2024 Guide: Staying on Top of Business Law and Personal Estate Plan Matters

Sunday January 28, 2024 Published in Corporate and Business, Trusts and Estates
2024 Business Checklist - Wegman Hessler Valore law firm Cleveland Ohio

Running a successful company requires more than just doing a good job for your clients and customers. It also requires legal discipline to protect and grow business value. We recently released our 2024 guide that addresses key legal considerations for business owners, as well as personal matters for their families. An updated summary of the guide follows.

The guide is organized into sections covering both corporate and personal matters.

For business matters, it addresses the value of robust supplier contracts, reviewing data to trim costs, planning for ownership changes, preparing for disruption, improving corporate structure, updating employee policies, and protecting intellectual property. Periodically revisiting these core legal aspects helps minimize risk while creating a sense of stability during turbulent times.

On the personal side of legal discipline, the guide details recommendations and reminders on such as estate planning and wills, using trusts and other tools to preserve wealth, revisiting life insurance needs, planning for blended families, updating beneficiaries, and more. Outlining your wishes clearly and keeping documents current can be a tremendous gift for your loved ones, reducing stress if an unexpected loss or emergency arises. Reviewing your plans can help to ensure that your wishes are both current and organized.

While dry on the surface, legal foundations help to uphold both companies and families through good times and bad. We invite you to use this as a helpful starting point and reference.


Review all supplier agreements. Locate all agreements for your top suppliers and customers. Are they current? Is a hand-shake deal in place instead of a binding contract? Have an experienced business attorney look through your contracts carefully, including terms and conditions, to ensure your interests are protected and your agreements are fully enforceable under law.

Use 2023 numbers to improve 2024 spend. Use your 2023 year-end numbers to explore opportunities to adjust expenses by renegotiating contracts. Check for redundancies or unnecessary spending to trim.

Revisit your business’ succession plans. Review the plans you have in place for the transfer of company ownership, including details and arrangements to maintain business continuity. Are all situations addressed? Are assumptions captured? Such plans include: a planned (scheduled) transfer of equity; establishing the worth of shares; how to transition shares in the event of a death of sudden retirement of a majority shareholder; and so on.

Prepare for the unexpected. Update business emergency, continuity and contingency plans to address disruptions caused by leadership transitions, recession, inflation, labor shortages, or supply chain issues.

Find out about legal strategies to protect your wealth. Explore business consolidation and restructuring to improve cash flow, minimize taxes, and protect your family’s long-term wealth, using legal discipline to improve ownership structure and strategies.

Improve your employee handbook and employment agreements. Follow Ohio labor laws on issues like overtime, minimum wage, breaks, discrimination, and family leave. Stay current on changes. Any newly adopted work arrangements (such as remote work or service animal policies) should be reflected in your employer-employee documentation and agreements.

Confirm that significant intellectual property assets are secure. Check to see that your trademarks and service mark registrations are up to date. Also confirm that all valuable brand and trade names used by your business are properly protected across marketplaces. Schedule time to discuss IP strategy and docket management with our IP attorneys. Our IP team can help with registrations as well as managing the payment of annuities (patents) and renewals (trademarks) to ensure you stay up to date across your IP portfolio domestically and internationally.


Consider the economy in your estate plans.
Ask your estate attorney about utilizing generation-skipping trusts and other vehicles to maximize wealth preservation through periods of high inflation. Also, assess life insurance needs and coverage gaps in light of evolving estate values and new economic challenges.

Read through your will and estate plans… again. Both relationships and personal assets evolve over time. There may be some updates necessary to ensure your last will and testament wishes reflect the current situation. Read over what you’ve prepared and make sure it still reflects your wishes. If you don’t have a will, get in touch with an experienced estate planning attorney to have one prepared.

Deploy trust strategies to protect business and real estate assets. For valuable illiquid assets like real estate or a business, consider the use of legal instruments, such as trusts or limited partnerships, to retain control while minimizing tax impacts. You can also address estate tax exposure through techniques like the marital deduction, strategic gifting, life insurance trusts, and other strategies. Schedule time with our Trust and Estates team to learn more.

Confirm your life insurance policies are adequate. As part of your estate planning, be sure to review and audit your life insurance policies to ensure your policies are adequate for your needs. Note that life insurance is also an effective tool to take advantage of certain estate tax exemptions.

Schedule a review of your estate plans. Changes to the tax code by the Biden administration may significantly impact an individual’s ability to pass wealth to future generations. We recommend exploring legal solutions to help protect what you’ve earned. Make time to schedule an estate plan review to keep your plans and documents up to date.

Prepare for changes in family relationships. Thinking about getting married again? Are your children marrying the right partner? Protect family wealth from unexpected storms by updating your estate plan. In addition to outlining expectations in the event of divorce or separation, updates can include comprehensive wills and living trusts customized for your unique circumstances and wishes, as well as creating trusts for your children. This can help to ensure a smooth transfer of wealth according to your wishes.

Update your beneficiaries after divorce or loss. Review and update your beneficiary designations. If you’ve ended a marriage or are widowed, check your accounts to make sure the right beneficiaries are in place and updated for each of your assets.

For more information, download the complete guide here: WHV 2024 Checklist to share (wegmanlaw.com)

Note that as this article is published, the Corporate Transparency Act has been facing legal battles. Here is a link to the most recent information: Corporate Transparency Act Deemed Unconstitutional by Federal Court in Alabama: What This Means for Your Business – Wegman Hessler Valore Law Firm Cleveland – Business Law, IP, Litigation and Estate Plans (wegmanlaw.com)

Wegman Hessler Valore specializes in business law for business leaders, applying legal discipline to solve business problems to help leaders run smarter. For over 50 years, this Cleveland law firm has provided full-service strategic legal counsel for closely held businesses, corporations, and individuals. Practice areas include: business law; litigation; corporate governance; estate planning and wealth protection; intellectual property; family law for business owners; HR and employee matters; commercial real estate; business acquisition, and more. Get in touch to learn more.

Visit wegmanlaw.com or call us at (216) 642-3342.

Copyright ©2024 Wegman Hessler Valore. This information is for educational purposes. It does not reflect an attorney-client relationship with the author(s) or the firm. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice in specific situations.

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