Contract Review

Contracts are necessary in business. Since contracts can be lengthy, many people skim over paragraphs and don’t actually know what they are signing. Having a qualified lawyer review your contract may save you from a legal mess down the road. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to review contracts:

* You need to know exactly what you and the other party are signing. Terms and conditions must be clear, leaving no doubt as to what is expected between the parties.

* No one wants to get in trouble, especially with the law. Review the contract, make sure all aspects are legal, and protect yourself. You do not want to be the victim of a scam.

* By having your contract reviewed now, you may save yourself legal problems down the line. If there is a disagreement, you have solid documentation to protect yourself.

If you're a small business owner and need help reviewing the contracts that are part of the day-to-day running of your business, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Hiring a Lawyer to Advise You During the Estate Administration Process

Probate isn't as bad as people think, but you should still hire a lawyer to help guide you through it. Following the advice of an experienced lawyer will make the estate administration process much easier. If a friend or family member has died and you've been named Personal Representative of the estate (formerly called the Executor), give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment today.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

When it comes to estate planning for a blended family, the concept of "yours, mine and ours" can complicate the process to the point that family dynamics become strained. Blended families present special challenges in estate planning. You and your spouse may have children from previous relationships, as well as children together. You each may have property and other assets you've brought to the relationship. If you're like most people, you want to provide for your spouse's needs, while ensuring that your property (or much of it) ultimately will go to your children.

Providing for everyone you love can get tricky. You need an estate plan that fits you and your situation. Without one, you have no way of making sure that what you want to happen will actually happen. Relying on your spouse and children to "work it out" is not a plan. The good news is that you're not in this alone. We can help.

We have over 20 years' experience representing families and advising them on their estate plans. If we can be of service to your family, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment today. We proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Let's be honest - We don't take every personal injury case that walks in the door. Why are we so particular about the cases we take?

Let's be honest - We don't take every case that walks in the door. Sometimes people wonder why a lawyer will not accept their case. After someone has been injured in an auto collision, they may believe they have a case but can't find a lawyer to represent them. We put a lot of effort into investigating the facts of a collision and the client's injuries and damages before we agree to take on a case. Why are we so particular about the cases we take?

HOW THE COLLISION OCCURRED.

One of the earliest considerations by a lawyer is how the collision actually happened. In order to hold someone financially accountable, they had to breach a legal duty, or in layman’s terms, do something wrong that caused the injury. It is not enough that the injury happened in a motor vehicle or that the injuries are severe. An example would be that in a car crash, you were supposed to yield the right-of-way but the other driver struck your vehicle. Who was at fault for a collision is a question that the judge or jury must answer.

In order to have a viable personal injury claim, the injured person must be able to prove that the other party was at fault. If you may have been partly at fault, a lawyer may decline your case because the monetary award will be reduced or eliminated depending on the extent of your fault.

In short, a lawyer will analyze whether legal responsibility can be established and gauge the likelihood of success.

THE INJURIES ARE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH.

We hear all the time “I could have been killed." That is not an element of damages to be submitted to a jury. Another saying that is a red flag to a lawyer is “it’s a matter of principle”. Generally, that type of claim does not put any butter on the bread for the lawyer.

Personal injury lawyers are looking for damages as a gauge of the expected recovery for handling a case. Speculative damages do not really help you hire a lawyer.

In personal injury cases, how bad you are hurt is the most important factor in a case. If your injuries are minor, a lawyer may pass on your case because the expected monetary compensation will likewise be minimal. Additionally, the cost of developing the testimony to prove your injuries has to be factored into the lawyer's analysis. If the cost of the expected depositions exceeds the expected return on the case, a lawyer most likely will not accept the case.

YOU SOUND LIKE YOU'VE TALKED TO A LOT OF OTHER LAWYERS.

We believe it is extremely important for personal injury victims to select the right lawyer for their case. This includes making sure that the lawyer has expertise in the subject area and that they are a good personal fit. Nevertheless, many cases are turned down because the potential client appears to be looking to select the lawyer based upon the feedback they receive on the value of the case.

It is almost impossible for a lawyer to give a client a value of the case before the lawyer knows all of the facts, including the insurance coverage available. Victims should be wary of attorneys placing a value on a claim after the first consultation.

Further, if you have been “released” or “dropped” from another law firm, we will be wary of the case from either a liability perspective or an unreasonable expectation perspective.

THE ECONOMIC REALITY OF PURSUING THE CASE.

Personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis. This requires the lawyer to make a business judgment on each case they agree to handle. Factored into that business judgment is such things as the amount of time that the lawyer expects to spend on the case, the out-of-pocket costs for the attorney to develop the case, and the expected fee. The lawyer must consider whether the time, effort, and money are worth it.

To put this in perspective, defense attorneys are paid by the hour for each minute they spend on a matter and the defense attorney gets paid whether they win or lose the case.

