Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits Law

What is benefits law?
Benefits law primarily centers around those plans offered by employers to employees. Benefits law covers two areas: retirement plans and welfare plans. Applicable federal law is commonly known as ERISA. State law may also affect benefits plans offered by employers.

What are common problems with benefits?
Issues frequently seen are the improper payment of benefits in amount or for who is entitled to receive benefits. Other common issues occur when documents describing these plans become out of compliance with the law due to law changes or practices within the plan.

What can be done to correct these problems?
Depending on the problem, the IRS may have a correction program that can be followed. If not, the IRS may be empowered to either disqualify the benefits plan, causing significant tax consequences to the employer and the participants, or the IRS and Dept. of Labor may impose penalties as they deem fit within the parameters of the law.

Business Law

What does a business lawyer do?
A business lawyer works primarily on transactions, which might include in part, organizing a business into a corporate entity, negotiating and drafting contracts with vendors, drafting employment agreements, representing a business in a buyout situation either as a buyer or seller, or advising on stock transactions. Nearly anything that involves an agreement would involve a business lawyer.

What types of entities can a business become?
A business might be as simple as a sole proprietorship, or as complex as a C corporation. Other types of businesses might include limited liability companies, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, or nonprofit corporations.

When is a business lawyer most helpful?
A business lawyer is most helpful when involved regularly with the affairs of the business. Such involvement allows the lawyer to better understand the business and to assist with agreements and advise the company better in the overall context of its operations.

Estate Planning

What is involved with estate planning?
Estate planning from a legal perspective generally involves determining how your property will be distributed upon your passing. For example, if you die with a house, rental property, and a brokerage account and you have three children, would you want to leave the house to one child, the rental property to a second child, and a brokerage account to the third child? Perhaps, but each child might have a different personality, as well as each asset having a different financial worth. Many details require consideration in estate planning.

The attorney would then take the information and draft documents such as wills and trusts to meet the objectives of the client. These documents would then be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they continue to align with the objectives of the client.

Does a will mean my estate won’t require probate?
Generally, a will does require probate. The will is the instruction guide for how property is to be distributed at death. But the will only applies to probated property. The will does not apply to property such as a life insurance policy or brokerage account with a named beneficiary. Those properties may need to be addressed separately.

If I’ve done estate planning, do I need to do it again?
If your objectives have changed or your situation as to your heirs has changed, you should review your estate plan with your lawyer. For example, if your children have become adults since you signed your will and you had specific guardian provisions and distribution terms in the will, you may want to update your will. If you didn’t own some of the property (e.g., a cabin?) when you first made a will, you may want to update your will. The will would address how that property should be distributed in provisions that weren’t in the original will.

Have further questions?