Business and Corporate Law

Q.  What is business and corporate law all about?
A.  In a nutshell, there are two goals.  The first is to minimize the personal liability of the owners and the second is to minimize the tax consequences of the enterprise.

Q.  I own a small corporation.  Aren’t my personal assets shielded from the liabilities of the company?
A.  Not necessarily.  If someone is injured while on your business premises, they will probably sue the corporation.  If the proper formalities haven’t been followed, they can also try to “pierce the corporate veil” and come after the owners personally. Their lawyer will certainly try to pierce, because owners of a company typically have deeper pockets than the company itself.

Q.  I’m not sure whether to set up a corporation or an LLC for my business. Which one is better?
A.  It depends upon your specific circumstances.  Factors to consider include limitations of liability, financial structure, tax implications and management structure. We can work with you to determine whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation makes sense for you.

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The Seagrave Law Office, pllc

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Real Estate

Q.  What is a closing agent?
A.  A closing agent coordinates the closing of your real estate transaction.  They issue the title insurance policy and work with your lender to make sure all of the proper forms are completed.  In Florida, the closing agent can be either a title company or an attorney.

Q.  What’s the difference between using a title company and an attorney as my closing agent?
A.  Title companies cannot provide any legal representation to you. They cannot give you advice about the contracts for closing nor can they advise you regarding the quality of the title being transferred.  Real estate attorneys can provide you with legal advice and guide you through the process. Both title companies and real estate attorneys can issue title insurance and coordinate the closing process.

Q.  Buying a house is a routine transaction; why would I need a lawyer?
A.  Buying a house is usually the largest investment a person makes.  There are many points in the process where danger lurks, and the consequences are often significant.  A lawyer can protect your interests throughout the process.

Q.  Doesn’t having a lawyer perform the closing cost more money?
A.  It depends upon the lawyer, but at our firm, the costs of having an attorney perform your closing are identical to having a title company do it.   Typically the buyer and seller will both pay a flat fee for the closing.

Q.  My real estate agent has a closing company she recommends. Shouldn’t I just go with that?
A.  Not necessarily.  Your real estate agent wants the closing to go through smoothly. That’s when she gets paid.  On the other hand, you have a vested interest in making sure you are protected throughout the process.

Estate Planning and Probate

Q.  What is an estate plan?
A. The major goal of an estate plan is to let you decide in advance how your assets are distributed upon your death. However, a good estate plan does much more. It minimizes the tax consequences of your decisions and allow your loved ones to receive their distributions as quickly as possible. It should also document how you want to be cared for if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

Q. Why do I need an estate plan? I don't really own much.
A. Because the question is who you want to have making decisions, you or the state. Do you want to determine who gets what after you're gone, or do you want to let the state figure it out? Do you want to pick who can make medical decisions on your behalf, or let the state make the decisions?

Q. I already have a will. Why should I have my estate plan reviewed?
A.  Because your life situations change, and the law changes. In one recent case, a famous actor died with an estate plan that was outdated. Rather than have his estate distributed according to what his intent probably was, the state will now decide how most of it is distributed. Two of his three children were born after the will was drafted and he was not married to the mother of all three of his children. His estate now faces paying up to 40% of the total estate in taxes, as well as having the state determine how much the youngest two children inherit. All of the uncertainty could have been avoided by simply updating the estate plan.

Q.  I'm young and healthy.  Why should I spend all that money developing an estate plan?

A.  Estate plans run from very simple to very complex, depending upon your individual circumstances.  For a younger person with little assets, it may be as simple as creating a trust, a will, and powers of attorney.  As your circumstances change, so can your estate plan.