Another situation that proves difficult is when the personal injury victim has substantial injuries and also huge medical obligations for the treatment. This can come into play when the available insurance to cover the damages is insufficient.

Before we agree to represent a client, we make sure injured people understand all benefits and risks involved in our proposed course of action. Our goal is to give clients the tools needed to make an informed decision for themselves. With our law firm, you can expect an honest, straightforward evaluation of your case, both pros and cons. 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 for a free initial consultation.

Representing Small Businesses, Nonprofit Organizations, and Churches

We serve as general counsel to 40 or so small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and churches. We assist these clients with their corporate formation and governance, contracts, leases, employment matters, policy drafting, collection of delinquent accounts, and any related litigation that may arise. If you're a small business owner and have legal needs, you want an experienced lawyer who gets to know you and your business and is there when you need them. 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 right away. We proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Hiring a Lawyer for the Probate of a Decedent's Estate

If you've been named Executor or Personal Representative of someone's estate, it's a good idea to hire a lawyer right away. Sure, you can represent yourself and prepare and file all the paperwork with the Court, give notice to all the interested parties and creditors, pay the decedent's final debts and taxes, inventory and appraise the estate, and distribute the remaining assets yourself, but it's so much easier, faster, and, in the long run, cheaper if you hire a lawyer experienced in probate and estate administration to represent you.

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 today. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

We Provide Estate Planning Advice and Representation on a Flat Fee Basis

We represent clients in preparing their estate plans (Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, etc.). We provide estate planning legal services on a flat fee basis. The purpose of a flat fee structure is to enable clients to have a better understanding of the costs involved in retaining our services. That way, the client knows exactly how much their bill will be before we start doing any work and there are no surprises. If you would like a copy of our current estate planning fee schedule, give us a call at 253.858.5434 and we'll get one to you right away.

If you've been injured in an auto collision, we can help.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto collision that wasn't their fault, we can help. We'll deal with the insurance companies for you; we'll investigate the facts of the collision; we'll analyze your medical records and evidence of lost income; we'll interview witnesses; and we'll present your claim to the insurance company and negotiate with them to reach a fair and equitable settlement. If we can't settle with the insurance company, we'll file a lawsuit on your behalf and take your case to a judge and jury.

We have a long history of representing injured people and their survivors. 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 for a free initial consultation right away.

Do you need a partnership agreement?

When you enter into a business partnership, drafting a partnership agreement is a must. While it is possible to create a partnership without a partnership agreement, doing so is risky and can lead to problems between partners down the road. A well-drafted partnership agreement should address in detail all elements of the business, including the features of the business relationship between the partners.

INVESTMENT AMOUNT AND DIVISION OF LABOR. The first and probably most important items to include in a partnership agreement are the individual investment amounts and the division of labor between partners. Investment in a business is not always monetary – an investment can include providing the building or other real property for the business, as well as specialized equipment for the business. It is important to itemize these types of investments in the partnership agreement.

The next step is to determine which of the partners will take on the management responsibility for the business. It may well be that the partner who invests the most does not, in fact, want to have an active role in managing the business. The partners might also decide to base the control of the partnership on the amount invested, or they may want to divide control equally, giving each partner equal voting power. Determining the roles that each business partner will play in the business is extremely important, as the success of a business often depends on its management. Memorializing this management structure in the partnership agreement is vital.

PROFIT SHARING AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. Other important elements of a partnership agreement include profit sharing and financial management. Everyone involved in the business will hope to turn a profit, but the profits may be paid out in a variety of ways. For instance, the partners may decide to invest a set percentage of the profits back into the business. Another aspect of profit sharing is determining if the managing partners will receive a salary. Deciding how to manage the finances of the business is equally important. The partners will need to choose a bank in which to open the business’s account, whether the business will have a line of credit, and which partners should have signing power for the business’s finances.

MANAGING DISAGREEMENTS AMONG PARTNERS. Other areas that may be covered in the partnership agreement include how to manage any disagreements, as well as how to deal with a partner who wants out of the business. While partnerships are often started by friends, disagreements are natural in any relationship, and it can be helpful to determine how the partners will work out these disagreements as they arise. Further, if a partner decides down the road that he or she wants out of the business, it’s a good idea to state in writing how such a situation will be handled. The partnership agreement can provide details on the buy-out process, taking into account each partner’s initial investment.

Properly creating a business partnership can lead a business down the path to success. Having a partnership agreement that maps out all aspects of the partnership is an essential component of the process. For those unsure of how to begin, or simply want a “legal eye” to look over the draft of a partnership agreement, give us a call at 253.858.5434 for help. We proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Estate Planning Reviews at the End of April and October Each Year

Guess what we're doing today? At the end of April and October each year, we review our estate planning files and send review letters to our clients to advise them as to any updates or amendments we would recommend and let them know about any changes in the law that could affect them and their estate plans. If you would like a copy of our Estate Planning Review Checklist to see if your estate plan needs updating, or if you haven't prepared an estate plan yet, give us a call at 253.858.5434 and we'll get you a checklist right away.

