Sunday, April 4, 2010

Legal Mistakes Women Can Avoid

James Zisa Attorneys works with a great number of women, solving problems many of which could have been avoided completely with just basic planning. The following outline tracks, substantially, the organizational approach advocated by Marilyn Barrett, an attorney from Los Angeles, California, and author of a book I highly recommend to clients titled, aptly enough, “The Ten Biggest Legal Mistakes Women Can Avoid.”

As a general practice, I provide a copy of this book to all of my clients who ask for it. I recommend the read to any woman in business, to every woman considering marriage, or remarriage, divorce or retirement. At James Zisa Attorneys we encourage you to discuss any topic of interest with us and we refer you to the following outline as a good starting point for discussing a wide variety of topics.

1. Legal Mistake # 1. Failing To Protect Yourself In A Prenuptial Agreement.

a. What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

b. Read and Understand the Prenuptial Agreement.

c. Get Lawyers for Both Spouses.

d. Negotiate the Prenuptial Agreement Well in Advance of your Wedding.

e. Take the Emotion Out of Negotiating a Prenuptial Agreement.

2. Legal Mistake # 2. Failing To Protect Yourself and Your Children In Marriage.

a. Keep Your Separate Property Separate.

b. Understand Your Husband’s Job Or Business.

c. Be Insured (and Stay Insured).

d. Domestic Violence: It’s Not Your Fault, But What Can You Do?

3. Legal Mistake # 3. Failing To Protect Yourself And Your Children In Divorce.

a. Hire Your Own Divorce Lawyer.

b. Take Off The Rose Colored Glasses.

c. Know What You And Your Husband Own.

d. So You’re Divorcing: How Much Should You Get?

e. Alimony and Child Support.

f. Forget About Fair: It Costs Too Much.

g. Make A Clean Financial Break.

4. Legal Mistake # 4. Starting a Business: Good Intentions Do Not Protect You From Bad Legal Results.

a. Are You An Entrepreneur?

b. How Much Capital Do You Need?

c. Form A Limited Liability Entity.

5. Legal Mistake # 5. Running a Business: Good Intentions Do Not Protect You From Bad Legal Results.

a. Learn (or Try to) the Morass of Government Rules That Affect Your Business.

b. Pay Those Payroll Taxes.

c. Pay Those Sales Taxes.

d. Learn the Labor Laws and Follow Them.

e. Maintaining a Home Office.

f. Be Insured.

6. Legal Mistake # 6. Signing Legal Documents You Don’t Read or Understand – Or, Run When Your Husband Says, “Just Sign Here, Honey.”

a. Don’t Sign Legal Documents before you Read and Understand Them.

b. Don’t Sign Legal Documents until Your Lawyer Reviews Them. (Your Husband’s Lawyer Is Not YOUR Lawyer).

c. Don’t Sign Blank Business Documents.

d. Don’t Sign Loan Documents You Don’t Want to be Liable For.

e. Never Deed Your Interest in Your Home to Your Husband.

7. Legal Mistake # 7. Filing to Hire and (When Appropriate) Fire Lawyers.

a. Hire a Lawyer and Do It Right.

b. Hire the Lawyer Who Fits Your Needs and Works with You.

c. If You Hire the Wrong Lawyer, End the Relationship And Move On.

d. Read and Negotiate Your Fee Agreement.

8. Legal Mistake # 8. Neglecting The Tax Man: Unexpected Tax Liabilities and Fights with the IRS.

a. File Joint Income Tax Returns with Great Care and Caution.

b. Report All – I Mean All – of Your Income and Don’t Deduct Personal Expenses.

c. File Your Returns On Time Even if you Cannot Pay All the Taxes.

d. Carefully Review Your Tax Returns for Accuracy before Filing.

e. Beware of Cocktail Party Tax Tips.

9. Legal Mistake # 9. Failing To Protect Legal Title To Your Property.

a. Documents that Transfer Ownership.

b. Recording Deeds and Liens Against Property in Public Records.

c. Legal Forms Of Ownership.

d. Record Your Ownership Interest.

e. Record Restrictions on Co-owner’s Rights.

f. Choose your Co-owners Carefully.

10. Legal Mistake # 10. Filing To Plan For Your Death Or Incapacity.

a. Maintain Complete, Clear Records of What You Own and Where It Is.

b. Prepare a Will or Trust.

c. Beware of Estate-Planning Scams.

d. Plan for the Needs of Your Business after Your Death.

e. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Related Documents.

The above list is by no means an exhaustive summary of topics of interest to our clients. Still, without a starting point to focus your questions, consulting with James Zisa Attorneys, or any attorneys for that matter, would not be nearly as efficient and cost effective an exercise as it would be with just a little advanced planning.

Give us a call. Talk to us briefly and let is help you organize yourself, your thoughts and your questions before coming in for a visit. While you’re at it, just look at some of the titles on our recommended Reading List and all of which can be found by simply clicking on the links provided.

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