Choosing the Right Entity for Your Vacation Rental: A Legal Guide for Hosts
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
As the popularity of Airbnb and VRBO continues to soar, more and more people are capitalizing on the opportunity to earn extra income by listing their properties for rent. However, one crucial consideration that often gets overlooked is the choice of entity for your vacation rental business. Selecting the right legal structure is essential for protecting your personal assets, managing taxes efficiently, and ensuring long-term success. In this article, we will guide you through the process of choosing the ideal entity for your Airbnb venture.
The simplest form of business entity is the sole proprietorship. It is a default structure where you conduct business as an individual without any legal distinction between your personal and business assets. While this may be the easiest option, it also exposes your personal assets to potential liability risks. If a guest were to file a lawsuit or your property incurs damages, your personal savings and possessions could be at stake.
Limited Liability Company (LLC):
The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular choice among hosts. An LLC provides a clear separation between your personal and business assets, shielding your personal finances in case of any legal issues or debts. This structure offers flexibility in terms of taxation, allowing you to choose between pass-through taxation (similar to a sole proprietorship) or electing to be taxed as a corporation. Furthermore, an LLC offers a professional image and can enhance your credibility in the eyes of potential guests.
A corporation is a separate legal entity that offers the highest level of protection for personal assets. It shields your personal finances from business liabilities, making it an attractive option for hosts with multiple properties or those seeking substantial growth. A corporation has a complex structure with shareholders, directors, and officers, and requires more administrative tasks and compliance obligations. Additionally, corporations may be subject to double taxation at the corporate and individual levels, so it’s important to consider the tax implications before choosing this entity.
If you plan to co-host an property with a partner, a partnership structure might be worth considering. A partnership allows multiple individuals to pool resources, share responsibilities, and split profits and losses according to the agreed-upon terms. There are two types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships. General partners share equal responsibility and liability, while limited partners have limited liability but reduced control over business decisions.
Special Caveat: All of these entities, other than sole proprietorship, do NOT allow for long-term, fixed rate financing. Entities such as LLCs and Corporations are not allowed to have their mortgages sold on the secondary-market, which allow for low, long-term rates.
Choosing the most suitable entity for your vacation rental business is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Each entity type has its own advantages and considerations, including liability protection, tax implications, administrative requirements, and personal asset protection. Consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who specializes in small business matters to determine the best entity structure for your specific circumstances and goals. By selecting the appropriate entity, you can safeguard your personal assets, optimize your tax strategy, and set your hosting venture on the path to long-term success. Russell Law Offices, SC has a team of real estate and business attorneys across southern Wisconsin who can help guide you through the entity selection and implementation process. Reach out today for a consultation in an office near you!
The Importance of a Cohabitation Agreement: Protecting Unmarried Parties in Wisconsin
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
In today’s society, more and more couples are choosing to live together without getting married. While cohabitation offers numerous benefits, it’s crucial for unmarried parties to understand that their legal rights and protections differ from those of married couples. To safeguard their interests and establish clear expectations, unmarried couples in Wisconsin should seriously consider entering into a cohabitation agreement. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of a cohabitation agreement and the protections it offers to unmarried parties.
Defining a Cohabitation Agreement:
A cohabitation agreement, also known as a domestic partnership agreement, is a legally binding contract entered into by unmarried couples who are living together or planning to live together. This agreement outlines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of each party during the cohabitation period and in the event of a separation.
The Importance of a Cohabitation Agreement:
- Clarifying Financial Responsibilities: One of the essential aspects of a cohabitation agreement is addressing financial matters. This includes outlining how expenses will be shared, property ownership, and potential financial support in the event of a separation. Without a cohabitation agreement, disputes may arise regarding the division of assets and debts accumulated during the relationship.
- Protecting Property Rights: In Wisconsin, property acquired during cohabitation is generally treated as individual property unless stated otherwise. With a cohabitation agreement, unmarried couples can establish joint ownership or define specific rights to property acquired during the relationship. This protects both parties from potential disputes and ensures a fair distribution of assets in case of separation.
