6 Questions to Ask Your Business Attorney by Year-End

Our attorney Richard Dellinger was recently quoted in a Business News Daily story about what questions every business owner should ask their lawyer prior to the end of the year. Read the story below:

6 Questions to Ask Your Business Attorney by Year-End

by: Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily Assistant Editor

Business News Daily

With 2014 rapidly coming to a close, businesses everywhere are starting to prepare their finances, contracts and legal documents for year-end reporting and renewals. Business News Daily spoke with three legal experts to find out what questions every small business owner should consider discussing with a lawyer prior to the end of the year.

Is there anything that needs to be updated or addressed in any of my business’s contracts and legal agreements?

Most businesses have contracts with third-party vendors that need to be renewed on an annual or semi-annual basis. Ask your lawyer to look through any contracts that end with the calendar year, to confirm their accuracy before renewal.

“Now is an excellent time to look through [standard contract] provisions to make sure all representations and warranties remain accurate about the product or service, and are written concisely and clearly,” said Karen Tidwall, a shareholder at law firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek and a member of the Business Litigation Practice Group and the Women’s Initiative Practice Group of ALFA International.

Richard Dellinger, partner, commercial litigation attorney and deputy practice group leader at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed P.A., agreed, noting that the end of the year is a good time to review any shareholder or operating agreements, to ensure that they still adequately cover your business’s needs.

“For businesses run by a board of directors, the bylaws should be reviewed, to determine if they are up-to-date,” Dellinger told Business News Daily. “Small business owners also need to ensure that their employment agreements are up-to-date and that they contain adequate company protections [such as] confidentiality, nonsolicitation, noncompetition, etc.”

 Have I maximized my tax deductions?

While individual taxpayers may not start thinking about their taxes until much closer to April 15, business owners have earlier tax deadlines to meet, and need to begin preparing now. As the year closes, you should go over your tax deductions, to make sure you’ve taken advantage of each one that applies to your business.

“Whether it be charitable contributions, startup expenses, vehicle expenses, new equipment purchases or other major purchases, those deductions could be used to offset tax liability,” Dellinger said. “Small business owners need to know their limits and plan their expenditures, to maximize the deductions.”

Basha Rubin, founder of curated small business attorney network Priori Legal, added that if your business’s fiscal year matches the calendar year, you may want to strategically plan business expenses for either before or after Dec. 31, depending on which tax year would be more advantageous for your business.

Will the Revised Uniform LLC Act affect my business?

If you’re one of the many small business owners who have structured their company as a limited liability corporation (LLC), you may want to ask your attorney about the Revised Uniform LLC Act, which has recently been updated in a number of states.

“The major changes in the LLC Act may include the elimination of Managing Members, modification of fiduciary duties, changes in default voting provisions, changes to withdrawal rights and revisions to statements of authority,” Dellinger said. “If your small business is an LLC….to read the story in full, click here.

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