Monthly Archives: March 2013

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Business Contract in Missouri?

Most companies or businesses enter into a number of written agreements or contracts in connection with operating their business.  Such contracts may include commercial real estate leases, supplier agreements, partnership agreements, service agreements, customer contracts and numerous other types of written agreements.  While every business owners is anxious to save money and cut costs where possible, the importance of thorough and well-drafted business agreements cannot be overstated.  Poorly written or misunderstood contracts are often the source of costly business disputes and lost revenue.  On the other hand, clear, concise and well-drafted contracts provide the assurance and legal positioning to help a company move forward confidently—while minimizing the likelihood of future disputes, lawsuits and other problems.

At Schleiffarth Law Firm, we work hard for our business clients.  We also recognize the need to be efficient in what we do and to be aware of limited client budgets for legal fees.  In every transaction, we make it a priority protect our clients’ interest, provide top-level representation and also stay within the budget and resources of our client.

 

Keywords: Business Law, Contracts, Agreements, Commercial Real Estate Leases, Supplier Agreements, Partnership Agreements, Service Agreements, Customer Contracts, Schleiffarth Law Firm, Jim Schleiffarth, Lawyer, Attorney, St Louis, Webster, Missouri

Do I Need a Trust?

Trusts are one of the most misunderstood documents in life and estate planning.  There are numerous variations with respect to the types and functions of trusts, the details of which will be spared from this summary.  A trust is established when property of some sort (an account, a home, some personal property, any property) is transferred to an individual “in trust” for the benefit of some other individual, group of individuals or organization.  A trust can hold title to very little property or millions of dollars of property.  Trusts can be established during your life, at your death or after your death.  Trusts can be established to benefit you, your family, your descendants, a social or religious organization or any myriad of individuals, companies or organizations.  Put simply, a trust is a vehicle by which one person holds property for the benefit of another person.

A discussion of the benefits of a trust merits a lengthy and entirely separate article.  However, there is some value to understanding a few of the various reasons why someone would want or need to establish a trust.  These benefits are entirely dependent on the details of individual circumstances.

(a) avoidance of the cumbersome (and expensive) probate process

(b) avoidance or reduction in gift and estate taxes (so called “death taxes”)

(c) providing for children and other descendants in an organized and prepared manner

(d) increased control over property upon death

(e) creation of incentives for behavior and accomplishment among descendants

(f) increased flexibility regarding planning for incapacity and death

(g) creation of on-going  funding for charitable or religious organizations

(h) potential reduction in tax burden on life insurance proceeds

(i) privacy in financial and personal affairs regarding distribution of property

Keywords: Estate Planning, Trust, Reasons for a Trust, Schleiffarth Law Firm, Jim Schleiffarth, Lawyer, Attorney, St Louis, Webster, Missouri

Can an Easement be Changed in Missouri?

Our law firm has recently been representing a group of property owners in connection with an easement that runs across their property as well as across a neighbor’s property.   This neighbor has threatened to reduce the size of the existing ingress/egress driveway easement, which has been in place for over 50 years.  At the forefront of our representation of these clients is the issue of whether the existing easement can be changed or revised.

Easements can be established in various ways, even without the existence of a formal easement agreement.  Indeed, easement rights can be created due to repeated use of certain property, by necessity based on the layout of the property or by implication in a transfer of property.  Easement agreements can be effective in their goal of granting rights to use property with very little (if any) formal language.  However, once established an easement can rarely be changed, unless all parties involved have reached an agreement to do so.  In the instance of our recent clients, they were very opposed to any change in the existing easement.  The neighbor sought to narrow the existing roadway, apparently to allow for expansion of the structure located on the property.

The instances under which an easement can changed (without consent of all parties) is very limited and would typically only occur in instances where a changed area or size is required to accommodate the original intended use of the easement.  Revised uses are typically not permitted, but revised easement areas may sometimes be granted by a court in such situations.

We work with many clients dealing with real estate and easement disputes.  We work hard to protect the property and real estate rights of your clients.  We handle both residential and commercial real estate matters.

 

Keywords: Easement, Real Estate, Property, Agreement, Schleiffarth Law Firm, Jim Schleiffarth, Lawyer, Attorney, St Louis, Webster, Missouri

Who Needs a Will?

Often referred to formally as one’s “last will and testament,” a will should be a part of every individual’s financial and family plan for the future.  Everyone from average-income folks to very wealthy individuals benefit from this sometimes simple, yet critical document.   A will designates who should receive one’s property upon their death.  Wills designate the recipients of property (called “legatees” or “devisees”) ranging from sentimental family property, to funds in a bank account to the family residence.  While a will may spell out a detailed list of “who gets what,” it also gives categorical gifts and should have a “residual clause” which provides for all unmentioned items to pass to a named recipient(s).  In addition to creating the scheme and details for posthumous gifts, a Will often include the following the nomination of guardianship for minor children , the establishment of a “testamentary trust”  to be formed upon death, naming of a personal representative of the estate and /or granting of gifts to specific charities or other organizations

If an individual dies without having ever prepared and signed a will, the distribution of their property will be left to the laws of the state in which they reside or where the property is located (see Mo Rev. Stat. Ch. 474).  Referred to as “intestate succession” this process may distribute property in a manner unsatisfactory and confusing to both the decedent and potential heirs and devisees.  Missouri laws are not tailored to individual wishes, needs or circumstances.  For example, one-half of a decedent’s property may pass to their children (regardless of the quality or even knowledge of these relationships), while their spouse is still living and remains dependant on this money and property (see Ch. 474.010).  Property can potentially be given to the state of Missouri, in the event no appropriate heirs are available (see Ch. 470).  While there are no laws requiring the preparation of a will, there is a little question to its benefit.

 

 

Keywords: Will, Last Will and Testament, Estate Planning, Probate, Trust, Schleiffarth Law Firm, Jim Schleiffarth, Lawyer, Attorney, St Louis, Webster, Missouri

What Are the Benefits of an LLC in Missouri?

In Missouri, a business can be structured in a number of ways.  A business owner may select to form a one of various types of corporations, a limited liability partnership or a limited liability company (“LLC”).  There are a number of benefits and advantages to forming an LLC.

A Missouri LLC can be formed fairly quickly in most instances and the fees charged by the Secretary of State are very reasonable.  There are a number of important legal issues to determine when forming an LLC, but an experienced lawyer can provide meaningful counsel in these areas.  When compared to a corporation, an LLC is significantly easier to form.

Furthermore, ongoing administration and operation of a Missouri LLC is quite reasonable.  The annual reports and similar documents required in corporate operation are not required for an LLC.  Additionally, changes in membership (i.e. ownership), changes in LLC function and purpose and other corporate changes can be readily made with proper legal guidance.

One of the primary and most important benefits of an LLC is its ability to protect its owners from personal liability.  When operated properly, an LLC offers liability protection to its members/owners, meaning that a creditor or claimant against the LLC cannot successfully pursue the owners personally.  In the event of debt, a lawsuit of other liability, the business bears the entire burden of liability and its owners are protected from losing their personal assets.

An LLC also provides favorable tax treatment.  Historically, the limited liability discussed above could only be obtained through the formation and operation of a corporation, which also incurred two levels of taxation (essentially double taxing profits).  An LLC offers what is called “pass-through” taxation, meaning that only the owners owe taxes on profits—no additional tax is paid by the company at all.

At Schleiffarth Law Firm, we work with many small and mid-sized businesses.  We provide counsel to clients regarding business matters, LLC formation, LLC operation and numerous related matters.

 

 

Keywords: Business Law, LLC, Company Formation, Corporation, Partnership, Pass-Through Taxation, Schleiffarth Law Firm, Jim Schleiffarth, Lawyer, Attorney, St Louis, Webster, Missouri