by Attorney Steve Beede

One of the first questions we are commonly asked is when should you get an attorney involved. The easy answer is “if you’re worried about it, the best time is now”. Today’s Article will deal with this question in the context of real estate and business relationships.

As always, if you have any questions about your business, real estate, estate planning, or any other legal issue, please let us know by e-mailing me at sjbeede@bpelaw.com.

Also, remember that we do legal presentations for business and community organizations. If your group would like this, please contact me to setup a date and time.

In all aspects of life, we are constantly involved with other people. Sometimes, such as when buying and selling real estate, or creating and operating businesses, there are complexities and conflicts of interest in the relationships which are best addressed in the beginning. But sometimes there are those relationships in which people just aren’t better together… and I’m not just talking about divorce. At these times, getting an attorney involved can prove very valuable.

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At BPE Law, we typically handle an average of 900 cases each year

most of which concern real estate or business. While about 20% involve helping parties achieve their real estate and business goals together, the rest – nearly 80% – involve broken relationships leading to legal disputes, mediation, arbitration, and protracted litigation. Obviously, no-one (well almost no-one) goes into a relationship looking for a war. There are relatively easy, low-cost steps that you can take at the beginning of a relationship to possibly avoid later disputes and to ease the resolution of those that do arise. Here are a few of the most common issues we see:

Failure to Document

– People often go into business relationships “trusting” that the goodwill of each will lead to a happy and productive result. Yet the failure to reasonably document what is expected from each party can be a killer: Who is going to do what? What if more money is needed? How will the profits be distributed? What happens if a partner dies or wants out of the deal? Getting an attorney involved in the beginning can provide the documentation to answer these questions and more. Further, the attorney, as a third party, may bring to the surface any unstated concerns that one partner doesn’t say because they don’t want to offend the other.

Copying “documents” off the Internet

– We all love the internet as an information resource. A simple Google search can often bring us answers from others who it appears have asked the same questions. But that does not at all mean that their answers or their documents specifically address your situation. For most legal documents, 90% or more may be boilerplate… it’s the same language in most documents. But disputes don’t arise over the 90%, they arise over the remaining 10% which are generally the terms which differentiate your deal from anyone else’s. Getting an attorney involved can fill in this 10% and clean up the rest.

Documenting that which shouldn’t be documented

– e-mail has now become pervasive in our lives. In addition to providing a fast and easy communication medium, it also provides a “paper trail” in ways that cannot be matched by a phone call or text message. It is natural that we all seek to defuse a dispute early but often the early back and forth communications include admissions of wrong-doing that can be used against the sender in later litigation. Getting an attorney involved early can provide a safety screening of proposed communications before they get sent out.

Bottom Line:

Getting your attorney involved early can enable your journey to your goals to flow more smoothly and, if they can’t fully eliminate the bumps in the road, they can at least make the bumps more manageable and save you the time, trouble, money, and stress which you might otherwise face. And, in my wholly biased opinion, most attorneys are likable human beings that are sincere in looking out for your well-being.

For over 20 years, the attorneys of BPE Law Group, P.C. have been advising and representing property owners and real estate professionals in dealing with their legal concerns including easements and other land-use issues. Our major areas of practice include Real Estate, Business, and Estate Planning. We do business primarily in California although our clients are worldwide. Check us out on the Web at www.bpelaw.com. If you would like a consultation with us, please call our office at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail me at sjbeede@bpelaw.com.

This article is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be taken as legal advice. Every case requires review of specific facts, history and a formal agreement for service. Please feel free to contact us if you need legal advice and are interested in seeing if we can help you.