The Probate Process Essentially Comes Down to These 4 Basic Steps

When someone dies and it comes to administering their estate - the process commonly referred to as "probate” - many people fear it is daunting and complicated, but it can actually be as simple as four basic steps.

(1) File the petition to admit the Will (if there is one) and appoint the Personal Representative with the Court and give notice to heirs and beneficiaries.
(2) Following appointment by the Court, the Personal Representative must give notice to all known creditors of the estate and take an inventory of the estate property.
(3) All estate administrative expenses (including funeral expenses and expenses of the decedent's last illness), debts, and taxes must be paid from the estate.
(4) The estate property is transferred according to the Will or under the state's laws of intestacy (if the decedent did not have a Will).

A properly drafted and executed Will, updated regularly to account for life changes, organized records of debts, personal property, and other assets simplifies the probate process. The easier it is for your Personal Representative to trace your steps after you're gone, the easier the process.

If you have questions about the probate process or if you've been nominated to serve as Personal Representative to administer someone's estate, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help. We've been representing clients in estate administration matters since 1996 and proudly represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho.

Use a Revocable Living Trust when you own real estate in more than one state.

Seems like we've been drafting a lot of Revocable Living Trust Agreements lately. If you own real estate in more than one state, like you have a vacation place in Hawaii or you're moving away to another state but want to keep your house as a rental property, you should put that real estate into a Trust to avoid having to do an "ancillary probate" procedure in that non-domicile state, thereby saving your estate and your heirs a lot of time and expense.

If you have questions about Revocable Living Trusts, 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.

Helping Our Small Business Clients Prepare Shareholders' Agreements

If your small business is formed as a corporation and you have multiple owners, you should have a shareholders' agreement. A shareholders' agreement establishes the rights and responsibilities of all shareholders who own a share of stock in a corporation and describes how the company should be operated. We can help your company prepare a shareholders' agreement, so your business can run more smoothly.

Some typical issues covered in a shareholder agreement can include:

* Who can serve on the Board of Directors and as an officer, as well as procedures and duties for each.
* What happens to a shareholder’s equity after death, disability, or bankruptcy. This is known as a “buy-sell” provision.
* How a shareholder’s stock can be transferred or sold, including any restrictions on transfer. This might include “right of first refusal,” “drag-along” or “tag-along” provisions.
* Valuation of shares.
* How and when dividends are distributed.
* How the company will be managed.
* Non-competition obligations.
* Dispute resolution.

These are simply some of the many issues a shareholders' agreement can address -- and each of these provisions can be structured in myriad ways, depending on your current needs and future plans. We can walk you through the significance and consequence of each of these decisions and craft a shareholders' agreement tailored to your business.

We represent about 40 or so small businesses throughout Washington and Idaho. If you're a small business owner or are thinking about starting or buying a business, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service.

International Be Kind to Lawyers Day!

Today is International Be Kind to Lawyers Day. It's a real thing - google it. If you're looking for ways to celebrate International Be Kind to Lawyers Day, here are a few suggestions:

1. Take your favorite lawyer out to breakfast or lunch. (Make sure it's not billable!)
2. Send your lawyer a "just because" greeting card.
3. Send him/her some flowers, a fruit basket, or a cookie bouquet.
4. Switch your ring tone to the "dun-dun" sound from "Law & Order."
5. Abstain from telling lawyer jokes for 24 hours. (You can do it!)
6. If you can't abstain, tell your funniest lawyer joke but switch out the lawyer with your profession. I bet it's still funny.
7. If you accidentally say something wrong or inappropriate on this day, just follow it up with the words, "Strike that from the record." Then continue talking as if nothing happened.
8. Salute the flag as you walk or drive by your local courthouse.
9. Watch your favorite legal drama and pretend you're the one delivering the powerful closing argument. Some suggested films: "The Verdict," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "A Few Good Men," and "With Justice For All."
10. Do some simple repairs around the house with a gavel instead of your trusty hammer.
11. Try to slip words like "I object!" or "You're out of order!" into your everyday conversations.
12.Try to write up your own Operating Agreement for an LLC or draft your own Will. See? It's harder than it looks.
13. Take notes at a meeting on a legal pad. Don't you just feel smarter looking at the glorious yellow hue of that 8-1/2" x 14" pad?

We Represent Clients to Administer Trusts and Estates

We represent clients who have been appointed to administer someone's estate, either as Personal Representative or Trustee. We will advise these clients on giving notice to the appropriate parties, inventorying and appraising the assets, paying the final debts and taxes, and distributing the assets according to the Will, the Trust Agreement, or the state's laws of intestate succession.

If you have questions about the probate process or Trust administration, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up 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.