Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Automatic Contract Renewals

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Do you have any contracts that have automatic renewals?  Sometimes there might be automatic renewals in a property lease, but most often they are in business contracts for a service, such as a phone service or vending machine service.

The automatic renewal provision might be a great idea for you.  If the rate stays unchanged, the automatic renewal might allow you to keep getting great service at a steady rate that you can count on.  Or, if there is a rate increase, an automatic renewal will allow you to plan for what the new rate will be.

But an automatic renewal might also be a bad thing.  What if you ‘know’ that your contract was for 3 years and you ‘think’ that you only need to give a 30 day notice at the end of your contract period to be able to end that contract?   What if the contract actually says that you need to give a 90 day notice of intent to not renew?

You guessed it!  If you go past the 90 day notice period, you are now ‘stuck’ with a new contract period!  One that you really didn’t want!

Can you get out of that renewal contract?  Maybe.  But it will be expensive.  You might be able to negotiate with the company to have them let you out of the contract even though the contract you signed was very clear about the notice period.  You might have to take them to court and let the judge or jury decide whether the renewal term was so outlandish that it should not be enforced.

What should you do?

If you are signing a contract (of any kind) check carefully to see the length of the renewal period and also verify the notice requirements.  Then mark your calendars to check on that renewal period at least one month prior to when you need to contact the other side.  That gives you a reminder to at least consider whether or not you want to have an automatic renewal.  And take a highlighter and highlight the automatic renewal and termination notice sections of the contract so that it is easy to see.

It’s also a good idea to review each of your on-going contracts at least once a year to check for upcoming renewals.  Pick a date, any date, and make this a special day!

You can contact Beavers Law, P.C. by calling our office at 757-234-4650 or by visiting us on the web at www.BeaversLaw.com

Do you have a Small Business ?

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

A lot of people set up a small business as a sole proprietorship, and this is fine. Often, there is no real compelling need to set up a separate business entity (such as a Corporation or an LLC), and the IRS will allow you to use Schedule C to track your business income and expenses.

The problem is when people don’t keep their business finances separate from their personal finances.

Most people are aware that they need to keep receipts for their business expenses, but often they forget that you also need to keep accurate records of your business income. If you don’t have accurate records, and you use the same checking account for both your business and personal finances, it is possible that the IRS will allocate some of your personal income to your business. For example, if you are the ‘team mom’ for a sports team and all of the members send money to you so that you can send one check to the photographer, it is possible that the IRS might allocate those ‘picture’ checks as income to your company.

The easiest way to eliminate this potential problem is to have a separate bank account for your business and use that account for all of your business financial activity and ONLY for your business.

Also, as mentioned previously, keep very good accounting records for your business, including receipts where possible and notes to yourself when an actual receipt is not available. Use this method for both income and expenses.

You can also obtain a separate EIN for your business. This EIN is like the Social Security Number you have for your personal identification, but it is used only for the business. Using this separate EIN is also useful if you need to provide tax id information to others and you want to keep your personal SSN secure from possible identity theft.

The other way to help eliminate potential problems with the IRS is to always file your taxes on time and be sure to make all of your payments on time and in the correct amount.

You don’t necessarily need to have an Accountant or CPA to assist you in this process, but if that is what it takes to keep you on track, you might find that it is cheaper to pay the Accountant or CPA to help you get it right the first time instead of paying someone to help you with an audit later!

The bottom line is that if you are running a business, you need to treat it like a business.

If you have further questions about your small business, or if you need some help in getting started, please contact our office at 757-234-4650 to schedule a short meeting. We would like the opportunity to help you get started!

A New Year’s Plan

Monday, January 1st, 2018

The New Year is a great time to make resolutions and set goals.

But goals probably won’t be met unless we also have a plan of how to get there. If we are traveling to DisneyWorld, the goal is to get to the magic kingdom. But we can’t get there unless we know which road to take and calculate how long it will take us to get there. We might need to stay overnight on the way, so we need to find a hotel and make advance reservations. We might be lucky and just find a great hotel at a great price right where we want to stop at the end of the day. But, we might also be unlucky and find that we get tired of driving just after we go through the last town for 100 miles. If we plan ahead, we’ll know for sure that we have a room when and where we want one.

Now is a great time to think about what you want to do in the coming year, and to make the plans to ensure you get what you want.

Are you a young parent who does not yet have a Will or estate plan? Do you know who will take care of your children if anything happens to you?

Or are you an older person who’s children have grown up and are out of the house? Have you updated your will or estate plan to take these changes into account?

Are you thinking about starting a new business this year? do you know what steps you need to go through to get that accomplished?

