We recently reported on the unfortunate case of a deceased lady whose assets did not all pass to the people she wanted because the will she wrote herself using a pre-printed form did not achieve her purpose. Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente emphasized that legal services were often expensive but that dispensing with an attorney can be penny wise, pound foolish.
In that vein, let us consider the case of a gentleman we shall just call John Doe. He set up his own company without the help of an attorney, and wanted the company to do business under another name, in that case, the name of the restaurant he was opening. Again, he filled out the ‘d/b/a’ papers without professional assistance.
Fast forward a year or two and the restaurant failed. The company dissolved. But here’s the problem. He did not fill out the forms for his d/b/a quite right, and he personally owns the restaurant’s name – though the now defunct company owned and operated the restaurant itself.
One of his creditors is using that as a hook to reach his personal assets. It is a far-fetched theory on which to hang a lawsuit, but the reality is that either judgment or litigation will cost John Doe much more than the services of an attorney when setting up his company and fictitious name.
Our firm is proud to represent small businesses and their owners both in and out of court. We could defend John Doe in court, or we could have protected him more efficiently from a borderline frivolous suit before it even arose. The lesson for business owners, especially those starting up and watching their bank accounts nervously as expenses they never expected seem to creep up every day, is to use professional legal advice as an investment – one usually worth making.