Archives for June 2013

Expert Legal Counsel Can Help Protect Your Small Business

Protect Your Small Business with Legal CounselIf you ask a successful business owner which two outside professionals are indispensable to the operation, the likely answer will be “my accountant and my attorney.”  Why an accountant is beneficial to a small business is pretty straightforward. They can handle the ongoing financial aspects of doing business such as deciphering complicated tax forms, reviewing sales figures, managing expenses, and charting accounts.

When it comes to legal counsel, many small business owners hesitate to retain an attorney after the initial work is complete for the business start up. They typically feel that it is just not necessary to keep in touch with an attorney until there’s a problem. The hole in that approach is that retaining legal counsel can prevent problems from cropping up. Consider it this way: consulting an experienced local business attorney like Wes Jones is equal to the proverbial “ounce of prevention that’s worth a pound of cure.”

Here’s an example of how having legal counsel available comes in handy before problems arise. Attorney Jones can look over your standard contracts or new employee interview questionnaire and bring light to potential situations that could arise. For instance, you may not be aware of certain laws pertaining to anti-discrimination and innocently ask the wrong questions that could justify a lawsuit and big headaches!

Situations like that are why having a consultation arrangement with an attorney, such as Wes Jones is so vital for providing legal review and guidance. Other times when having an attorney on your team is a plus includes:

  • Forming a corporation – Although it is quite possible to file articles of incorporation without lawyers, the administrative side of managing the complex tax and legal requirements often requires the services of a corporate attorney. Also keep in mind that it may be simple enough to form a legal business entity such as an LLC or business partnership without legal help, however, forming a corporation with shareholders and a board is a more complex process.
  • Litigation – This can include dealing with lawsuits by current or former employees or customers, breach of contract matters, debt collection, discrimination or harassment lawsuits, environmental lawsuits, government investigations for legal violations, and a variety of other types of disputes.
  • Buying or Selling a Business – Attorney Jones has years of experience with negotiating sales agreements, lease agreements, and more.

To learn more about how Wes Jones can assist in your business operations, please schedule a consultation by calling 910-256-5800.

Lawsuit for Unfinished Work

Lawsuit for Unfinished WorkWhether it’s for a new home, an addition or renovation, hiring a contractor is an exciting step. Homeowners are often so thrilled and anxious about the proposed project that they may get a little careless. Before committing to the job, find a licensed contractor and always check a minimum of three references. Discuss with the contractor that the total fee will only be paid in full when the job is completed to your satisfaction. Taking those steps will hopefully prevent a situation known in legal terms as “project abandonment,” which is when a contractor wrongfully ceases working and leaves the project.

If you feel that you have done your homework and hired the right person for the job, be aware that circumstances might change during your project. Stay on top of things and pay attention if the subcontractors seem disgruntled or complain about not being paid. Communicate with the contractor about completion deadlines so you will be in the know. Should the contractor walk off the job before it is finished; there are steps the homeowner can take:

1. Communicate in writing with the contractor that he or she is breaching the agreement made with you by not finishing the work. Ask why the work ceased and offer them an opportunity to explain their situation, in case unforeseen complications arose during the project. Give them a deadline to finish the job and let them know you will hire another crew if they are unable to complete the task. Also mention that legal action may be the next step if they fail to complete the project. Always make a copy of this request, use a notarized document and certified mail so you can prove the letter was received.

2. Report the activity to local organizations such as the Home Builders Association or Contractor’s Licensing Board.

Because of a variety of legal and liability issues plus how the status of the homeowner’s insurance policy may be affected, it is best to contact a construction attorney when things are not resolved. It is a basic rule in construction law that a contractor’s or subcontractor’s wrongful abandonment of work is a material breach of contract, giving rise to a breach of contract claim for damages sustained in completing or correcting the abandoning contractor’s scope of work.

In the Greater Wilmington area, Wes Scott Jones is an attorney who is equipped to handle these types of problems. When you contract the services of Attorney Wesley Jones, his role will be to help you plot a course of action so there will be smooth sailing and no surprises. Learn more here: Construction Law Litigation

To contact the office of Wesley Scott Jones directly, please call 910-256-5800.

