Category: C&G’s Tip of the Week

Are you part of the 44%?

According to a 2016 Gallup Poll taken after superstar Prince died, only 44% of Americans reported having a will. News outlets widely reported on the probate proceedings for his estate. One of the most important takeaways from Prince’s shocking death was what happens when you die without measures in place to determine how your estate

Weed Woes…?

Last week, Detroiters voted to pass two ordinances that lessen the restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries in the City. The vote comes well over a year after City Council passed a largely restrictive ordinance that ultimately led to the closure of 167 facilities. The voters have spoken, and their word will stand- at least for

Who can I run to?

In the typical scenario, a client will appoint a spouse, child, sibling or close friend as Trustee to administer their Trust upon their incapacitation or death. However, we regularly come across the atypical scenario: when there is no one capable enough to serve. We always say that your fiduciary should be BOTH responsible and trustworthy.

Signs of the times…

You have leased a new building for your business. One of your tasks is selecting a new business sign for opening. There are a few LED and Digital options that are attractive to you. You plan to select the sign and have it installed by week’s end. That easy, right? Not so fast. Every municipality

It’s time to get your fingerprints taken!!!

Just as fingerprints are unique to every individual, so are estate plans! We often have clients come in and tell us they would like a document drafted a certain way because their neighbor, co-worker or friend told them it’s what they did! There are many different factors that determine what documents a client may require

The “Born” identity: Assumed Names

Do you want to abbreviate your company name on your advertising materials? Do you want to transact business under another name without forming a new entity? Both are feasible under Michigan law, but you must make sure to follow the right steps! First, the law requires that you file a Certificate of Assumed Name for

Is two actually greater than one?

It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us they want two of their loved ones to jointly administer their estate when they pass on- either as Co-Personal Representatives or Co-Trustees. Some believe it will be good for checks and balances, others don’t want to feel guilty about choosing one relative over another. This sounds like

Myth-Buster: Am I really responsible for paying off my loved one’s debt?

This is an oldie but goodie. One of the top questions we are asked is regarding debts of a deceased loved one. There are a lot of myths floating around on this topic. Let’s bust them! You’re inheriting your loved one’s estate- does that mean you are inheriting his or her bills? Let’s talk about

Your nonprofit is “charitable”…right?

Here’s what we already know: In order for your nonprofit to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS, it must be organized for charitable purposes. What we may not realize: That some Michigan cities and townships are closely scrutinizing organizations’ “charitable purposes” and as a result, there has been a growing number of nonprofits facing

DO your DUE diligence…

Jim has an amazing idea to start a new housing project. His only problem is he doesn’t have the capital. He thinks of Fred, a longtime friend who doesn’t have much business experience but has a lot of money and owns some property. He sits down with Fred and convinces him that a generous cash

Almost doesn’t count…

Mary and Phil Jackson had their estate plans drawn up nearly 25 years ago. They have separate trusts. While the beneficiary for various annuities and life insurance policies has been changed to their respective trusts, there are several accounts that remain in Mary’s name alone and do not list a beneficiary. Mary and Phil meet

Pop Quiz!!!

It’s that time again…Pop Quiz!!! Are you an estate planning whiz? Test your knowledge! Click HERE to take the quiz and let us know how you did! P: 248-395-3699 E: attyinfo@cg-legal-solutions.com **Please be sure to read the disclaimer section on our site!

It’s not over until it’s over…

Completing your estate plan can be one of the most important things you do, for you and your family. Many of our clients breathe a sigh of relief once the signing is over, which they should! However, it is important to remember that as life changes, your estate plan might need to also. What could

The way out…

It has been a while since we have discussed the importance of the “business prenup”. With life always comes change. So, we want to take the opportunity to revisit. Do you know what will happen to your business if your partner leaves the business or passes away? What about if you become disabled? Most business

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

We know you’ve heard the saying “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”. When it comes to estate planning, this colloquial phrase is critical. Every legal document has implications. In some cases, these documents can contradict each other. In order to truly carry out your wishes, you must be sure that

Zoned out…

You’re interested in opening your physical location for your food catering business. You found the perfect space, the lease seems straightforward and the landlord appears to be honest and fair. There is some work to do in the space, but it won’t be too costly. You sign the lease for the building and your equipment

Do you know Ladybird?

