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

What are the benefits of a living will?

Some people call it a living will, others call it an advance health care directive and many have another name entirely. Regardless of what you call it, it's critical to understand the benefits and whether or not it's a good addition to your estate plan.

Many people are confused by what a living will can do for them, as the name makes them believe it has something to do with passing their assets along to their loved ones upon their death.

An overview of the LLC structure

Louisiana business owners who are interested in protection against liability may be interested in creating a limited liability company (LLC). One of the key benefits of having an LLC is that the owners of the business are not typically personally liable for the organization's debts. Furthermore, they are less likely to lose their personal assets if a judgment is entered against the LLC. Another potential benefit is the ability to choose how the entity is taxed.

The LLC can choose to be taxed like a pass-through entity or as a corporation. It is possible for sole proprietors to create LLCs if it is in their best interest to do so. To form an LLC, paperwork and a filing fee must be sent to the state in which it will be formed. In some cases, it will be necessary to announce the formation of the company in a newspaper.

Common emotional roadblocks to estate planning

One of the hardest conversations that a Louisiana family can have is determining what will happen if someone in the family, especially the parents, were to die. No one likes thinking about their mortality, but it is inevitable. While the conversation of an estate plan may be difficult to have, it is necessary. Here are a few of the most common emotional roadblocks that families experience when establishing an estate plan.

The first emotional roadblock is simply talking about death. However, not addressing the subject will not keep it from occurring. Something that may be helpful is talking about when a person is gone or when the family will be on their own as opposed to saying death. A softer approach can help the family get past the morbidity.

Electronic wills are convenient but have some disadvantages

Some Louisiana residents may be happy to know that electronic wills may become a reality in some states. The Uniform Electronic Wills Act is serving as a model for states that are interested in adopting a form of this legislation.

One of the biggest advantages that comes from electronic wills is the fact that they are more convenient to create. No physical paper needs to pass between the hands of the individual who creates the will and a notary. The process would involve a person electronically filling out a form in order to create a will. They would then have a video chat with a notary and answer a few questions. The notary would send a notarized copy of the will to the user electronically. The will can also be stored online.

Are option contracts straightforward? Maybe not

Business contracts have an enormous amount of flexibility, which allows them to accommodate just about any type of business arrangement. While this can prove beneficial to the parties involved in negotiations, it can also present a number of challenges.

Oftentimes, contract disputes arise when one party is unable or unwilling to live up to its end of the bargain, which may sound straightforward but can actually be murky.

What remedies can be received for breach of contract?

Louisianans who have a contract with another person or entity do so expecting that the parameters of the contract will be adhered to. However, issues can arise for a variety of reasons and there could be accusations of a breach of contract. With this or any other contract dispute, it is important to understand what steps can be taken to deal with the situation. Perhaps litigation will be needed to settle the matter. Or there could be room to negotiate and satisfy the parties. Regardless, having legal advice with a contract problem can be critical.

Once the contract requirements have been breached, to settle the case, certain remedies can be agreed to. In general, there are three remedies if a contract is breached. They are damages; specific performance; and cancellation and restitution. With damages, it means there will be payment of some form for the breach. That can include compensatory, punitive, nominal and liquidated damages.

Determining the right individual to assign as a trustee

A lot of work goes into determining if a trust is right for certain Louisiana residents. They usually work closely with an adviser to help them find the right trust, and they may do extensive research to be sure that the trust they have decided upon is right for their needs. One step that seems to be easy but may be a bit more complicated than one at first thinks is choosing the right trustee.

At first, a person may feel that the right trustee for their situation is someone with whom they have a personal connection, like a family member. However, some have found that it is more beneficial to view this as a business decision as opposed to a personal one. In order for a trust to be successful, the trustee has to have the right objectivity, dedication and knowledge.

Estate planning complications in blended families

Blended families may face some complicated emotional and legal issues when it comes to estate planning. For example, some adult children in Louisiana might wonder what may happen if a parent decides to leave an entire estate to a stepparent and whether they would be able to inherit any assets.

If a person dies without a will, state law determines how the person's assets are divided. However, in general, a person who does have a will can choose what happens to the assets. This could include leaving everything to a stepparent, who would then be permitted to pass the inheritance on to a charity, other family members or anyone else. Children who are concerned about a parent's plans for assets may want to try to discuss the issue with the parent although it can be a difficult conversation. It is important for the children to avoid framing the conversation as though they only care what happens to the money or do not care what happens to the stepparent in the event of the other parent's death.

Contract disputes and anticipatory breach

A breach of contract often takes Baton Rouge businesses by surprise. These businesses typically negotiate in good faith to reach agreements that further not only their interests, but also those of the other party to the contract. Yet, sometimes parties to a contract are unable to meet their obligations or they simply refuse to meet them. Regardless of why it occurs, a breach of contract can leave a business scrambling to secure much needed supply chains, services, goods, and performances.

Not all breaches of contract are surprising, though. In fact, an anticipatory breach occurs when a party's actions indicate that it intends not to live up to its end of the bargain. Although some parties may come out and vocalize their intentions, this isn't necessary in order for anticipatory breach to be found. When this occurs, the other party can be relieved of its reciprocal obligations under the contract.

What is a leveraged buyout of a business?

Whether you have been thinking about selling off all, or part of your business or if an offer has come to you completely out of left field, you may be wondering about a leveraged buyout.

Whether the business is fairly new and growing rapidly, older and holding steady or in a declining position, a buyout could be right for you and your business. Selling a small business could happen in many different ways.

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

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