Learn more about protecting your personal and company assets.
Nearly every business must have at least one license. Determining which licenses are required by your state and local government and then complying with all the paperwork can be time-consuming and vexing. However, failing to comply and stay current with license requirements can result in fines, penalties, business closures, and lost customers.
Customers love gift cards and most plan to buy some this year. If your business issues gift certificates, you need to understand the rules governing them.
Businesses have to handle license, permit and registration requirements throughout the business life-cycle. Whether a business chooses to do this with internal resources or to outsource some or all of these obligations, business licensing compliance is increasingly important in today’s regulatory environment.
If you have a corporation or an LLC, changes that you make to your entity's name, management or ownership may trigger the need to document those changes with your home state and each state where you have registered to do business.
Has your business ever been asked to provide a “Certificate of Good Standing”? This state-issued document is something you always want to be able to provide if asked. Doing so, however, means keeping your entity in compliance with state filings and other requirements.
Any business that uses a name other than its legal name should take steps to comply with the assumed name statutes in the states in which it does business. Failing to do so can expose both the business and owners to unpleasant consequences.
The tax deadlines may have passed, but for many small business owners Annual Report deadlines are now on the horizon. Most states impose an annual information reporting requirement on all entities that are formed or qualified to do business within the state. The deadlines, fees charged and information required varies widely from state-to-state, but one fact is true in all states—missing a deadline can have severe consequences.
Effective inventory management eludes many small business owners who often assume only large competitors can create a well-oiled inventory machine. But with some organization, assessments and periodic adjustments to inventory practices, entrepreneurs can improve cash flow and gain valuable insight into their business.
A total quality management must involve employees, customers and suppliers in order to be successful.
Although the risks of violating antitrust laws are far smaller for small businesses than for larger businesses (in fact, small businesses are more often the victim than the perpetrator), you still can run afoul of the laws.
'Family Limited Partnerships 101' describes the ins and outs of choosing this complicated and extremely popular estate planning tool, including tips on legally sheltering the maximum amount of income and passing it on to your heirs.
Small business owners can ensure the quality of their goods or services by involving everyone in the business in the effort to satisfy customers. There aren't a lot of people to communicate with, and, in a small business, it is frequently the owner or CEO who is in charge of implementing the TQM program.
Cash left in a business is vulnerable to creditors. However, there are a variety of ways to withdraw cash from a business, such as salary payments, guaranteed payments, loans and leases. When done for business purposes and properly documented, these withdrawals will not be set aside as fraudulent.
To limit the amount of vulnerable assets within a business that could be exposed to a creditor's claims, you should have a plan to continuously and regularly withdraw funds from the entity. However, that strategy must not run afoul of the restrictions imposed by state law, especially the fraud provisions.
In order to protect your business assets from creditors, you should regularly and consistently withdraw excess funds from the business. Options for withdrawing funds include distributions of earnings, salary payments to yourself and family members, payments on loans or leases you have made with the business, guaranteed payments and sales of accounts receivable. Whatever combination of methods you chose, make sure you follow business formalities, including written documentation of a regular, consistent plan.
Even if you organize your business as an LLC or corporation, you can find yourself personally liable on a business contract if you enter into a contract before your business is legally formed, fail to act as an agent, or personally guarantee performance on a contract.
Even if you operate as an LLC or corporation, you can be exposed to personal, unlimited liability if you personally take an action that causes injury to another. You also risk unlimited personal liability if you negligently hire or supervise your employees and another person is injured.
In order to protect assets from creditors, a small business owner can fund the business by encumbering the assets of the business with liens that run in favor of a holding company or the owner himself or herself.
In order to protect both your business and personal assets, it is necessary to make sure that they are kept beyond the reach of creditors. Funding your business by a combination of equity and secured debt is one strategy that can protect your assets. In addition, keeping the title of assets divorced from the entity that runs the business day-to-day also can defeat creditor's claims.
Using holding and operating companies is an asset protection planning strategy that helps to limit liability risks in your business structure. An ideal business structure consists of an operating entity that does not own any vulnerable assets and a holding entity that actually owns the business's assets. With this structure, the small business owner can eliminate (or, at the very least, substantially limit) liability for both business debts and personal debts.
