Law Memo

The Family Business: Protecting the Family Business from Litigious Employees

November 29th 2017

Costas Anastas owned a successful family restaurant for 22 years. Most of his staff had been with him almost as long. Costas needed more help so he hired a new employee. After a year, the new employee filed a lawsuit against Costas and the restaurant for not properly documenting and paying out meal breaks.

The employee found an enterprising plaintiff’s attorney who recruited several other employees into the lawsuit. In the aggregate, they claimed that Costas owed them over $1 million in missed pay and penalties (mostly penalties).

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The Auto Parts Debacle: Surviving a bad partnership

November 15th 2017

Our client, Mr. Thomas Stone, imported and distributed auto parts in the US. He owned and operated this business for over 15 years and was ready to expand. Mr. Stone entered into partnership with a Chinese supplier, took out a business loan and expanded operations.

Unfortunately, Stone’s suppliers cheated him, resulting in significant business debts. He defaulted on his loan and as expected, the lender came after the assets of the business. Mr. Stone came to me in desperation. His life’s work was on the line.

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The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Attorney Rainmakers

October 12th 2017

Guess what lawyers, you are not just in the practice of law; you are also in the business of legal services. And I don’t mean that “the business of law” is pejorative or runs afoul with our professional rules of responsibility, which include the duties of loyalty, communication, financial integrity, confidentiality, diligence, competence, honesty and fairness.  Lawyers usually think that, at the forefront, they need to be analytical and provide great advocacy, research and investigative skills.  While all lawyers should have the 10 MacCrate Skills[1] posted on their desks, lawyers also need to think about themselves as a small business and think about how to have long term successful working relationships with clients and how to attract the crème de la crème clients as well.

[1] The Ten MacCrate skills include, the importance of solving your clients’ problems, legal analysis, legal research, factual investigation, communication, counseling, negotiating, litigation and alternative dispute resolution knowledge, organizational and managerial skills and recognizing issues and resolving them.

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The $10 Million Street Race_ A Lesson in Asset Protection

October 10th 2017

Marnie and Lane came to us with a parent’s second-worst nightmare. Their 16-year-old son, Lane Jr., was involved in an illegal street race. Junior’s car collided with a competitor. Junior sustained minor injuries, while the other driver suffered significant injuries. The family of the other kid sued Marnie and Lane for negligent entrustment of a car to a minor child. We have seen over 30 lawsuits like this over the past ten years alone. The lawsuit sought over $10 million in damages. Marnie and Lane had managed to accumulate a nice net worth – it was almost $10 million. They were both in their mid-50s and realized that in the work years they have remaining they would never be able to reaccumulate such a nest egg.

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Matt v. FTC

September 15th 2017

A client of ours, Matt, had a very successful website that was politically unpopular and attracted the attention of several high-level politicians. The politicians pressured for an FTC (Federal Trade Commission) investigation. Like many government agencies, FTC firmly believes that if it is investigating someone, they must be guilty. 

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Thanks, Mommy!

September 01st 2017

Jean was a loving mom, and of course that became her downfall. She was 72 years old when her son decided to become a real estate developer. He had perfected the art of sitting on the sofa and watching house flipping shows, and was ready for the big leagues. One problem – he had no assets and no experience.

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It’s Fire Bug Season!

August 16th 2017

Our clients, Tim and Linda, were retired union workers with a small vacation property in the California mountains. They spent a few months each year away from the big city, enjoying their second home and the serenity of nature. The serenity ended rather abruptly, when Tim accidentally started a fire on their property, which spread to the neighboring forest.

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The Octogenarian versus the Tree

August 01st 2017

You know that with a title like that, the octogenarian loses. My client, Agnes, was a 97-year old woman, who has held a driver’s license for over 70 years and was involved in her first car accident. Agnes was driving her friend to a doctor’s appointment (or possibly the liquor store) and run into a tree. The tree won, and both ladies walked away with minor injuries.

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Foreign Trusts

August 15th 2016

Even if the settlor of a domestic asset protection trust (“DAPT”) resides in the DAPT jurisdiction and all the assets of the trust are located in the DAPT jurisdiction, the efficacy of a DAPT may be challenged under the Supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, under the applicable fraudulent transfer statute, or because the settlor retained some prohibited control over the trust.

The only possible way of avoiding all these obstacles when planning with trusts is through the means of a foreign trust.  A foreign trust, per se, does not have any asset protection benefits.  The benefits come from the jurisdiction which governs the trust.  Several jurisdictions compete in the foreign trust arena and have drafted their trust laws to address all or most of the problems and issues discussed above.

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Advanced Tax Planning for Corporate Transactions

July 21st 2016

Jack and Jill have a hillside widget manufacturing plant.  Widget manufacturing being a highly competitive industry (everyone seems to manufacture widgets) and prone to lawsuits, Jack and Jill incorporate their business on the advice of their attorney.  J&J, Inc. elects to be a C corporation, as the two shareholders zero out its income through salaries.  Over the years, the competitors of J&J, Inc. begin manufacturing real products, leaving J&J, Inc. the major player in the widget market.  J&J, Inc.’s net income quickly rises from $1 million to $100 million.

At that level of earnings the shareholders are no longer able to zero out the corporation’s net income and now find themselves subject to a corporate level tax.  What can they do now?

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