Forming a business involves a choice of ownership types. Without making a choice, the business typically defaults to a sole proprietorship or a partnership, depending on the number of owners. For small businesses, the better business practice is to form an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or to incorporate with an S Corporation or a C Corporation. Picking the right business structure is best done with the consultation of an attorney and an accountant.
Civil Litigation involves disputes that rise to the level of needing an attorney, either because of threatened litigation or an actual case filed with the court. If you have been served, or you are embroiled in a legal dispute that appears to require the help of an attorney, you may need the assistance of a litigator.
Reviewing and creating contracts is an essential skill needed for a small town attorney. Contracts come in many forms and sizes. Wading through the legal-eze is often best done with the assistance of an attorney.
Corporation and Business Law
For business owners, the aid of an attorney can be required for many aspects of running a business. Beyond formation concerns, running a business requires staying in compliance with governmental laws and regulations. Employee issues can trigger a need for an attorney. Intellectual property topics (i.e., copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents) can arise, either as a protection of corporate assets or as a response from a demand letter for infringement.
When charged with a crime, an immediate goal is to get the help of an attorney who can protect your rights. My practice is mostly limited to misdemeanor charges, although felony cases that should ultimately only result in misdemeanor pleas fall into this category.
Divorce & Family Law
While not a favorite moment in life, divorces often are the only resolution to a difficult relationship. As just a sampling of things that arise in this area of law include: adoptions, divorces, prenuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, DROs & QDROs, settlement agreements, child custody agreements, guardianships, and other family law matters.
Driving under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII / DUI / DWI)
When facing a DUI, it helps to get the advice of an attorney as to how to proceed. For many first-time drunk driving offenders, the courts have programs that can be advantageous. Entering a DUI Deferred Prosecution program is, what in other states, is termed a DUI diversion program. With the DUI Deferred Prosecution program, there are classes and other requirements, including an ignition interlock device on any car driven during the deferred prosecution period. Many defendants prefer to have an attorney speak for them, in court and with negotiations with the prosecutor, rather than trying to do it alone.
Elder law includes a lot of different areas of law, collected together in one grouping. Typical topic areas include: healthcare, estate planning, guardianship planning, elder abuse issues, financial planning, and just about everything in-between, including working with loved ones during challenging times.
Complying with employment laws and regulations is only one aspect of employment law. Mistakes can be made in the handling of employee issues. My focus is primarily on the employer side. Complying with FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and more specifically Washington's FLA requires an employer to stay abreast of the law. Typical topic areas include employment contracts, intellectual property agreements, non-compete agreements, day-to-day employment issues, and other employment related issues.
Estate planning is perhaps my favorite area of practice. An estate plan often involves a revocable living trust (RLT), although depending upon the financial circumstances, this may not be required in Washington. When an RLT is used, the estate plan will include a Certificate of Trust and a pour-over will. For non-trust estate plans, there is a traditional will, which may or may not include a testamentary trust. Having a power-of-attorney is important for situations where one becomes unable to handle one's financial affairs. A medical power-of-attorney, or an advance directive, is another important document for situations where one is not able to explain life choices to medical providers.
Sometimes, clients require a special needs trust, to take care of a loved one, but with a "trustee" making sure that the money is given to the loved one without problems from others (i.e., creditors, not ruining government benefits, etc.).
Not to be forgotten, many clients opt to make special provisions for their pets with a pet trust.
Early on, I learned to pick a side when it comes to landlord and tenant arguments. I picked the landlords. This means that I help landlords with evictions, should things rise to that level. But, it also means that I work with landlords to craft leases that comply with the law and attempt to avoid issues that might lead one day to an eviction. Getting a Writ of Restitution involves multiple steps that could be undermined by tenants armed with the power of Google. It's important to get the notices and later the summons in proper form.
Whether injured in an automobile accident, or otherwise personally injured, working against the insurance companies can often be a pain. Many times, a self-represented individual never gets past the claims adjuster. Often, it's not until an actual case is filed with Jefferson County Superior Court does the insurance company loosen its pockets with a decent settlement offer. Whether, as a plaintiff, the client chooses to accept the settlement offers that are presented, always remains the choice of the client. Sometimes, one has to go to trial. In this area of law, the payment of fees to the attorney is only made from a percentage of the proceeds received.
