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Starting a business can have some legal ramifications for you and your family. Even starting a business with a member of your own family can have its problems unless you have properly planned for the day when things suddenly go awry and your partner wants out.

An attorney can help you avoid many of these pitfalls. They can help you determine what legal structure is best for your business and assess tax obligations and exposure to any personal liability.

Following are some of the things an attorney can help you with.

Liability – As noted earlier, each business structure offers different protections and risks for the owner. An attorney will help you understand these risks and discuss ways to minimize them. Properly planning your structure and minimizing exposure to any liability will help you protect your family’s personal wealth and assets.

Taxes – Just as each structure affords different protections from liability, they also affect your taxes. For example, if you have sales in excess of $40,000 gross in a year, incorporating may save you a substantial amount of taxes, because your business income is taxed at a much more favorable rate as a corporation.

Autonomy – If you don’t decide on some things up front, the government may do it for you. Many states have laws on the books that allow them to apply state law where gaps exist in your own company filings, such as charters, bylaws and other required documents. You may find yourself suddenly following a new set of regulations that you didn’t want to because you neglected to dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T’s at the beginning.

Money Management – As a business you need to keep detailed records of income, disbursements and other fiscal matters. Different business structures have different reporting requirements. Thankfully, there are a lot of great software programs available that automate accounting functions for you. But you do need to understand what types of records must be kept so you don’t run afoul of state or federal tax entities.