to what judges will pay attention. Any old lawyer can write a Will. You want a lawyer who can write you a Will or Trust that the courts will enforce. Part of that is identifying the potential problems and dealing with them up front.

If you have kids or own a house, you should have an estate plan in place, and you should hire a lawyer with experience in preparing Wills and Trusts that not only accomplish your goals but are also designed to avoid family disputes in the future. If we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

If you've been injured in an auto collision, it's important to talk to a lawyer sooner rather than later.

When you’ve been injured in an auto collision, the consequences can be long-lasting and affect every aspect of your life. An injury can change everything, whether you were at fault or not.

At this point, hiring a lawyer might be the last thing on your mind. After all, your time should be spent recovering from your injuries. However, moving quickly with the right lawyer might be how you’ll recover fair and full compensation for all you’ve been through.

When an injury happens, the law gives you the right to seek compensation for your losses. But you only have three years to file your personal injury claim in Washington, and just two years in Idaho. After this period, you give up your right to a case, so it’s important to act fast before you are unable to recover the compensation you deserve.

If you, a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker have been injured in an auto collision, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.

We provide high quality, tailored, and effective general counsel services to small to medium sized businesses throughout Washington and Idaho.

We provide high quality, tailored, and effective general counsel services to small to medium sized businesses throughout Washington and Idaho. For those companies that are too small to hire a full time lawyer to act as General Counsel, we provide legal services, depending upon the type and extent of the client’s legal needs. When you hire us as your company's General Counsel, you have access to a skilled business and corporate lawyer to address all sorts of legal and business needs. These include:

* Emerging companies and business formation
* Assist and attend Board of Directors meetings
* Corporate and business governance and compliance
* Contract preparation and negotiation
* Consulting, Distributing, Manufacturing and other business agreements
* Business planning and strategy
* Risk management consultation and advice
* Non-competition and non-disclosure agreements
* Protecting trade secrets and confidential information
* Insurance related issues
* Licensing, regulatory and legal compliance matters
* Litigation services or monitoring of outside litigation counsel
* Real estate and construction related issues

We can provide prompt and effective legal counsel for your business. To find out more about hiring us as your small business's General Counsel, give us a call at 253.858.5434.

We represent families in disputes over inheritances, and advise them on setting up plans to avoid such disputes.

Inheriting money or property does not always bring out the best in family members. Many people, of course, handle everything smoothly, following a loved one's instructions as much as they can and peacefully agreeing on the rest. But a death in the family can raise long-dormant relationships issues and revive old jealousies and resentments.

Probably the one element most likely to provoke bad feelings is surprise. If everyone in the family knows the broad outlines of how you're planning to leave your property, they may understand your choices. Even if they don't, they will have had some time to get used to the idea and air their concerns. They are more likely to respect your choices, and not try to undermine them informally or through a lawsuit.

If, on the other hand, your estate plan takes everyone by surprise, there could be confusion, argument, and possibly court fights. Say, for example, an elderly man leaves most of his estate to a charity or to a caregiver who recently arrived on the scene, or a woman leaves a valuable piece of art not to her children but favors a niece who wasn't known to be particularly close to her. If the children knew that the niece had a special connection to the artwork, or that the caregiver had performed extraordinary services, they wouldn't be left to wonder at the fairness of the bequests.

Even more common is the hurt caused by an unequal division of assets among children. Most parents leave their property to their children more or less equally, but there can be many good reasons for a different plan--perhaps one child has problems handling money, or already received an "advance" on his inheritance in the form of a gift. As long as the children all understand the reasoning, they are likely to accept your decisions.

We have over 20 years' experience dealing with families in the probate process following the death of a loved one. If you're in the middle of a family dispute over an inheritance, or would like help setting up a plan designed to avoid such disputes, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service.

Discounts on Estate Planning Legal Services for First Responders, Clergy, and Teachers

In case you forgot, or didn't know, the Law Offices of P. Stephen Aita offers certain discounts on estate planning legal services. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, clergy, and teachers all get 50% knocked off their legal fees for advice and preparation of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and any other applicable estate planning documents appropriate to their situations.

If you are or know a cop, firefighter, clergy, or teacher who needs legal representation regarding an estate plan, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment today. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

One of the biggest things required in a personal injury case? PATIENCE.

