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Kristina Reed is launching a small business drop-in legal clinic.  The clinic will be hosted by the Women’s Business Center and California Capital on February 9, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The clinic will provide free 45 minute consultations and legal advice on a drop-in basis to small businesses in the areas of Business Formation, Corporate Law, Business Law, Intellectual Property, Business Contracts, and Leases.

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Start the year strong – ensure your business is legally compliant.  California corporation law requires all corporations and limited liability companies to comply with certain requirements to remain legally complaint.  Forgetting a deadline or missing a filing will prevent your company from legally operating.   To ensure your business stays compliant, take steps now by creating a log of all compliance dates and actions that need to be taken.  Your log should include:

  1. Annual Meetings and Minutes: Your By-Laws and California law requires all corporations to hold an annual Shareholders and Board of Directors Meeting.  These meetings should include a discussion on the condition of the company and a ratification of actions taken.  Shareholders are required to annually appoint the Board of Directors and the Board of Directors elect the officers for the next year.  Ensure that the minutes from these meetings are in writing and added to your corporate records.
  2. Update By-Laws or Operating Agreement. Each business should review its By-Laws or Operating Agreement.  Laws sometimes change and business operations evolve with the growth of the business.  Your By-Laws or Operating Agreement should remain compliant with current law and your business operations.
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Law Office of Kristina M Reed selected for 2017 Sacramento Small Business Excellence Award

Sacramento,CA – November 30, 2017 — Law Office of Kristina M Reed has been selected for the 2017 Sacramento Small Business Excellence Award in the Lawyers classification by the Sacramento Small Business Excellence Award Program.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2017 Sacramento Small Business Excellence Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Sacramento Small Business Excellence Award Program and data provided by third parties.

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Filing the initial and the biennial (every two years) Statement of Information recently became much easier for California limited liability companies (LLCs).  California LLCs can now file their Statements of Information online.  When filing a California limited liability company Statement of Information (SOI) on-line, filers can receive a free PDF copy of the filed SOI.

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Q: The Seller terminated the contract and delivered a Cancellation of Contract, Release of Deposit and Joint Escrow Instructions (CC) to the Buyer, providing that the earnest money deposit (EMD) be released to the Seller.  Buyer refuses to sign it. Seller believes that the Seller is entitled to the EMD.  Why wont the escrow officer release the EMD without a CC signed by both parties?

A: An escrow agent is a neutral third party in the transaction and cannot act upon a unilateral request by either a seller or a buyer to release the EMD. Since the escrow agent is a neutral third party, the escrow agent cannot decide who is entitled to receive the EMD. Neither the Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions (“RPA”) nor California law give an escrow agent the authority to become a judge and listen to each paterms-and-conditionsrty’s side of the story and determine who is entitled to receive the EMD. If an escrow agent did make such a factual and legal determination, that escrow agent would have breached their fiduciary duties and could be subject to a “breach of fiduciary duty” lawsuit by the party who lost the EMD.

Q: Now the Buyer has delivered a CC to the Seller.  The CC states that Buyer should receive back his EMD.  The Seller refuses to sign this version and everyone is arguing with one another.  What should a Buyer or Seller do?

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Kristina Michelle Reed has been selected to the Northern California Super Lawyers list for the 5th year in a row. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Bar associations and courts across the country have recognized the legitimacy of the Super Lawyers selection process. Most recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the findings of a Special Master assigned by the court to, among other things, examine the details of the Super Lawyers’ process. In his July 2008 report, the Special Master lauded Super Lawyers’ lawyer-rating process, stating:

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DO

  • Fully, completely and truthfully complete the Transfer Disclosure Statement (“TDS”) and the Seller Property Questionnaire (“SPQ”).  As a general rule, all sellers of residential real estate property containing one to four dwelling units must complete and provide writteReal-estate-seller-disclosuren disclosures to the Buyer. There are a few exceptions, such as properties that are transferred by court order or from one co-owner to another. But if the Seller is offering their home to the public for sale, count on this requirement applying. (California Civil Code Sections 1102, 1102.2, 1102.3)  The benefit to you as the Seller is that by thoroughly disclosing more information to the Buyer, it becomes more difficult for the Buyer to later complain that you withheld material information about the property.
  • Review the TDS and SPQ to ensure that each question is completely answered. Review the TDS and SPQ with a critical eye of the average buyer.  Make sure that you checked either “yes” or “no” to each question and provided explanations for each item checked “yes.”  Providing the Buyer with an incomplete TDS or SPQ can create a new right for the Buyer to cancel when you provide more information in response to a Buyer’s follow-up questions do to an incomplete response.
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California is falling into line with Congress’ attempt to put an end to the gag clause associated with a number of consumer contracts. Whether you are a consumer or a producer, you know the importance of reviews. Many people turn to quality review sites to better understand what they should expect for certain products or services. As a result, many businesses are including gag clauses in their consumer contracts to avoid potentially negative reviews. In September, California became the first state to outlaw such clauses. The reasoning was that this type of approach is unfair and keeps consumers unaware of the true quality of certain products.

A Need for Change

The reality is that many companies will do whatever it takes to avoid negative reviews about them. In their consumer contract they have been able to include language that not only forbids consumers from speaking out negatively, but also fines them for doing so. This creates a kind of hostage situation where the company controls the situation and will revoke the fine if the individual removes the negative comment. Creating an atmosphere where consumers cannot be truthful about their experience hinders the ability for the marketplace to adequately serve everybody involved. Likewise, the marketplace can no longer operate at a truly competitive rate if nobody is truthful about their experience. Essentially, consumers will hear only good news and all companies are considered to be on the same plane.

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The recent court case of Scafidi v. Hille No. 2014-CA-01261-SCT offers countless reminders for small business owners both experienced and novice about the importance of planning and documenting no matter what the relationship is between the parties involved. While there may be certain factors that may make it seem unnecessary to plan or develop managerial and operational strategies, this case highlights just how messy things can become no matter what the relationship is between the individuals. The overall message is to always plan ahead, document finances and other important information, and remember that when it comes to business, relationships should be set aside.

A Breakdown of the Case

Scafidi v. Hille centers on issues between a brother and sister who inherited a total of three family businesses. Due to the lack of proper planning, the funds were comingled, at one point one or both individuals were kept out of big decision-making processes, funds were not split properly and in the end this led to a huge upset between siblings and a lengthy court battle. The lack of formality in the operation of the business made the case complex and a battle that could have been completely avoided. In the end, each party was awarded a single business each and the third business was sold and funds were split. However, with some planning, not only could they both have been spared legal expenses and the stress associated with such a process, but they could have had three thriving businesses that each one could have benefited from. This case highlights the exact reasons why any business should hire a knowledgeable business attorney to assist with the process.

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New and established businesses are becoming more and more energy conscious as they create business plans and make decisions for the future. However, the costs associated with transforming a building into an energy-efficient hub can be great. With businesses trying to protect their bottom line, how can anyone expect them to be able to fully invest in costly energy-efficient building materials and improvements? Luckily, there are tax incentives to help ease the transition.

Recently, the president signed an extender bill called Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. The bill itself is in response to some incentives and tax breaks associated with a pre-existing bill that expired at the end of 2014. The new extension creates some permanent incentives while extending other incentives through this year.

Energy-Related Tax Credits