Annette, a widowed woman with two adult children has a home, which is paid off. She has a checking account, savings account and a life insurance policy, all of which have her children as beneficiaries or transfer-on-death designees. Since she intends for her children to get the house immediately when she passes, she wants to

Great Expectations

A widowed or single woman with four children has a sizeable life insurance policy. She decides to leave her most “responsible” child as the only beneficiary and EXPECTS that he will divvy the proceeds up equally among his siblings, as she instructed him. She also believes that she has reassurance through the Will she had

Fight for your (voting) rights!

Partnering up on a business venture? There are quite a few matters you should be sure about before you ink the deal. One of those is how voting is covered. Is it one man, one vote? Is it in accordance with percentage of membership interest? Do you have a majority? This is HIGHLY relevant as

Safe Deposit Boxes- Will you really have access?

Many assume that the safe deposit box at the bank is the best place to keep all important documents and that if something happens to them, those documents will be easily accessible, namely in the case of an emergency or sudden death. Not so fast. We have had instances where even a family member with

All in the same boat…

We have discussed the importance of all business organizations having governing documents, i.e. an operating agreement, partnership agreement, bylaws/ shareholder agreement, etc. One of the most common issues we run into is owners of single-member LLC’s failing to have an operating agreement. Most assume “I own the business alone- why do I need something like

Serving a purpose…

Just as important as drafting your estate plan is making sure your assets are appropriately titled. What is the point in having one, if it cannot be implemented according to your true wishes? It is more common than you think for people to have an estate plan done but fail to review asset ownership and

Permits, Licenses and Certificates…Oh My!

You are finally ready to open up shop. You have found a great location for your business, have a draft lease from the landlord to review and anticipate moving in shortly! There is a little bit of work to do on the space but you don’t anticipate it taking long at all. In fact, you

Agreeing to Disagree: The Danger of the “Side Agreement”

Throughout the ordinary course of business, small business owners regularly enter into a variety of agreements with third parties, including vendors, employees, consultants and service providers. More often than we like, we come across owners who contract a third party, reduce an agreement to writing BUT also agree to some sort of verbal side deal

Don’t miss the boat!

We regularly stress the importance of the estate planning process. One of the most misunderstood estate planning tools is the Power of Attorney. Whether for medical or for finances, we come across a lot of clients who think the document governs after-death decisions- or gives them priority to act after death simply because they were

Help is on the way! Nonprofits and Fiscal Sponsorship

When discussing the application for federal tax-exempt status, we are often asked this common question: When will I be able to start taking donations? Certainly, you can start accepting “donations” at any time. However, the more important question to ask is when will my donors be able to write all or a portion of their

The “haves” and the “have nots”

…Of estate planning of course! The “haves”: they have met with us, followed all the steps in making their wishes clear, reduced them to writing and had them properly witnessed and notarized. The most important thing the “haves” have is peace of mind. Peace of mind knowing that if something unexpectedly happens to you- whether

Risky Business

When is the last time you reviewed your employee handbook? If you reviewed it, did you consider any recent state and federal developments that impact employment policies? Often, small business owners take a long moment before answering these questions. It is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of running a business, that

Over my dead body!!!

“Over my dead body!!!” You’ve heard this colloquial phrase plenty of times before. Let’s think about it in its literal sense- do you want to ensure that your loved ones do not argue about your funeral arrangements and burial or cremation? Last June, Michigan law was amended to allow for individuals to designate a funeral

It’s 2017 Annual Statement time!

This week’s tip is a reminder to all limited liability companies and professional limited liability companies. Your annual statements and reports must be filed with the Corporations Division of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs by this Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Please be sure to timely submit your filings so that your business remains

You don’t have to touch the stove to know that it’s hot!

