Selling a business can be an extremely lucrative prospect, but like any business transaction, the deal can go wrong and can be unnecessarily costly.  The sale of a business usually is not the sale of one asset; instead, all the assets of the business are sold or transferred.  One way to ensure that the sale of your business ends up in your favor is to skillfully negotiate the definitive agreement that sets out the final terms of the sale.  The experienced corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP have helped many entrepreneurs sell their businesses to achieve cost effective and positive results.

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The following are only a few questions to ask when drafting a definitive agreement to sell your business:

  • What does the sale include – what is the business, what are the business assets and liabilities?

There are many California requirements for an investor to be a holder in due course.  A holder of an instrument is entitled to enforce the instrument.  However, a “holder in due course” has greater rights under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the California Commercial Code (COM) than a holder who is not a holder in due course.  Specifically, a holder in due course takes an instrument free from many of the defenses to repayment that might have been asserted against the original obligee or against another assignee or holder not in due course.  An experienced San Jose business law firm can help business owners and investors understand their rights and requirements in order to be a holder in due course.

There are specific requirements that must be met for an investor to qualify as a holder in due course, including that:

  • The investor takes the instrument for value;

Often, selection and formation of a startup can be stressful and confusing.  But it is not the end of the process.  In order to protect your startup and its status, many steps must be followed to continue to ensure the startup remains in good standing with local and state laws.  The experienced California corporate lawyers at Structure Law Group, LLP can help entrepreneurs and businesses, at any stage of the process, protect and maintain their corporate form.

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Why It Matters

Formation of a limited liability company (LLC) or incorporation of a startup takes time and money to gain the protections offered by the corporate form.  If a business owner fails to maintain the ongoing requirements, the startup’s status may be put in jeopardy, and as a result, can lose the protection offered by the corporate form.  Maintenance of a corporation or an LLC is a continual process, requiring completion of steps to be in compliance with all applicable California state and local laws.

If proper procedures are not followed and the protections of the corporate form are lost, each business owner can be exposed to potential personal liability.  For example, if your business is sued while its status is expired or not in good standing, it is possible that the plaintiff can pursue both business assets and your personal assets.

What is Required?

The requirements for a business will vary based on whether the business is a corporation or an LLC.  Requirements also vary by state and local laws.  Be sure to check your local requirements or speak with an experienced California corporate lawyer in your area to ensure you are following all of the applicable requirements.  Below are only a few common requirements:

  • Annual Reports – California requires that businesses file a report with the state, either every year or every other year, depending on the year the business was registered. In California, these documents are called “Statements of Information”.
  • Fees – A business is required to pay a fee at the time of filing the report to renew registration with the state. Be sure to check the amount of the fee each year, as it is subject to change.
  • Internal Requirements – These state requirements apply to the internal operation of the business. For example, corporations are required to adhere to certain corporate formalities by doing the following: holding annual director and shareholder meetings, adopting and updating bylaws, and issuing stock and keeping updated records of those stocks. LLCs have less stringent requirements, but it is still recommended that all LLCs maintain good corporate records and updated operating agreements.

California Corporate tax rates

Entity type Tax rate
Corporations other than banks and financials 8.84%
Banks and financials 10.84%
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) rate 6.65%
S corporation rate 1.5%
S corporation bank and financial rate 3.5%

 Effective January 1, 2015, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, California law requires business entities that prepare an original or amended return using tax preparation software to electronically file (e-file) their return to us.

Call a California Corporate Lawyer Today

If you are unsure if you have taken all of the necessary steps to maintain your startup’s status as a corporation or an LLC, reach out to a California corporate lawyer right away.  Many of the most common deficiencies can be remedied to restore your status and the accompanying protections.  It is suggested to have an experienced corporate lawyer review with you all of the requirements for maintaining your business’ corporate status on an annual basis.

The California corporate lawyers at Structure Law Group, LLP have the experience needed to help guide you through each requirement and ensure that your corporation or LLC is set up for success.  Call us at 408-441-7500 or fill out our online contact form today.

When multiple individuals begin conducting business together, they may have effectively created a partnership, even if they didn’t intend to do so.  Thus, even though partnerships can be formed without the partners actually signing a partnership agreement, the partnership and its partners become subject to state laws governing partnerships.  The California business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP understand the laws and mechanics required to build a strong foundation for a partnership.  Being careful and meticulous about the partnership formation process can also help to prevent litigation if and when a dispute arises between and among business partners.

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Partnership Agreements

 Although not required under California law, as discussed above, entering into a partnership agreement when forming a partnership is highly recommended.  A partnership agreement is a legally binding contract that, among other things, dictates the roles of the partners and establishes guidelines for management of the partnership.  In addition, partnership agreements set out how potential legal disputes will be resolved.

An earnout is a type of pricing structure used in mergers and acquisitions that makes some of the purchase price contingent on the performance of the business after the acquisition has taken place. In this sense, the sellers must “earn” this part of the sale price. At its most basic, these provisions serve to reallocate post-sale risk to both the buyer and the seller.  When considering a merger or acquisition, it is often best to get counsel from an experienced Silicon Valley merger & acquisition attorney to fully understand the terms and conditions of the agreement.

