Just say the words ‘I need a good lawyer’ and you’ll having everyone looking at you askance and wondering just what it is that you’ve done that isn’t quite kosher. In fact, that needn’t be the case at all. We all need a good lawyer to keep our affairs in order throughout our lifetime and the intelligent woman will recognise this as just another fact of society today.
From a relatively care free existence growing up we finally reach the point where we begin work and take on all the responsibilities that come with paddling our own canoe. Some of us get married and have children early on, others travel whilst still others plunge headlong into building a long-term career. Whichever road we travel, I can think of a couple of examples where good legal advice is a personal must.
The Law and You
The Marriage Contract
Gone are the days when couples got married in community of property where in the events of separation or divorce all the assets were split right down the middle irrespective or who contributed what and when to the marriage.
Today it is normal practise between two people who are about to marry to enter into a prenuptial agreement (antenuptial agreement) which is professionally drawn up by a lawyer. This written contract, setting out the terms of possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of the property of each, and potential division if the marriage is later dissolved. These agreements are particular common if either or both parties have substantial assets, children from a prior marriage, potential inheritances, high incomes, or have been “taken” by a prior spouse.
Further entrenching the antenuptial contract as normal practise prior to marriage in South Africa is the spike in the already high divorce rates.
Last Will & Testament
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the distribution of his assets at death.
While it is possible to draft your own will and testament it is not always advisable because a will needs to comply with certain legal requirements in order to be valid. Getting an attorney help you write your last will and testament provides you with the peace-of-mind that comes from the certainty of knowning that on your death your estate will be administered properly – from a tax, administration and legal perspective.
Failure to provide a will could result in your assets given to persons you would have preferred not to inherit from you and bad planning could see a large chunk being taken out of your estate to pay for estate duty, income tax, VAT and capital gains tax.
So, whilst we wouldn’t go so far as to say that it goes without saying that you should get the advice of a specialist or adviser for the drafting of your will, it certainly seems the sensible option.
The Law and Your Business
Having looked at just two areas where the need for lawyers on a personal level are a necessity I am sure you will appreciate how much more valuable a lawyer is in your business environment where there are a multitude of legal issues to think about.
Virtually everything – from naming and registering your business to how it is run has a legal implication. Here are a sample of just some of the thing you would need to know if you were for example . . .
Starting your own business
- What laws apply to your new business
- How to licence your business
- How to draw up leases and legal contracts
- The legal implications of employment issues
- Instituting dispute resolution
- The protocol of making and breaking agreements, etc.
The list goes on and on and who better to help you, preferably before you even open the doors of your business, than a professional attorney who knows exactly what legal requirements are applicable to and need to be followed by you.
Types of Lawyers
Below is a list of the various categories of lawyers, each has its own subcategories, which gives you a good indication of how varied and specialised the practise of law really is. From your perspective it is important to retain someone best suited to handle your particular needs.
Civil Rights Attorney
DUI- DWI Attorney
Family & Divorce Lawyer
Private Practice Lawyer
Public Interest Lawyer
Business / Corporate Law Attorney
Criminal Defence Attorney
Employment Lawyer – Employees’ Rights
Estate Law Attorney / Estate Planning
Personal Injury Lawyer
Property / Real Estate Law Attorney
Toxic Tort Lawyer
Get a good Law Firm on your side
If you’re not sure where to find a good law firm then the Law Society is a good start. It can put you in touch with qualified solicitors in your area and expert in your particular specialisation.
Make an appointment and meet them face-to-face in order to ascertain their legal fees and their feel for your particular business. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and testimonials. Finally, be sure you have an affinity with them and can work with them on an ongoing basis. See a number of law firms – don’t just settle for the first one your see.