latest articles from our blog

Michele Wellman & Douglas Anderson

Maryland Business AttorneyAt Thienel & Lusk, LLC, we know that our success depends on our ability to provide the best representation for our clients, both with the day-to-day legal issues and with litigation, when necessary. We value our relationships with our clients, and to show our appreciation we developed our Client Spotlight e-blasts.  The Client Spotlight is a monthly feature about our long-standing clients. This month, we are featuring not just one client, but a husband and wife team: Michele Wellman and Douglas Anderson, who also are business owners of By Chance Farm and PROFormance Horse. Michele Wellman and Doug Anderson met as many horse couples do, through their shared interest and love of horses. Doug is a farrier who owns PROFormance Horse and met Michele through his business shoeing horses at Michele’s horse boarding facility, By Chance Farm. Michele and her mother, Charlene Cherry, purchased By Chance Farm in 2002.  The…

Protect Yourself From Unfair Contracts

Maryland Business Contract LawyerAs a business owner, you will enter into a number of contracts – leases, supplier agreements, employment contracts, and more. You want to ensure that any contract you sign is fair and offers you some legal recourse, should a contract dispute arise. But it’s equally important to make sure you don’t inadvertently create unfair or illegal contracts yourself. The following is an overview of how to avoid signing or creating an unfair contract. Maryland Contract Basics Maryland law recognizes five basic components of a contract: Competent parties – Adults who are mentally capable of understanding the terms of the contract Offer – The proposal by a party to take an action and/or pay for goods or services Acceptance – Approval of the terms and conditions of the offer, as may be evident by the signatures of the parties to the agreement. Consideration – The agreement specifies consideration, which means all…

How to Handle a Decedent’s Final Tax Return

Maryland Business LawyerIf you are the personal representative or executor for a recently deceased taxpayer, you are required to file tax returns on behalf of the decedent and pay any tax owed. If no representative or executor has been named, that task falls to the spouse or closest living relative. The process of preparing a tax return for a decedent is complicated and requires the advice of a tax professional and an attorney. The following is a broad overview of the issues associated with filing a return. About the Estate When a person dies, the Register of Wills (Maryland) or Clerk of the Circuit Court (Virginia) creates an estate in that person’s name for the purpose of assessing all debts, assets, taxes, and distributions. If the decedent had a will, the will must be filed with the Register of Wills or Clerk. If no will exists, the court will determine how to…

A Primer on Small Business Tax Obligations

Maryland Business Tax AttorneyTax time can be stressful for owners of small businesses, because if you make a mistake on your taxes, you could end up owing the Internal Revenue Service a lot of money. Thankfully, the IRS isn’t going to prosecute someone who makes an honest mistake on a tax return, but they will demand the money they’re owed. Following is a brief overview of requirements that may apply to you and your business. Consult a tax attorney to make sure you’re handling all tax obligations properly. New Business Rules When you start a new business, you also have to set up the appropriate tax accounts with the state of Maryland. The type of business you operate determines which specific accounts you’ll need. Maryland’s Combined Registration Application lets you set up all the tax accounts you might need – employer withholding, unemployment insurance, sales and use tax, and other account types. You…

Bankruptcy Basics for Businesses

Maryland Business Law LawyerFrom sole proprietors to large corporations, businesses sometimes encounter situations in which their debts and expenditures exceed their income. When that happens, bankruptcy may be one method for a debtor to obtain a “fresh start” and relief from dischargeable debts – and businesses may be able to continue operating, under certain conditions. Types of Bankruptcy United States Bankruptcy Code contains several chapters that describe rules for each type of bankruptcy. The three chapters most common for small businesses are Chapters 7, 11, and 13. Following is an overview of how those chapters differ. Chapter 7 (“Liquidation”) An individual consumer or any type of business may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Individuals must pass a “means test,” which the court uses to determine financial eligibility for this bankruptcy chapter. A debtor who has too many assets or exceeds a certain ratio of income to debt may not be eligible for Chapter…

