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      Legal Help for Small Buiness Owners and Managers


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Choice of a business entity involves many legal issues including personal liability of business owners and managers. Kevin has posted an article on this subject at HG.org a valuable site for legal information. Take a look for insight into some of the pitfalls that might unwind the best made plans.

New Focus For Estate Planning

• The federal estate tax exclusion for a married couple is now more than $10 Million Dollars and will increase with inflation. Yet the estate tax rate (on the excess) and the federal income tax rate nearly converge. But the federal income tax excludes very little. And all income tax reform proposals are rooted in the elimination of one or more exclusions or deductions.

• What is to be done? Estate planning is shifting its focus beyond reducing estate (and gift) taxes to reducing income taxes by; 1) maximizing the benefit of stepped up basis through taxable transfers, and 2) spreading income producing assets among beneficiaries in lower income tax brackets.

• If your business is taxed under the partnership rules, you should explore ways to shift the cost basis of assets in tax advantaged ways. These require careful planning and may depend on the passage of time. But when fully effective, the financial benefit is well worth the effort!

State Lotteries Opinion
Legal news you should know. US Department of Justice issues an opinion declaring legal the sale state lottery entries through the Internet. What will be the impact on small businesses in Trumbull, Newtown, Bridgeport, Monroe and throughout Fairfield County that sell lottery tickets over the counter? Certainly some sales will be lost. Or will physical lottery tickets go the way of CD’s or DVD’s? A lottery ticket is a pretty generic product. It is consumed in the broad sense that the number is either good or not. The Internet buyer gets all the inherent benefit from a digital purchase.  Internet delivery can become a superior product when it is incorporated in add on programs that store and sort purchases, keep track of winnings and expenses.  Heck, you can use the Internet to calculate and report your net gambling income to the IRS!

New Sick Leave Law impacting small businesses.
Will your small business be effected by Connecticut’s new unpaid sick leave law? Find out the legal impact on your business in Monroe, Fairfield, Trumbull or anywhere else. 

Ok so if you are big enough to have over fifty employees this is a new regulatory problem and a serious cost. Below that threshold the consequences are more subtle.  Ignoring for a minute the new small businesses created as larger ones reorganize to smaller units, existing small business below this threshold may benefit. What can happen is that the playing field for small business will be leveled in part.  Many, not all but more than a few, small businesses are already providing this kind of fringe benefit. It is done informally and ad hoc. Joe and Sally own and manage a small business in Fairfield. They know the employees well. He or she can tell who has a legitimate need for time off and who is manipulating events for personal pleasure. When an employee an established reputation for quality work has a legitimate need of this kind the small business owner finds a way to satisfy it. Now Joe and Sally need not be at a competitive disadvantage to a larger competitor in say-Stamford- that doesn’t have the personal contact to make this kind of connection with their staff.

NEW POWER OF ATTORNEY ACT  EFFECTIVE OCTOBER  1, 2016.

Connecticut’s new Power of Attorney law takes effect on October 1, 2016. The new law is the result of ten years of effort leading to the adoption of a new Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney in the 2015 legislative session.  Due to the complex nature of the law, its effective date was deferred to this October, in order to allow the Bar and the Legislature to consider any necessary corrections.

 

            The new act will “preserve the effectiveness of durable powers in a low cost, flexible and private form of surrogate decision making.” A very worthy goal

 

            The new act is a modernization of existing law that retains the familiar power of attorney form now in wide spread use.  And yes, all existing powers are still valid and enforceable.  The language is made contemporary and it is now clear that the party appointed is in fact an Agent of the party executing the power.  The archaic and confusing designation “Attorney in Fact” is now gone.

 

            The concerns of Financial Institutions are addressed. The act addresses numerous concerns about disputed or defective powers by narrowing liability to defects or claims that are actually known. Financial Institutions must accept a power within a specified period of time or provide a denial with specific grounds for the denial.  There is a process for court review of any disputes.

 

            “Hot Powers” are a new addition. These are “opt in” powers that must be affirmatively selected. (Standard powers are still “opt out” as always.)  The “Hot Powers” deal with a narrower but important subject matter.  Included are gifts, funding inter vivos trusts., survivorship and analogous beneficiary designations, disclaimers and access to digital assets.

 

            Finally, all powers are now durable powers. They will survive the disability of the principal, unless expressly provided otherwise.

Kevin L. Burns is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and New York