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When Are Earnouts Employed?

Earnouts can be employed in a variety of situations to resolve points of contention in the negotiations of a merger or an acquisition. Commonly, they are used when the seller is more optimistic about the future value of the company than the buyer. The earnout clause will allow both parties to reach an agreement that they believe to be fair. They can also be used as a financing mechanism and for the sale of startups with little operational and financial history.

Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code, commonly referred to as the “strong arm” clause, gives the bankruptcy trustee the rights of a secured creditor.  This allows the trustee to avoid for the benefit of the debtor’s creditors transfers or obligations that could have been avoided by an unsecured creditor under nonbankruptcy law, provided such creditor exists.  Generally, this allows the trustee to avoid unperfected liens and fraudulent transfers.

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Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code sets out the strong arm clause in full.  Section 544 provides in relevant part that “[t]he trustee shall have, as of the commencement of the case, and without regard to any knowledge of the trustee or of any creditor, the rights and powers of, or may avoid any transfer of property of the debtor or any obligation incurred by the debtor” that could have been avoided by certain judicial lien holders or bona fide purchasers. The Bankruptcy Code can be confusing and intimidating to some.  An experienced San Jose bankruptcy lawyer can help creditors understand their rights, options and risks not only with the “strong arm” clause, but the entire Bankruptcy Code.

What Claims Can Be Avoided?

Government contracts can be lucrative for many companies, large or small. Often, one company wants to bid on a government contract but needs assistance from another company to fully perform the contracted work. In such cases, the two companies would combine their resources to share the bid and the contract, if awarded.  When this situation arises, it is critical to ensure that the companies have an agreement, a “teaming agreement”, stating how the work set forth in the government contract is to be divided to protect the interests of each business.

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Many teaming agreements involve a large corporation acting as the primary contractor and one or more smaller businesses acting as subcontractors. Smaller businesses naturally want to protect their interests against larger corporate entities with more resources. Preparing bids can be costly and time consuming and can take focus away from other day to day operations of the business.

Unfortunately, the problem is that many teaming agreements have been deemed unenforceable by California state courts. Because a teaming agreement is signed before a contract is awarded and whether it takes effect is dependent upon winning the contract, many courts have stated that teaming agreements are “an agreement to agree” in the future instead of a binding contract. This means that a subcontractor could take the time to prepare a bid and enter into an agreement with a primary contractor, and once the government contract is won by the primary contractor, it could decide to use a different subcontractor, leaving little legal recourse for the subcontractor.

Many considerations go into deciding which legal entity to choose when starting a business. In some cases, as the business grows, it may even want to convert into a different entity type. For example, if it began as an LLC and the owner now plans on seeking angel investment, he/she may consider converting to a corporation. In these situations (formations or conversions), one critical factor to consider is meeting the formalities required for different legal entities.

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When a California business is considering converting its entity type, it should not do so without consulting with an experienced California corporate attorney. In addition to filing conversion documents, there are many internal factors that should be considered and discussed before transitioning (the company’s management structure and capitalization structure, as well as any special voting considerations, are only a few examples).

Now, we will look at some of the similarities and the differences in formalities required for limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations.

If your business employs at least one person, you should always be aware of the ever-changing wage and hour laws in California and your particular city. In addition, if your company has locations and employees in multiple states or cities, you need to be in compliance with the laws of those jurisdictions, as well. One important aspect of employment law is that many states and cities are raising the required minimum hourly wage. Ignorance of the changes to minimum wage laws is not a valid defense to violating those laws and noncompliance can be costly. Contact the California employment attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP to stay up-to-date on the latest employment law.  The following is a brief overview of the recent updates to minimum wage in California and increases in other parts of the United States.

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 California Minimum Wage Adjustments

 California has a legislative plan in effect that aims to raise the minimum wage across the state to $15.00 per hour by the start of 2022 for most businesses and by 2023 for smaller businesses. There is one set of guidelines for companies that employ 26 or more individuals and another set for companies with 25 or fewer, so it is important to know which set of guidelines applies to your business.  However, depending on where you conduct your business, a higher minimum wage may apply than what has been enacted by the California legislature, as many cities across the state have increased the minimum wage on their own.  For example, San Francisco raised its minimum wage to $13.64, which will increase to $14.00 per hour on July 1, 2017.  San Jose’s minimum wage is currently $10.50 for all employers and will increase to $12.00 per hour on July 1, 2017.  It is critical to know what the local and state minimum wage is in order to ensure compliance and the employment attorneys at SLG can help.

When forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC), one must choose who will be responsible for managing the operations of the company. LLCs are managed by either its members or by a manager(s) and are, therefore, either member-managed or manager-managed. Some entrepreneurs know which form they want for their business from the start while other don’t know which would be best and don’t know how to come to the right decision.  Consulting with a knowledgeable Silicon Valley corporate attorney will allow the entrepreneur to understand every avenue for their company and reassures them that their business is moving forward in the right direction.

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Member-managed LLCs

In forming an LLC, the “members” are the owners of the company. In a member-managed LLC, the members of the LLC are actively involved in the running of the LLC’s business. It is the members who handle the day-to-day running of the company and share in the responsibility for management decisions.