Four Major Business Formation Types

Business FormationAnyone who has ever contemplated setting up a business was likely overwhelmed by the vast number of decisions such a venture demands. Perhaps more than or equal to considerations such as a business plan, identification of measurable objectives, location, and name, how the business is structured is of utmost importance.

When establishing a “business entity”, there are four different ways to do it. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the proposed business, each choice presents advantages and disadvantages. Rather than take the advice of friends or family members, it is always best to discuss your options with a qualified and experienced business law attorney. Doing so will give you the piece of mind that comes with covering all the bases, for both your own legal protection and possible tax benefits as well!

The four ways in which a business may be set up are: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company or LLC.

1. Sole Proprietorship – This is the most simple business entity there is. As the name implies, the establishment has just one owner. That owner may choose to use his or her own name or “d/b/a”, which means, “doing business as”. The requirements are minimal – just a social security number and the necessary permits and licenses.

These are often a top choice for small businesses because they are so economical to start up. Benefits include the fact that income is taxed once, instead of twice as a company and then personal source of revenue. Sole proprietorships are not subjected to as much government involvement and taxation as some other business types. Since only one person is involved, conflicts with partners, their associates or family members are nonexistent. Also, it is very easy to dissolve.

A major point to be aware of is that under the law, there is no distinction between the individual and the business. That can sometimes jeopardize the owner’s personal assets should the business go through financial problems. The same is true in the reverse, should the business owner experience hardships, such as divorce, illness, or some other personal difficulty, the business may be negatively affected.

It takes an astute individual to successfully operate this type of business. They are 100 percent responsible for all of the decisions and raising capital. There are also certain employee benefits that can not be fully deducted from the firm’s income. Owners should realize that some costs could only be partially deducted later as an adjustment.

2. Partnership – This formation type takes place when two or more individuals form a written agreement to operate a business together. Partnerships can also be established between other businesses and among one or more businesses and one or more individuals. This choice is also fairly simple and inexpensive to establish. However, partnerships have their own unique set of tax and liability issues.

Of course, this type of business allows for shared responsibilities when it comes to raising capital, making important decisions, and managing operations. On the flip side, when conflicts arise, no matter how large or small, unresolved issues can endanger the business. Those considering a partnership need to proceed with caution, because if one partner makes a financial or legal misstep, it can spell disaster for the company as a whole.

3. Corporation – Going through the process known as “incorporation” sets up the most flexible type of company. Corporations are state-chartered and have a number of legal rights. Its owners have limited liability because the corporation has separate legal standing. The owners are thereby protected from personal legal action, should the business be sued. However, corporations undergo a great deal of scrutiny and are held accountable for their actions at a higher level.

For example, the government oversees the operations of a corporation and requires them to appoint a board of directors, hold regular meetings, record and publish meeting minutes. Income is also subject to taxation as both personal and business revenue. Another point to keep in mind is that ownership can be transferred through the sale of stock or transfer of a controlling interest within the corporation.

4. Limited Liability Company-LLC – These types of businesses have many of the same built-in advantages as corporations. Along with their limited liability, LLCs can be owned by a variety of entities, including individuals, trusts, other LLCs, and corporations. When it is set up under the proper guidelines, an LLC can be taxed like a partnership, which is an advantage. However, there is quite a bit of paperwork required to form and operate an LLC to ensure that it will not be taxed as a corporation.

Although all four of theses common business entities are fairly straight forward, there are slight differences that govern their creation and operation, which can vary from state to state. That’s why it is always a very good idea to retain the services of an experienced business lawyer. Wilmington attorney Wes Jones is well-versed in these matters. Please make an appointment with Wes so he may assist you in exploring options and deciding which approach is best for your next business venture. Read more about his practice and the other types of cases he handles.

The office is located in Lumina Station, just before the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge at 1904 Eastwood Avenue, Suite 30. To make an appointment or get more information on the services Attorney Wes Jones provides, please call 910-256-5600.