Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tips Transfers Into a Family Limited Partnership or LLC

As a small business owner you will want to form a legal entity structure to obtain limited liability protection. A popular way to obtain limited liability protection is to form a LLC to protect your personal assets from creditors, debtors, and legal claims. One of the foremost reasons for you to form an LLC is the benefit of having limited liability protection. A Family Limited Partnership or LLC is typically utilized in an estate plan as a vehicle for making "leveraged" or "discounted" gifts to children or other family members and loved ones. The FLP is simply stated a partnership arrangement between family members wherein the senior family members maintain full control over the management and investment decisions relating to all of the underlying partnership property and make gifts to the junior family members of the limited partner interests on a discounted basis.

In General, the FLP may have several non tax features and reasons for its existence, but also has the potential of substantially reducing the estate and gift taxes of the transferor. The FLP will mainly consist of family members including either adult or minor children or both. In most cases a minor child will not be deemed to possess the maturity and experience to hold legitimate title to the limited partner interest. In this regard, there are three practical solutions: (1) Title can be held under the California Uniform Transfer to Minors Act found in Probate Code Sections 3900 through 3925; (2) A Children's Trust can be established to serve as the limited partner; or, (3) A Guardianship can be established.

Custodianships are relatively inexpensive to set up whereas the Children's Trust is more expensive and the Guardianship can very costly and cumbersome. All types of assets can be owned by an FLP, but assets which are inherently dangerous and have high liability risks should not be owned by an FLP that owns other assets. These high risk assets should be placed in a separate corporate entity or limited liability company to limit liability or they should be contributed as the only asset to a Family Limited Partnership of which an LLC or corporation is the general partner. Moreover, assets which are necessary for the living expenses of the transferor should not be contributed to the FLP.

One of the most significant disadvantages of the FLP is there will be no step up in basis for the assets in the partnership at the death of the general partner. If the assets have a low cost basis the transferor is giving up the potential step up in basis at his or her death. Accordingly, a sophisticated review needs to be made analyzing and weighing the benefits of having the discounted property value available to reduce estate taxes as compared to the savings in income taxes resulting from the step up in basis.

Most Family Limited Partnerships are set up and designed to hold real property. The typical situation involves a senior family member transferring property to the Partnership in exchange for a small general partner interest and a very large limited partnership interest. The general partner interest allows the transferors to have complete control over the day-to-day investment and management decisions relating to the partnership property. The limited partners do not have any voice in the management of the partnership.

Most FLPs are also structured so as to provide that the limited partners will not be allowed to transfer their partnership interest during their lifetime without the consent of the other partners. This restriction on the transfer of the limited partner interests along with other factors provides for the discount of the value of the gifted partner interest for gift tax purposes by reducing its marketability ("Marketability Discount").

Because the limited partners will not have any voice in the management of the partnership, the value of the gifted limited partner interest will be discounted to reflect this lack of control ("Control Discount"). Combining these two discounts is sometimes referred to jointly as a minority discount and typically reduce the value of the transfer gift for gift tax purposes by 20% to 50% (and the taxes by 10% to 25% or more) depending on what type of assets are held by the partnership (a greater discount is typically allowed when the assets held by the partnership are not readily marketable). The senior family members retain control over the partnership property for as long as they desire.

The Partnership Agreement can be drafted to make the senior family members the managing general partners with sole management control over the partnership. The children can have as much or little control as desired. After the Family Limited Partnership has been established, it can be used as part of the transferor's estate plan to make discounted lifetime gifts to the children. Alternatively, the interest in the FLP can be held until the first of the transferor's death after which time the surviving spouse can then begin making gifts of the limited partner interest to the children.

The second use of the FLP has the double benefit of allowing the survivor's full step up of basis of the underlining partnership assets for income tax purposes after the first death and following the survivor's death the limited partner interest can still be discounted for estate tax purposes. The Minority Discount of the value of the Limited Partnership interest allows the transferor to effectively make large annual tax free gifts. In the case of real estate, the due on Sale Clause or Acceleration Clause of the underlining promissory note and deed of trust which secures the real estate to be transferred should be reviewed.

