Whether you are starting a new enterprise or have been in business for years, it is critical to select the appropriate entity for your business.Learn More
Welcome to Paula Schaefer Law
A Law Firm for Business and Estate Planning
Starting a business? Considering a critical business agreement or contract? Writing your will or planning a trust? No one knows how to run your business—and your life—better than you do. Yet, there can be times when only a legal professional can protect you from those energy-draining distractions that prevent you from doing what you do best.
I help people plan for the most important stages and events in their lives. My goal is to form meaningful professional relationships with my clients and provide forward-thinking, personal service. I want them to know that I am invested in their success.
- Paula Schaefer, Attorney at Law
Areas of Practice
Business Entity Formation
Paula Schaefer Law can help you get off to a great start by drafting appropriate vendor or employment agreements.Learn More
When drafting your estate planning documents, our goal is to preserve the relationships that you value.Learn More
Paula Schaefer Law, a woman-owned law firm focusing in business entity formation, business transactions, and estate planning, can help you plan for—and soar over—those legal “bumps in the road” everyone encounters.
Perhaps you are currently being sued or threatened with a lawsuit. Frequently, problems can be resolved through the right kind of communications or negotiation. With a simple phone call, you can set up a time to discuss your questions with us, plan your actions or in special cases, obtain a referral to another attorney who can assist with your unique needs.
You may simply be concerned about a possible legal issue in your new business or a difficult contract. Paula Schaefer Law can help you form your new business, review or research an issue, revise existing contracts or draft new ones and research regulatory matters for you. Let us discuss your work and then give you a proposal for how we can help.
You probably have basic questions about protecting your business or how estate planning can honor your wishes. Many people do, and we think you deserve the answers. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions pages on Business Entities, Business Transactions and Estate Planning for a more in-depth perspective.
Before becoming a lawyer, Paula worked as a professional in both private businesses and local public agencies—an experience that gives her a unique perspective of her present clients’ business needs. Having managed several businesses herself, Paula understands how government regulations affect business decisions. She uses clear and understandable language to explain legal issues that will impact a client’s specific company or field of work.
After a successful career in accounting, business management, and as a public agency management analyst Paula decided to pursue a law degree. While at Chapman University School of Law in southern California, she clerked with private companies and small law firms to apply the legal theories that she was learning and gain valuable experience.
After passing the bar exam and becoming accredited to practice law in California, Paula pursued her interest in business and real estate matters by working in several small- to medium-sized law firms. Her own focus in these firms was business and property transactions as well as employment matters.
Her 10 years as a business attorney included advising and counseling business entities on formation, employment and severance agreements, alcohol and drug employment policies and workplace privacy issues. She is an experienced drafter and negotiator of consulting agreements, real estate leases, and buy/sell agreements. Her work also included estate planning for individuals and families.
Paula is a member of the California Bar Association and the Orange County Bar Association. Her volunteer activities include the Orange County Public Law Center and working as the pro bono attorney for Girls on the Run Orange County..
I’m starting a new business. Do you have any legal advice for me?
Congratulations on starting your business! My suggestion is to create a plan that addresses both your short term and long term goals. When you have these ideas pulled together, then it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss what the appropriate business entity is to help you meet your immediate goals. Doing it this way allows you to plan for the growth of your business.
How do I decide what type of entity is the right one for my business? Isn’t it always better for a company to be incorporated?
There is no one best entity type for a business; it depends on your short term and long term goals. The appropriate entity for your business will also depend on the nature of the business or industry. Here are some general differences among the entities:
- An LLC provides for protection against liability with a relatively modest amount of business administration requirements.
- An S corporation provides its owner with more protection against liability with minimal business administration requirements.
- Comparing that to a C corporation is crucial, however. If your goal is to start a business to take it public, a C corporation may be the best entity.
- All of these contrast with running your business as a sole proprietorship, which means that your business is not a separate entity from you.
- Partnerships may be based on an oral agreement; however, it is advisable to have a written partnership agreement. General partners are personally involved in the management and control of the business.
I’m considering exiting a business that I have. Are there procedures required to shut down or close a business?
There are many variables to consider and advance planning with an attorney could avoid significant problems. Much depends on the manner in which you are exiting the business. If it is a partnership, in which your partner is buying you out of the business, you will want to dissolve the partnership. If you are the sole owner selling the business, you should consider a sales agreement to ensure that you are protected if the buyer is purchasing assets and assuming liabilities. You should also review all existing leases and licenses in your business to be sure that you can assign them to the new owner. Finally, if you have employees, you may be subject to notice requirements if exiting the business will result in the loss of employment.
