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An Overview of Legal Entity Forms for Small Business Owners - Part 4: Meeting With an Attorney About Your Business

Part 4. Meeting With an Attorney About Your Business

(This post is Part 4 of a 4-part series on legal entities. Read Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.)

While a business owner is not legally required to hire an attorney to form her own business entity, an attorney can ensure that the proper form of entity is chosen and that the process is done correctly. Further, a business attorney can help the owner identify potential legal issues related not only to formation of the business, but also to its future growth.

Before meeting with an attorney for the first time to discuss setting up a new business entity, consider the following questions and factors:

1.     What is the business or what will it be (e.g. selling products, opening a restaurant, running a construction company)?

2.     Who will own the business (e.g. is it just you or will you have other owners, too)? If it’s not just you:

a.     How are the owners acquainted or related?

b.     What will the owners contribute to the business initially?

c.     What will the owners do on a daily or ongoing basis for the business?

3.     What experience do you have in running a business?

a.      Do you have any other businesses currently?

b.     If you are currently running a business, what are its assets currently and what agreements do you currently have in place (e.g. leases, loans, supplier agreements, etc.)?

4.     Do you plan to add any owners in the near future?

5.     What do you want to call the business?

6.     Do you receive income from other sources (e.g. working at another job)?

7.     What is the personal information for the owner who will be the responsible individual with the IRS (i.e. the social security number and full legal name for the owner who will be designated as the responsible party with the IRS)?

8.     What other considerations do you have that may be unique to your personal and business situation (e.g. professional or licensing regulations that may apply to you and your business, an adult child or sibling who may want to take over the business, a spouse who may or may not work in the business, a business partner who may have substance abuse or financial management issues, a potential ex-spouse of a business partner, etc.)?

Having this information ready at your first meeting will help your first meeting with your business attorney be more productive and help get your new business or newly re-organized business started on the right path.