Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Question button

photo IRS tag on drawerIf you have a corporation (or an LLC), you can elect S Corporation status by filing a form with the IRS. You have to obtain approval form the IRS before you can file taxes as an S Corporation. Fill out and file IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation or use a service to file the form for you.

Not all corporations can obtain S Corporation status, so check the regulations.


Categories: Legal, Taxes

Trademark-applicationsThe US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows you to file a trademark application online. Most states also have a trademark filing process, so check with the business office for your state to see which office handles the process if you want to start there.

Make sure to search existing trademarks thoroughly before filing, so you don’t waste the filing fee if someone already registered the mark in the product or service category you want. The USPTO has a search function on it’s website for all US registered trademarks.

Consulting a trademark attorney is often the best way to go simply because trademark law can be confusing and they have the resources to do a global search for you and advise you about which product classifications are correct for your use or intended use.


photo business word blockDBA stands for “Doing Business As” and it refers to operating your business under a Fictitious Business Name. It is sometimes referred to a Trade name.

Many businesses operate using a fictitious business name as their public face. Both sole proprietors and business entities (e.g., LLCs or corporations) can use fictitious names. Sometimes this is done to clearly differentiate the business from the business owner’s name, sometimes it is done for branding purposes and sometimes it is done for marketing purposes.

Whatever the reason, most states and/or localities require you to register a fictitious name before using it to protect consumers against fraud.

This process is usually pretty simple. It usually involves filing an application with either a state or municipal agency and paying a fee. It may also require advertising the name to give public notice that you intend to use it.

To find out the requirements in your location, check with your state’s business office or your county clerk’s office. Either should be able to point you to the right office for filing. You can also use an outside service company to handle the filings for you.


Patents-and-TrademarksPatents show legal ownership of an invention & convey certain exclusive use rights to the owner of the patent.

Trademarks show the ownership of a name, such as a brand or a product name. Registering a trademark shows ownership of the mark and any design made part of the trademark.

Registering either a patent or a trademark makes public the ownership of the invention or name and gives the owner legal rights to prevent other people from using the patented invention or trademarked name.

In the United States, patents and trademarks are usually registered through the US Patent & Trademark Office.

To protect trademarks internationally, you can register the trademark in other countries as well.

Trademark and patent attorneys specialize in this area and can advise you about the process and costs involved.

It is also possible to handle the registration yourself, but the process is complicated. More information is available on the USPTO site.


Category: Legal

File Folder Labeled as Patents in Multicolor Archive. Closeup View. Blurred Image. 3D Render.Patents register ownership of an invention, not an idea.

If your “idea” results in something tangible which is also unique, you can go through a process to register & protect it at the US Patent & Trademarks office.


Category: Legal
Tags: Patents, USPTO

DBA letters (or Doctor of Business Administration) on the card shown by a man vintage toneA tradename is the name your business is known by. It is also commonly referred to as a DBA.

A DBA or tradename can be different than your legal business name. As an example, your legal business name might be Sally Smith LLC, but your tradename is “Sally’s Interior Design.”

Tradenames are legal to use when doing business and usually must be registered through your local or state government. One business might have multiple tradenames or DBAs.

Corporations, LLCs, Partnerships and sole proprietors are all eligible to register a tradename.


tax liensA lien is an encumbrance on a particular piece of property or properties.

A lien gives the lien-holder a security interest in a property, such as a car or real estate.

The most common types of liens are Tax Liens and Mechanics Liens.


Category: Legal

protecting copyrightCopyright protection for creative work (intellectual property) is important.

While copyright law is complex, copyright protection applies to “original works of authorship” that are both published and unpublished.

While copyright protection begins once the work is completed, making a formal record of it is prudent and will help you to prove your ownership in the event of a dispute.

You can register your work with the US Copyright Office for a fee. This can be done in hard copy or via the internet.


Category: Legal

real estate title opinionIt’s a written opinion on the quality of the Title to a piece of property.

These are usually researched & issued by attorneys and they certify the accuracy of the Title held by the property owner. They also indicate if there are any problems with the title.