Stock accounts held in "Street Name" by securities companies can be transferred by an assignment document between the transferor and the FLP and the proper execution of the internal documents of the securities company. It is normally a good practice to make sure that any brokerage accounts transferred into the FLP are free of margin loans because a margin call can result from the transfer into the FLP.

Many closely held corporation stocks contain restrictions on transferability. Assuming that the stock can be transferred into the FLP, the old Share Certificate should be delivered to the Corporate Secretary or Stock Transfer Agent for cancellation and a new Certificate issued in the name of the FLP.

Cash can be transferred directly into the Limited Partnership bank account. The transferor should check with their financial institution to make sure that if CD's are transferred, there are no penalties or loss of interest.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Choose Web Designer

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design company for your site is extremely important. Unless you run a web-based business, you probably do not have web design experience within your company. Building your web site will take time and a little homework!

To create a web site for your business, follow these 4 simple steps:

    Establish your goals
    Determine your budget
    Pick a web design company
    Pick a web hosting company

Establish Your Goals

Before you begin looking for company to help you design and build your web site, take the time to understand the goals of your web site. This will be extremely important to help set expectations with the web design company you choose.

In order to set your web site goals, ask yourself the following questions:

    Why do you want a web site?
    Are you selling something?
    Do you have a catalog of products that changes on a regular basis?
    Who is your target market?
    Do you already have a brand?
    What is your industry?
    Who are your competitors?
    Do they already have web sites? If so, what do they look like?
    If you're selling something, will you accept credit cards over the internet?
    How soon do you want your web site?
    What happens if you never create a web site for your business?

Take the time to answer each of the above questions and if you have time, write the answers down on a sheet of paper. These are the same questions most web design companies will ask you before they begin to create your site. If you have these questions answered up front, you will have some criteria for choosing the right web design company. For example, if you are a real estate agent, and want to publish listings on your web site, you should seek a web design company that knows about the real estate business and has created web pages for other real estate agents.


Determine Your Budget

How much do you want to spend on your web site. Web sites can cost you anywhere from $100 to $100,000 depending upon what you want it to do. Know your spending constraints before you begin negotiating with design companies. Whatever you do, do not tell a web design company what your budget is!! Always get pricing based on your needs, not you budget.

Pick a Web Design Company

Your choice of a web design company is a very important step. Take your time to investigate all of your options. Here are some important items to consider.

Design vs. Build

Depending upon the scope of your web site, you may need to choose two different companies. Building a web site is a highly technical process. Designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. The process of creating a web site is similar to the process of building a new home. Before you ask a construction company to start building, you first seek out an architect who creates a blueprint of your house taking into account what you want (number of stories, square footage, etc.). Creating a detailed blueprint before construction begins can help you accurately estimate the final price. Without the blueprint, you may end up paying a lot of money for a house that does not fit your needs. Creating a web site is exactly the same except most web site "builders" also claim to be "designers". The good news is that you can look at other sites a web design company has created (like looking at other homes that a home builder has made). Make sure you ask the web design company what their process is for designing a web site vs. building a web site. They should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don't, they're probably builder that think they can also architect.
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Evaluate Experience

Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? As with any services company, choosing someone that has relevant experience. If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience doing just that?

Review the Portfolio

A well established web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you? In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn't they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

Compare Prices

Pricing for creating a web site can vary. Typically, web design companies will charge one of three ways:

    Time and materials: price is variable based on the actual number of hours spent working on your site. For example, a web design company may charge you $75 per hour. If it takes 100 hours to create your web site, your price would end up being $7,500.
    Fixed Price: some design companies will charge you a fixed fee based on a fixed set of requirements. If you outline your requirements very carefully, many web design companies will quote you a single price.
    Component Pricing: some design companies will charge "by the page". By creating a price based on the number of pages, you can control the cost by designing a specific number of pages. Buyer beware: some design companies will charge by the page but will have "special pricing" for components such as custom graphics, animated images, and the like.