Often, one of the hardest things to ask of a personal injury client is PATIENCE. Personal injury claims take a while to resolve. And if the client is still treating for their injuries, there really isn't a lot for the lawyer to do except keep the insurance companies updated on the client's treatment status. Which, in turn, means that the client needs to keep the lawyer updated on their treatment status. We send report forms to our personal injury clients at the end of every month so that can keep us posted on how their treatment is progressing. Then once the client's doctor has released them from treatment, we can get to work on gathering the client's medical records and start evaluating and preparing our claim for damages.

If you, a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker have been injured in an auto collision and want to seek legal advice, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation.

Another benefit of hiring a lawyer for your small business: Collections.

Another benefit of hiring a lawyer for your small business: collections. If you own a service business and you've provided services to a customer, you should get paid, right? Especially if you have a contract. You'd be surprised how often some customers "forget" to pay your invoice. Sometimes a polite letter from a lawyer helps. Sometimes you need a more sternly worded letter. And sometimes you ultimately need to bring a lawsuit to collect what you're owed. We can help with that. We have over 20 years' experience advising and representing small businesses in collecting delinquencies. If you've got customers who are in breach of their agreement to pay you for services rendered, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help.

E-filing makes the probate process even more streamlined in Washington.

It used to be (back in the old days of the mid-90s when Steve started practicing law) that to start probate proceedings, the lawyer would have to go to the courthouse, bring a check for the filing fee, wait in line in the Clerk's office to file the Petition, wait in line again in the Ex Parte Department to present the Petition and supporting documentation to the Judge or Court Commissioner, have a little "mini hearing" on the Petition, then assuming the Order was signed, conform copies at the courthouse, and mail copies back to the client. Now, especially with intestate estates and especially in the larger counties, the entire process is done through E-filing - we can file the Petition and supporting documents and present the proposed Order without ever leaving the office, and the Clerk of the Court will email a conformed copy of the Order right back to us, usually the next day. Just another example why probate in Washington is nothing to be feared or avoided - our probate process is relatively easy, cheap, and streamlined.

If you have questions about probate in Washington, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can help!

Make a New Years Resolution - Make 2018 the Year You Prepare an Estate Plan!

It's that time of year when we start thinking about making resolutions, plans, and getting things in order for the new year. Make 2018 the year you prepare an estate plan, or at least review and update your existing estate plan. Protect yourself, your property, and your family by making a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, or whatever other documents are appropriate for your situation.

If we can provide legal advice to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Representing Injured Clients on a "No Recovery - No Fee" Basis

f you have been injured in an auto collision that wasn't your fault, give us a call to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation. We have made the commitment to handle a number of cases, especially for people injured in car crashes, on a "no recovery - no fee" basis, which means we only get paid out of any money recovered from the insurance company. We believe that people who have been injured and are possibly unable to work or afford out-of-pocket attorney fees have the right to legal representation and access to the judicial system in order for them to be compensated for their losses. Give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can help.

One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer for your small business: Contract review and assessment

One of the biggest benefits a lawyer can provide to a small business is that of contract review and assessment. Entering into signed contractual agreements is an unavoidable part of being in business, no matter how big or small.

The scary fact is that once a contract has been signed, it is legally binding. Numerous small businesses enter into agreements without the qualified assistance and advice of a lawyer, and as a result suffer from massive legal consequences -- many of which can ultimately contribute to the company’s demise. It’s an avoidable reason why so many small businesses fail to make it in the long run.

Seeking legal advice is the easiest way to ensure that contracts are drafted properly and with the best interest of your business in mind. In addition, a lawyer can make sure that each contract is legally sound and valid, according to the nuances of state law.

We can help you draft agreements and review existing contracts. In addition, we can provide quality legal representation should you need assistance filing a lawsuit or if you find yourself the unfortunate recipient of a Summons and Complaint.

Think of hiring a lawyer as an investment as well as a preventative measure. As a small business owner, you may not anticipate major lawsuits or liability cases or the need for large-scale contracts. Yet, all businesses rely on contracts and, unfortunately, liability issues will always arise. Seeking legal advice in advance not only helps minimize the effects of these types of incidents, but also helps avoid them in the first place.

If we can be of service to you and your small business, give us a call at 253.858.5434. We proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.