Business License Requirements

Business License Requirements

State and local authorities often require even more small business licenses and have more issues to consider than the regulations imposed by the federal government. When you start a business, there are federal and state rules and regulations that the company must abide by in order to legally operate.

State and local governments have more wide-ranging regulations for businesses, and there are more local issues for small businesses to consider when starting up. For example, in addition to the federal and local requirements for businesses to obtain licenses, small business owners must also consider other local issues, such as zoning ordinances, building codes, and lease considerations.

State License Requirements

Business licensing requirements differ from state to state, but most state governments typically require the following types of licenses and permits:
State business license: Essentially, a state business license is used to track and monitor businesses for tax purposes and are required for businesses to operate lawfully in the state. Most states have agencies specifically created to deal with issuing state licenses.

Licenses for selling certain products: States require businesses to have licenses to sell products such as liquor, firearms, and gasoline.
Occupational licenses: All states regulate certain professions and require practitioners of those occupations to obtain (and maintain) licenses in order to do business. States require licenses for doctors, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, private security guards, funeral directors, private investigators, barbers, and many other professions. To confirm whether your state requires your business to have an occupational license, contact your state’s licensing authorities.

Unemployment insurance: For businesses with employees, most states require the business to purchase into their system of unemployment insurance. Contact your state’s Department of Labor to find out more. Also, don’t forget to have worker’s compensation insurance in case someone is injured on the job. This is a must if you have any employees or independent contractors you pay to do work for you.

Tax registration: For states with a sales tax, you will have to submit an application for a sales tax license to charge customers.

Local Issues

Register your business name: You’ll have to register your business name with local (and likely state) agencies such as the county clerk, along with the business address. You’ll need to take care to pick a name that isn’t being used by another business. If the business is an LLC or corporation, the business name will be registered with the state when you submit the articles of incorporation. If you’re a sole proprietor, the default name will be your name, but you can apply to use a fictitious name (also known as a DBA—”doing business as”) with the city or county. Partnerships can also apply for a DBA with the city or county.

Environmental permits: In addition to state and federal agencies that cover environmental issues, local agencies also regulate the environmental impact of businesses, including issues such as air quality, water quality, and waste disposal. For example, the number of local air quality boards is increasing, as is their activism in maintaining or improving air pollution in their locale, with a particular focus on businesses.

Local business licenses: In addition to state or federal licenses where applicable, almost all businesses will need a license from the local government (city or county) to lawfully operate within their jurisdictions. These local licenses are typically very easy to obtain and require paying a fee.

Health permit: If you’ll be preparing food as part of your business, you’ll need to get permits from the county to do so.

Building permits: If you want to remodel or build a new space, you must get building permits from local agencies to ensure safety and to confirm that the remodeling or new space conforms to local ordinances. Depending on the type of work that’s being done, you may also need permits for plumbing, electrical, and heat or A/C work. Be sure to consult with a licensed, experienced contractor to determine what types of permits you’ll need as well as how much it will cost to get your business up to local requirements.

Zoning: A zoning permit demonstrates that the location of your business is approved by the city or county for your business’ usage. Zoning laws are locale specific, and can vary even from block to block. The laws regulate things like the type of business that is allowed in an area, waste disposal, the size and placement of signs, and even the appearance of the store front (if, for example, you’re in a historic district). If your specific location isn’t zoned for your type of business and you’ve signed a lease, you have trouble on your hands. So before signing a lease, be sure to confirm that the area is zoned for your usage and that the lease accurately reflects the type of business.

Business License Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need help with your business licensing in Utah, please call Ascent Law for your free business law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning


Child Custody Summer Break

Child Custody Summer Break

Working out a parenting time plan during summer is required for parents of minor children in Utah. A parenting plan includes details on how time with children is shared when school is out.

Summer parenting arrangements can be court-ordered or created between amicable parents over time. In any case, good communication is key to making good memories with children over the summer.