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front. Also make sure that you understand what "done" means. Try and structure the payments such that a significant portion of the fees (20%) are not due until you "accept" the final web site. Include the agreed-upon dates in your contract and provisions for what will happen if these dates are not met.

Solicit bids from multiple web design companies and compare both the pricing models and the prices themselves.

There are thousands of web designers across the country and they should all fight feverously for your business! Be picky! If a web design company dismisses any of your questions regarding their design process, pricing, or client references, take your business elsewhere!
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Finding Good Quality Roofing Contractors

Your roof is what keeps you warm, dry and protects you from the wind. So when it becomes time to choose a roofing contractor you want make sure you'll receive quality workmanship at a reasonable price.

Does the contractor have the necessary experience to perform the work required and what are their qualifications and credentials? Do they have the necessary equipment and materials to repair, replacement or restore your roof? Is the contractor using qualified tradesmen or cheap labourers? Can they be trusted? If you are asking yourself these questions then keep reading.

Whether your roofing job is big or small, a roof replacement job or simply a roof repair you need a qualified tradesman you know you can trust. This means you need to find an honest roofing professional who knows good roofing practices. A knowledgeable roofer will be able to provide you with sound advice on products, coatings, materials, roof types, gutterings, downpipes, waterflow, colours and most importantly build a strong, durable roof that will last.

Since most roofing companies promise you similar things its hard to take what they say at face value. The best thing for you to do is to do some research into the company and their credentials. Talk to local building associations, previous customers, people you know who have dealt with the roofing contractor and gather as much third party information as possible. It is always good practice to get more than one quote to make sure the contractor isn't highballing you. If the price is too low it may be an indication of poor quality workmanship and roofing practices or they may be using unqualified labourers.

Once you have a shortlist of potential contractors here are some of the factors you should way up in choosing a contractor:

* Business Credentials from the contractor or company.
* Experience in roofing and their portfolio of recent work.
* Licensing or contract agreement with local government bodies.
* Insurance coverage of the contractor and their workers while working onsite for you. Some contractors also extend the insurance cover to the jobs that they are completing.
* Professional references from others in the field.
* Bank references and other credit related references.
* Company philosophy and ethics culture of the contractor.
* History of time line for completion of past projects.
* Knowledge about the material used in constructing the roof.
* Knowledge of the budgetary estimate for the job.
* Contractual agreements and availability of the copies of such agreements from past contracts.

Doing this kind of research up front can save you a lot of time, stress and hassles later. Once you feel confident with the roofing contractor you have chosen you can let them do their job. However it is always important to stay in the loop and monitor the progress of the work to make sure they contractor is meeting your expectations and living up to their reputation. Remember its best to talk to the most qualified contractor or the one who best suits your requirements for your job (asbestos removal, roof cleaning etc). Cheaper contractors usually do cheaper work and you often pay more in the long run in repairs and hassles. The last thing you want is a roof that starts to leak during a storm because of poor workmanship.
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Using a Portable Classroom

So you need a little extra space at your school? Of course you do, with the majority of school buildings in the UK being decades old (and in some cases centuries old); they just weren't built to accommodate today's student population.

Portable classrooms are so versatile they can adapt to almost any scholastic requirement so why not implement one as your new science classroom? Most portable classrooms can be erected within a matter of days with as little or as much input from design through to build from you as you want. Because these portable classrooms are constructed so efficiently, you'll hardly even notice they're there!

Science has become less and less popular with higher and further education students over recent years which is surprising because the science classroom can be great fun and if your students develop an interest in the subject at a young age they're more likely to continue studying it throughout their educational career. With most universities and colleges crying out for science students it seems only fitting that their interest in the subject is developed at a young age.