Title insurance companies rely on these opinions when issuing a Title insurance policy. Buyers rely on them to make certain that they are getting clear title to the property being purchased.


Category: Legal

lease escalator clauseIt’s a type of lease clause.

Commercial leases almost always have an escalator clause.

The clause builds in an agreed upon future increase in the lease payment amount.

It’s usually tied to a time period (e.g., an annual increase or an increase after 5 years.)

But it can also be tied to other triggering events, so read your lease carefully & make sure you understand when & under what circumstances your lease payment can increase.


Categories: Legal, Real Estate

paper house with typ welcome homeTitle refers to ownership. If you have title to a real estate property (residential or commercial), you have ownership rights in the property.

Title can be acquired through sale, inheritance, gift, foreclosure or other legal transfer of rights in the real estate.

Title can be held in a variety of ways, including individually or in a legal entity such as a corporation, Trust, LLC, Partnership, etc.

Much of the paperwork related to final closing on a property is to insure that the Title is clear and can be legally transferred.

Title Insurance can be purchased to protect the property owner from any defects in the title that are discovered after purchase.


Categories: Legal, Real Estate

It is a type of liability that comes into effect only under certain specified circumstances. In a contract, a contingent liability is set up to cover a situation that might happen or become known in the future.

As an example, in a real estate sale contract, there may be contingent liability around environmental hazards that are unknown at the time of sale, but existed prior to the sale.

In this case, the prior owner may retain a contingent liability exposure even though the property ownership has changed hands. It depends on the terms of the contract of sale.


Category: Legal

photo of real estate contractWhen property is sold, Title is transferred from the current owner to the new owner.

A Title that is marketable is free from any encumbrances or defects.

Some examples of defects or encumbrances are unpaid mechanics liens, judgments, unpaid taxes, or deed restrictions that impact the use or value of the property.

A Title search should be done before closing to insure that everything is in order.


contingency clauses in real estate contractsA contingency clause in a contract specifies a conditional action.

For example, a financing or mortgage clause is a typical contingency clause in a real estate contract.

With a mortgage contingency, if the Buyer is approved for the mortgage, the contract remains in force and the Buyer must purchase the property (subject to other contract conditions).

If the Buyer does not qualify for a mortgage (after making a good faith effort), then the “contingency” isn’t met, so the Buyer is usually let out of the contract and the deal doesn’t go to conclusion.

Contingency clauses can be structured for the benefit of either party to the contract.

Contingency clauses vary widely from contract to contract and often have completion dates attached to them.

Be sure you understand the specifics of any contingency clauses clearly before signing any contract & get any needed legal advice.


Category: Legal

the words idea right ahead on arrow signIdeas become creative “product” and copyright is a hot topic theses days with all the “shared” content on the internet. It’s important to protect your own copyrighted work and also to respect the work of others.

While copyright law is complex, copyright protection applies to “original works of authorship” that are both published and unpublished. Paintings, photographs, novels, screenplays — there are many forms of creative product which are protected by copyright laws. But it is important to know what your rights are & how to protect them.

While copyright protection technically begins once the work is completed, making a formal record of it is a good idea. You can register your work with the US Copyright Office for a fee. This can be done in hard copy or via the internet.

Intellectual Property attorneys specialize in copyright law, so if you have questions get the counsel you need from a specialist.


Category: Legal

newspaper with Changes Ahead headlineA grandfather clause creates a legal “exception” to a law or regulation. It often exempts you from following a newly issued regulation if you are already engaged in doing whatever is being regulated.

“Grandfathering” often occurs when zoning laws are changed & existing properties or business uses do not meet the new codes but are allowed to continue doing business anyway.

Sometimes this is used to give an existing business a chance to phase in changes caused by a new law or regulation or to mitigate the cost of following the new regulations.

Not all new laws or regulations contain grandfather clauses and, even if they do, the impact can be limited in scope or in time.

So if you think the new law or regulation applies to your business be sure to get proper legal or financial advice.


Categories: Legal, Real Estate