This year, consider these tips for staying cool when issues with a co-parent heat up: (1) Remember the children: Most children look forward all year to summer vacation. Try to keep their best interests in mind as you work with the other parent to schedule the summer. (2) Plan ahead: No parent appreciates a short-notice phone call or text concerning an event—and most parenting time plans do not permit them. As soon as you have your summer plans in mind, speak and coordinate with the other parent. (3) Family plans: If your family traditionally spent time at a summer home or particular destination, work with your ex-spouse to decide how that could be handled after divorce. Should new traditions be made, old ones honored or somewhere in between? (4) Ask your children: Even children of intact families change their minds about what they want to do from summer to summer. Before you plan to send your kids to an away camp or sign them up for another activity, ask children who are old enough for their opinions.

Enforcing Your Rights

If you have not been granted full custody of your children, the courts have likely given you a specific visitation arrangement that will enable you to see them. There are a variety of types of visitation, including weekend visitation, supervised visitation and more. If anyone attempts to interfere with your rights of visitation, there are steps you can take to assert those rights.

The most common circumstances in which you need to enforce your rights are when the custodial parent refuses to let you have your court-mandated visitation time with your children. Be sure to keep a written record of every circumstance in which the custodial parent denies you your visitation, so you can have evidence of a pattern of interference. Once you have established this pattern, you have several options:

Try mediation. See if you can work out the issues with the custodial parent through a simple discussion. Maybe you just need to tweak the schedules, or set certain ground rules. You may also work it out through professional mediation or counseling.

File a motion in the court system. You can file a motion in court to enforce your visitation rights. The court will then clarify all the details of the visitation plan, and could potentially increase your rights and decrease spousal support if you can prove a pattern of interference. In rare cases, the courts may even change who has primary custody.
Keep the child on grounds of endangerment. If you feel that your child would be placed in danger by returning home after the visit, you can violate the terms of your visitation agreement so long as you are able to defend this violation in court.

If you become frustrated by the custodial parent’s lack of cooperation in your visitation schedule, never take it out on them by stopping support payments. That can only harm your position in the long run.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Should You Extend Credit to Business Customers?

Should You Extend Credit to Business Customers

Extending credit to your customers or business partners helps your business increase sales and provide additional sources of revenue. However, there are downsides to extending credit as well, such as having to comply with a variety of federal and state laws, and of the course the possibility of not being able to collect. This article provides some basic introductory information on extending credit to your business’s customers.

ID for Credit Transactions

Any business that accepts debit or credit cards for payment should understand the PCI security standards intended to protect consumers, credit card companies, banks, and businesses from fraud and security breaches. Any business that is going to accept credit or debit cards should obtain a complete list of the requirements from the PCI Security Standards Council.
Some states have strict regulations pertaining to the kind of information that customers can be asked for when purchasing items with credit cards. Very often, businesses can’t require customers to give information that is personally identifying other than an address or phone number. Exceptions may apply if the bank issuing the credit card requires the information, or if the information is essential to fulfilling the transaction, such as for delivery or servicing. If you would like more information about the laws in your state, you can visit the Utah Attorney General’s Website.

Consumer Credit Laws

If your business extends credit to customers, you should become aware of consumer credit laws, which regulate many aspects of your interaction with customers. For example, if your business is extending credit, you will have to comply with rules regarding how you advertise interest rates and how much time you have to respond to claims of billing mistakes. There are also certain rules about how aggressive you can be when trying to collect a debt. It’s important to be in compliance with federal and state consumer credit laws, so it’s definitely in your best interest to find out the laws that will be applicable to your business.

Extending Credit and Getting Paid

If you decide to extend credit to your customers, make sure you establish credit practices that are: (1) Fair enough to your customers under state and federal credit laws, and (2) Strict enough to ensure that your business will get paid.

You should have credit policy and a set procedure in place that your business will follow if customers don’t pay when they are supposed to pay. Examples of what you can include in your collection procedures are sending out overdue notices, demand letters, and collection notices.

Mechanics’ and contractors’ liens exist in most states to provide special collection rights to those who provide services or building materials used to improve property. A contractor’s lien is often referred to as a mechanic’s lien or a construction lien, and is available to contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers of materials. In some states, certain professions such as engineers, surveyors, and architects may also be eligible to file a lien for services that were provided in the course of a home improvement project. In the event that a debt is not paid, the lien can be foreclosed, and the property sold to pay the obligation.

