Thursday, January 13, 2011

Corporate Formalities

Have you ever heard of the legal term “corporate formalities” ? If you own a corporation, an LLC, a partnership or any business entities you should be very well versed in what a corporate formality really is and how it will impact you.

 Under Florida each business entity (for the sake of this article we will use a corporation) you are required to preserve corporate formalities.  What does this mean?  In order to maintain personal
limited liability you must respect the business entity as a human being. Courts in recent years have found ever expanding reasons to hold directors, officials, managers, members and shareholders personally liable for corporate responsibilities. As a business structure such as a corporation you must treat it as if you have given birth to a human being. Under the eyes of the law a corporation is consider to be an individual it can sue and be sued and it can own real estate.  However, have a corporation is a task in itself. 

Typically after setting up the proper corporate structure and getting a Federal Identification Number you are set to start transacting business.  As you are transacting business you must remember like all separate entities/individuals you must preserve its rights. The purpose of setting up a corporation is to have legal protection and privacy. However, if you do not maintain its individuality you may lose these benefits.

Simple things you must remember when maintaining your business entity: 1) keep a separate bank account. If you have real estate owned by a corporation/llc you should collect rents and pay maintenance and taxes from this account; 2) you should not co-mingle funds and assets. An example of this is paying for personal expenses directly from your business account; 3) good record keeping. The purpose for this is for liability reason not only from a legal perspective but also from a tax perspective. You never want to be the one person that is sued or audited and you have no proof to defend your rights. 4) Agency issues. Be sure when you are transacting business that you make it very clear to the third party that you are acting in the capacity given to you by the business entity. And finally, always, always have an annual meeting and pay your filing fees this with the state of Florida.

 If you are unclear as to what implications this will have on you as a business structure or what tax implication it will have on you as a person you should always seek the advice of an Attorney or CPA.

Rachel M. Alvarez

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Did you know that Nasty Bill Collectors Might Owe YOU Money?

Have you ever had a bill collector call you repeatedly only to say some mean and nasty comments?  Have you ever had a bill collector call you at work and then attempt to make you feel like you were a deadbeat?  In this bad economy no one benefits more than collection agencies.
Collection agencies make a profit when they collect money from the consumer. However, the tactics that they use are at times abusive, sneaky, and downright dirty. Creditor abuse is not uncommon and is actually very real. How do you identify creditor abuse?
In Florida consumer rights are defined and outlined under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). Every state’s creditor abuse laws may vary. The following is a list of examples of what Florida considers to be creditor abuse:
1.      Receiving calls from your creditor after you have asked him or her not to call
2.      Receiving calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
3.      Receiving calls at your place of employment after you have asked the creditor not to call your place of employment
4.      Receiving threats from your creditor
5.      Having your creditor show up at your door to collect (in some situations)
6.      Creditors insisting that they can legally collect on debts that are very old (beyond the statute of limitations)
7.      Creditors using profanity or abusive language
8.      Creditors using or threatening violence
9.      Creditors calling after you have advised the creditor that you have an attorney and have provided them with that information
10.   Creditors threatening that you will be arrested (there is no such thing as debtor’s prison in the state of Florida)
What is considered “abusive/harassment” under Florida Law?
Courts consider a number of different factual situations to be harassment. Specifically, courts have stated that once an indebted person has been advised of the debt by the creditor and has explained to the creditor that the person cannot pay the debt for a specific reason, then any further contact could be considered harassment. This is determined on a case by case basis and the creditor may be liable for statutory damage.
Who must follow the collections laws in Florida?
In Florida, the law states that no person may engage in the prohibited collection practices. This generally means everyone attempting to collect on a debt must refrain from the prohibited collection practices.
The FCCPA prohibits the enforcement of a debt when the person knows that the debt is not actually legally owed. There are numerous other actions which may constitute creditor abuse as well. However, not all bill collectors follow the rules. When that occurs, under the FCCPA, a debtor may be able to recover up to $1,000 in damages from the debt collector or creditor, as well as attorney fees and more.
As a consumer you do not have to live through this abuse. You should seek the advice of a consumer rights or bankruptcy attorney to help you preserve your legal rights.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aspirations for 2011

With each new year comes much potential and we should all make the best of 2011.  As most people do for the New Year,  we too at the Alvarez Law Firm thought it would be a great opportunity  to set new and higher goals for our firm.

As is our philosophy,  we believe that we should continuously be growing and learning - becoming better  with each day.

In 2011:

  •  We vow to provide even higher quality customer service to our clients.
  •  We promise to contribute to our community by educating with informational seminars held at least once a month.
  • We resolve to do our best in every case and to advocate for our clients and protect their legal rights.
  • We make it a point for our clients to always have a positive experience when we assist them with their legal matters.
  • We strive to maintain a good working relationship with our clients, affiliates, employees and community.
  •  As an attorney, I feel that it is imperative to always maintain integrity and sincerity.

At the Alvarez law firm it is vital that each and every one of our clients understand that it is our intention to create a personal relationship with each of them.

As we continue this year we hope to assist you in accomplishing your goals from a legal perspective and hope that you acheive your goals in every other perspective.


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association

Monday, January 3, 2011

*Happy New Year!*

 During the first quarter of the new year most individuals decide to go into business for themselves. If this is something you're considering, there are so many decisions and options to weigh.

The following are only some important decisions you may have to make:

What kind of business entity should I be (i.e., LLC, Corporation, Incorporation)? How you are recognized under the state law is important because you are then able to understand what your legal rights and duties are.

Do I need an EIN (Employment Identification Number)? It depends on the type of business you setup. Which types of businesses need an EIN is key to knowing how to avoid future trouble with the IRS.
Who should be my Registered Agent? This is key in understanding that this person is the one who will be receiving all future correspondence for your business. This includes lawsuits.

Do I need a partner? Not all people need a partner depending on the type of business that you will be conducting. Sometimes instead of a partner you just need a contractor or an employee. It is important to understand the needs of your business.

Do I collect sales tax? Not all businesses collect sales tax. If you are a business that is legally required to collect sales tax, then you must do so.

There are so many decisions to make but where to begin?

At the Alvarez Law firm we make it our priority to educate our clients to what legal rights you may have.  Let us help you understand your legal rights.


 Rachel M. Alvarez, Esq.