Animal Welfare Law - Business Planning - Estate Planning
Animal Welfare Law
I am passionate about improving the lives of animals and endeavor to work toward making the world a kinder and more compassionate place for animals and their human companions. Animal law issues encompass a broad spectrum of approaches from philosophical discussions of the rights of animals to pragmatic discussions about the rights of those who use animals, who has standing to sue when an animal is harmed in a way that violates the law, and what constitutes legal cruelty to an animal. Today, courts primarily resolve issues involving animals under the laws of property, although increasingly, courts recognize that animals are more than just property.
The area of animal law affects most of the traditional areas of the law in some way, including tort law, contract law, criminal law and constitutional law, examples include:
- Enforceable Trusts for companion animals, which, are now recognized in 46 states.
- Discrimination against the disabled due to their need for a service animal
- Animal cruelty and the humane treatment of animals
- Animal custody disputes in divorce or separations
- Disputes involving condominium associations and condominium members over the right of the members to own animals
- Contract disputes between sellers and buyers of animals
There are many legal issues to think about when it comes to starting your business. Everything from your business name to its structure to its operation has legal implications. Some legal concerns to address before you start your business include:
- Making sure the business name is not already being used by another business.
- Making sure the business structure suits your needs. Your business can be structured as a sole-proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, corporation, S-corporation, or limited liability company. To decide what form is best, you will need to consider liability issues associated with your business and which form will provide the best tax structure for your business.
- What business licenses if any do you need? Depending on what type of business you plan to engage in, you may need a variety of licenses or permits.
- Do you need non-disclosure agreements?
- When you are selecting the location for your business, you will need to make sure it is properly zoned for the type of business you plan to operate. It is not okay to just assume that, if your business is of the same type as the one that is currently there, the zoning is appropriate.
- As you grow and add employees, making sure those employees are hired properly and have the right agreements in place to avoid damage to your business if the employee leaves and goes to the competition.
These are just some of the many issues a small business owner faces. It is important to make sure you address these issues to avoid complex and expensive legal problems down the road.
Yes, you too have an estate. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and you cannot take it with you when you die. When that happens you probably want to control how your estate is given to the people or organizations that you care most about. To make sure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions including, whom you want to receive something of yours, when you want them to receive it, and what you want them to receive. You will also want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs. That is estate planning—making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, good estate planning is much more than that. It should also include:
- Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
- Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
- Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
- Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
- Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
- Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
- Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
- Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
- Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
Estate planning is for everyone. Whether you need a simple will or more complex planning involving various trusts, it is important that the right plan is in place to make sure your wishes are carried out.