It’s important to know that the debtor has the benefit of an “automatic stay” immediately upon filing a bankruptcy petition. This stops you from taking any further action to try to collect the debt owed to your business unless (or until) the bankruptcy court decides to the contrary.

Free Consultation with a Utah Business Lawyer

When you need legal help with your business, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Behind on Your Mortgage?

Behind on Your Mortgage

A mortgage is a type of debt that must be repaid within a certain time period, typically for real estate purchases. In the context of buying a home, a person looking to maintain a mortgage should first determine whether a mortgage payment can fit within their existing budget. Many foreclosures, as well as the market crash of 2008, were in part caused by people taking mortgages they could never afford (often pushed by predatory lenders). To avoid foreclosure, it is very important to educate yourself on the legal implications of taking on a mortgage before you begin mortgage shopping. This section includes articles addressing mortgage liability matters and what to do if you are behind on your payments.

What to Do When You’re Behind on Your Mortgage

Most people will experience periods of financial difficulty at least once in their lives, which can make it very difficult to pay your mortgage in full and on time. But keep in mind that lenders are not motivated to foreclose on your loan as long as they know you’re also making good faith efforts to pay repay what is owed. Therefore, you should contact your lender as soon you suspect you may not be able to make your payment on time or in full; the longer you wait, the fewer options you will have.

If you have fallen behind on your payments, talk to your lender about the following options: Reinstatement – Borrower pays the past due amount (and any applicable late fees) by a certain date; this makes the most sense for temporary financial setbacks. Repayment – Similar to reinstatement, but a portion of the past due amount is added to the regular monthly payment until borrower is current with payments. Forebearance – Mortgage payments are either suspended or reduced for an agreed-to period of time; when this period has ended, borrower resumes regular payments in addition to the past due amount (either in a lump sum or installments); not a good option if your financial setback is permanent. Loan Modification – Short of selling your home or slipping into default, this is the best option for borrowers whose incomes have fallen indefinitely; this involves a renegotiation of one or more loan terms. Sale – Sometimes selling your home is the only option. Bankruptcy – This is the most extreme option and can blemish your credit report for 10 years, but offers a fresh start for those who cannot repay their debts

Does Mortgage Insurance Work?

One way to protect yourself against a possible default is to purchase private mortgage insurance, which is required by some lenders if your down payment is less than 15 or 20 percent. This amount is added on to your monthly mortgage payments, but may be cancelled if you accumulate a certain amount of equity in the home (typically 20 to 25 percent). You also may be able to cancel your mortgage insurance policy if your home’s value has significantly increased through a remodel or local property increases.
If you purchased your home after July 29, 1999 (under the Homeowners Protection Act) you may cancel your private mortgage insurance by considering the following options (1) Talk to your lender by asking in writing; (2) Have your home professionally appraised; (3) Determine your loan to value ratio (typically, lenders want it to be below 80 percent); (4) Compare your loan to value ratio.

Free Initial Consultation with Mortgage Lawyer

If you need legal help with your mortgage, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Tax Audit Help

Tax Audit Help

The IRS can randomly or intentionally select a tax return to verify that the taxes reported are correct. If you’ve been selected for an audit, there are ways to get help to avoid penalties and charges. While it’s tempting to rush through the audit process, you should be mindful of several ways to get audit help.

Before you seek help for a tax audit, knowing the basic tax audit process and the taxpayer’s rights should make the audit process go smoother and faster. For all types of audits, the IRS will send a notification in the mail. The notification letter will contain detailed steps to take and a deadline to reply.

After responding to the notification letter, there are three possible outcomes to a tax audit. First, the IRS can accept your explanation and your supporting documents and make no changes to your tax return. Second, the IRS can propose to make changes to your tax return and you can accept the changes by signing a document. By accepting the changes, you will probably have to make arrangements to make payments. Third, you can refuse to accept the changes proposed by the IRS and challenge the assessment. You can set up a conference with a manager at the IRS office to resolve the issue.