- Defining Child Custody and Support: If the couple has children or plans to have children, a cohabitation agreement can address important matters such as child custody, visitation rights, and child support obligations. By establishing these provisions in advance, unmarried couples can minimize conflicts and provide stability for their children.
- Addressing Healthcare and Medical Decisions: In the absence of legal marriage, unmarried partners may not have automatic rights to make medical decisions for each other. By including provisions in a cohabitation agreement, such as granting medical power of attorney, couples can ensure that their wishes regarding healthcare and medical decisions are respected.
- Minimizing Legal Disputes: Without a cohabitation agreement, unmarried couples may face significant legal challenges if the relationship ends. Issues such as property division, support obligations, and custody arrangements can quickly escalate into time-consuming and costly court battles many times costing more in legal fees than the assets being fought over. A well-drafted cohabitation agreement can minimize these disputes by providing clear guidelines and reducing ambiguity.
While unmarried couples in Wisconsin may not have the same legal protections as married couples, they can take proactive steps to safeguard their rights and interests. By entering into a cohabitation agreement, couples can establish clear expectations, address financial matters, protect property rights, define child custody and support arrangements, and make provisions for healthcare decisions. Engaging an experienced family law attorney is advisable to ensure that the cohabitation agreement is properly drafted and legally enforceable. By prioritizing a cohabitation agreement, unmarried parties can protect themselves and their loved ones, providing peace of mind and security in their relationships. Russell Law Offices, SC has a very experienced team of family law and contract attorneys who can advise and guide you through the drafting and implementation process. Contact our attorneys today for assistance!
The Importance of a Property Condition Report in Wisconsin: A Guide for Buyers and Sellers
by Nathan Russell, Managing Attorney & Owner
As we enter the prime home buying season in Wisconsin, it’s important for both buyers and sellers to be aware of the property condition report and its importance in the home buying process. This report is required by law and provides valuable information about the condition of the property, which can help both parties make informed decisions.
At Russell Law Offices, we understand the importance of the property condition report in the home buying process. Our experienced real estate attorneys can help both buyers and sellers navigate this process and ensure that all legal requirements are met. For buyers, we can review the property condition report and advise on any legal issues that may arise. We can also negotiate repairs or credits with the seller on behalf of our clients. For sellers, we can help prepare a comprehensive and accurate property condition report to comply with the law and avoid legal issues down the line.
For buyers, the property condition report is an essential tool for assessing the condition of the home before making an offer. The report is prepared by the seller and must disclose any known defects or problems with the property, including issues with the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical systems, and more. With more homes being listed during the prime home buying season, buyers will need to be diligent in reviewing these reports to ensure they are making informed decisions about the condition of the property.
In addition to the information disclosed in the report, buyers may also want to consider hiring a licensed home inspector to conduct a more thorough inspection of the property. An inspector can identify any hidden issues that may not be disclosed in the property condition report, such as hidden water damage, mold, or pests. By combining the information from the property condition report and the home inspection, buyers can make a more informed decision about whether to move forward with the purchase and negotiate repairs or credits if necessary.
From a seller’s perspective, the property condition report is also important for a number of reasons. First, it’s required by law, so failing to provide a report can result in legal penalties. Second, providing a comprehensive and accurate report can help attract more buyers and make the selling process smoother during the prime home buying season when competition is high. Buyers are often more likely to make an offer on a home if they feel confident that the seller is being transparent about the condition of the property.
To prepare a property condition report, sellers should take the time to thoroughly inspect their home and identify any issues that may need to be disclosed. This may involve hiring professionals such as contractors, plumbers, or electricians to conduct inspections or repairs. Sellers should also be aware that they can be held liable for failing to disclose known defects or problems with the property, so it’s important to be honest and thorough in preparing the report.
In summary, the property condition report is a critical document for both buyers and sellers during the prime home buying season in Wisconsin. Buyers rely on the report to make informed decisions about the condition of the property, while sellers must provide a comprehensive and accurate report to comply with the law and avoid legal issues. By working with experienced professionals such as the real estate attorneys at Russell Law Offices and being transparent about the condition of the property, both buyers and sellers can ensure a smooth and successful transaction during this busy time of year.
