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It’s Time For Your Annual Legal Checkup

2015 Small Business Jones Morrison Legal Checkup2015 is right around the corner and it’s time for you to schedule your annual legal checkup. Many legal problems that clients encounter can be prevented or minimized by meeting with your attorney yearly to review your insurance coverage, business maintenance, estate planning, retirement planning or investments. The costs of legal checkups can more than pay for themselves, whether it is an analysis of your business or personal matters, or both.

Most small and mid-size businesses do not adopt thorough preventative measures via a yearly legal health report with their attorney – despite not typically having in-house counsel.  The inevitable changes in your business can be planned for, whether they are due to economic shifts, growth of the business, regulatory changes or a change in a business owner’s circumstances.

A legal checkup includes a review of the records and practices of your business, including

  • Loan Agreements
  • Employment Agreements
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Licenses & Permits
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Corporate Charter
  • Operating Agreements
  • Individual’s Business Risk
  • Financial & Tax Matters
  • Expansion Plans
  • Possible Litigation Issues
  • Insurance, Liability & Indemnity
  • Real Estate & Property Matters

While larger businesses are more likely to need a more thorough review, sole proprietors are just as likely to come up against legal road blocks and have more difficulties managing them both financially and concurrently with the demands of their business.

Long term planning can also be a tool that helps with the growth of your business, not only by making sure it is healthy, but also by putting in place processes that will benefit future growth and expansion.

For some business owners, a legal checkup may also include an analysis of the personal financial risk and implement measures to protect against a failing business or venture.

Just like a yearly medical checkup from your doctor, a legal checkup will monitor your business, put in place protections, and leave you confident in your business for the coming year.

To speak with one of Jones Morrison’s attorneys about scheduling a meeting regarding your business, estate planning, and retirement plans, or personal asset management call us today at (914) 713.9311.

Choosing An Executor for Your Will

last will and testament

An executor helps distribute assets to heirs and manages affairs in the event of a death. Picking the wrong executor could lead to delays, issues with taxes, and possibly even contested wills. The right executor will ensure prompt and accurate distribution of all assets without creating any friction amongst family members. If an executor is not chosen, the court will appoint one for the estate.

Duties of an Executor

Depending on any complications that arise, there is a range of duties that the executor is responsible for. The executor should know the scope of responsibilities before they agree to the role. These duties normally include:

  • Finding the assets – and keeping these assets safe until distribution to heirs or creditors. This also includes taking an inventory of everything in the estate.
  • Filing Court papers to start the probate process – this is the process of getting the court to validate the will.
  • Tracking down those named in the will – and making sure the property goes to the correct people.
  • Paying Bills and Debt – funeral costs are often included in the job.
  • Handling the details – cancelling credit cards, informing banks, and notifying government agencies are all important facets of this role.
  • Setting up an Account for the Estate – this not only makes paying off creditors easier, but it is also mandated in some states that the funds are kept separately from their own funds.
  • Ensuring Distribution – all assets will be distributed as laid out in the will, but if there are other assets that were not named, it is up to the executor to distribute it as dictated by state laws.

Who To Choose

An executor can be a person, persons or an institution. Choosing multiple executors ensures one person can be a financial or legal expert, while the other is close to the family. If two people are chosen it is prudent to ensure they will work well together.

Being an executor is not an easy job. Even with the most straightforward of wills, complications can arise. This will make the process of closing the estate lengthy and frustrating for everyone involved, especially the executor.

If a spouse is chosen, a backup executor should also be named. This ensures someone not chosen by the court can represent the estate in case the spouse is not up to the task or is no longer living.

Keeping this in mind, there are three main facets the chosen executor should embody:

  • Financially Responsible
  • Stable
  • Trustworthy

For anyone having a difficult time choosing his or her executor, Jones Morrison Law provides services for advising fiduciaries regarding estate and trust administration, including post-mortem tax advice, preparation of estate, gift and fiduciary income tax returns and, most importantly, the maintenance of harmonious family relations. Contact Jones Morrison today for advice and assistance with the probate and estate settlement process.


When a Prenup is in Order

Should I get a prenup in new york state?


Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made by a couple before marriage, usually concerning the ownership of assets should the marriage fail.


The Numbers

2009 marked a 40-year low for divorce rates in the United States, a symptom of the economic recession. Since then, rates have increased yearly, highlighting causality between financial stability and the ability to leave the relative security of an unhappy marriage. (source)

Over the past 5 years, 73% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that requests for prenuptial agreements have increased.  (source)

The Conversation

Having the conversation about a prenup is the first step to understanding if your marriage is financially compatible. Many people’s first reaction to having a prenup brought into conversation is that their spouse has no faith in the marriage. The ability to have a practical discussion about future financial security is one indicator of a compatible partnership. This is the ideal time to create plans and goals for future and calculating the path to get there.

I’m Not Wealthy

Prenups are not only to cover existing assets, but also future accumulated wealth. The agreement can cover any number of complications including one spouse being a business owner, one spouse agreeing to stay home to raise children, children from a previous marriage, real estate, and more.

Reasons to Sign

1. Children from a prior marriage – An individual entering a second marriage will often have major financial pre-existing commitments to children and possibly a former spouse.

2. People are marrying late in life after accumulation of assets – With fewer years to work, it is advisable to secure one’s assets against the possibility of a failed marriage and potential financial loss.

3. Did you know? In New York all assets are presumed to be marital and therefore presumed to be divisible in a divorce. In a prenup one can eliminate these presumptions, creating a contract that typically states that certain property shall remain one’s property. The burden of proving that property is separate (in NY property owned prior to the marriage) is eliminated, bringing greater certainty and eliminating potentially costly litigation.

4. Couples can use prenups to affirmatively plan for each other as well.

Who Needs a Prenup?

  • Second marriages
  • Business owners
  • People with assets
  • People with expectation of inheritance
  • Those entering marriage who already have children

Too Late?

No matter how long you’ve been married, a couple can always opt to create a postnuptial agreement. These contracts are usually created to set a household budget, settle financial turmoil in the marriage, or remove a newly acquired asset from any possible divorce proceedings (such as inherited real estate or a business venture.

When it comes to creating an agreement with your future spouse, the earlier you start the discussion, the better. If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements, contact Jones Morrison LLP today at (914) 472-2300.

Stephen J. Jones
Direct Dial For All Offices