Suspecting Embezzlement? Here’s What To Do

Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly withholding assets for the purpose of conversion (theft) of such assets, by one or more persons to whom the possessions were delegated, either to be held or to be utilized for specific functions. It is also a very serious allegation. You do not wish to charge somebody of embezzlement without being absolutely certain it is true.

If you think that someone in your firm, especially a supervisor or somebody in a placement of authority over you, is embezzling funds, there are a few points to remember before getting the phone and calling the authorities.

Evidence:

The preliminary response of someone experiencing a criminal offense is to call the police yet typically in an embezzlement instance that will certainly not get you anywhere but fired and it gives the implicated time to ruin evidence or cover their tracks. The police will usually not carry out an examination into the internal financial workings of a company. You will wish to do a few things to attempt to gather evidence of wrong doing.

Back up digital data

You don’t want a hard drive to comfortably crash when an internal examination is noticeable to the accused. Make sure that there are copies available and in a safe place.

Discretely call an attorney

Having someone take a look at the situation as well as the evidence in an objective way is extremely crucial. If the issue happens to be a bookkeeping mistake or other innocent blunder within the firm you have saved not only the track record of a person potentially being accused yet likewise your own as the accuser.

Do not confront the accused

You wish to see to it that you do not confront or otherwise hint the accused you are suspecting something. If you do talk to them regarding the problem see to it you are always in the visibility of others to ensure that you don’t get involved in a physical run-in or get accused of threatening or other harassment charges.

Discovering the holes

Doing a rigorous investigation of the probable embezzlement can reveal expensive errors in company policy or audit techniques. As stated above, the absent funds may be a result of mismanagement but not necessarily theft. Discovering these openings earlier rather than later on can enhance the profitability of your firm in the long run. Changing business policy regarding the checks and balances regarding funds may also prevent any type of embezzlement.

Next Steps

If it happens to be a significant quantity of money, you have evidence and know without the shade of a doubt that your employer is embezzling from the company you will wish to get in touch with the qualified attorneys.  You must be prepared to provide any evidence you have actually collected.

As an informer, you will want to make sure your civil rights are protected in an embezzlement situation and try to avoid any type of backlash by working with a knowledgeable attorney in white collar crimes. With a background in accounting and taxation, our attorneys at Mckoon, Williams, Atchley and Stulce PLLC are uniquely suited to handle white collar crimes, including financial fraud and embezzlement.

5 Legal Tips On Non-Disclosure Agreement

Because information as well as ideas are usually an business’s most important asset, additional steps must be taken to protect it.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements are essential agreements used to protect an individual or company’s sensitive information and proprietary ideas.

A Confidentiality Agreement, additionally known as an NDA, essentially acts as a document shield, preventing your company information from being revealed to your competitors. Though, its power derives entirely from its capability to make potential disclosers think twice prior to giving the game away. The clearly specified threat of severe legal action is usually enough to ruin the plans of a former employee, business partner or third party to use your proprietary information for personal gain.

Yet your confidentiality arrangement will just work as a deterrent if it’s composed and also executed effectively.

Here are 5 legal tips on NDA from McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC corporate lawyers. 

1. Don’t use template agreements from the Internet

Templates are fine, as long as you use them as just that: a template. The trouble with using templates is that lots of them on the Internet are generic and will likely fail to meet your requirements.

Your absolute top priority when drafting your confidentiality arrangement is to be specific and take into account the special aspects of the industry, deal, arrangements, and the needs of the parties involved.

You can also easily find a variety of NDAs online from huge companies as well as market leaders. Reading these examples can give you some  understanding of what believed leaders are doing to protect their work, which conditions you need to include, and also what language is being used by others in your job. McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC has rich experience of drawing up such agreements and will advise what else should be included.

2. Do not be ambiguous

Among the greatest mistakes is to compose your confidentiality agreement with language that’s overly broad or too vague.

If your agreement encounters scrutiny in court as a result of a violation, there’s a high risk that your arrangement will be considered to be “void for vagueness” if the used definitions are uncertain or vague thus making it impossible to follow its terms and conditions

3. Include Third Parties

One more typical omission is forgetting to include the third parties. Disclosing Parties are frequently so concentrated on protecting themselves from one of the most immediate hazard, that they neglect to look and take into consideration other parties who may be included.

For instance, your may be contracting with a programmer to assist get your new exclusive software program prepared for the general public market.

The programmer, the instant Recipient Party of your secret information, likely doesn’t function alone. The programmer may contract 3rd parties to perform part of their services.

If your Confidentiality Agreement does nothing to hold those people to confidential standards, then you risk leaving an open hole in your protection. Do include all involved.

4. Set a time frame

Another usual trap when it comes to NDAs is not setting a reasonable time frame for how long the duty of confidentiality must last.

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating an unrealistic duration, while others fall short to include this detail completely.

The significance of this period is that it aids to establish a definitive obligation for the Recipient Party. Otherwise you risk having your NDA  nullified in court since it’s simply too unclear to be imposed.

