It’s almost 2018! You’ve probably already made some personal new year’s resolutions – to eat healthier, be more environmentally consciousness or, perhaps, to read that book that is currently collecting dust on your bookshelf. For our community’s benefit, our attorneys have compiled a list of legal resolutions that any Coloradan should make. So, add these to your list of things to accomplish this year, we promise they will be more worthwhile than dusting off that old book.
1. Update your will and estate plan
Whether or not you have one, an estate plan is a must for every adult. From couples with complex estates to single folks with only a few assets, an estate plan gives peace of mind when it comes to your possessions and who makes your medical and financial decisions should you become sick or injured. Additionally, an estate plan allows for those with minor children to appoint guardianship should both biological parents become unable to care for the children. Certain components of an estate plan, like a revocable living trust, can even help your surviving family members avoid probate court.
Most importantly, estate plans should be regularly updated, especially in conjunction with major life events like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, marriage, divorce and remarriage, especially if remarriage means creating a blended family.
2. Getting straight with the IRS
Dealing with the IRS has serious implications and is not for the faint of heart. A taxpayer is on dangerous ground if he or she has unpaid taxes, is subject to an audit, has unfiled tax returns or has been under paying what he or she owes. Even an accountant for a company that has failed to pay its taxes can be held personally liable for funds not paid as a responsible party.
The IRS can act quickly and decisively. As soon as you realize you may have a tax problem or receive notice of such a problem from the IRS, you need to seek legal advice. Criminal liability can be associated with a wide variety of conduct and the IRS routinely files tax liens, garnishes bank accounts and levies wages. However, the IRS does offer payment plans to resolve tax debt and a tax attorney can negotiate with the IRS, so often taxpayers end up paying less than they owe. You must act quickly though, as tax problems can snowball over time.
3. Sealing old criminal charges
According to a 2012 Department of Justice survey nearly one-third of adults have a criminal record. Having a criminal record can make job mobility difficult, if not impossible; especially since 86 percent of employers use criminal background checks to make decisions regarding a person’s candidacy.
Whether you had a DUI a few years ago or got arrested for a minor infraction, these marks are public knowledge and will stay attached to your name throughout your life. This is true even if a criminal charge was dismissed or acquitted, it can still appear on your background check. But fret not, having records sealed or expunged is possible. Unless the record is related to a sex crime, many misdemeanor and felony convictions can be sealed after 10 years, so long as all fees and other forms of restitution have been paid and no other criminal convictions have occurred since.
4. Incorporate your small business
If you have a small business and haven’t yet formed a corporation or LLC, this is an easy New Year’s goal to achieve. Besides giving your business added credibility and legitimacy, incorporation has benefits such as liability and asset protection.
Incorporating your business means you will need to appoint a registered agent, prepare corporate by-laws, apply for an EIN with the IRS and depending on the business, apply for any other state licenses. An attorney can help with all of these things, as well as submitting your business’ article of incorporation with the Secretary of State and making sure your business’ name meets the state’s requirements.
As always, your friends at Robinson & Henry are here to help you meet your 2018 legal goals. Please call us to request a free consultation with an attorney like Bill Henry, who leads our tax and corporate practice.