Known for its beautiful equestrian trails and open spaces, Southwest Ranches is home to many successful, hard-working small business entrepreneurs. Protecting small businesses owners and families in a hostile legal environment is what we have been doing as business and estate planning attorneys at Rarick & Bowden Gold, P.A. for over 20 years.
The bad news is that south Florida is known for small and large lawsuits that can damage or destroy a small business and a lifetime of savings. The good news is that Florida has many laws designed to protect small businesses. It is important to fight back and take advantage of all laws in this difficult business environment.
Florida homestead protections are widely known to provide high quality asset protection for your home – up to one-half acre in a municipality. This is a special problem for many Southwest Ranches owners as your homestead likely exceeds the one-half acre limit. With special planning it is possible to protect the exposed part of your homestead.
Many small business owners are too busy reaching their next business goal to take time out to review their corporate structure to make sure that it really is protecting them from personal liability. Trying to plan after a lawsuit has been launched is usually too late because assets transferred after the lawsuit may be clawed back under Florida law. You should plan when the waters are quiet: when there is no current or threaten litigation. It is important for every small business owner to meet with a trusted Southwest Ranches estate planning attorney at least once a year. Timely preparation and planning can save thousands of dollars in legal fees and avoid the stress of litigation.
Today, there are many ways a small business can be attacked. An increasingly popular attack is to pierce your corporate veil and sue the owners personally so the plaintiff can reach assets owned by your corporation – and all other assets that you may own in your individual name.
For example, it is important to make sure that your company follow basic corporate formalities. If you have a corporation, this means you should have annual meeting minutes and treat the corporation like a corporation – and not like a personal ATM machine. If you have a LLC in Florida this LLC needs to be multi-member and have a robust operating agreement that takes advantage of Florida’s new laws regarding LLC’s. Simply having filed “Articles of Organization” for your LLC provides almost no protection.
These are just a few examples. As mentioned, timing is critical in preparing a plan to protect you. Don’t wait until after you get served with a summons. If you have not met with an experienced Southwest Ranches estate planning and business attorney within the past few years, it is most likely that it would be advantageous to do so. We will learn about your business and you will learn about the best legal options to better protect your company. We will give you a scope of work outlining the legal work we recommend with the total cost.
As Southwest Ranches business, probate and estate planning attorneys, we endeavor to give all clients advanced legal services at a fair price. Call Phil Rarick at (954) 360-8242 or (305) 556-5209. I look forward to meeting you.