Month: December 2012

Estate Gameplan Part 3: Updating Your Estate Plan

Setting up an estate plan is a great start to accomplishing your estate planning goals. But too many times we take the plan we’ve drawn up and lock it away until it’s needed. In this series, we’ll take a look at what you can do now to make sure that your estate plan will actually meet your goals when it’s time to be carried out.

Part 3: Updating Your Estate Plan

Hopefully, your estate plan won’t be needed for years to come. In the meantime, a lot can happen. The plan you created today may not be what you want or need tomorrow. Estate planning is a process that needs periodic updating.

Generally, you should review your estate plan every 3-5 years to make sure it still reflects what you want. But you should also update your estate plan anytime a major life event occurs. These events may change the amount or type of property you own; your needs or that of your loved ones; or the legal or tax consequences. The following are all reasons to update an estate plan:

  • Marriages, divorces or remarriages (yours or a loved one’s)
  • Birth of a child or grandchild
  • Death of a spouse, child, personal representative or trustee
  • Major changes in your financial situation like starting a business, buying a home, receiving an inheritance or retiring
  • Children reaching the age of majority (and no longer needing a guardian)
  • Disability or long-term illnesses
  • Changes to Wisconsin’s estate planning or tax laws (an estate planning attorney can help with this one)

Congratulations on taking the time to create an estate plan. But that plan is a working plan that needs to be updated when your situation changes. Periodically reviewing and updating your estate plan is the best way to ensure that it still reflects your wishes down the road.

Employment Contracts 101: The Top 5 Things You Need to Know

A written employment contract can be a great way to protect your business. It can lay out your expectations and give you certain rights. But, like any contract, an employment contract is a two-way street that imposes some obligations on you as well. Before you sign up for something you didn’t want, it’s important to understand what employment contracts can do. Here are the top 5 things you need to know about employment contracts:

  1. An employment contract can and should be tailored to your individual business and the employee’s position. Include what’s important to you, like a confidentiality clause or how commissions are calculated.
  2. You can set a specific period of employment (like 3 years) or require an employee to give extra notice (like 90 days) before they quit. But remember: you’re bound to those terms
  3. Along those same lines, some employment contracts limit your right to fire employees withoutThis is especially true if you set a specific period of time for employment, so make sure you know what you’ve agreed to.
  4. 4.Not every employee needs an employment contract. You might need one if you’re offering perks to work for you over a competitor or if the employee would be difficult to.

    And most importantly:

  5. ALWAYS consult an attorney before signing an employment contract. Employment law is complicated and you need someone who fully understands what you need and what you’re potentially agreeing to—they aren’t always the same

Good employment contracts reinforce your rights as an employer and protect your business. But in return they impose some obligations on you. Understanding the basics of employment contracts will help you get the contract you need.