Robbins: Life events and intersections with the law
It may begin even before you’re born.
What if — oops — paternity is in question? If mama isn’t quite sure who the daddy is — or if there is some dispute about it — then a lawyer may need to become involved to help sort things out.
A new bouncing bundle of joy may raise other concerns as well. Do the proud new parents have a will? A new baby helps bring this sort of thing into clearer focus. If the parents don’t yet have an estate plan — the center of which should be their wills — a new arrival is a good time to sit down with a lawyer and rough one out.
Not only should such things as who will inherit your worldly goods be discussed, but key issues such as who will be your children’s guardian if something were to happen to you both should be similarly considered. If Mom’s and Dad’s assets are substantial, a new baby may also be a good time for some succession planning. Does a trust make sense? Does some other strategy or device dovetail with your thoughts? Can at least some taxes be deferred or legally avoided?
Maybe the new baby has you thinking about upsizing your nest or purchasing your first home. Having a lawyer review the contract and the title instruments always makes sense. If you’re even more ambitious and have decided to build a new abode, a lawyer’s input with your architect and contractor is essential.
The baby’s got you thinking: isn’t it about time to strike out on your own? You’ve been slaving away for The Man for way too long. This would be a good time to follow your dream, to build that business that has been gathering dust in the back of your mind. A lawyer’s help in structuring the business entity is essential as is the lawyer’s crafting or review of the related business instruments.
If you’re purchasing a business, will it be a stock purchase agreement or an asset purchase? If you’re forming a partnership or other cooperative association, a lawyer’s know-how is indispensable. If you are assuming any liabilities, they should be reviewed and vetted. If a lease is to be entered into or assigned, then a lawyer firmly on your side should have his/her say-so.
There may be contracts that will either be assumed or newly entered into. A lawyer’s eagle eye may prove invaluable. When considering such things, the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has particular resonance.
Any time you have a meaningful contact or obligation in your life, a lawyer should be involved.
Say now you’re about to launch. The business will soon throw out its open arms to all the world. Do employment agreements need to be prepared? Have they been drafted? What about an employee handbook? Have you secured all necessary licenses and permits? Are you about to enter a particularly regulated business — liquor or marijuana sales for instance — where a special scheme must be strictly followed?
For those sticky situations
Then there are the bumps and bruises in life.
Has someone done you wrong? Do you need help in resolving it? And if informal resolution fails, should a lawsuit be considered?
Obviously, if you’re going to step into a courtroom, a competent lawyer should be your guide.
Outside of the civil arena — the world of lawsuits — life sometimes happens.
You celebrated the opening of your new undertaking with a bit too much good cheer and — oops — a DUI. Call your lawyer. Experience and know-how matter. A good lawyer can help make a sticky problem at least less severe.
What if the unexpected happens? Your happy marriage wasn’t quite as happy as you imagined. You have drifted apart. It’s time to go your separate ways. There are a million things to consider. Who will take what assets? Who will be responsible for what debts? Will you owe maintenance (“alimony”) to your spouse or vice versa? Who will pay child support and in what amount? Who will have the children when? Let a good attorney be your advocate and guide.
Say you’ve survived the tempest of divorce and, lo and behold, against your best instincts and vow of eternal celibacy, Cupid’s arrow lands again. Well good for you, but drats! You’re understandably a little gun-shy. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement may be just the salve you need. A lawyer can do that.
Just pick up the phone
From birth to death and everything in between, a good lawyer as your ally can make the soft green hills and bumpy potholes of life a little bit more even and help make sense of an oft-times confusing cacophony of legal terms, obscure rules, and generally confusing mumbo jumbo.
A candle I often advise my clients to hold out before them is that whenever they encounter any unfamiliar stressor in their life or significant life event, pick up the phone. A short conversation with your lawyer may help put them on the right path and if that won’t do the trick, then making a plan to address what legally ails them or what must be resolved is best addressed before the particular legal boil festers.
Just as everyone should have a family doc who they rely on, a bond with a trusted legal advisor is essential. Because after all, in this life, stuff sometimes just happens.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody and divorce and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.