It’s that monster rearing its ugly head again: employee misclassification. We have discussed this problematic concept before and constantly caution our clients to avoid it at all costs. Studies show that an estimated 3.4 million employees are classified as independent contractors, when they should be reported as employees. In 2009, it was reported that misclassification

Your Star Player- Choosing your Fiduciary

Sometimes, people have difficulty choosing a “fiduciary”, or who they want to handle their assets should they become incapacitated or pass away. Types of fiduciaries include the Trustee of a Trust, or the Personal Representative (or even Conservator) of an estate. Parents will feel guilt choosing one child over another, although they know their child

Small Business Matters: Eyes Wide “Shut”

We often discuss the dangers of small business owners unwittingly neglecting important matters that can ultimately make or break their businesses. Many business owners have tunnel vision when it comes to driving the bottom line. When this happens, they run the risk of missing an exit and detouring to hazardous terrain. For this week’s tip,

All’s well that ends well

Thinking about launching that business with a partner? Or is there already an existing business that you have been offered ownership in? Either way, one of the most important documents you will need is a Buy-Sell Agreement. Affectionately termed a Business Will or Business Prenup, this document (or sometimes a section within a larger legal

How much do you know about estate planning?

It’s a new year. Being the astute person you are, you may have made a list of personal and financial goals you want to accomplish in 2017. Is your Estate Plan on that list? Let’s see how much you know about estate planning! Click HERE to take the quiz!!! How did you do? Whether you

Unintended consequences: Is your nonprofit “profitable”?

Many believe that their nonprofit’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status automatically and perpetually renders their organization’s activity tax-exempt. However, this is not necessarily true. Certain tax-exempt organizations are liable for tax if they have what is referred to as unrelated business taxable income (UBTI). UBTI for a 501(c)(3) organization generally refers to any income earned by the

Deal or no deal?

You’ve been given an opportunity to partner with four other people in a growing venture. The venture is operated by a Manager-Managed LLC. You only know one of the members, who is not one of the appointed managers. If you put up $5,000 in cash, sweat equity drawing on your expertise and sign the operating

Tis’ the season- Make your list and check it twice!!

Business owners!! It’s that time again! Now that you are nearing the end of another year, it’s time to take a look at your records and assess what needs work. There are certain records that are industry and business-entity specific, but there are some records that EVERY business should maintain properly: organizational documents, accounting and

Reality Check…

We speak ad nauseam about the importance of completing an estate plan. One of the principal reasons to handle this all-important matter is to ensure your loved ones avoid probate court. The probate process can be tedious. Dealing with this during the grieving process can be quite overwhelming- AND expensive. Recently, wxyz.com published an article

The Holographic will: an “Imperfect” solution to a problem

Michigan law allows for the creation of a holographic will, a will that is handwritten and signed by the Testator. The Testator is the person who is making out the will. A holographic will is valid only if it is ALL the following: (a) In WRITING. (b) Signed by the testator or in the testator’s

Civic Duty = Work Duty?

For this week’s tip, we are sharing an interesting piece we came across in Crain’s on small business owners giving their employees time off to vote. At the culmination of a highly charged election season in our country, several business owners see the value in encouraging their employees to vote. While Michigan is not one

Trusts and Estate Plans: One size does not fit all!

We have been contacted relatively often by clients specifically asking for a revocable living trust. They have discussed this widely-held estate planning tool with their friend, colleague or neighbor and are sure it is best for them. After meeting with the clients, ascertaining the size of their estate, and their specific needs and wishes, we

Separation agreements: Are they really a clean break?

A separation agreement is an important tool companies use when an employee is let go. Typically, in the agreement, a severance pay amount is offered to the employee for a promise to waive all potential claims against your company. This sounds like a great idea- you will never hear from the employee again, right? Not

Now or Later? Durable vs. Springing Powers of Attorney

When you execute a Power of Attorney (POA), you give another person powers over your medical and/ or financial decisions if you become incapacitated or unavailable. A healthcare POA gives that person power to make medical decisions, while a general POA deals with financial matters. These documents help avoid public guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. For

Now or Later? Durable vs. Springing Powers of Attorney

When you execute a Power of Attorney (POA), you give another person powers over your medical and/ or financial decisions if you become incapacitated or unavailable. A healthcare POA gives that person power to make medical decisions, while a general POA deals with financial matters. These documents help avoid public guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. For

Dodging the bullets…

Did you know the most common lawsuits filed against small businesses are employment related? Most times these suits center on claims of wrongful termination or discrimination. So, what if anything, can you do to dodge these bullets? The reality is that there is no foolproof plan. There is nothing that will give you an absolute

