As another year comes to an end, there are always business law matters that demand your attention. The to-do list will vary based on the needs of your specific business, but here are some items that tend to apply to most businesses as the calendar turns over to a new year. And of course, we’re here to help with any of these matters.
If you’ve registered to do business as a legal business entity, such as an LLC, a corporation, a Limited Partnership, or a nonprofit organization, be sure to review your annual compliance obligations. Many business types require minutes of annual meetings. Make sure to have the meetings, create the minutes, and keep them on file.
It’s also a good idea to annually check to confirm that your business is in good standing in the state in which it was formed. Most states require the filing of a Statement of Information or Annual Report on an annual or biannual basis. Letting these slip in the year-end rush may cause your business to fall out of good standing, which can be costly and time-consuming to remedy.
You also may need to renew an agreement with a Registered Agent and update any local or state permits.
If you’re doing business in a state (or states) other than the state in which your company was legally organized, you may need to file as a Foreign Entity in the other states. When that’s required is outside the scope of this post, but year-end review is a good time to ensure that you’re in compliance not just locally, but wherever you’re doing business.
Intellectual Property Audit
This is also a good time to review your company’s IP portfolio to ensure that you’re fully protected. For example, if you’ve created any new products, services, or brand names over the last year, trademark filings may be recommended. Newly created content (written, audio, or video) may be eligible for copyright protection. Any new inventions or discoveries could give rise to a patent filing. And finally, don’t forget to ensure that your company’s valuable trade secrets are protect by contracts and other means.
Many of your company’s important contracts will have expiration dates or renewal deadlines. Did that contract you signed a few years ago require that you give notice of the intent to renew? Now is the time to double-check each of your most important business agreements to ensure that they will continue to be in place or to renew or renegotiate them as necessary.
Likewise, leases often include deadlines, option periods, and renewal notice requirements. Whether it’s an office lease or a lease of a vehicle or business equipment, make sure those deadlines are attended to.
Financial Forecasts – Include Legal Costs
Finally, as you do your financial planning for the next year, be sure to include a reasonable estimation of legal costs. If any of the items listed above will require particular intention in the new year, it’s important to budget accordingly.
I hope you have a fantastic and prosperous new year. If you have questions about any of the items above, or any other end-of-year legal planning issues, feel free to contact me.