Protecting Your Business Interests
Choosing the Right Business Form | Executing Valid and Enforceable Contracts | Protecting Your Bottom Line in Court
When you own or operate a business, there are legal issues that need to be addressed almost every day. You want a knowledgeable and experienced business attorney to help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions to protect your investment and your bottom line.
At The Legal Café, located in the heart of the courthouse district in Fort Worth, we have the tools and resources to put you in touch with the right lawyer. Complete our online form or stop by the Café at 114 Main Street.
The Legal Needs of Businesses and Business Owners
There are three fundamental legal concerns that every business owner must address:
- Choosing the right legal structure for your business – The selection of business form depends on your goals, your financing options, and the extent to which you want to be personally liable for the debts of the business. The typical business forms include:
- Sole proprietorships – This form offers the easiest way to get started. In some states or municipalities, you may need a business license, but there’s no requirement that you file anything else with the state or municipality. You can operate your business under your own name or an assumed name, but must generally register a D/B/A (doing business as) if you’re not using your own name. As a sole proprietor, you will have no protection from creditors or others with legal claims against the business. In addition, all income is taxable on your personal return.
- Partnerships – There are two types of partnerships—general and limited. In a general partnership, all partners can be held individually responsible for the debts of the business. Limited partners risk losing only the amount of their investment in the partnership. Most partnerships operate under written agreements, but there are typically no requirements that you file partnership documents with the state. The income from a partnership passes through equally to each partner as taxable personal income.
- Corporations – You can choose to operate as a C Corporation or an S Corporation. S Corporations have limits on the number of shareholders, as well as the citizenship of shareholders. An S corporation is taxed only once—the income passes through to shareholders, who report it as personal income. A C corporation, on the other hand, pays tax at the corporate level and also passes income through to shareholders, who must report it as personal income. Both types of corporations protect shareholders from liability for claims against the company. The shareholder may lose only his or her investment.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs) – An LLC has many of the same attributes as an S corporation but does not require as much recordkeeping and reporting. There are no requirements of annual or regular shareholder meetings, and there are few mandatory filings with the state.
- Business contracts – To protect your interests, you want to memorialize all agreements in writing, including:
- Employment agreements
- Vendor, supplier, and customer contracts
- Non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements
- Royalty and other intellectual property contracts
- Real estate agreements
- Shareholder and partnership agreements
- Business litigation – The common types of commercial disputes that arise include breach of contract claims, unfair competition claims, shareholder and partnership disputes, and employment controversies.
Take the first step today to set up or protect your business interests. Fill out our online form or come by The Legal Café to get connected with a proven business attorney.