Has your family life reached the stage that you just can’t stand it any longer? And you want to make sure that you and your children are protected financially?

Are you finally going to purchase that house this year?

One of my personal goals this year is to lose weight (yes, again). This time I have a plan of how to approach it and monthly mini-goals along the way so that I can adjust what I’m doing if it doesn’t seem to be working for me. And I have it on paper so I can touch it and read it every day to make sure I’m on track.

Another goal I have is to make sure that my own estate plan is up to date. My plan includes reviewing my living will to make sure that I haven’t changed my mind about any of my previous decisions. It also includes checking to make sure that any investments I’ve made this past year are included and that things I’ve sold are removed from my trust documents.

I have goals for my business and what I want to accomplish this year. My plan includes pieces on marketing, new subject areas and customer service. And I set milestones for each month so I can check my progress to make sure I’m still going in the right direction.

As you can see, I have lots of goals (and plans) for this new year.

If you need help with any legal aspects of your plans for this new year, call the office at 757-234-4650 and we can set up an appointment to discuss your goals and how to get there.

Keep copies of contracts!

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

I know you’ve heard it before….”An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!”….But what about a written contract?

If you don’t have a copy to prove that it ever existed, it can be just like an oral contract.

Yes, oral contracts can be upheld. But it’s much harder to prove the agreement when there isn’t a writing.

And sometimes, there was a written contract, but we ‘trusted’ the other person and tossed our copy of the contract because we don’t want to accumulate clutter. This can be a problem when you need to prove that the contract ever existed, or when you need to prove one of the clauses in the contract.

Also, if you ever sign a mortgage loan document, make SURE to get a copy of the entire contract. And make sure that your copy contains the same terms as the copy you signed and gave back to the loan broker (or notary).

I like to trust people, but there are some very not-nice folks out there these days who are trying hard to make a living. And sometimes, those people do things that aren’t quite right.

There are also companies that are being bought or sold and perhaps with a name change.  In the process, their copy of the written contract may be lost by mistake.

It’s always better to be safe.

So protect yourself and keep copies of the contract. At least until the contract has been totally performed.

And yes, that means that you should keep your home mortgage contract for 30 years (if that’s the length of your mortgage) or until you receive notification that the mortgage has been paid off.

You can contact Beavers Law, P.C. by calling our office at 757-234-4650 or by visiting us on the web at www.BeaversLaw.com

I think I want to start my own business….

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

I get calls from people who say they think they want to start their own business and they want my help. Of course I can help them, but there are some steps they should go through first.

Before you even get to the point of deciding on a business name, or whether you should be a corporation or a partnership or a whatever, you first need to develop a mission statement and a business plan.

Let’s start with a mission statement.

A mission statement is a short, one paragraph statement of what your company will be. Think about where you want to be in 3 to 5 years and what you want people to say about your company. Do you want to be the ‘global leader’ in something? or do you want to be ‘the place where local people ….’? By clearly writing your mission statement, you are setting a goal for where you want your company to go.

It’s kind of like getting in the car to go on a drive, first you need to have a goal or you won’t know what direction to go first. If you want to end up in New York, you’ll drive North (from here in Virginia). But if you want to end up in Florida, you’ll drive South. Those are in opposite directions! So if you don’t know where you want to go, you might be driving a long time in the wrong direction.

You don’t want to do that with your new business.

So start with a goal. And formalize that goal by writing a mission statement.

When do I need a business lawyer?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Obviously, you should contact an attorney if you have received notice that you are being sued. But it would probably be a better idea to have legal advice at the earliest possible stage of the game. An attorney can help get you out of a mess, but even more importantly, your attorney can help keep you from getting into that mess in the first place!

The old adage that you should never sign anything until your attorney has had a chance to review it is based on truth.

As a business attorney, I review contracts of all types and make recommendations that will hopefully take into account as many of the ‘what if’ scenarios as possible. Once I have the basics of the contract terms completed, I ask ‘what if ….?’ and then make sure to write down the answer.

For example, in a commercial lease, I will ask ‘what if there is a fire in the property next door and the property involved in this lease has smoke damage?’ Or in starting a new business partnership, I will ask ‘what if one of the partners is injured in an accident and is not able to come to work for 3 months? or 6 months? or ever again?’ Or perhaps, ‘what if your partner and his/her spouse get a divorce?’

Thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and drafting the document to handle those situations is why you should always have an attorney assist you in all of your business needs.

Most of us want to help you have a very successful business, and the best way we can do that is to keep you from ever needing an attorney to help you with a lawsuit!