The “Z” Word

This week, we are re-sharing a VERY important tip on zoning. For those business owners starting out at home, looking to open a second or third location, transitioning from home-based to a store front- beware! Before you order equipment, sign that lease or purchase agreement, make sure you can operate your business where you intend

In or out? Testamentary Capacity and Wills

Testamentary Capacity. What does this mean? It’s really a legal way of saying “sound mind”. The issue arises often when individuals challenge a Will. The challenger will argue that the Testator (the person that made the Will) lacked sufficient testamentary capacity when making the Will; and thus, it should be deemed invalid. It is more

Staying on the straight and narrow: Tax-Exempt Organizations and Political Activity

We are knee-deep in election season! This is a stimulating time at the national, state and local levels as the November election is fast approaching. Soon, we will be heading to the polls to vote for school board members, judges, county clerks, state senators, congresspersons and President of the United States. Bearing that in mind,

SMALL Business- BIG Problems

Small business owners often make the mistake of failing to consider employment/ labor laws that apply to their businesses. While there may be some federal and state laws that apply to businesses with a certain number of employees, there are others that apply to ALL: even if you only have ONE. Think: Workers’ Compensation, Independent

The “what” and the “who”

When it comes to managing healthcare decisions in the event of incapacitation, we are often asked only about preparing a “living will”. Most of the time, this happens because clients are not entirely sure what purpose this document serves. Here’s what is important to remember about living wills: they handle the “what”. “What” specifies the

Pop Quiz!!!

Last week, we discussed the importance of knowledgeable human resource staff. The primary reason this is so important is because of mounting litigation nationwide. Knowing the law goes a long way in minimizing risk and protecting your business. For this week’s tip, we came across an insightful article about the basics of employment law. The

Square peg in a round hole: undervaluing Human Resources

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in running your business is hiring someone to run Human Resources- that does not KNOW Human Resources. We have seen far too many times owners of closely-held businesses hire a friend or someone a friend recommends that is good with “paperwork” and is “really organized” to handle

It could happen to you…

Genetic Testing? 30 Claimants? The nightmare that has become probating the icon Prince’s estate rages on. As you can recall, Prince died with no Will and no known children. The process of determining his heirs and distributing his estate is now up to a court. Now, you may not have an estimated $300 million estate

Myth Busters: Small Business Edition

One of the most misunderstood concepts we hear about from entrepreneurs is the “S-Corp” as it relates to limited liability companies (LLCs). We often hear business owners seeking to file paperwork to form an “S-Corp as opposed to an LLC” because the LLC is not best for them. Let’s bust this myth. In this scenario,

Keeping everything in check…

We regularly stress the importance of keeping your estate plan up-to-date. As time progresses, life changing events necessitate a review of your documents to ensure that your wishes are still followed and your assets are safeguarded. Life changing events can include a birth, a death, an inheritance, purchasing property or even a move!!! For this

Sharing may not be so caring: the danger of borrowing contract templates

When you’re a small business owner, budgeting is everything. You try to keep costs down and save as much as you possibly can. What business owners MUST remember is that cost cannot always be measured in dollars alone. Some decisions you make on the front end can actually be costlier on the back end. There

Dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s

Just because you make out your Will does not mean all your property will pass through it. There are certain types of assets that pass outside of a Will, according to contract. For example, life insurance policies, retirement plans and payable-on-death/ transfer-on-death accounts are all considered “contracts”. The beneficiaries you designate will inherit these assets

“Mission Drift”: Losing Your Grip!!!

It is relatively common for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to unintentionally drift away from its mission. This concept is referred to as “Mission Drift”. There are a number of signs that reveal an organization is suffering from this problem, including: large turnover of board members and/ or staff; obscurity as to what your organization’s mission

Intestate Succession: What the State says…goes

Didn’t make your estate plan? No worries- the State will make it FOR you! To die “intestate” means to die without a Will. When this happens, assets that would have passed under your Will, pass according to the laws of “intestate succession” to your closest relatives. These relatives are carefully defined by State Law and

Myth Busters Edition: Powers of Attorney are only for the Old, Sick and Single!