A Primer on Maryland Courts

Maryland Court SystemDo you know why Maryland has an “Orphans’ Court,” or which court hears landlord-tenant cases? You can find the answers to those questions, and others, in this primer we’ve written about Maryland courts. The Maryland Judicial System Maryland has four court levels: two trial courts (District Court and Circuit Courts) and two appellate courts (Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals). The Orphans’ Court handle wills, estates, and other probate matters. The Maryland Tax Court is not part of the judicial system but hears administrative appeals from the final decisions of Maryland or local tax authorities. Here’s some basic information about Maryland courts: District Court The District Court of Maryland hears both civil cases (including claims up to $30,000, domestic violence cases, and landlord-tenant disputes) and criminal cases (motor vehicle violations, and other misdemeanors and limited felonies). For civil claims of $5,000 to $30,000, District Courts share jurisdiction with…

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 26

Maryland Small Business LawyerAmerican Express rolled out Small Business Saturday in November 2010, in an effort to get more people to shop at small, locally owned businesses. With each passing year, the event has drawn more shoppers to local businesses, and in 2015, 95 million people patronized small businesses on Small Business Saturday. This year, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 26. If you own a small business and haven’t started gearing up for this event, now’s the time to do so. Promote Your Business You don’t have to register to participate in Small Business Saturday, but if you do register through the American Express website, shoppers may be able to more easily find your business. When you register, you also get access to online templates for designing promotional materials, so you can create your own signage for free and download the files to print. Give customers a reason to shop at your business…

Transferring Real Estate: Deed Overview

Maryland Deed LawyerIn Maryland, the sale or transfer of property includes the creation of a deed, which is a legal document that defines each party’s rights and responsibilities. Deeds establish a binding agreement, but occasionally new information is discovered after the transfer or sale of property that may compromise the owner’s rights to the property. While it’s possible in many jurisdictions to file your own legal documents, the best way to protect yourself in a real estate transaction is to have a lawyer prepare your deeds. Maryland requires that a deed be prepared by a Maryland attorney to be accepted for recordation in the Maryland Land Records. Types of Deeds Three types of deeds apply to real estate transactions in Maryland: General Warranty Deed – This is a deed that sellers provide the buyer that guarantees the property is free of any liens or any other legal claims in its entire history.…

Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Maryland Tax AttorneyDecember is just around the corner, so if you pay your taxes based on the calendar year, now’s the time to take a look at your income and expenses. Depending on your 2016 profits and your earnings projections for next year, you may want to make some adjustments before year-end. Cash vs. Accrual Accounting The type of accounting method you use may dictate your end-of-year tax strategy. Businesses use either cash or accrual accounting. With cash accounting, your income and expenses are not counted until actually paid. So, if you send someone an invoice in December and they don’t pay it until January, you wouldn’t claim that income on your 2016 tax return. Accrual accounting records transactions immediately – that December invoice would be considered part of your 2016 income, even before you receive payment. If you use accrual accounting and want to reduce your taxable income for 2016, you…

What to Do if Your Business is Behind on Payroll Taxes

Maryland Business Lawyer Audit LawyerAn entrepreneur wrote an article for CBS Money Watch in which he described the year he almost lost everything. At the time, clients had fallen behind on paying him, and to make up for the cash shortfall, he stopped paying payroll taxes. His payroll tax liability grew to $20,000, plus interest and penalties, before the Internal Revenue Service seized $5,000 from his bank account, which in turn caused him to be overdrawn. Small businesses that fall behind on payroll taxes may be jeopardizing their livelihood, as well as their personal property. At the outset, it is important to understand that payroll taxes include employee contributions for social security and Medicare taxes, and employee federal and state income tax withholdings. The employer collects employee contributions in a fiduciary capacity and the government is much less forgiving for a business failing to properly handle employee trust funds than for a business that…