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Estate Planning

An estate plan is a comprehensive approach to providing peace of mind and instructions for life’s uncertainties.  Each plan begins with a number of documents to delegate decision-making for your financial and medical affairs to the person(s) of your choosing in the event you become incapacitated or incompetent and cannot make decisions on your own behalf between today’s date and the time you take your last breath.  Then, a second set of documents is prepared to assist in transferring ownership of your real and personal property following your death.  In totality, these documents are an estate plan. Learn more about each document below.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that states who is authorized to make financial and or medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are injured and or ill and thus, unable to manage your own affairs.  These documents will allow you to designate a spouse, a partner, a friend, or a family member of your choosing to assist you when you are most vulnerable.  If you fail to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney, a court will authorize a person it believes is best to make these decisions for you through what is known as a guardianship proceeding. 

An Advanced Directive & Living Will gives you the opportunity to express your wishes with respect to artificial hydration, artificial nutrition, and the use of machines in the event you are unable to make decisions on your behalf. Because you are choosing in advance to direct the person you are nominating to carry out your wishes, s/he is not left with the heavy burden of deciding what measures should or should not be used to keep you alive under very particular circumstances. Furthermore, the document allows you to state whether you wish to donate any part or all of your body for transplant, therapy, or medical education.

A Last Will & Testament is a set of instructions prepared by you which states who shall receive your real and personal property following your death.  For parents of minor children, this is document which also states your preference on who should raise your children and look after any monies they may inherit.  Without a Last Will & Testament, your assets will pass according to statute in a manner that is inconsistent with your wishes and your children will be raised by the person(s) selected by the judge assigned to your case. 

A Revocable Trust is an instrument that allows you to set forth your wishes with respect to the ownership and management of your assets during life and upon your death.  It may be amended or revoked during your lifetime. You may extend control of your assets over long periods of time following your death, provide the inheritance outright, and or set conditions for your loved ones to inherit.  For example, if your children are college age when you pass away, perhaps they must maintain a certain GPA in order for their tuition bills to be paid or alternatively, perhaps they only receive a small percentage of their inheritance each year and the bulk is held and managed for them until they a certain age/maturity milestone.  The options are endless.  All of the assets held in trust following your death will also avoid probate.  Probate is time-consuming, financially very costly, and your personal financial affairs are public record.

business law

Starting a new business can be an exciting and lucrative endeavor.  Choosing the right business model is essential for your success. We have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to bring your business plan from paper to reality. Depending on your objectives, you may choose to operate as a sole proprietorship,  general partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. We can walk you through the pros and cons of each model and help you pick the business entity model best suited for your needs and draft the essential paperwork required to get your business up and running.

Business owners must plan for the future and the uncertainties of life.  What will happen to your company if you become ill or disabled, choose to retire, or pass away? We can help you create a plan to ensure your business keeps running, your employees are paid, your family is protected financially, and even transition your business to the next generation, an existing business partner, or high level employee.  We can also assist if you choose to sale the business.

Sound employment agreements keep businesses running smoothly and with minimal conflicts. For high-level employees, comprehensive agreements clearly explain the responsibilities, rights, and obligations of the employer and employee for the duration of the business relationship.  Likewise, employee handbooks incorporate these provisions and more such as, information on benefits and how to contact human resources.  Handbooks give employees a glimpse into your company’s culture and simultaneously, assist in protecting the company through clear and consistent statements and uniform procedures.

We offer our business clients competent and comprehensive legal representation.

Conflicts are common in business law. Perhaps a vendor breaches a contract or a client fails to pay an invoice or someone sues your company, what do you do?  Call us.  We will assist in negotiating settlements, drafting demand letters, filing collection actions, or if necessary, representing your company in civil court from start to finish. 

Shawna S. Baker

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