MYTH: You only need a Power of Attorney if you are aging, sickly or single. FALSE! Let’s bust this myth! EVERY ADULT needs Powers of Attorney for healthcare and for financial/ personal matters. If you don’t have these documents in place and something unexpected happens to you, there is no guarantee that the people you

Stuck like chuck: How to avoid deadlocks in operating agreements!

Deadlocking is a standstill resulting from two opposing forces. The potential for this issue to arise is quite prevalent with two-member LLCs; namely, the members of the LLC are in disagreement with the other’s decision. If the matter is significant enough, business operations can come to a complete halt. Whenever possible, deadlocking should be avoided.

Settling into the new normal? “Friending” employees on Social Networking Sites

Let’s face it. Social media is the “new normal”. And while there may be a few of us stubborn mules who have not embraced it, an overwhelming majority of people across many different demographics and generations have. There are so many ways the new normal impacts the workplace. For this week’s “tip”, we are sharing

Why your co-owned business needs a prenup: Buy-Sell Agreements

Do you know what will happen to your business if your partner leaves or passes away? What about if you become disabled? Most business owners cannot definitively answer this question because they do not have a “business prenup” or “business will”- more formally known as a Buy-Sell Agreement. A Buy-Sell Agreement includes provisions for death,

Interviewing Practices: Mum’s the word!

A number of our small business clients are growing. With growth comes the need to hire more staff. Quite some time ago, we published a tip on interviewing practices- we thought it would be important to recirculate it in light of this growth spike. Take a look below! You may have a pretty good handle

C&G’s Tip of the Week: Myth Busters Edition!

Many people regard the basic “Revocable Living Trust” as the holy grail of estate planning: it seemingly appears from the heavens and eliminates all potential estate issues. Let’s bust this myth! There are a number of things that most do not realize about this type of trust. ONE of the principal considerations is that the

Employers: Make your list and check it twice!

Are you prepared for changes to overtime regulations? We’ve been tracking the proposed rule changes for overtime exempt employees concerning “white-collar workers” for quite some time now. As a refresher, the proposed regulations will drastically increase the number of employees entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It’s a good idea

Keeping your hands out of the cookie jar: does your nonprofit have a conflict of interest policy?

The IRS has an oversight role regarding charitable organizations- nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt status. Accordingly, we consistently remind founders and directors of nonprofits: not only do you have to work to obtain tax-exempt status, but you also must work to KEEP it. One of the major components to ensuring you do not jeopardize your status

Voidable Contracts: What’s done in the dark comes to the light!

As long as you get someone to sign a contract, they are obligated and there’s nothing they can do about it, right? Well, in typical lawyer fashion, the answer is: IT DEPENDS. There is a concept in the law referred to as a “voidable” contract. This means that a court can allow a party to

An eye for an eye: Docking employee pay…

Business Owner: My employee backed our company car into a pole. There is roughly $750 in damage. I am very upset about this- I want to dock his pay for each pay period by $50 until the balance is paid. Is this okay? In Michigan? Generally, the answer is NO! And there is a VERY

C&G’s Tip of the Week: Myth-Busters Edition!!!

Q: My dad is very ill and is not in his right mind. I have been trying to handle his affairs because my mom is no longer around, but I was told by the bank I need authorization to do so because I am not on his accounts. I can just get durable power of

Playing with fire…Entrepreneurs: Are you running afoul of a non-compete?

Did you recently leave your job to strike out on your own? Have you started a business while you still have a full-time job? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s time to check your employment paperwork to make sure you are not violating a non-compete agreement. A number of employers routinely

Employment Chronicles: When being a jerk doesn’t work!

While it’s GENERALLY not illegal to be a jerk, it certainly doesn’t pay to be one. There are many ways your disposition can affect your Company’s bottom line. One of the major ways that business owners and managers do not anticipate their ‘approach’ will come back to haunt them is in the event of a

Want your loved ones to really avoid Probate? Go all the way!!

When it comes to avoiding the Probate Process, there is one thing that is more important than having a Will or a Trust: Making sure all of your property is titled correctly. This includes accounts, policies, real property and the like. A big concern that a lot of clients have when they come to us

LLC Owners: Stay in your sandbox- do not use the Company’s assets as your playground!

