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This is a free tool to help small business owners avoid the most common legal pitfalls which plague businesses that lack competent legal counsel. For each question below, choose: “Y” for Yes, “N” for No, or “U” for unsure. Note: It is advisable to choose “U” for unsure rather than to guess wrong."
General Liability Protection:
- Y / N / U- Are all business operations conducted as a corporation or LLC?
- Y / N / U- If so, are all corporate formalities being followed? (i.e., annual meetings and minutes, corporate finances kept completely separate from the shareholder(s), etc.)
- Y / N / U- Is your Commercial General Liability insurance coverage sufficient? (i.e., business activities covered, exclusions, limits, deductibles, etc.)
- Y / N / U- When signing contracts for your business, does the magic word “By:” always appear before the signature?
Licenses and Regulations:
- Y / N / U- Does your business require any specific licenses or regulations apart from a general business license?
- Y / N / U- If so, are all licenses current?
Contracts / Invoices / Agreements:
- Y / N / U- Have all of your contracts, invoices, and agreements been reviewed by an attorney?
- Y / N / U- Do they contain attorney fee provisions? (i.e., agreement that breaching party will pay attorney fees in the event of litigation.)
- Y / N / U- Do they specify venue and/or forum selection clauses? (i.e., in the event of a dispute the case must be filed in a pre-determined court.)
- Y / N / U- Do they contain ADR (mediation / arbitration) provisions? (i.e., the parties agree to mediate their dispute prior to filing a costly lawsuit.)
Employment Law Compliance:
- Y / N / U- Does your business have a written Employment Policy Handbook?
- Y / N / U- If so, was it reviewed by an Indiana attorney who customized it for your particular business operations?
- Y / N / U- Do you have any regular workers designated as Independent Contractors?
- Y / N / U- Are all employees who are paid a “salary” clearly within the definition of an “exempt” employee? (i.e., supervisory, administrative, or licensed professional)
- Y / N / U- Are all required employment laws and regulations posted in a conspicuous place?
Trademarks / Trade Secrets:
- Y / N / U- Are your logos, advertising slogans, and business name trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
- Y / N / U- Do you have a written trade secrets policy?
- Y / N / U- If so, are you in compliance with the provisions of the policy?
- Y / N / U- Was the commercial lease for your business premises independently reviewed by your attorney?
- Y / N / U- If you executed a personal guaranty, was it limited in scope and duration?
Partnership Agreement / Succession Planning:
- Y / N / U- Do you have multiple partners/owners in the business (other than spouse)?
- Y / N / U- If so, is there a written partnership / operating agreement in place?
- Y / N / U- Is there a written buy-sell / right of first refusal agreement between the partners?
- Y / N / U- If so, does it also address issues of incapacity / disability of a partner?
- Y / N / U- Do all partners have sufficient assets to buy out the other(s), or is there insurance i in place to fund the buyout?
- Y / N / U- Do all business partners have an attorney-drafted Estate Plan?
Assembling Your Team:
- Y / N / U- Does your business have an “inside-outside” general counsel? (i.e., an attorney who knows your business and is a phone call away for quick legal help.)
- Y / N / U- Is your tax preparer a true “advisor” that engages in tax planning to help you make the right decisions today to save your business taxes tomorrow?
- Y / N / U- Has your insurance broker competitively shopped the marketplace to get you lower rates and/or better coverage in all areas of insurance?