The science classroom provides essential education at all students whether they realise it or not, unfortunately reciting the periodic table may not seem so exciting to most students, and let's be honest, how many times in their life are they going to need to know what Lawrencium is, and it's chemical symbol? The science classroom doesn't have to lectured from a text book and we all know young students learn better by doing, but unfortunately particle science can be messy, and noisy and smelly and....well, lots of other adjectives that all mean disruptive to the classes around them.

A portable classroom would make a great science classroom because it would give your students the freedom to be as creative as they wanted without disturbing the classes around them:

If your school is situated in a rural location, a portable classroom would make a great science classroom because you could take your pupils into the wildlife and they can bring that wildlife back with them without bringing mud and mess back into the main school building.

Chemistry can be very exciting when students get to see for themselves chemical reactions and while it may not be practical to give them free range over the chemicals cupboard, a portable science classroom away from the main school will still be more practical no matter how controlled the experiments are.

As an added bonus, you can even get environmentally friendly portable classrooms, with things like sedum roofs, photovoltaic power and sun pipe as well as sourcing all timber from sustainable forests, what better way to teach science in a specially designed science classroom that by surrounded by science?
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Portable Building Tips

A portable building is a great storage option. They can easily be moved from one location to another, although most people choose to leave them in situ as an outdoor storage facility option.

What is it?

A portable building is a building that doesn't have a permanent foundation. It can easily be moved from one location to another, typically it will sit on top of a foundation but not a permanent foundation. Usually it's used as a way to store items and free up space in general building.

How is it Constructed?

The building is typically constructed in a factory than brought to the site where it will be by truck. There is a kit that comes ready to be put together, the main components of the building are already put together they just need to be secured to the other parts of it. Usually with a kit the walls, ceiling, doors and floor are all ready put together and just need to be attached like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Most of the time a kit will come with step by step instructions and the parts are either numbered, lettered of color coded to make for easy assembly.

The Cost

The cost will vary depending on the size and style. A kit will save a few hundred dollars over a prefab. Typically expect to pay at least 500 dollars. That figure can climb way up easily to over 10000 dollars. It all depends on how much square footage is available and how many extras are available on the portable building.

Installing

Whether a portable building has been purchased as a prefab unit or comes in a kit there will be a certain amount of installation involved. With the prefab unit the building will still have to be secured so it does not blow down and of course if it comes from a kit will have to be constructed and then installed. The installation will be a multi person job and will take the most of a day to install. It is important to read all the instructions are read. The correct tools will also make the job easier. A power drill with a Philips screwdriver bit will be helpful, a measuring tape, a hammer and safety goggles are a good idea.
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Amazon Kindle

If you are a writer then be smart and start cashing in on the cash generating trend for e-books and in particular Amazon Kindle-books. You really are spoiled for choice with this revenue stream. It is easy to grab a free account and sell your books on the highly trafficked Amazon.

Honestly anyone can do this, whether you have written paperbacks, e-books or web content. However if you are inexperienced in writing please take advantage of our hot tips for writing e-books. This will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

E-books, are published on the web, instead of print. People can use their PC or Kindle to read them. The Kindle is nice in that it is a small, wireless device. There is no cables or pc needed. Best of all there are no charges for the wireless capabilities.

E-books can contain any content just like print books. The New York Time's Best Seller List offers most of the-books in e-book format for the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers This medium is really cost effective and you do not need to be an established author or have a large budget. Popular topics for e-books are how-to guides, biographies, horror, romance, and much more, the sky is the limit.

Please don't feel intimidated. You can make great money even if you do not hit the Best Seller List! Also forget that it needs to contain screeds of pages. Some of the most popular e-books only contain 50 pages. As long as you get your message over the length is irrelevant! Please avoid repeating yourself to create more content. Just slightly lower the price instead.