The IRS informs its employees and the taxpayers that the taxpayers have the following rights (1) A right to professional and courteous treatment by IRS employees; (2) A right to privacy and confidentiality about tax matters; (3) A right to know why the IRS is asking for information, how the IRS will use it, and what will happen if the requested information is not provided; (4)A right to representation, by oneself or an authorized representative.

Receiving a notification letter may be intimidating, especially if the IRS is telling you that there’s an error in your tax report. Don’t panic. There are ways to fix those problems by getting help. Depending on how you’ve been audited, you should carefully determine whether you need self-help tools, tax audit assistance, or full representation for your audit.

If resolving your audit issues seems simple, you can use online or self-help tools. The IRS publishes articles and guides that explain specific tax issues. Read those documents to find answers to questions you may have. If the IRS is simply asking you for additional document(s) for accuracy, you probably won’t need to buy tax audit assistance services or hire a tax lawyer. As long as you provide required documents, your audit will end.

There are various tax audit assistance programs, which can help you learn about what to expect and discover details of your audit. Services vary by companies and types of services. Typically, a tax professional will assist you in reviewing your audit notice and explain your options. In some cases, the tax professional will handle issues and paperwork to process your tax audit.

If you’re being charged with a serious penalty or a crime, then you should consider getting tax audit representation. If the IRS states that you made a serious mistake, you may be facing a large penalty. Hiring a tax lawyer is necessary when there are tax fraud or evasion issues. In that case, you should hire a tax professional or a tax lawyer, who will negotiate on your behalf, research any issues related to your audit, and communicate with the IRS tax agent to resolve the issues.

There are many resources and companies offering tax audit help, but you need to make sure you choose the right one for you. Make sure the service you choose will help you the get the result you want. Here’s a basic list of what you should look for. The tax professional must be trained and specialized in tax. The tax professional should be able to tell you what to expect and how to prepare for the audit. The tax professional should help you understand tax law. The tax professional’s office should be conveniently located (for tax audit representation). You should feel comfortable telling the tax professional your personal information.

Free Consultation with a Utah Tax Attorney

If you are here, you probably have a tax law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free tax law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Domestic Violence Law

Domestic Violence Law

Mandatory reporting laws are widespread in the United States. Some people are required to report in Utah. If you’re not sure if you have to report, call a criminal lawyer to discuss your situation. Domestic violence mandatory reporting requires that a medical professional report to the police when he or she knows or reasonably suspects that a patient has been injured as a result of domestic abuse. The details of mandatory reporting laws are quite distinct between states, however.

In California, for example, counselors and psychologists are not subject to mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting applies only to medical professionals who have provided medical services for physical conditions. This is to encourage victims to attend counseling sessions for their mental health, even if they’re not ready to tell the police about the abuse. It’s important that this distinction is made, because in California, medical professionals are subject to criminal punishment if they fail to report abuse. What this means is that, if a victim is abused and goes to the hospital to treat the injuries, the physician absolutely must report the suspected abuse. The victim won’t be left in the dark, however. Federal law requires that the medical professional alert the patient if a mandatory report will be sent out (with exceptions). That way the victim can make plans to avoid their abuser if they fear further violence.
Only two states, New Jersey and Wyoming, do not mandate that medical professionals report, but that’s because they have even broader laws. In both states, any person who knows or reasonably suspects domestic abuse is required to report the abuse to police.

Much of the difficulty in escaping domestic violence is due to the fact that most victims share their lives with their abusers. They share the same home, they often share their finances, and frequently, they share a family.
Consider the shared home. If a victim reports domestic violence to the authorities, and the abuser is arrested, it’s not a guarantee that the abuser will be found guilty and convicted. Abusers who return to their homes turn to violence to take revenge on the victim. It’s therefore important that the victim look for other living arrangements.
The good news is that, in some states, if you’re a victim of domestic violence, it’s now possible to terminate your lease early without having to pay the rest of your lease. Keep in mind that you need to have either a police report documenting the abuse, or a restraining order against your abuser, in order to make use of early lease termination.

Domestic violence laws differ from state to state, sometimes significantly. These differences range from the very definition of domestic abuse – whether abuse must be physical, or whether it can be emotional, psychological, and financial – to the requirements under mandatory reporting laws. For example, in some states, medical professionals may have to report suspected abuse to the police. This is important because many women choose not to receive medical care if they know that their abuser will get in trouble.