Do be realistic. While you are justified in your intention to protect your information, you also have to be reasonable otherwise the Recipient Party might find no point in signing your agreement at all.

Bare in mind that some confidential information has a finite lifespan. Trade secrets must not.

5. Don’t delay signing

Some business owners feel uncomfortable broaching the topic of signing a confidentiality agreement while others take an even more careless attitude and wait until the discussion “gets more serious.”

The risk in waiting is that, for one, early conversations can easily include pieces of secret information. A discussion can quickly escalate, especially if the parties are eager or excited.

The last point you want is to stop a great exchange of your thoughts dead in its tracks since you understand you cannot say much words without revealing something important. Simply put, even if you didn’t intend on having a comprehensive discussion right away, it might easily happen in the heat of the moment.

It’s also crucial to bear in mind that anything you state, even in preliminary conversations, can be at risk to disclosure. So even if you seem like you’ve been very careful about what you say, there is a chance that the other party took something seemingly insignificant that you stated and ran with it.

Do sign a confidentiality arrangement upfront. While it may not be possible to learn about every conversation before it takes place, you reasonably know about vital conversations beforehand, especially with designers, staff members, potential business partners, etc.

McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC functions as “general counsel” to many clients offering legal advice that is driven by the needs and pace of business. Non-disclosure agreement is the document that can save your business and guarantee its top place in the industry. Legal help is vital here. Contact our corporate lawyers to draft the agreement that will protect your information.

Why Your Chattanooga Business Should Have A Lawyer

So you’ve saved up some money, developed your own market strategy  and created a business plan. Congratulations on your primary steps in the direction of entrepreneurship! It might have been your childhood dream, or a spontaneous decision, but now you’re finally ready to get the ball rolling. But wait!

Have you contacted a Chattanooga Business Lawyer?

It’s usual to think people only require a lawyer when something is going wrong. This is a common misunderstanding! You don’t have to wait for a catastrophe to strike to hire a lawyer. This will benefit you both in the beginning stages and also before finding yourself in an urgent state. Below is a list of reasons why every business needs a lawyer.

1. Business Entity Formation

Your business structure will determine what liabilities you deal with, just how your entity is taxed, as well as how your profits are split. Right here is a brief checklist of the various types of business structures:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • S- Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

To learn more about this aspect, contact Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce for a free legal consultation.

2. Trademark and Intellectual Property

You can have a wonderful product or service, but get lost it comes to picking the name. Did you know that Starbucks was nearly called “Pequod’s”? Or that Pepsi was first released as “Brad’s Drink”? However, a dull or ordinary name may just be the least of your concerns if you receive a cease and desist notice for unconsciously using somebody’s trademark.

Consulting with a lawyer first, can help you avoid this issue altogether.

At Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, we understand that this is our work to research trademarks to make sure that you prevent infringement and to search any kind of potential issues. When your brand is developed, we will additionally assist in protecting your business’s name. Developing a trademark can be time-consuming. Having a lawyer take care of these matters can let you completely dedicate yourself to getting your new business started.

3. Contracts, Contracts, Contracts

Contracts play essential role in business, regardless of size and profits. This is a legal tool to handle sales, employees, and leases. Here are some examples:

  • Bill of Sale –  Formally specifies a property’s transfer of ownership
  • Warranty – As you may already know, a warranty compensates a customer if s/he receives a product that is defective or breaks down during its expected lifetime.
  • Employment Agreement – Though you may have discussed working conditions with an employee at the interview, this is not enough. You should have a legal document that outlines responsibilities and methods of payment to an employee.
  • Commercial Property Lease Agreement – One of the most crucial contracts you will have to sign. It’s the terms and conditions that you have with a property owner when renting out a space for your business. This concerns offices, stores, restaurants, and etc.

An experienced lawyer at your side can assist you in creating contracts to avoid potential legal issues. Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC will additionally lobby for your benefits in the contracts you make or enter into with the third parties.

4. Exit Strategy

Individuals most likely to have attorneys prepare a will to ensure that when the day comes, any type of disputes including the succession of their properties can be avoided. A Chattanooga business lawyer can help establish an exit strategy for your business as you expand, ensuring it will continue (or dissolve) in whatever manner you choose.

5. Disputes

In an ideal world, business partners stick together, nobody generates terrible ideas, and contracts are always upheld.

Yet, this is not always the case.

If there is anything lawyers are best at, it’s settling disputes. Nevertheless, when these problems do emerge, wouldn’t you want to have a lawyer that knows you personally and understands the aspects of your business?

When things fail, you’ll already have a legal team to lobby for your best interests. Contact McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce – Chattanooga lawyers experienced in  business law matters, large and small. (Please do not include any confidential information in your inquiry.)

Tips On Business Entity Formation

If you want to save money on taxes and protect yourself from liability, you have to think about business entity formation. It could be a limited liability company (also LLC) or a whole corporation which is legally a different “person” from its owners. Below are some useful tips on business entity formation from a firm of professional attorneys McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce. 