Add a table of contents for a professional finish. A fiction or non-fiction book, typically has a table of contents. The table of contents should contain the name of each chapter or section and the page it starts on. The table of contents comes after the cover.

Use Microsoft Word or Open Office to prepare your book. Both have a spell and grammar checker. Even experienced writers make mistakes. Kindle-books are sold in digital text format. Amazon converts the format for you. Word documents are accepted by Amazon for conversion. Also proofread the document yourself to catch anything Word or Open Office missed. With all that completed you are good to go. All that is left is some promotion on your part. Let friends and family know and use forums, blog commenting and press releases to get your message out.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tips For Choosing a Roofing Contractor

One of the best ways to choose a roofing contractor is to speak with them over the phone or meet with them and ask them some questions. To locate a roofing contractor to contact you can ask friends and family for referrals or do a Google search as there are many great roofing directory sites that will provide a short list of roofers in your area. Its also worthwhile to check out the contractor's own website as well.

Doing a bit digging might seem time-consuming but what is even more time-consuming not to mention costly is to fix a botched roof job. So how should you select a roofing contractor? Tips for selecting a roofing contractor fall under three categories: the contractor's qualifications, the contractor's work, and the contractor's past. Read the tips below.

Qualifications

First, do not hire a roofing contractor who is not licensed. However, just because a contractor is licensed does not necessarily mean the contractor is a committed professional who will do excellent work. You can tell more about a contractor's commitment by seeing if the contractor is a member of a trade association and if the contractor has taken any continuing education training. If the contractor says yes, call the trade association and ask to see certificates of the continuing education.
Make sure they have a permanent business. When selecting a contractor, you need to be confident that the contractor will be able to complete the work they promised to do. One of the best ways to have this confidence is to select a contractor who can financially commit to finishing your project. The contractor should have a permanent phone number and address. Visit their business to see if they've the equipment and employees to complete your project successfully.
Ask if they've insurance coverage and how much. Just because they've insurance, it might not be very much coverage. Have the contractor show you a certificate of insurance. Contractors can get a certificate of their insurance that shows coverage dates and policy limits from their insurance carrier. Also ask if they have workers' compensation coverage. Because property owners can be sued for accidents that occur on their property, it's very important that all contractors have workers' compensation insurance.
The Contractor's Workmanship

All contractors also need to have a safety plan so ask your potential contractor to provide you with one. Safety plans are important for making sure projects get completed and are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).check how long the contractor's warranty on work performed is. A typical time period is one year or longer. The length of the warranty doesn't matter so a good deal as whether the contractor plans to stand behind the warranty. Good contractors often will work beyond a written contract. Keep in mind that the manufacturer provides product warranties and often warranties are only valid if a contractor is "certified" to install the product. Be sure to talk to your contractor about following manufacturer specifications that are necessary for product warranty.
The contractor should thoroughly discuss your home improvement project with you. Areas to talk about with your contractor include the color and type of products you want to use, how to get a permit if necessary, what the daily clean-up procedure is, and how the work will be paid for.
Past Performance and Customer Service

Find out how long the contractor has been in business. Though a contractor in business for a year or two might do excellent work, it would be better to select a contractor who has been in business for at least five years. Often the longer a contractor has been in business, the more experience they have, which often means more choices and better workmanship for your roof.
Ask to see pictures of the contractor's work and for references from past customers. Get this information on the contractor's website or by calling previous customers and asking what they thought.
Many of the best contractors have had to handle complaints. Complaints are not necessarily bad, but the way a contractor has handled them can be. Ask the contractor how they have dealt with complaints in the past or call the Better Business Bureau to find out.
In addition to the above advice, another worthwhile tip for selecting a roofing contractor is to have three contractors you are considering submit three bids in writing. Having three bids in writing is useful to compare prices and products the contractors will use to complete the project. If one bid is significantly higher or lower than the others, this could be a red flag. Again, roofing directory sites can help streamline the process here, by putting you in contact with three roofing companies by completing just one estimate request form.
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