Because of all these differences, the whole process of escaping a domestic violence situation depends on the state in which you live. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please read ahead to understand existing domestic violence law and how the differences from state to state may change the development of your case.

Many states differ on their arrest policies for domestic violence cases. The majority of states have adopted preferred arrest policies that require police to either arrest one or both parties at the scene, or to write a report justifying why an arrest is not made, and some states (for example, Utah, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) have even adopted mandatory arrest policies requiring that an officer make an arrest during a domestic violence situation, but only if the domestic violence meets certain criteria.
In states with mandatory arrest policies, police are encouraged not to leave the scene without making an arrest. Mandatory arrest policies are generally safer for the victim because, if the abuser isn’t arrested, he or she may escalate the violence against the victim as punishment for having contacted the authorities.

Criminal Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need help with a criminal law matter, please give our office a call for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Transferring Property Between Spouses

Transferring Property Between Spouses

An “interspousal transfer deed” transfers title (ownership) between a married couple. A gift given by one spouse to the other during the marriage is considered “separate” (owned separately), not “marital” (mutually-owned) property. This is important because through a deed, marital property can become separate property or vice versa, which is an important distinction in a divorce.

An interspousal transfer deed can be useful when one spouse has poor credit, and the couple wants to refinance their home. To receive a better mortgage interest rate, the couple may decide to use an interspousal transfer deed to transfer title to their home to the spouse with better credit.

What is a Quit Claim Deed?

A “quit claim deed” transfers whatever interest one spouse has in property to the other spouse. An important difference between an interspousal transfer deed and a quit claim deed is that a quit claim comes with no guarantees or promises about property ownership. Some examples of circumstances where a couple might use a quit claim deed are to transfer title to property as a result of divorce settlement, and when one spouse wants to give up interest in property.

Interspousal transfer deeds can be used to avoid tax liability when transferring property. When title to property is transferred, the county may impose a transfer tax and may reassess the value of the property which could result in higher property taxes. However, an interspousal transfer deed is a special kind of transfer that is exempt from transfer taxes and ultimately a cost-effective method of transferring property between spouses.

Quit claim deeds are very simple and use a form that is easy to find online or at office supply stores. However, with a quit claim deed one spouse may give up rights to certain property but not necessarily liability for any mortgage or lien on the property. A problem could arise if one spouse is awarded the marital home in a divorce and the other spouse uses a quit claim rather than interspousal transfer deed to transfer his or her interest. The spouse that gives up his or her interest to the house may still be responsible for one-half of the mortgage debt because their liability can’t be transferred through a Quit Claim Deed.

Preparing a Deed

A deed is a written document that legally transfers property from one person or entity to another. Through a deed, one spouse can give his or her own property to the other, and the property becomes the receiving spouse’s separate property. There are many ways to accomplish a property transfer, but two of the most common ways to transfer property in a divorce are through an interspousal transfer deed or quit claim deed. Whichever deed you decide to use, it’s important to make sure that the deed is completed and recorded correctly to be valid. The deed should be completed and must (1) be in writing (2) list the spouses involved in the transfer (3) identify the property being transferred by address and/or legal description (4) be signed before a notary public, and (5) be recorded in the county recorder’s where the property is located. It’s always best to make sure you have a Real Estate Lawyer

Divorce Attorney Free Consultation

When you need help with real estate or a divorce matter, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Tax Evasion Penalties

Tax Evasion Penalties

By now, you probably know that having unpaid taxes is a serious problem. The fees and penalties can really add up, significantly increasing the amount you owe the government. The good news is it’s usally not a criminal offense to have back taxes. But sometime

However, when you attempt to avoid the assessment or payment taxes owed by using illegal means, you may face criminal charges for Tax evasion. Common examples of tax evasion include: not declaring all your income, deliberately overstating expenses or deductions, or attempting to avoid detection by failing to file tax returns when you have taxable income.

Law on Tax Evasion Penalties

There’s a long list of potential penalties and consequences for tax evasion. Paying your taxes is a better deal than having any of the following happen to you.