Piercing the Corporate Veil… Owners of LLCs are known as “members”. Generally, a member of a Michigan LLC is not liable for the acts, debts or obligations of the Company unless otherwise provided by law or an operating agreement. The Company acts as a shield or a “veil” to protect the members. This is great

LLCs and PLLCs: Have you filed your annual statement yet????

ONE of the most important things businesses must do is make sure to stay current on all licensing, reporting and certification requirements. Can you guess the most common renewal we see business owners miss? The annual report with the State of Michigan- the very report that is required by law to keep your business in

When the Honeymoon is over: Being Proactive in Handling Partner Disputes

Whether it’s your brother, best pal from college or a like-minded entrepreneur you met at a conference, you will eventually have a disagreement with your business partner. Most of the squabbles may be small but there may come a time when a big issue arises and your dispute over it threatens the operations of your

Better SAFE than SORRY: Why you need a solid Document Retention Policy

Customer Smith called you to get a copy of his purchase orders from the month before last before he places his next large order. Can you quickly retrieve and send them to him? You’re in the middle of a lawsuit with a bitter former employee and are asked to provide the employee’s disciplinary reports from

You’ve got the key to the house- make sure you keep it clean! Acting as an agent…

Have you been given Power of Attorney over someone? Then, you have the key to the door- make sure you keep that house in order! Here are a few quick tips on fulfilling your duties as someone’s “agent”. Let’s say Minnie has given you power of attorney (legal authority) to manage her property and finances.

Solo to the party? You still need your tickets and ID!

Single-Member LLCs: Why you need an operating agreement You started your own business. You formed an LLC and have no other members or what are ordinarily known as “partners”. You don’t need to waste your time with an operating agreement, right? WRONG! Let’s first talk about what an operating agreement is. An operating agreement is

PROTECT AND SERVE your business: The Non-Disclosure Agreement

It’s a new year and there are new opportunities on the horizon for expansion! Ready to talk to someone regarding a joint venture? A potential investor? A consultant or vendor for a major project? A new partner? For all of these scenarios and MANY more, you will undoubtedly be sharing sensitive information about your business.

Santa has come and gone, but YOU should be making your list and checking it twice!

Last week, we talked about “out with the old, in with the new”. We received feedback in high volumes from business owners. The overarching message was “I know there are some things I could take a look at- but where would I even start??” Small businesses are notorious for failing to keep proper records. It

Contract Matters…The Termination Clause: Mapping the Exit Strategy

Often times, business owners are presented with seemingly golden opportunities that they cannot pass up. They find themselves in a crunch to get a deal done and either sign an agreement that has not been reviewed by legal counsel or pull a boilerplate agreement from the web and present it to the other party. We

You got it, but can you keep it? Maintaining 501(c)(3) status…

As quickly as you can obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for your organization, you can lose it. In addition to failing to comply with annual reporting requirements, there are certain activities that can jeopardize your 501(c)(3) status. Two of the top problematic activities we see 501(c)(3) organizations participate in are “political activity” and “lobbying”. Let’s talk

Website Disclaimers: Protection from the Foreseen and Unforeseen!

What’s a disclaimer? Generally, a disclaimer is a statement intended to protect from claims or liability. Do I need it? If you currently have or will have a website, then you NEED a disclaimer. A disclaimer on your site helps to reduce legal risks. While disclaimers do not guarantee a defense from liability, you need

Home-based businesses and zoning: Being in the comfort of your own home does not make you an exception to the rule!

We have discussed the issue of zoning plenty of times before. However, with a recent spike in home-based business clients, we think it’s VERY important to talk about what zoning means for your home-based business. Zoning laws determine what you can do and where you can do it. Each city has its own regulations that

C&G’s Tip of the Week: Myth Buster Edition

We have come across this type of scenario quite often: Daffy: My brother just died. I don’t think he had a will but I have power of attorney over him, so that means I can start handling his affairs, right? Unfortunately, Daffy is wrong. LET’S BUST THIS MYTH! A power of attorney gives someone the

Employee Training: The best defense is a good offense!

You cannot win ANY game without good defense AND offense. The same goes for your business. This is why you MUST train your staff, not only for their job function but in the areas that commonly give rise to lawsuits! Here’s the Who, What, When, Where, Why: Who? Not only Human Resources staff, but ALL

Do I need a will or living trust? Decisions, Decisions!

