Why It’s Always Better to Plan Ahead

Two stories of two people who managed their personal lives very differently illustrate the enormous difference that can happen for those who refuse to prepare themselves and their families for the events that often accompany aging. As an article from Sedona Red Rock News titled “Plan ahead in case of sudden sickness or death” makes clear, the value of advance planning becomes very clear. One man, let’s call him Ben, has been married for 47 years and he’s always overseen the family finances. He has a stroke and can’t walk or talk. His wife Shirley is overwhelmed with worry about her husband’s illness. Making matters worse, she doesn’t know what bills need to be paid or when they are due.

On the other side of town is Louise. At 80, she fell in her own kitchen and broke her hip, a common injury for the elderly. After a week in the hospital, she spent two months in a rehabilitation nursing home. Her son lives on the other side of the country, but he was able to pay her bills and handle all the Medicare issues. Several years ago, Louise and her son had planned what he should do in case she had a health crisis.

More good planning on Louise’s part: all her important papers were organized and put into one place, and she told her son where they could be found. She also shared with him the name of her attorney, a list of people to contact at her bank, primary physician’s office, financial advisor, and insurance agent. She also made sure her son had copies of her Medicare and any other health insurance information. Her son’s name was added to her checking account and to the safe deposit box at the bank. And she made sure to have a legal document prepared so her son could talk with her doctors about her health and any health insurance matters.

And then there’s Ben. He always handled everything and wouldn’t let anyone else get involved. Only Ben knew the whereabouts of his life insurance policy, the title to his car, and the deed to the house. Ben never expected that someone else would need to know these things. Shirley has a tough job ahead of her. There are many steps involved in getting ready for an emergency, but as you can see, this is a necessary task to start and finish.

First, gather up all your important information. That includes your full legal name, Social Security number, birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce papers, citizenship or adoption papers, information on employers, any military service information, phone numbers for close friends, relatives, doctors, estate planning attorney, financial advisor, CPA, and any other professionals.

Your will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will and any directives should be stored in a secure location. Make sure at least two people know where they are located. Talk with your estate planning attorney to find out if they will store any documents on your behalf.

Financial records should be organized. That includes all your insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts, 401(k), or other retirement accounts, copies of the most recent tax returns, and any other information about your financial life.

Advance planning does take time, but not planning will create havoc for your family during a difficult time.

Call us (228) 460-5243 or email us at info@perklawgroup.com to find our how your estate planning attorney can help you.

Legal disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Your should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article or on our website (www.perklwagroup.com) without seeking legal or professional advice.

Reference: Sedona Red Rock News (July 9, 2019) “Plan ahead in case of sudden sickness or death”

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Small Business Saturday – What You Need to Know About Non-Compete Agreements for Your Employees

A small business that has invested substantial resources in developing a product or a customer base could be devastated if its employees then go to work for a competitor down the street or set up their own competing business. A noncompetition agreement is an important tool that could protect your business from former employees who could otherwise reveal or use your sensitive information, trade secrets, strategies, or customer information for the benefit of a competitor. These agreements are not favored by the courts, however, because they place a restriction on workers’ ability to freely earn a living (and a few states refuse to enforce them at all). If you choose to require a non-compete agreement for employees, it is important to keep the following factors in mind.

1) Your business must have a legitimate, good faith reason for the non-compete agreement. As mentioned above, if your business has trade secrets or other information that is a valuable asset needing protection, a non-compete agreement is more likely to be enforced by a court. On the contrary, if an employee does not have access to valuable or sensitive information, a non-compete agreement is likely to be seen as merely punishment for leaving your business. In those circumstances, it is unlikely to be enforceable. Be careful about which employees you ask to sign non-compete agreements. A receptionist at the front desk is less likely to have confidential business information than a key manager, so a non-compete agreement precluding the receptionist from working for a competitor probably would not be considered a justifiable restriction.

2) The non-compete agreement must be reasonable. Different states have varying standards about what restrictions will be considered “reasonable.” What is seen as reasonable will also vary based on the type of job the employee held, as well as the type of business. You should err on the side of the minimum duration needed to protect your business. A lifetime restriction is almost never enforceable, but a one-year restriction may be deemed reasonable, for example, for an employee who has had access to your customer information. The non-compete agreement also should only cover the geographic region in which your business operates. A restriction covering the entire state will be considered unreasonable if your business only provides services or goods in one county. In addition, the non-compete agreement must not restrict an employee from performing a completely different job for a competitor. If your salesperson takes a job as an interior designer for a competitor, he or she is less likely to use “insider” information gained while employed by your company against you in the new position because the duties performed will be quite different.

3) Provide a benefit to the employee to compensate for the restriction. If you require a new employee to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition for hiring that employee, the employee is receiving the benefit of a job with your business. However, if you require someone who is already employed by your company to sign a non-compete agreement, it is important to provide an additional benefit, such as a raise, to increase the likelihood that the agreement will be enforceable.

4) Weigh the pros and cons. Although non-compete agreements do protect your business’s trade secrets, sensitive information, customers and more from being disclosed to a competing business, they may also discourage some potential employees from accepting a job with you or prompt existing employees to leave rather than sign the agreement. Along with the concerns about their enforceability, this is another reason to impose only the minimum restrictions needed to protect your business.

Give Us a Call
A non-competition agreement should be customized and carefully drafted to meet the needs of your particular business. We can help you determine which restrictions are legitimate and reasonable to decrease its vulnerability to a legal challenge. Give us a call at (228) 202-2490 to set up a meeting to discuss this and any other employment-related concerns.

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Why We All Need to Have an Estate Plan

Putting off estate planning is never a good idea. Life happens, and before you know it, “someday” arrives. Having an estate plan is advisable for everyone, says the South Florida Reporter in the article “Why Estate Planning is so Important.” It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor—you need an estate plan. People with families who depend upon them, as well as singles who don’t, need an estate plan.

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What Debts Must Be Paid Before and After Probate?

Everything that must be addressed in settling an estate becomes more complicated, when there is no will and no estate planning has taken place before the person dies. Debts are a particular area of concern for the estate and the executor. What has to be paid, and who gets paid first? These are explained in the article “Dealing with Debts and Mortgages in Probate” from The Balance.

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Business Owners Need Estate Plan and a Succession Plan

Business owners get so caught up in working in their business, that they don’t take the time to consider their future—and that of the business—when sometime in the future they’ll want to retire. Many business owners insist they’ll never retire, but that time does eventually come. The question The Gardner News article asks of business owners is this: “Do you have a business succession strategy?”

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Announcing a New Blog Feature: Small Business Saturday

We are proud to announce a new weekly blog post dedicated to small business owners. These posts will address issues such as hiring employees, business succession, the relationship between estate planning and business planning, protecting your personal assets from business creditors….and much more!

Stay tuned for this new series starting this Saturday, July 13.

Let us know what you would like us to blog about in the comments.

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Happy Independence Day

Our office will be closed on July 4 and July 5 to celebrate Independence Day. We will be back next week with our next post.

In the meantime, put on some sunscreen, pour a tall glass of patriotism and replenish your jingoism with these tunes. Have a great weekend.

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