Pay a Penalty

If you act with the purpose of avoiding or defeating any tax owed to the IRS, you could be fined up to $250,000. Even if you’re not formally charged with tax evasion, you will be assessed fines if you file your return more than 60 days after the due date. The failure-to-file penalty is 10 times more than the failure-to-pay penalty. So the IRS recommends that even if you can’t pay in full, you should file your tax return and pay as much as you can.

Pay Interest

The IRS is required by law to charge interest when you don’t pay on time. The interest accrues from the due date of your return (regardless of extensions) until you pay the amount you owe in full, including all interest and any penalty charges. Interest rates are variable and may change quarterly.

Tax Lien on Your Property

A federal tax lien is a legal claim to your property. The tax lien arises automatically when you don’t pay in full the taxes you owe within 10 days after the IRS makes a tax assessment. It will then send a notice of taxes owed and demand for payment. The IRS may also file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien in the public records, which notifies your creditors that the IRS has a claim against all your property, including property acquired by you after the filing of the Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Once a lien arises, the IRS generally can’t release the lien until the tax, penalty, interest, and recording fees are paid in full or until the IRS can’t legally collect the tax.

Lose Your Property

A levy is a legal seizure that takes your property (such as your house or car) or your rights to property (such as your income, bank account, retirement account or Social Security payments) to satisfy your tax debt. When property is seized (“levied”), it will be sold to help pay your tax debt.

Damage to Your Credit

The filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien may appear on your credit report and may harm your credit rating.

Lose Your Passport

The Department of State will not issue or renew your passport if you’ve been certified by the IRS as having a seriously delinquent tax debt, and may revoke a passport previously issued to such individual.

Face Criminal Charges

Tax evasion is a felony criminal offense. If you are charged with tax evasion, the United States Attorney’s Office will prosecute you in federal court.

Go to Prison

If you’re found guilty of tax evasion, you can go to federal prison for up to five years.

Forfeit Your Social Security Benefits

If you owe the IRS, 15 percent of your Social Security benefits can be taken each month until the debt is paid in full. The government uses the Federal Payment Levy Program to garnish your payments.

Tax Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with a tax matter, please call Ascent Law for your free tax law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Employee Termination Law

Employee Termination Law

To protect yourself against a lawsuit by a
former employee, consider having that employee sign a release from liability as
he or she is departing. Include a clause where the employee grants you
permission to provide information to any future prospective employers and
promises not to sue you for providing such information.

In return for the release, offer some sort of
benefit. A court is much more likely to uphold an agreement where the employee
got something substantial in return for giving up his or her rights. Finally,
check with an attorney in your state, as each state requires specific language
to be in a valid release.

I just fired an employee, what do I tell the
other employees?

In most cases, it’s best not to tell other
employees that you fired an employee, or the reasons behind the firing. Rather,
tell other employees that you simply had to “let the employee go” or
say that “so and so is no longer with the company” and don’t go into
any detail. Consider making a brief statement to the other employees, in a
neutral tone that lets existing employees know who will be taking over the
departing employee’s duties.

Avoid the temptation to gossip or speculate
and don’t be spiteful towards the departing employee, no matter what they did.
Gossiping or bad mouthing a former employee can land you in court for
defamation, so play it safe and be professional.

Should I be careful in giving an employment
reference for a worker I had to fire?

When you fire the employee, tell them up
front that you won’t be able to be a positive reference for them. This alone
can avoid potential problems, since most employees will get the hint and not
use you as an employment reference.

If you do end up serving as an employment
reference for a former employee whom you fired, then the best practice is to
keep your comments brief and factual. Telling a potential employer anything
about the former employee that you can’t verify as factually accurate is
grounds for a defamation lawsuit, so be very careful what you say.

Do I legally have to give severance pay to
employees when they leave?

