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Publications and News at HWC


4 HR Tips for a New Business to Consider

If you’re starting a small business in California, hats off to you! We encourage and support entrepreneurial, and, after years assisting small businesses handle legal issues, we understand that you may face some challenges and hope this blog post helps to prepare you.4 human resources-related laws to consider

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Trade Secret Theft and Your Small Business

With all the attention in the news about hacked emails, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the reality of hacking at a level many business owners can relate to: the small business.

As we have discussed before, small businesses are at risk of any of the threats a large corporation faces, including identity theft (read more on how to prevent ID theft at your business here). Do you have a plan for preventing and/or responding to an online security breach? Or, equally as important, trade secret theft?

Trade secret theft can bankrupt even the most successful business. What’s more, because a California trade secret plaintiff (such as a former employer suing its former employee) likely must identify its trade secrets with reasonable particularity before commencing discovery, it pays to invest in protecting your IP before it is stolen. Unfortunately, trade secrets are particularly susceptible to theft because of the secret economically valuable information they contain. Those on the inside may find that information too tempting to be leave behind when changing jobs. So how does a small business protect its intellectual property and confidential information from trade secret theft?

In California, obtaining protection is not all that simple. Absent limited exceptions, non-compete agreements are illegal under Business and Professions Code § 16600, meaning that is likely not an option.

So, what can California employers do?

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Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts

A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) is similar to a bypass trust, providing somewhat limited access to income and/or principal for the needs of a surviving spouse. The difference is that a SLAT is funded via gift while the donor is still alive, whereas a bypass trust is funded by bequest when someone passes away.

A SLAT is often used by a married couple who desires to make lifetime gifts to descendants but are hesitant to permanently give away a large portion of their estate and their ability to maintain their current lifestyle.  With a SLAT, one spouse (donor-spouse) makes a gift to an irrevocable trust using the donor-spouse’s gift tax exemption.  More on an irrevocable trust, including its benefits, here. The SLAT then names the non-donor spouse (beneficiary-spouse) as a current beneficiary, allowing the trustee to make distribution of trust funds to the beneficiary-spouse during his or her life.

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Financial Planning for Your Small Business

Starting a new business used to be a costly, time-consuming venture. Thanks to technology, that does no longer has to be the case. Various websites allow you to form your small business online (although we do encourage you to discuss the best corporate structure for your business with an attorney first) and thanks to incubators like Kickstarter, you can easily raise capital outside your circle of friends and family!

Once your business is formed, getting things up and running is also much easier. For example, do-it-yourself website design platforms like SquareSpace allow you to design your own website (a must for any business). Cost-effective cloud-based software programs allow you to manage tasks that once required employees on the payroll, and credit card processing can be run inexpensively on a tablet or a smartphone. Read on for tips on how to get the funds you will need to get your business of the ground.

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