Why would I want to change my business entity?
There are important liability and tax considerations for every business. If your long term goal is to grow your business to a certain size and then sell it, an entity, may result in an easier sale than a sole proprietorship. As your business grows and you hire employees, it may be advisable to review your business entity’s risk of liability.
Why should I have an attorney draft my business agreements?
Working in tandem with your lawyer will ensure that the business arrangement that you are entering into meets your business expectations. As a team member, an attorney can protect your business interests.
What value does having an attorney add to my business?
Attorneys are trained to ask the questions – what if… happens, or doesn’t happen? Your answers to these questions will make you contemplate business transactions in a proactive manner and plan for contingencies.
Do I always need written contracts?
Not every transaction needs to be in writing, but it is best practice to do so. In addition, it is more efficient for you to use standardized contracts, uniform terms and conditions, as well as standardized employment agreements.
What good is an agreement if I do not understand the legalese?
Contracts or agreements are legal documents that will always contain some amount of legal terms. However, you should always feel comfortable asking your attorney what the terms mean and ensuring that you understand his or her explanation. Most importantly, the business terms should be those discussed with your attorney.
I have used the same contracts for years with no problems; why should I change them now?
A thorough evaluation of your business agreement takes into account any new changes to the laws that are relevant to your business, any client complaints, and rejections or failure to pay arising from confusion about the contract. The evaluation should also include discussion about any threatened or actual litigation that arose from use of the contract. When your attorney concludes this analysis, the extent of the revisions, if any, can be determined. Perhaps you do not need significant revisions but only a review for current legal compliance with minor rewriting.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning determines what documents you want to create to plan for your later years. People who want to prepare for their life changes as they age or to ensure the ideal distribution of their assets upon their death can choose among these documents to suit their specific needs. Estate planning could combine a will, one or more revocable trusts, a durable power of attorney, an advance health care directive, and a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release.
What is a revocable living trust? What is its purpose?
A revocable living trust is a document that allows you to control your assets until you become incapacitated or die. “Control” means that your ownership of assets does not change. As the creator of a revocable living trust, you can amend it, can add assets to it or remove them from it, and can revoke it during your life as long as these transactions are done in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement.
The revocable living trust has many purposes—primarily to avoid probate. Probate is the procedure in which the court oversees the transfer of assets in a person’s estate after death. Probate is required if you die without a will or if you have a will but do not have a revocable living trust. Having a revocable living trust spares your beneficiaries the considerable time, expense and perhaps unwanted publicity of having the probate court administer your assets. You can also name a “successor” to manage your financial and other affairs in case you become incapacitated and thereby avoid a court-appointed “conservator” over your affairs.
I do not have many assets, so why should I do any estate planning?
Estate planning is not only for those with many or high-value assets. A key component of estate planning is deciding what will happen to your children if you die when they are young. Your decisions can be included in a will in which you appoint a guardian for your child as well as appoint an executor of your estate. You can include instructions for your funeral and burial in a will and/or in an advance health care directive.
How do I know what I need for estate planning?
The best way to determine your estate planning needs is to assess what your assets are, what your wishes are for your care and the care of your children should you become incapacitated or die. After you have gathered information about your assets and thought about any guardianship issues, it is best to contact an attorney and obtain a questionnaire tailored to fit your unique situation. The answers to the questionnaire will provide the attorney with valuable information to help you complete your estate plan.
I have a will. Is that sufficient estate planning?
If you own real estate in more than one state, each state where the real estate is located may require probate procedures. Alternatively, each property could have been placed in a revocable living trust and avoid probate.
If you would like to avoid the later legal expenses of probate, which may include attorney’s fees as well as executor’s fees, then a will is insufficient estate planning. If you would prefer to distribute your assets as privately as possible, then having a will without a revocable living trust results in probate, which is done in a public setting.
How often should I revise my current will and trust?
You should revise your will and trust when you have had a significant personal event in your life. If you have married, divorced, or had a child, you will probably wish to change how your existing will and trust are structured. It is advisable to review your will and trust every few years to make certain that they are current with the events in your life.
Paula Schaefer Law
9042 Garfield Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Monday: 8am to 6pm
Tuesday: 8am to 6pm
Wednesday: 8am to 6pm
Thursday: 8am to 6pm
Friday: 8am to 6pm