It’s never too early to get your estate plan done. At C&G, we always say that if you only have a dollar, you need to decide what will happen with that dollar! More people are starting to recognize this fact but find themselves asking: Do I need a will or living trust? Well, it depends.

Responding to Employee Complaints: Go BIG- or you may be going home!

Not taking employee complaints seriously or failing to fully investigate them can lead to a world of trouble. First and foremost: do you have a well-crafted, thorough process in place for investigating complaints? Second and equally as important: do you follow that process consistently? Neither of these are optional! It takes only one mishandled complaint

Giving Employment References- Do you want to open that can of worms?

If you have been in business long enough, you have had an employee or two leave for one reason or another. When that former employee is trying to get a new job and the potential new employer calls for a reference check, what are you allowed to say? What should you stay away from? Under

Business Interruption Insurance: Think you don’t need it? Think again!

There are several different types of insurance that business owners should have. One of the increasingly popular types of coverage is business interruption insurance- sometimes known as business income insurance. Some owners neglect to obtain this type of policy because of cost, while other owners may think the property or casualty insurance coverage they maintain

The Verbal Agreement: It can work…until it doesn’t!

“I’m too busy to have an agreement done in writing!” “I trust him.” “They won’t agree to that term in writing!” These are just a few, but we have heard all the reasons in the world for why people have decided to seal a deal with a good old fashion handshake or conversation. And while

A Cautionary Tale: The Letter of Intent

The letter of intent (LOI) has become increasingly popular in the last several years. LOIs are generally used to confirm expectations concerning key elements of a proposed “deal” or transaction. They are used in a variety of different business transactions, including lease agreements, purchase agreements and more. And while they are not used in all

Documenting employee discipline- it’s as good as the paper it’s written on

Documenting Employee Discipline- it’s as good as the paper it’s written on… When it comes to documenting employee discipline, establishing a clear record of meetings- in addition to incidents- is imperative. Here are some things to think about: a written document after a disciplinary meeting shows proof of what was communicated to an employee and

Long lease terms: do you really want to commit??

Business owners must proceed with caution when entering into commercial leases. Along with a number of other concerns to tackle prior to entering into a commercial lease, the length tops the list. Most landlords will push for longer lease commitments, but you have to know when to push back! Depending on the specific needs of

Outside investors: Just because it makes dollars DOESN’T mean it makes sense!

You have a great business concept and decided to start your business BUT you find yourself in dire need of funding. The best thing to do is to hook that potential investor you were chatting up and get the cash, right? WRONG! This decision has serious implications. First, any investor at minimum will want input

Employee Discipline: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Employee discipline: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! It’s great to have impressive disciplinary policies and procedures in place but that won’t mean much if you are applying them in an inconsistent fashion. There’s an old saying that says bad as to one, bad as to all. This could not be

Co-Agents – Sometimes even “Two” is a crowd!!!

You are ready to have your Power of Attorney done. You want both of your children or siblings to serve as co-agents, which means they will have joint power/ responsibility for decision making if you become unable. Simple, right? Maybe not. There are drawbacks with a shared power of attorney. Your intentions may be to

Ignorance is NOT bliss!

“How can I be responsible for that??? I didn’t even know!!!!!” These are words that cause us to wince in pain when we hear them! Why?? Because ignorance of the law is NEVER an excuse- no matter what! Just because you are not familiar with a particular area of law does not mean it does

Myth-Buster: Am I responsible for paying off my loved one’s debt?

You’re inheriting your loved one’s estate- does that mean you are inheriting his or her bills? Let’s talk about in the case of parents. Generally, heirs are NOT responsible for their parents’ outstanding bills. While creditors can go after the assets in the ESTATE to satisfy debt (potentially reducing what ultimately is given to heirs),

Hiring Practices: Mum’s the Word!

You may have a pretty good handle on your employment practices- but did you know that you’re on the hook for actions that you take during the application process? Specifically, did you know that you can have suit brought against you for claims of discriminatory actions in your hiring process? Such is the case even

PLLCs: Birds of a feather MUST flock together

Professional Service limited liability companies or PLLCs are limited liability companies comprised of individuals who have been legally authorized to provide a professional service. Some professions that MUST form as a PLLC (and not just a regular LLC/ limited liability company) include attorneys, accountants, doctors of divinity or other clergy, dentists and physicians. For single

Arbitration: The Road MORE or LESS traveled?