Filing Formation Documents

To start the process, you have to submit a form with the state agency that handles business filings (generally the secretary of state) together with a filing fee, which differs from one state to another. In Tennessee, this makes $50 per member (minimum of $300 and maximum of $3,000). Once the state obtains and also processes your formation documents, you’ll receive a certificate verifying that your new company officially exists.

In addition, every business entity should have records that explain the rights and responsibilities of individuals who own and run the business. Although these records are not submitted with the state, they are very important guidelines for operating your company and can help to avoid pricey conflicts later on.

Setting Up Financial as well as Tax Accounts

It’s important to separate your personal expenses from business ones. The best ways to achieve it are:

  • Obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). A lot of companies need to have an EIN, business equivalent of a Social Security number.
  • Open up a business bank account. Take your business formation certification as well as EIN to a bank or credit union to open a business account. Think about getting a business credit card as well.
  • Register with state and local taxing and licensing firms. You must register with your state taxing authority to pay state taxes, including income and sales tax. If you hire people to work for you and your company, you must  likewise pay various employment-related taxes.

Getting Business Insurance

By forming a business entity, you could safeguard your personal possessions in case of lawsuits against the company. However, it cannot protect business from possible terrible losses caused by personal injury lawsuit, fire, theft, flood or data breach. For that sort of defense, you require business insurance coverage. There are several sorts of business insurance for different kinds of threat.

Making Contracts

Any business needs contracts to cover even their most common deals. Remember, unless your agreement is done in a written form, it’s not valid in terms of law. Our Chattanooga business lawyers know all the pitfalls that may waylay business owners. The basic set of contracts every business owner should have includes:

  1. Nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Shields the business’s confidential information by calling for people to keep details concerning your business private.
  2. Employment contracts. Provides written employment terms.
  3. Intellectual property assignment. Permits the transfer of property legal rights while securing the rights of all parties.
  4. Terms and Conditions. Specifies the rules regulating using a website.

Written agreements are essential because they assist prevent misconceptions as well as make it much easier to enforce a contract in court.

Staying Up-to-Date with State Agencies

Tennessee laws require business entities to keep certain documents. These might include meeting minutes, resolutions and also ownership records. You might also need to file a yearly report and pay an annual charge. The guidelines vary based upon the sort of entity, so consult an experienced business lawyer for more information about your responsibilities.

McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC organizes business entities, ranging from sole proprietorships and partnerships to corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). Our clients include existing businesses and startups, as well as founders of closely held companies, professionals, and investors in real estate. If you are looking for a lawyer, schedule a free consultation. (Please do not include any confidential information in your inquiry.)

Succession Planning for your Business In Chattanooga

Let’s begin at the end: what would happen to your business if you were to pass away? Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a single-member LLC, or a multi-member LLC/multishareholder corporation, planning and preparing for the transition of
your business is critical to help your family, your employees, and/or your co-owners either to continue the business or wrap up the affairs of the business upon your death.

There is no “one size fits” all approach to transition planning due to the wide array of factors to consider, including business size, industry, individual goals, and family dynamics, to name a few. If you are a sole-owner (sole proprietor, single-member LLC or single-shareholder corporation/scorporation), your family or designated agent will not have authority to act on behalf of the business (access accounts, sell assets) unless you have done some preparation. Additionally, if yours is a family business where family members (commonly children) work with you, is there one or two children who may be more capable of running the business? Can the children get along if they are forced to run the business together? More importantly, do any of the children want to take over the business?

If you are part of a multi-owner business, you and your co-owners need to determine what will happen in the event of an owner’s death. For example, if your co-owner dies, do you want to be in business with her spouse or family? If your answer is no, then you should run, and not walk, to get some succession planning in place. The same cautions apply to a transition upon retirement. Waiting until the day before you retire will inevitably end badly. The moral of the story is make succession planning a priority, not an afterthought. And for those among you who are superstitious, take heed – talking about death will not in fact cause death.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Many businesses have their own In-House General Counsel. This is a
great option for those businesses that have the volume of work and
can handle the substantial financial obligation. For most businesses,
even many larger businesses, this is simply neither necessary nor
practical. At McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC we seek to offer those same In-House General Counsel options through our Outside General Counsel services. As your Outside General Counsel, we not only take the time to learn about your business, we seek to gain a meaningful understanding of it.

Attorneys from McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC are prepared to respond to questions in a timely and knowledgeable way, whether it be to help you form a new business, review a contract or lease, prepare an employment agreement, pursue collections of accounts receivable, counsel you regarding employee disputes, or helping you think about succession planning.

We encourage you to call or email, no matter how small your matter or
question, just as though you had your own in-house counsel right
down the hall from your office. As part of our Outside General Counsel services, we can also ensure that if family or criminal law issues arise, we can point you to attorneys in our firm, as opposed to having to look for a new firm or attorney you don’t have a relationship with.

McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC offers the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to help clients navigate the legal complexities inherent in Chattanooga business law matters, large and small. If you are looking for a lawyer, schedule a consultation. (Please do not include any confidential information in your inquiry.)

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