When a probate is needed (i.e., no trust), the process can be complicated. As an attorney licensed in California, Oregon and Washington, a great deal of my practice involves probate. The probate process begins with a petition to the court for the appointment of a personal representative. Once appointed, a host of notices go out the door, and a newspaper legal notice is run in a local paper for three successive weeks. Creditors are put on notice, and the personal representative deals with many of the issues personally, leaving the legal issues for the attorney. When all goes well, there is an eventual distribution to beneficiaries, but a lot can happen along the way.
For attorneys in other jurisdictions, I handle ancillary probates. An ancillary probate is a special probate that is run in the non-primary jurisdictions. For example, a primary probate might be occurring in Wyoming, but a plot of land in Oregon might be in the decedent's portfolio of assets. Only by running an ancillary probate in Oregon can the lot in Oregon be legally transferred.
For small estates, there are small estate affidavits that are often used, rather than using the full probate process. These are cost effective ways of getting assets transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs, when the estate falls under certain state-by-state asset limits.
If a product has caused an injury, there are different approaches to making a claim against the manufacturer or retailer. These are special cases that require solid legal research into prior cases that have occurred for the type of product that has cause harm.
Many issues can arise from the ownership of real property. The practice of real estate law overlaps at time with other areas of law, including family law, estate planning, probate, and other situations where the creation of a deed is required. Other issues that arise in the area of real estate law include: easements, prescriptive easements, easements by necessity, easements by implication, adverse possession, trespass, encroachments, lot line disputes, trees, fences, surveying issues, water rights, and issues with the city and county. Other planned issues include real estate sales contracts, title paperwork review, for-sale-by-owner documents, and other documents associated with the sale of property.
In Oregon, I have taught the 3-hour course required by real estate brokers on the law. I have also been involved in helping real estate agents and brokers stay in compliance with inquiries related to licensing.
When tax issues arise, an attorney often gets involved for laser-focused inquiries into a particular line item or tax position. This is different than preparing taxes and often involves a team of both the tax preparer and an attorney.
Federal Estate Tax Exemptions:
2018 Federal Estate Tax Exemption $11.18M
2019 Federal Estate Tax Exemption $11.4M
Washington State Estate Tax Exemptions:
2018 Washington Estate Tax Exemption $2.193M
2019 Washington Estate Tax Exemption $2.193M
Traffic Ticket Appearances for Commercial Truck Drivers (CDL)
There is more at stake for a commercial truck driver when it comes to tickets. If a client's case has an argument that has legal merit, I can often help in making that argument before the prosecution.
Wills & Trusts (e.g., last will and testament, codicil, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, living will, power of attorney, advanced medical directive, HIPAA waiver, etc.)
This topic is a bit of a duplicate for estate planning above. Working in Port Townsend, this area of law attracts the most clients in my general practice mix of practice areas.
Typical areas of client concern include:
•Business Formation, Incorporation, LLC Formation
•Corporation and Business Law
•Divorce & Family Law
•Driving under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII / DUI / DWI)
•Traffic Ticket Appearances for Commercial Truck Drivers (CDL)
•Wills & Trusts (e.g., last will and testament, codicil, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, living will, power of attorney, advanced medical directive, HIPAA waiver, etc.)
Greg Freeze * Small town law -- All issues welcome
Greg Freeze is well-versed in many areas of Washington Law, Oregon law and California law. His business background is helpful in understanding complex matters. As an MBA and former officer of a public company, he brings a unique perspective to the practice of law.
As an attorney in Port Townsend, WA, Greg Freeze services the nearby areas of Brinnon, Chimacum, Discovery Bay, Fort Worden, Gardiner, Irondale, Kala Point, Marrowstone, Olympic National Park, Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow, Quilcene, Sequim, The Hoh, or anywhere else near Jefferson County on the Northern Olympic Peninsula where there is a need for legal representation.
Mr. Freeze also services the needs of remote clients from Florence, Oregon, specifically, probate, small estate affidavits, and issues from existing and prior clients.