One of the difficulties in running a business is figuring out which types of laws and regulations apply. Figuring out the intricacies of federal and state law is difficult enough. Then, depending on where your business is located, you also need to consider local ordinances and regulations such as the county or city code. This complexity can sometimes lead to a bury your head in the sand approach where it is hoped that ignorance of the law will be a defense if something goes wrong. However, that is not the case. It is assumed that business owners are aware of and understand the laws that are applicable to their businesses.
A question I regularly hear regarding all types of estate planning documents is “how often should this be updated?” The answer depends, of course, on the individual circumstances. However, there are some general guidelines that can be helpful. Two questions to think about regarding updating your legal documents include – have there been any major life events since the documents were last updated, and have you looked through the documents in the past 2 years?
Many of our clients in North Idaho and Eastern Washington are “snowbirds”. I know some clients are even headed south early this year to escape the smoky air we’ve endured lately. If you are headed somewhere warm to spend the winter months, you will want to be sure you have packed more than just your sunscreen.
If you are an adult in Idaho and become unable to make your own decisions in life due to injury, illness, or some other form of incapacity, there are two basic ways in which another person becomes the stand-in decision maker for you. The first way is through the use of a previously written and signed Power of Attorney Document in which you will have stated who it is that should make your decisions for you if you cannot do so. That stand-in decision maker is called your “Agent” or your “Attorney in Fact.” However, if you have not previously completed valid Power of Attorney documents, a judge will need to appoint someone to become your decision maker through a court process known as Guardianship and Conservatorship. If a judge has to appoint your stand-in decision maker, that person will be called your “guardian” and/or “conservator.”
There are many different types of business entity structures that you can utilize as a business owner, but there can be uncertainty regarding which business entity is the right one for you. Choosing the right type of business entity is an important part of ensuring that you will be able to achieve your business goals
I’m often asked if a person needs a Power of Attorney document if that person already has a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). It is a good question. The simple answer for almost everyone is yes – you should have both a Will and a Power of Attorney document. Let’s look at what purpose each serve and why both are necessary.
Often, clients have asked whether this authorization should be in their Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Your Will is a document that is rarely looked at by anyone other than you until after your death – and certainly your doctor or attending health care providers at a hospital are unlikely to have ever read your will.
Estate planning consist primarily in putting into place those legal documents that each of us need to deal with what happens if we become incapacitated and what happens when we die. If you have estate planning documents in place and have any doubt about whether those documents are complete or up to date, the best thing you could do is bring them to an estate planning attorney to review and discuss with you. Some law firms, like mine, may do this for you without charge as a complimentary consultation. Getting an expert’s advice on the status of your documents is very valuable.