VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Ashland, Kentucky, Legal Blog

The business value of conflict management over avoidance

There are those who argue that relationships between employers and employees today are more like marriages than the cash-for-labor construct that has dominated the labor market since the start of the industrial age. Indeed, some economists suggest that in the past 20 years, employer benefits have emphasized supporting employee emotional needs over wages.

Whether the argument has merit is debatable. However, we think most would agree that one characteristic that complex business organizations and marriages share is conflict. Where humans are, there is disagreement. The question this begs is whether all conflict should be avoided, or whether, with good management, conflict can benefit a business?

Are you meeting challenges of corporate governance?

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties any public U.S. or multi-national corporation faces is walking the fine line between protecting business efforts for growth and fulfilling regulatory requirements on transparency. The fact that standards vary greatly from one government to the next only makes things more challenging.

Good governance is critical to business success, but unlike institutional forms of political governance that have existed long enough to have developed traditions, corporate governance is subject to change - sometimes seismic in nature. Guiding transactions amid evolving environments depends on correctly reading the regulatory landscape.

Family conflict is the chief threat to successful estate planning

A successful estate plan is one that passes your assets to the next generation while minimizing unnecessary taxation and limiting other expenses. This may include, for example, reducing the need for probate by placing the assets in an appropriate trust. It may also include taking steps to minimize intra-family disputes that could result in a challenge to the estate distribution.

According to a recent poll by TD Wealth, 44 percent of lawyers, trust officers and accountants ranked family conflict as the primary threat to successful estate plans. One reason may be the changing structure of the modern family, which often involves multiple marriages and blended families.

Tax changes suggest check of pre- or antenuptial agreement terms

One of the most significant changes in U.S. law occurred late last year. As one of our earlier posts noted, Congress passed a new tax law in December. A provision in that massive law that caught the attention of many is the one that ends the deduction on federal taxes for payers of spousal maintenance in divorce.

The enforcement of the change isn't due to take effect until the start of 2019, meaning that any couples wanting to retain the advantages of the deduction must have their divorces finalized by the end of 2018. Many legal observers, including ourselves, suggested the deadline could affect negotiations over maintenance throughout this whole year.

3 tips for maintaining an effective employee handbook

Every employee handbook has room for improvement and keeping your company's up-to-date is imperative. Failure to update your policies regularly could easily put you in violation of labor laws and your business in hot water. Your staff may also suffer if you are not clear about the expectations and policies that are in place.

What are some steps that you can take as a business owner to improve your company's employee handbook?

Does your family business need a 'chief learning officer'?

If you own a successful family business, you are aware of the importance of succession planning. It can ensure that the enterprise will be in good hands if you or another top executive needs to make a sudden exit. A transparent succession plan also helps prevent disputes between family members involved in the company.

But what about the intra-family disputes you are experiencing now? As companies create succession plans, they often realize these have been ongoing. Different personalities have different visions for the business. Conflicts arise over leadership and management. If the family members are not personally committed to it, the business may wind down before that succession plan is needed.

End-of-life decisions must be made well in advance of dementia

Just over a third of Americans have put a living will, healthcare power of attorney or similar document in place to protect their end-of-life choices. These documents help ensure that you receive only those medical treatments you want when you reach the end of your life. For example, they can spell out whether you want all possible care to extend your life, or if you prefer only palliative care after a certain point.

If you have a history of Alzheimer's or dementia in your family, you should get started on your estate plan right away. Advanced dementia, which includes Alzheimer's, is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. -- fifth among people over 65. Unlike many other diseases, however, dementia robs you of the ability to make legal decisions. That means dementia sufferers are often in no position to make medical decisions when they are most needed.

Are your supervisors trained to spot employment law issues?

With such a wide variety of potential employment law issues, it can be tempting simply to advise supervisors to notify human resources whenever one arises. That may be a smart policy, as HR professionals generally have a broad understanding of how labor and employment issues are regulated. However, a misstatement or misunderstanding by a supervisor could result in unnecessary liability for your company.

Consider this example. A sexual harassment complaint is raised and a manager decides to bring the complainant and the alleged harasser together to hash things out. This may seem like a reasonable effort, but it could easily seem like the manager is "ganging up" with the alleged harasser.

What to take into account when considering selling your business

With the economy in good shape, many owners of established businesses may be looking to sell. Especially when a business is profitable, there may be a real opportunity to sell at a satisfying price.

Whether you have received an expression of interest or are ready to move on to a new challenge, however, you need to plan carefully.

Equine estate planning

For many in Kentucky, horses are life. It only makes sense that we would make sure there is a plan for our equine estate in the event of death or incapacitation.

You should think about not only the horses, but also the associated property: trophies, saddles, farm equipment, land, and buildings. Who do you want to care for the horses, or do you want them sold? Is that person equipped to properly care for your horses? Are you particularly attached to a certain mare, stallion, or gelding? You can design a specific trust for that care of that horse, if so inclined.

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