Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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Baton Rouge Business & Commercial Law Blog

Red flags to watch out for when hiring a contractor

Contractor fraud can cost unsuspecting homeowners or business owners thousands. You may even know someone who hired a contractor, paid for the work up front and then never heard from the contractor again. This happens across the country, including in Baton Rouge.

Another common scenario is the contractor that begins the work and leaves before finishing the job. This not only costs people any payments already made to the contractor but thousands more to pay a legitimate contractor to not only finish the job but fix any damage done by the original contractor that defrauded you.

What licenses and permits do you need to start your business?

Starting your Louisiana-based company does not have to be complicated, but it is more complex than simply opening your doors for business.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, you are likely to need some federal and state permits and licenses to run your business legally.

The benefits of starting an online business

Like many entrepreneurs in Louisiana, you may be considering whether starting your company from your home is your best option. We at the law office of Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law, have often counseled individuals on how to form an internet business that succeeds.

The Small Business Administration notes that home-based internet businesses typically cost less than those that require a physical location. Not only do you have the potential to save money, you may also find it easier to raise the capital you need to start. Many lenders offer business lines of credit, and you may also find that you can get a personal loan to cover many of your startup costs. An internet business also makes it easier to expand as you succeed. 

What should you leave out of your will?

As you plan which of your beneficiaries will receive your assets in your Louisiana will, keep in mind that this particular estate planning tool is not designed to include everything you own. In fact, your will is a limited tool, although it is probably a necessary one.

According to FindLaw, if you have retirement accounts, you probably named a beneficiary when you set them up. So, for example, you cannot say in your will that you are leaving your IRA or 401(k) to your brother when you have named your son as the beneficiary on the account. It is the same for payable-on-death bank accounts. These require a beneficiary, and they transfer immediately to that person when you die. The good thing about accounts that require a beneficiary is that the assets do not become part of your estate at your death, so there is no delay for the transfer. You do not have to mention your life insurance policy in your will, as that plan also requires a named beneficiary.

Usufructuaries and naked ownership

Sometimes, after a person in Louisiana dies, an asset left to a beneficiary does not immediately transfer to that person's possession. If you find yourself in this position as the new owner of the asset, you may be wondering what will happen next. The legal team at Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law, often advises clients who have questions about Louisiana inheritance laws.

The Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs explains that a usufructuary is someone who inherits the rights to use a property or to receive the income the property generates. This person does not inherit the property itself, but the usufruct. 

Strategy can optimize the process of hiring and retaining workers

For many successful companies in Louisiana, one of their most important goals is to hire, train and retain the type of talent that is continuously improving and receiving the necessary resources to become the next leaders of the organization. This process, while relatively simplistic for some, can be what makes or breaks large corporations depending on how well they strategize the training and care of their workers. 

Lackluster onboarding practices can damage an employee's likelihood of remaining a dependable and committed worker in the long term. One common, but an overlooked mistake that many leaders make is forgetting about internal hires that move around within the company's ranks. Although an employee may attain a new job through the acceptance of a promotion, his or her training is equally as critical as someone who is joining the company for the first time. This process, called cross-boarding, is critical to helping the newly transferred worker to understand his or her job and exceed in their new position. 

Can you protect yourself from dishonest contractors?

When you are already reeling from the stress of rebuilding your home after the traumatic flooding in Louisiana, the last thing you need to deal with is the dishonesty of contractors who advertise themselves as someone you can rely on for effective repairs. Because many contractors appear seemingly out of nowhere following a natural disaster, it may be easy for you to trust that everyone who you contact is ready to lend a helping hand. However, protecting yourself from those who are dishonest and deceiving is essential to avoid losing even more of your precious resources. 

Despite your urgency to get your home repaired and back to how it used to be after the flood, it is imperative that you treat this situation like any other regarding doing your research and spending adequate time weighing your options. Do not trust just anyone who you hear about. Instead, rely on the experience and suggestions of people you know in developing your list of potential contractors to hire to repair your home. 

Probate: 2 simple ways to avoid it for some of your assets

If your father passes away, you'll need to wait for the probate process to conclude before receiving the inheritance that was bequeathed to you in his will. And if you're the executor of your father's estate, there's a lot more than waiting, which you'll need to do as you actively navigate the probate process on behalf of your father's estate.

That being said, there may be some assets that pass to your father's beneficiaries directly, without needing to wait for probate to conclude. In fact, many estate planners make it their mission to pursue various "probate-avoidance" strategies. Some of these strategies require the assistance of an estate planning attorney, but not all of them.

Updating an estate plan is just as important as creating one

Planning an estate is not a top priority for many people in Louisiana, especially those who do not recognize an immediate need for planning so far into the future. However, people who take the initiative to begin planning their estate long before they ever need to implement its details, are often much more confident and better prepared to take on the unexpected with peace of mind. 

Creating an estate plan requires people to sit down and analyze their lifestyle, their end-of-life wishes and how they want their assets to be used or distributed following their death. Effective estate planning accounts for the needs of remaining family members while honoring the wishes of the person who created the plan. According to Time, when people are planning their estate, they should be in communication with their heirs, their executor and any other people who will play a role in their plan. This decision may not only provide helpful information to surviving family members but prevent disagreements and contention by providing clarification about a person's desires before they are no longer there to define their wishes. 

Maintaining an attractive property in the wintertime months

While there are certain times of the year in Louisiana where buying and selling real estate is more profitable and efficient than others, with the right tools and strategies, people can have a successful chance at completing real estate transactions at all times of the year. One of the key selling points for many potential buyers is how attractive the home appears and how readily they can envision the property working for their needs. 

Maintaining an attractive property may be slightly more difficult in the wintertime months, especially with the exaggerated belief that real estate sales suffer during the cold season. Fortunately, with a bit of attention paid to curb appeal, people may have a more successful attempt at selling their property. Experts recommend keeping all window coverings open to give a welcoming feeling for interested buyers. The property should be well-lit and maintained to allow curious buyers to safely observe the area. 

Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
11777 Justice Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

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