To ensure that taxes do not consume the wealth you have worked so hard to create, it is necessary to plan ahead. Part of that plan may include transferring business interests to family members while you are still alive. This article highlights some of the strategies that can be used to transfer business interests without giving up control of your business before you wish to do so.
Every corporation issues securities and a growing body of law suggests that non-manager interests in an LLC are also considered to be securities. Even so, most small businesses do not need to be concerned with federal and state security laws. However, if you plan to raise capital through "public offerings" or via the internet, then you should have a basic understanding of securities laws so that you can work effectively with your professional advisors.
Unless you are the only owner of your business, it is essential that you have a buy-sell agreement in place from the outset of operations. A buy-sell agreement prevents a co-owner from selling out to a stranger and provides an orderly and equitable method of determining the value of each owner's interest in the business.
In order to avoid day-to-day liability risks when enacting an asset protection plan, a small business owner must pay close attention to recordkeeping and initial capitalization to avoid of the doctrine of "piercing the veil" of limited liability.
Insurance is vitally important to a small business owner who wants to be protected from day-to-day liability risks. But, one must have the correct types and amounts of insurance to be protected.
Limiting liability in your business structure involves choosing the best an organizational form. However, selecting the state in which to form the business is also a significant consideration.
"Limited liabilty" is an important consideration when choosing an organizational form for your business Limited liability doesn't refer to the amount at risk. It refers to a separate between business and personal assets--so that business creditors can not reach your personal assests and vice versa. Only corporations and LLCs provide of the owners with full "limited liability" in every state.
Special note should be made of a particular type of corporation--the statutory close corporation. In a strict sense, this is not a separate business form. It is, instead, a corporation that is regulated by a special state law. This statute, a supplement to a state's regular corporation statutes, governs most of the operations of this type of corporation.
You need to consider many factors when deciding how to structure your business. One of the angles that you must consider is asset protection. From this vantage point, operating as a sole proprietorship or as a general partnership is risky because your business creditors can get to your personal assets, as well as your business assets. However, limited partnerships (LP), limited liability partnerships (LLP) and limited liability limited partnerships (LLLP) provide some measure of protection .
As a small business owner, your asset protection planning must extend beyond protecting personal assets by leveraging statutory exemptions. You also must carefully plan and implement asset protection strategies for your business as well. Choosing the most appropriate entity is the first step in the process.
Offshore asset protection trusts offer a way to place your assets beyond the reach of creditors. However, these trusts must be carefully established and managed to avoid difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service.
It is often possible to use carefully planned transfers to place your assets out of the reach of potential creditors. This can done in two ways: asset exemption planning and strategic funding practices within your business entity.
Trusts are useful for many purposes, including avoiding probate, reducing/eliminating federal estate taxes, and managing property for a beneficiary when direct ownership by the beneficiary is not desired. Trusts also can be very useful for asset protection purposes if the creditors of the beneficiary are prevented from reaching the trust's assets.
The eligibility rules for Medicaid's old-age and nursing home coverage can affect the validity of some asset transfers, impoverishing you or your loved ones. Knowing the do's and don't of asset transfers is essential.
The "homestead" exemption usually is the most important asset exemption, both in terms of amount and significance to the individual. However, the exemption amount varies widely from state to state, so it is important to understand how to maximize the protection offered by your state's law.
Property that is "exempt" is untouchable in the eyes of the law should you find yourself in the undesirable position of having a creditor's lien liquidating your assets.
In a state without a homestead exemption, or with an extremely small exemption, you may be able to shield your home from your creditors by arranging for someone else to have an ownership interest in it.
Asset protection requires that you understand how liens arise and what property is protected from the reach of your creditors by federal or state law. Many times, the fact that your assets are exempt from seizure makes a creditor reconsider filing a lawsuit against you.
Creditors come in two basic types: secured and unsecured. Although the amount of the debt may be the same, the remedies available to the creditor are very different. Secured creditors have a claim against a specific asset, whereas unsecured creditors do not.
To understand why asset protection is critical, it is important to understand the debtor-creditor relationship and the risks that you may face.
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