Huckabee, Weiler, & Levengood, P.C.

Wyomissing Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Deciding if a sole proprietorship is right for you

Aspiring Pennsylvanian entrepreneurs may be a little overwhelmed when first tackling all of the rules and regulations associated with starting a business. One thing they may have heard is that sole proprietorships are the easiest of all business structures to manage, but just how true is that?

FindLaw does show that setting up a sole proprietorship is relatively simple. This is because it's meant as a structure for a solo business. In other words, these are extremely small businesses only run by one person. There are no employees involved, and because of that, a sole proprietorship doesn't need to register as a separate business entity for tax-related purposes. In some cases, you don't even need to file paperwork in order to have a working sole proprietorship.

How are pets handled in divorce?

Your pets are a part of the family. When you get a divorce in Pennsylvania, it may become a struggle to figure out where the pets go. Do you get them or your spouse? Who has the right to a pet? Are pets handled by the courts in the same way as children? When it comes to Pennsylvania law, CBS explains that pets are considered property in a divorce.

This can make things difficult. You probably do not look at your pet as property, like it is a piece of furniture or a car. The idea of dividing the ownership of pets based upon property rules can be upsetting, but that is the way the law sees pets. In fact, the highest court in the state set precedence in a case involving a man trying to get visitation rights for his dog after a divorce. The ruling became known as Barney's law and stated clearly that pets are property. They are not subject to vistation and other custody rights. It also says that whoever has physical custody of the pet gets to keep it, and even custody agreements that may have been included in a divorce agreement are not enforceable.

Why the name of your business could land you in court

Picking out a name for a Pennsylvania business seems like a no-hassle proposition, especially compared to the legal hoops a business owner has to jump through in filing the correct paperwork, drawing up articles of incorporation, and preparing the right bank accounts. However, you might find a hidden liability sneaking up on you just by naming your business. It seems strange to believe, but giving your business the wrong name may actually land you in court.

Given the large number of companies that exist, there is a chance that when you pick out a name for your business, someone else might have picked that name before you did. Having the same name as another business can confuse potential customers when they search for your company online. Also, according to Findlaw, a business that has already chosen the same name as your business has likely filed it as a trademark, which is protected under federal law. The other business may decide that you have infringed on their trademark and could take legal action against you.

Is your business a sole proprietorship?

One of the important aspects of forming a business in Pennsylvania is deciding on the business form you will use. You have options, but the most common for a person forming a business by themselves is a sole proprietorship, as explained by Entrepreneur. This business form is the easiest to create because it requires no legal steps. You are operating the business as the sole owner, so you do not have to worry about partnership agreements. You are not forming a legal entity, such as a corporation, so you do not need to file any special legal documents in forming your business.

As a sole proprietor, you may only need to file forms to set up your business name if you are not using your name as the business name. You also have to handle taxes, licenses and permits, but you can do all this easily because you are the sole owner of the business and can sign all the necessary documents yourself. 

Divorce: What happens if we comingle non-marital property?

One thing many Berks County couples do not give much thought to unless they separate involves combining their personal assets. Divorce is often challenging enough when establishing spousal and child support, custody and parenting time. When concerns arise regarding the division of assets, re-dividing the property is not always as easy as it was to combine. 

Property and assets that benefit a marriage are shareable. Anyone who is thinking about marriage or divorce should consider the following information about separate and marital assets

What is a power of attorney?

You may have a situation where you or a loved one needs to create a power of attorney in Pennsylvania. In this situation, it is a good idea to understand exactly what this legal document is and what it can do. According to the National Caregivers Library, a power of attorney grants a person the right to make decisions for you. 

Obviously, this is a very powerful document. However, there are restrictions on it. A power of attorney can be limited so only specific rights are granted to someone else. For example, you could limit your power of attorney so a person can only make decisions for you in the area of health care. 

What is co-parenting?

Like many other states, Pennsylvania is quickly seeing its family courts lean more towards enforcing co-parenting over giving one parent sole custody of the children in a custody case. The idea of co-parenting, according to Money Crashers, is when both parents work together to parent their children. You each retain your authority and rights over the children as if you and the other parent were still together as a couple. 

Co-parenting successfully means being able to work with your ex-partner without hostility or arguments. You must be able to negotiate. It is important the focus of your interactions remains on the children and what is best for them instead of what either of you wants. You must be able to work through conflict together and respect each other. 

What should you know about starting an LLC?

Some Pennsylvania entrepreneurs decide that for their new startup company, forming a limited liability company (LLC) is the way to go. According to an article in Forbes magazine, an LLC is a popular choice because of the limited liability it offers to its owners, as well as a lack of double taxation that is usually found with C corporations. As with other business formations, there are a number of general requirements expected in forming an LLC.

Any LLC needs a name. A few issues exist in choosing the right name. First, whatever the company name is, it must end with “Limited Liability Company” or at least a legally recognized abbreviation, such as “LLC.” The company name cannot contain terms that state law prohibits. For example, the business cannot include the word “incorporated” or “corporation” as an LLC is not a corporation. Any business name should also not infringe on another’s trademark, and must be distinguished from any other LLC that is registered with the state’s secretary of state office.

Does a tax return have to be filed for someone who dies?

You may think that once you die, all your earthly worries are over. However, the IRS cannot let you pass on without one more tax return. More specifically, the heirs in Pennsylvania are responsible for ensuring the final taxes of a deceased person are filed. While the person who has died will not face any issues if this is not done, his or her estate may be affected.

The IRS explains a final tax return is filed as if the person is still alive. You would file it just as your loved one would have on his or her behalf. You use the same tax form and take the same credits and deductions. You may want to consult past tax returns if you find them in the person's personal files. This can help you to know what he or she has claimed in the past.

Do you have a succession plan for your business?

Estate plans include more than just wills and powers of attorney. While these are important, they may not be enough depending on your assets. When you have a small business, you need more than a will passing it along to your successor. Instead, you need to make a succession plan.

A succession plan not only names a successor but also outlines how the party will take over your business and what, if any, involvement you or the family will retain. Having one in place is beneficial whether you want to move on from your company now or are planning for when you pass away.

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