Title Insurance: What It Is and Why You Need It
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
Title insurance is an essential component of any real estate transaction. It protects you, the buyer, from any defects or issues with the title to your property that may arise after the sale. At Russell Law Offices, we understand the importance of title insurance and can guide you through the process to ensure you have the coverage you need.
Our skilled, experienced attorneys work closely with homebuyers to help them navigate the complex process of purchasing a home. We understand the importance of protecting your investment and ensuring your ownership rights are secure. That’s why we recommend title insurance for all of our clients.
Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects your ownership rights to a property. It covers any issues or defects in the title, such as liens, encumbrances, or other claims against the property. Without title insurance, you could be at risk of losing your investment or facing legal disputes over ownership rights.
There are two types of title insurance: lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance. Lender’s title insurance is typically required by your mortgage lender and protects the lender’s investment in the property. Owner’s title insurance is optional but highly recommended, as it protects your investment in the property and ensures your ownership rights are secure.
At Russell Law Offices, we have extensive experience working with clients on real estate transactions and guiding them through the process of obtaining title insurance. We understand the importance of having clear title to a property and the potential risks of not having proper coverage. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of title insurance and ensure that you have the protection you need for your real estate investment.
Don’t leave your real estate investment to chance. Contact Russell Law Offices today to learn more about title insurance and how we can help you protect your property and your peace of mind. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to providing personalized and effective legal solutions for our clients in Wisconsin.
Estate Planning for Blended Families: Unique Challenges and Solutions
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
Estate planning is a vital process for everyone, regardless of family structure. However, blended families face unique challenges that make estate planning even more complex. At Russell Law Offices, we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate these challenges and develop personalized estate plans that meet their individual needs and goals.
One of the primary challenges in estate planning for blended families is identifying and protecting assets. In these families, assets may be owned jointly, individually, or by previous partners. Our attorneys can help you identify and protect these assets, ensuring they are distributed according to your wishes.
Another crucial consideration is providing for children and stepchildren. Estate planning can help ensure that your children and stepchildren are provided for in the event of your death. This may involve creating trusts or other arrangements to ensure assets are distributed fairly and in accordance with your wishes.
Blended families can also be more prone to conflicts and disputes over inheritance and other issues. Our attorneys can help you develop strategies to minimize these conflicts and ensure your estate is distributed in a way that is fair and equitable.
Finally, it’s important to regularly update your estate plan to reflect your current wishes and circumstances. As your family changes and grows, your estate plan should adapt accordingly. Our attorneys can help you stay on top of these updates, making sure your plan remains effective and up-to-date.
At Russell Law Offices, we understand the unique challenges and solutions involved in estate planning for blended families. With our experience and expertise, we can help you create an estate plan that protects your assets, provides for your loved ones, and minimizes conflicts and disputes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our estate planning services.
How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. We use it to connect with friends, share photos and experiences, and even vent our frustrations. However, did you know that what you post on social media could potentially harm your personal injury claim?
Insurance companies and defense attorneys are increasingly using social media as evidence in personal injury cases. They may monitor your social media activity to find any posts, photos, or comments that contradict your injury claims or suggest that your injuries are not as severe as you have alleged.
For example, if you claim that you can’t perform physical activities due to your injury, but then post photos of yourself engaging in strenuous activities like playing sports or dancing, this could weaken your claim. Similarly, if you complain about your injuries on social media but then post photos of yourself having a good time or enjoying vacations, this could be used against you in court.
To avoid potential complications, it’s best to limit your social media activity during the course of your personal injury claim. Refrain from posting anything that could be used against you, including photos or status updates related to your injury or any activities that contradict your claims.
Furthermore, it’s important to adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your social media activity. Even seemingly harmless posts or comments could be taken out of context and used against you. By adjusting your privacy settings, you can control who has access to your personal information and prevent it from being used against you.
In conclusion, social media can have a significant impact on the outcome of your personal injury claim. It’s crucial to take precautions to protect your rights, and at Russell Law Offices, we’re here to help. Our experienced attorneys understand the complexities of personal injury cases, including how social media can affect your claim. By working with us, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands. Contact Russell Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Step-Parent Adoption in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
Are you a step-parent looking to adopt your stepchild? This is an exciting and emotional time for your family, and the legal process can be complex. However, with the help of an experienced family law attorney, the process can be smoother and more positive than you might expect.
The attorneys at Russell Law Offices have helped many step-parents in Wisconsin navigate the legal process of adoption. Here’s what you need to know about the process and your legal rights.
Step-Parent Adoption Process in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the step-parent adoption process typically starts with obtaining the consent of both biological parents, unless one of them has had their parental rights terminated by the court. Once both biological parents consent to the adoption, the process begins with filing a petition for adoption with the court, which is followed by an evaluation by the County, and then a hearing.
The court will carefully review the petition and will order an investigation to ensure that the adoption is in the best interests of the child. An attorney, known as the Guardian ad Litem, will be appointed to represent the child and provide an unbiased opinion on the matter. The Guardian ad Litem will take into consideration factors such as the child’s relationship with their biological parents, the fitness of the step-parent to adopt, and any other relevant factors in making a recommendation to the court.
During the adoption hearing, the court will consider all the evidence presented, including the investigation and the Guardian ad Litem’s report, before making a decision on whether to grant the adoption. If the court finds that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, it will issue an order granting the adoption.
Your Legal Rights as a Step-Parent Adopting in Wisconsin
When you become a step-parent through adoption in Wisconsin, the legal relationship between you and your stepchild changes significantly. You will now have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. This means that you will have the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing. You will also have the responsibility to provide financial support for the child, just like any biological parent.
It’s important to understand that these rights and responsibilities will continue even if you and your spouse were to become divorced in the future. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making decisions regarding custody and placement, and your legal status as a parent will be taken into account. This means that you may be entitled to visitation rights and other parental rights even if you are no longer married to the child’s biological parent.
It’s also worth noting that being a legal parent means that you have the right to be involved in the child’s life and to make decisions on their behalf. This includes important decisions such as medical care, education, and religious upbringing. You will also have the responsibility to financially support the child, including providing for their basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. This is a significant responsibility that should not be taken lightly, but for many step-parents, the rewards of having a legal relationship with their stepchild far outweigh the challenges.
At Russell Law Offices, we understand the importance of step-parent adoption for your family, and we have seen firsthand how positive the experience can be. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and ensure the best possible outcome for your family.
Step-parent adoption can be a wonderful way to strengthen and solidify the bond between a child and their step-parent. At Russell Law Offices, we are here to help guide you through the legal process and ensure a positive experience for your family. Some of my most positive memories as an attorney have been working with families on step-parent adoption cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our adoption services.
We have years of experience working with families in Wisconsin and helping them navigate step-parent adoptions. Let us help you make your family’s dream of adoption a reality.
Wrongful Death Legal Recovery in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know
by Laine Carver, Associate Attorney
Losing a loved one is always difficult, but it can be especially devastating when their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In Wisconsin, families of the deceased may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death claim. Here’s what you need to know about wrongful death legal recovery in Wisconsin:
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. Common examples of wrongful death include car accidents caused by drunk driving, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Wisconsin?
Under Wisconsin law, a wrongful death claim can be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or by the deceased’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or parents. Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04 states that “the action may be brought by the personal representative of the deceased.” The personal representative is typically named in the deceased’s will or appointed by the court if there is no will, as provided by Wisconsin Statutes section 851.60. The personal representative can file the claim on behalf of the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or other beneficiaries, as provided by Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04. In some cases, siblings, grandparents, or other relatives may also be able to bring a claim under Wisconsin law.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
In Wisconsin, damages in a wrongful death claim are divided into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are damages that can be easily quantified and include things like medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Medical expenses include any reasonable medical expenses related to the deceased’s injury or illness that resulted in their death. Funeral and burial costs include the reasonable expenses for the deceased’s funeral and burial. Lost wages refer to the deceased’s income that they would have earned had they lived, while lost earning capacity refers to the amount of income that the deceased would have been capable of earning throughout their lifetime had they not died. Economic damages may also include any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the deceased’s death.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are damages that are more difficult to quantify and include things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Pain and suffering refer to any physical pain or emotional suffering experienced by the deceased before their death. Loss of companionship refers to the loss of the deceased’s companionship, society, affection, and consortium, as well as the loss of the deceased’s advice and guidance. Emotional distress includes the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish experienced by the surviving family members as a result of the deceased’s death.
Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04(4) imposes a cap on the amount of noneconomic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. The current cap is $500,000 per occurrence in the case of a deceased minor, or $350,000 per occurrence in the case of a deceased adult. It’s important to note that the cap only applies to wrongful death claims and not to other types of personal injury claims.
How is fault determined in a wrongful death claim?
In Wisconsin, fault is determined using a modified comparative negligence standard. This means that the deceased’s fault, if any, is taken into account when determining damages in a wrongful death claim. If the deceased was partially at fault for the accident that caused their death, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if the deceased was found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their damages will be reduced by 20%. However, if the deceased was more than 50% at fault for the accident, their family will not be able to recover any damages. This is known as the 51% bar rule. It’s important to note that fault is not always clear-cut in wrongful death cases, and determining fault can be a complex process that requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin is generally three years from the date of the deceased’s death. However, if the death was caused by a motor vehicle accident, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If the claim is not filed within this time frame, it will be barred and the family will not be able to recover damages.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the legal aftermath of a wrongful death can be overwhelming. However, by working with an experienced attorney at Russell Law Offices, SC, and pursuing a wrongful death claim, you can hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain the justice and compensation your loved one deserves. The team at Russell Law Offices, SC has experience representing clients in wrongful death cases and can provide you with the guidance and support you need during this difficult time. Remember, time is of the essence in these cases, so don’t wait to take action. Contact Russell Law Offices, SC today to explore your legal options and take the first step towards healing and closure.
Dog Bites in Wisconsin: Legal Considerations and Recovery Options
by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney
Dog bites can cause serious injuries and legal issues for all parties involved. In Wisconsin, the law governing dog bites is strictly enforced, and dog owners are held responsible for any damages caused by their dogs, regardless of negligence. If you are the victim of a dog bite incident in Wisconsin, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options for recovery.
Wisconsin Statutory Governance
Wisconsin’s dog bite law is governed by Wisconsin Statutes Section 174.02, which holds dog owners strictly liable for any injuries caused by their dog. This means that the owner of a dog is responsible for any damages caused by their dog biting someone, even if the owner was not negligent in controlling their dog. Furthermore, if the dog has bitten a person before, the owner of the dog is liable for two times the amount of damages.
Comparative Negligence Statute
Wisconsin’s comparative negligence statute, Wisconsin Statutes Section 895.045, also affects legal recovery for dog bites. The amount of compensation an injured person can recover may be reduced if they were partially at fault for the incident. For example, if the injured person provoked the dog or was trespassing on the owner’s property, their recovery may be reduced based on their degree of fault.
Legal Considerations for the Injured Party
If you are the victim of a dog bite incident in Wisconsin, there are several legal issues to consider:
- Statute of Limitations: There is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Wisconsin, which is typically three years from the date of the injury. It is important to file a claim within this timeframe, or else you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Homeowner’s Insurance: In many cases, the owner of the dog will have homeowner’s insurance that covers dog bite incidents. It is important to determine if the owner has insurance coverage so that the best recovery for your injuries can happen.
- Medical Treatment: It is important to seek medical treatment immediately after a dog bite incident. Not only is this necessary for your health and well-being, but it will also document the extent of your injuries and may be necessary to support your claim for compensation.
Seek Legal Advice
It is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney in Wisconsin to navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have been bitten by a dog in Wisconsin, contact the attorneys at Russell Law Offices, SC for a consultation. Our knowledgeable and compassionate team will work tirelessly to protect your rights and ensure you receive the best recovery possible. With eight offices located throughout southern Wisconsin, we are here to serve you.