A lot of companies have employees and contractors sign arbitration clauses so that in the event of a dispute, the matter is not handled in the courts. Arbitration is a form of private dispute resolution, which provides parties to a controversy with a choice other than litigation. Arbitration can be voluntary or mandatory. There are

Conservatorship: Know the ropes!

Taking on the job of conservator? Make sure you truly understand what it entails and what it will require of you! A conservator has broad power to handle assets on behalf of someone that has been deemed a “protected individual”, that is essentially, legally determined to be unable to manage his/ her affairs. A lot

You want tax-exempt status? You have to earn it!

C&G’s tip of the week: You want tax-exempt status? You have to earn it! You have been thinking about starting that non-profit for quite some time. Now the time has come- you are ready to move forward with getting the organization started and then filing for tax-exempt status (also known as 501(c)(3) status) with the

At-Will Employment: Practice what you preach!

C&G’s Tip of the week: At-Will employment- Practice what you preach!!! “For Cause” trumps at-will status A lot of people already know that Michigan is an “at-will” state. The problem is that not everyone truly understands what “at-will” employment is and more importantly how employment handbooks, contracts and policies must be uniformly and accurately drafted

Cover your bases!!!

Cover your bases!!! Why liability insurance is a MUST for businesses… A lot of business owners feel as though they cannot afford liability insurance. The truth is, while it can sometimes be expensive, you can’t afford NOT to have it. What happens if you are the victim of theft? Not insured? Who’s going to pay

The Non-Compete Agreement- Beware: One Size does NOT fit all!

Employers often use non-compete agreements to protect their valuable assets, namely to have some assurance that their proprietary information and trade secrets will not be made available to competitors. Many business owners use a template that they downloaded from the web or got from a friend that owns a business/ had access otherwise. Saves on

Living VICARIOUSLY through others…literally!

Living VICARIOUSLY through others…literally! You CAN be liable for the actions of your employees- no matter what type of business you own! Whether you have a restaurant, cleaning service, sell life insurance or offer financial advice…your employees can expose you to liability under the legal theory of “Respondeat Superior” or VICARIOUS LIABILITY! The Latin term

Location, Location, Location… How zoning impacts your business!

When many people hear the word “zoning”, either they do not understand its implications or their eyes glaze over. However uninteresting or unrecognized it may be, it is extremely important. Zoning controls the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put. Zoning laws identify the areas

Put it in writing! The Formality = The Reality

Put it in writing!!! The Formality = The Reality “A man’s word is as good as the paper it’s written on” Hiring a new printing company for your sales brochures? Ordering more product? What about engaging a virtual assistant or having the electrical system in your office repaired? Put the terms in writing! While oral

You only need an employment law attorney when an employee sues…right? – WRONG!!!!!

You only need an employment law attorney when an employee sues…right? – WRONG!!!!! And while business owners may recognize this fact, a number of them still do not know how to determine if and when they need to seek counsel from an attorney. A lot of savvy business owners choose to handle a number of

To incorporate or to not incorporate… that IS the question!

C&G’s Tip of the week: Corporations and Limited Liability Companies To “incorporate” or not to “incorporate”? That IS the question! Finally launching your t-shirt line? What about your consulting business? KNOW the benefits of incorporating and make a sound decision on how to structure your business. Do not become comfortable with the “DBA”! Whether you

Personal Guarantee: Using one’s personal credit to help build business credit. Proceed with Caution!!

Business Owners and Entrepreneurs: Understand all the risks and rewards from having to sign a Personal Guarantee! It is common for owners of new companies to be asked to sign a personal guarantee for anyone extending “credit”. Landlords, Suppliers, Financial Institutions and any other sources that may extend credit to your business may ask you

Independent Contractor or Employee.. Do you know the difference?

Independent Contractor or Employee… Do you know the difference? Employee misclassification is a problem that hurts everyone! It happens when an employer hires a worker and erroneously classifies that person as an “independent contractor” instead of an “employee”. Often times, employers that make this misclassification think that they can simply issue an “IRS Form 1099”

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