Generally, there is no legal requirement to
offer severance pay unless you’ve led your employee to believe that they are
entitled to receive some form of severance. Common ways this can happen are
promises made during an initial interview, employment contracts, talking about
offering severance in an employee handbook or simply offering severance pay
routinely to other employees. If you do routinely offer severance to employees
but don’t want to offer it for certain other employees, make sure you put it in
writing, because offering severance in a routine fashion may create a legal
basis for an employee to believe that he or she is also entitled to severance

Many employers do offer severance pay for
long-time employees because severance pay can help a fired or laid off employee
make the transition to a new job much easier. Severance packages also reduce
feelings of anger among former employees which can lead to fewer lawsuits and
can also serve to soothe any guilt from employers for having to let employees

Are there any legal requirements about when I
have to give employees their final paycheck?

Most states have laws that require employers
to send out final paychecks by a certain date after an employee has been
terminated. This may mean that normal payroll processing time would be too
slow, so make sure that people in payroll are aware it’s a final check that
needs special attention and priority. Finally, in many states the time you have
before the final paycheck is due is often based on how the employee was
terminated, so check your state’s laws to find out how long you have.

Employer Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with an employment issue in your business, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Toxic Mold Law

Toxic Mold Law

mold problems in homes and commercial buildings have dramatically increased in
recent years. Many of these problems result in legal claims. Experts and
lawyers who handle mold-related claims give various reasons for this increase
— including the increased emphasis on making buildings airtight; quick
construction; faulty building techniques and materials; and increasingly
complex building designs.

many people have heard of “black mold,” in fact there are a variety
of strains that can cause ill health effects to residents and occupants in
homes, businesses, and places of employment. If you feel that you have been
exposed to toxic mold in your home or place of business, you may wish to
contact an attorney or law firm specializing in mold- related claims, to talk
about your situation and protect your legal rights. Following is an overview
discussion of toxic mold.

What Causes Toxic Mold in Homes and Buildings?

spores are everywhere in the natural environment. They enter homes and
buildings through windows, open doors, pets, or attached to people. Once the
spore is in the home or building it must have abundant moisture, a food source,
and a certain temperature range in order to grow.

infiltration is the main cause of building mold. Moisture may come from a wide
variety of sources. Many modern homes and buildings are very airtight. This is
great for efficiency, but not so great for allowing the structure to dry. For
example, once moisture gets in through a pipe leak, faulty windows, roof leaks,
or other sources, the water cannot evaporate. Mold is drawn to this moisture,
and may grow on wet materials such as wood, insulation, ceiling tiles, and

Mold – Warning Signs

are a variety of warning signs that should lead a person to investigate a home
or commercial building for potential mold infestation. The earlier an
investigation takes place, the better the possibility that a home or building
owner can reduce possible damages and adverse health effects caused by mold

are some of warning signs that may indicate the presence of dangerous mold:

  • Visible mold
  • Discoloration or
    water stains on internally facing walls or ceilings
  • Discoloration or
    water stains on externally facing walls
  • Areas of
    standing water or condensation on floors, walls, or window sills
  • “Musty”

Types of Mold

are many types of mold that may occur in homes and office buildings — some
sources say that there are over 100,000 different species. Some mold species are
considered harmless, while others can cause potentially serious adverse health

most common mold types found in homes and offices are:

  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Aspergillus
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys

Why is Mold Harmful to Humans?

molds produce volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) or toxins as
byproducts of their metabolism. VOCs generally evaporate at room temperature.
In fact, when a person smells a “musty” odor, he or she is actually
smelling the volatile organic compounds. Some VOCs produce adverse health
effects in certain predisposed individuals. In contrast to VOCs, toxins do not
evaporate easily, and some are considered very dangerous to humans. Regardless
of whether a particular strain of mold produces VOCs or toxins, all molds
should be considered potential health risks, and the presence of mold should
lead to investigation, cleaning, and/or removal.

Illnesses Caused by Mold Exposure

of the most common illnesses associated with mold exposure are:

  • Worsening of
  • Respiratory
  • Fevers
  • Nasal and sinus
  • Burning and
    watering eyes
  • Worsening of
    asthma symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Flu-like
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches

Mold Exposure Illnesses: Who is Most at Risk?

It is
generally accepted that those who are most at risk of illness from mold
exposure include:

  • People with
  • People with
    conditions or diseases that weaken immune defenses
  • People with lung
  • The elderly
  • Young children

Real Estate Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with real estate law, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning