Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Try to Handle Your Criminal Charges on Your Own

When you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, it’s extremely important for you to have a criminal defense attorney to handle your charges and lead you through the process. This is true whether you’re innocent or guilty. In this article, we’ll discuss three reasons why you want a criminal defense attorney on your side, regardless of the type of charge you’re facing.

  1. Criminal Charges Will Affect You for the Rest of Your Life

Depending on how your charges are resolved, the consequences of a guilty plea, a first-time offender’s program, or a trial disposition can be with you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can prevent you from getting jobs, can hurt your chances at good housing, can keep you from getting a mortgage depending on the situation, and can affect your ability to own guns, vote, or participate in a dozen other responsibilities and opportunities of citizenship. Criminal charges can affect immigration status, the way people view you, your car insurance, and more. It’s important to never underestimate the power of criminal charges and how they can affect your life.

  1. Our Attorneys Know the Law

It may seem obvious, but having someone who can help you by explaining the law to you is extremely important. It’s not just that we know about law, it’s also that we know to ask questions you may not know to ask. Our attorneys spend their time thinking about how to prove or disprove things. They’ve thought about cases similar to yours, different than yours, wilder than yours, or simpler than yours. It’s important to have someone who has had time to mentally work through situations similar to yours that can help you through your situation.

  1. You Want a Buffer Between You, the Cops, and the Judge

Finally, having a criminal defense attorney means having someone who can speak for you. This isn’t just about having someone who can “speak better” than you can. Rather, having an attorney who stands between you and the government means having someone who can give plausible explanations for things that you couldn’t offer. It means having someone who can refuse to answer questions without looking evasive, because attorneys can stand on constitutional rights or other explanations for why answering those questions shouldn’t be required. It means being able to say to a judge or a prosecutor truthfully, “I don’t know” in response to a question of where you were at a specific time without looking like you’re hiding something. A good attorney knows how to use all of the rules of evidence, the rules of criminal procedure, and the rules of the constitution to protect you from your charges.

Conclusion

Criminal charges are not a DIY project. There are plenty of things you can try to do yourself, and there are some things in life that are worth trying to find the cheapest option for. Handling criminal charges is not either of those things. When you’re faced with something as important as criminal charges that can affect the rest of your life, it’s vital that you have someone who is experienced and can help you. Call Cornerstone Law Firm and our attorneys can help you navigate your criminal charges.

What Should go in Your LLC’s Operating Agreement

Limited liability companies in Pennsylvania are organized by filing with the department of state. But the most important document that an LLC’s owners sign is the operating agreement. The operating agreement serves the same function that bylaws serve for a corporation. They are the constitution that governs the organization’s operations. The operating agreement is generally not filed with the department of state, nor with any other government agency. They are an entirely private document between the owners (called members in an LLC).

Operating Agreements are agreements between the LLC’s owners

The operating agreement is an agreement between the members and the organization itself as to how the LLC will be run. It lays out the ownership interest of the parties and provides for dispute resolution. Below are a few things that every LLC operating agreement should consider including:

  1. Ownership interest of the members.

The operating agreement is usually the first document to actually name who the owners of an LLC are. Indeed, it is often the only document to name the owners. The operating agreement should identify who the owners are and what their percentage interest is.

There’s a difference between beneficial and legal ownership in LLCs. Someone may have a non-voting interest in the LLC, meaning that they’re entitled to some of the profits of the entity without having any power to determine how the organization is run. Conversely, someone may have a high voting percentage but not necessarily a high ownership interest.

Most LLCs tend to keep it simple, however. If you have four owners, they each have 25%, or if you have two owners, they’re 50/50. But in the case of an even number of owners, what happens if there’s a tie? If the owners for whatever reason are unable to agree on how to run the organization on a very important issue, how do you break the deadlock?

  1. Dispute resolution provisions.

For this reason, a good operating agreement should include dispute resolution provisions. These provide that if the members are tied in an important vote, an outside party can be chosen as an arbiter. Sometimes this arbiter is named, but more often, a guide to how the arbiter should be chosen is laid out in case of such deadlock. In extreme cases, operating agreements that we’ve seen at our firm have dictated a coin flip to make a final determination. We certainly don’t recommend that! But even a coin flip is better than nothing in laying out ahead of time how conflict resolution will occur between the members.

Furthermore, having a plan in place sometimes helps everyone avoid such conflict. Knowing that an important vote might be left to a coin flip or an outside arbiter encourages the members to work harder to resolve things before invoking such provisions.

  1. Oppressed minority owner provisions.

In cases where there is a majority owner and minority owner, or even where there are a handful of owners, sometimes you want to write in provisions of what happens if one person or more feel like their interests are no longer represented by the whole. As a simple example, if you have six owners and two of them feel that the other four owners are “forcing them out” of major decisions, what rights do these two have?

When LLCs form, the members are usually getting along. But divorces, inter-personal fights, business or artistic disagreements and more can get in the way. If the majority is outvoting the same minority repeatedly, the minority can begin to feel as though their ownership interest is no longer valuable.

Although Pennsylvania law provides a number of avenues for minority owners to address this, its best if you spell out provisions in your operating agreement to govern these situations. Doing so also avoids fights in many cases by giving everyone ways to avoid conflict before it starts, and by spelling out how everyone loses if anyone is being pushed out.

  1. Indemnification of officers and members.

Another thing to consider in your operating agreement is having a clear statement about indemnifying officers or members for their work in the company. In the event that an individual is sued for their work with a company, the question often becomes whether the company should have to pay their legal bills. Making sure that your owner members aren’t left to fend for themselves if sued is an important step to maintaining the long-term commitment of all investors to the company.

  1. Buyout provisions.

Perhaps the most important part of an operating agreement is a statement about how a member’s interest is bought out once they’ve decided to sell. This happens both when a member sells voluntarily and involuntarily due to bankruptcy or other proceedings. Will the membership interest be appraised? Must it be sold first to other members or to the company? Or can they sell to an outside investor? These and other important questions should be resolved up front before the problem arises. Doing so can avoid costly litigation and unintended consequences of having an unexpected member buy in from the outside without warning.

Conclusion: Speak to a business lawyer about your LLC operating agreement

If you’re forming an LLC in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are advantages to hiring an experienced business lawyer to help you. At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys help draft operating agreements that foresee the types of problems that you may run into even with a single business partner with whom you’re on good terms. A good operating agreement is not a tool to start fights with; rather it can help to prevent conflict down the road.

Call us today to discuss how we can help you in your business.

Is a cop’s word enough to convict me?

A common question posed to our Criminal Defense attorneys is whether the police need physical evidence, including fingerprints, DNA or videos, to convict a defendant for a crime. The short answer is no, the police can convict you with nothing more than their own story about what you did. In many cases, the only evidence that the police officers have is what the police officers themselves witnessed, and perhaps what a defendant told those police officers. In other words, a cop’s word is enough to convict you if it is believed.

Under Pennsylvania law, the prosecution can generally get a conviction with nothing more than a police officer’s testimony as to what they saw, smelled or heard. Of course, what they testify to must be sufficient to convict someone for the crime. In other words, if can’t simply be a police officer’s opinion. However, if they saw someone committing a crime, or if the defendant confessed to them that they’ve committed a crime, that’s generally enough, if believed, for a jury to convict and a court to uphold such a conviction.

The increasing number of videos available when crimes are alleged to have been committed have raised an assumption in many people’s minds that the lack of video evidence is significant. Here’s an example: If you come out of a store and the police officer says he saw you stealing something while inside, we generally expect that there will be surveillance footage. If there’s not, that is an argument that can be raised to the jury. Why was no footage produced if it happened in a store where surveillance cameras should be running? Similarly, once a fight breaks out in the street, there are usually at least a few bystanders who pull out cellphones to record it. If no recordings come forth, there’s a question about whether that fight really occurred.

But of course, video is not required to take a case to a jury, and a jury can believe the police officer’s story. This is why physical evidence isn’t strictly necessary.

Talking to the police is dangerous, and as we’ve discussed in other articles, it’s important not to talk to the police when you’ve been accused of a crime. Doing so can almost always hurt you and it can almost never help.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and you have questions about how best to defend yourself, contact our office today to talk to one of our experienced Criminal Defense attorneys. Our attorneys help people throughout Pennsylvania, and we’re happy to help you with your charges.

How Businesses Use Small Claims Court to Save Money

One of the best kept secrets in business law is how companies can use small claims court to save money. In Pennsylvania, Magisterial District Courts (sometimes called “MDJs” for the Magisterial District Judges that sit in them) act as our small claims’ courts. Learning to navigate them can save time and money. MDJs have concurrent jurisdiction with the county Courts of Common Pleas for claims up to twelve thousand dollars, meaning you can file your claim in “big court” or in the MDJ.

Suing Without an Attorney

When small businesses have minor claims against business associates or customers who haven’t paid bills, the MDJs are a great venue to consider. Going to court in an MDJ does not always require the services of an attorney. Technically, any corporate entity, whether an LLC, a corporation, or similarly otherwise, is required to hire an attorney. This is because a corporate entity cannot represent itself the way an individual can. A corporate entity is technically a separate person. However, in practice, most MDJs allow a business to be represented by an owner or other representative pro se. As a practical matter, this means that businesses can pursue overdue bills, deadbeat tenants, and contract-breaching business associates without the expense of hiring a lawyer.

Of course, there are many benefits to having a lawyer, but even businesses that utilize the services of a corporate attorney will seek advice from this attorney on a specific case before deciding whether to undertake filing the suit and handling it themselves.

Small Claims Court is Quick

Another reason that small businesses utilize small claims court in Pennsylvania to save money is because the process to file in the MDJ is fast and leads to a hearing usually within around sixty days. Compared to filing in the Court of Common Pleas (the court that governs a county), this is lightning speed.

The MDJ will have one day of hearings, without any “discovery” process for producing documents between the parties, and without the litigation that accompanies the months of waiting on a response. MDJs don’t require complicated pleadings, and typically make a decision the day of the hearing or within a few days thereafter.

Small Claims Court gets the attention of your adversary

A final benefit to the MDJ process is that it is typically a simple way to get someone’s attention. It shows that you’re serious about collecting an overdue bill and triggers them to pay an attorney or at least respond. If they fail to show up to court, judgment is issued against them. Although you have the right to appeal from an MDJ decision within 30 days, as a practical matter, it often ends disputes and allows the parties to settle in the courtroom.

Conclusion: Call us for advice on how to handle your MDJ hearing

Our attorneys have helped business clients with hundreds of appearances before MDJs, and we’re ready to help you.  Call us at Cornerstone Law Firm today to discuss how your business could save money by utilizing small claims court.

Motion to Compel

A motion to compel is a document filed with a court asking for someone to produce “discovery” as part of a lawsuit. A motion to compel may ask the court to require someone to produce documents, the answer to a question, a witness for a deposition or some other form of discovery that the person is refusing to turn over. Motions to compel happen in the discovery phase of a lawsuit.

Pennsylvania Discovery Process

In state court in Pennsylvania, motions to compel are not considered appropriate until one has made an attempt to “meet and confer” with the other side. This means that in addition to a discovery request which is answered by objections or a non-answer, the party seeking the discovery is expected to either send a letter, have a phone call, or have other conversations with opposing counsel or the other party in an effort to work out the dispute before asking the court to intervene. This is based on the principle that courts do not want to be involved in matters unless they absolutely have to be.

In many counties, including Berks County, a discovery dispute has been referred to a discovery master. A discovery master is a private attorney who has nothing to do with the case who is hired by the county to hold weekly hearings and issue recommendations on discovery disputes. The presiding judge in a case reviews and usually approves these recommendations. In putting together a motion to compel and in proceedings before a discovery master, the important points to stress are why the discovery is relevant to the case, why it cannot conveniently be obtained somewhere else, and why the other party’s claims of privilege or objection are not appropriate.

Federal Court Discovery Process Requires Meet and Confer

Federal Court rules are similar. Federal judges want the parties to “meet and confer” as discussed above, and some judges in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania prohibit the filing of any motion without a teleconference with the presiding judge to explain why “meet and confer” failed to solve the problem. Furthermore, federal judges tend to be a little more willing to parse through lists of documents and demand production than some of their state court counterparts. This depends, of course, on the specific judge.

Conclusion: Discovery is Key to Litigation Success

Discovery is where cases are won and lost, and insisting on documents and answers in a case is an important part of being ready for trial. At Cornerstone Law Firm, our litigation attorneys deal with discovery disputes regularly, and we can help you with your case. Call us today for a consultation on your rights and obligations in discovery.

Are There Any Consequences to ARD?

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, commonly known as ARD, is frequently brought up as a potential resolution to charges, especially when the charges are first-time offenses. Technically a first-time offenders program, ARD is sometimes offered or negotiated by criminal defense attorneys, even in situations where there are prior charges.

ARD results in the complete dismissal of charges and the expunging of the arrest from your record—so there are no “criminal consequences” to ARD. It comes without any jail time and no formal probation. And ARD can even reduce the license suspension you face in a DUI.

But are there any drawbacks to accepting ARD?

First, private parties are legally able to use ARD against you. One simple example of this is when your car insurance company raises your rates as a result of ARD. Some insurance companies use this as an admission of guilt even though the court system does not. Insurance companies use a number of factors to set your rate, including your age, your level of education, the neighborhood in which you live and more. Another factor they can weigh is your participation in ARD.

A second way ARD can be used against you is by colleges. Colleges sometimes discipline students for the actions that led to the ARD. Sometimes colleges will treat ARD as an admission of guilt, although there are some constitutional limits to how public universities handle these matters. Private colleges, however, will use ARD participation however they wish to in most cases.

Third, Pennsylvania courts have recently weighed in with suggestions that ARD can be used against a witness in a civil proceeding. While ARD is not proof that someone committed a crime, it can be brought up on cross-examination by another party’s attorney.

Fourth, in limited family law contexts, an ARD may be brought up as part of a custody or divorce proceeding to justify why your outcome should be different than the other parties.

Fifth, although ARD may result in expungement of charges, if your employer finds out about your participation in ARD, whether recently or in years’ past, there is not currently any law prohibiting the employer from terminating you. Some companies even have policies stating that ARD or other so-called diversionary programs will disqualify you from being a driver of any of their fleet vehicles.

Conclusion: ARD is great, but it can have drawbacks

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about ARD. Deciding to accept or reject ARD is an important decision that should be made with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is able to help you determine whether you should consider pleading guilty, fight your charges, or accept an ARD plan. Although ARD is a great outcome in many cases, there are times when it should not be accepted. Contact Cornerstone Law Firm today to discuss your options.

Armando Ortega Not Guilty on Homicide Charges

After a week-long trial in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas, Defendant, Armando Ortega, was found not guilty on all homicide and assault charges after a jury concluded that he was not present at the scene of a murder that happened in 2014. Ortega was charged a year ago with homicide in the first degree on the basis of someone who claimed to be an eye-witness. He spent a year in jail awaiting trial.

“We are elated at the outcome of Armando’s case and proud to have represented him,” said Attorney Joel Ready, who represented Ortega in the trial. “This vindication was a long time coming and we are happy to see him return home.” Ortega was able to go home after the trial to be with family. The five-day murder trial involved nearly a dozen witnesses regarding the eight-year-old incident and concluded with more than three hours of argument by the attorneys involved.

Homicide charges come in several different varieties, ranging from first to third degree. Ortega was charged with first and third degree homicide as well as assault charges. First degree homicide carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and the assault charges would have carried sentences ranging across the spectrum. Ortega was found not guilty on all of them.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys are proud of the role they play in seeking justice for criminal defendants.  If you or a loved one has been charged with a serious crime, call Cornerstone Law Firm and speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys about your case immediately.

Do My Medical Bills Get Put on Hold While I Pursue a Personal Injury Claim?

When you are injured in a car accident, a common question that you may confront is what to do about your mounting medical bills. Some people have medical insurance that covers their medical bills, and they are less concerned with this problem. But for those who have lower-grade insurance, or for those whose insurance has been depleted as a result of the injury and injury recovery process, a big concern is how those medical bills will be paid.

To begin with, your medical bills are not put on hold or “paused” while your personal injury claim goes forward. Hospitals and other medical care providers typically do not wish to wait on the conclusion of a personal injury claim to get paid, and will insist on immediate payment. In some cases, they’ll even send these bills out for collections. So, what should you do about this?

First, ensure that all of your medical bills have been run through your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage, which is part of your car insurance. PIP coverage is provided by your car insurer, and you can read more about it in our article on PIP coverage. Your car insurance (not the person who hit you) is required to pay for your medical bills up to a certain limit. Sometimes victims of car accidents are worried that their car insurance will be negatively affected by using their PIP coverage, but don’t let this worry you. Your PIP coverage is there for you to use to ensure that you get better, medically, and you should have no concern about submitting your car accident-related medical bills to your car insurance directly.

Second, if your PIP coverage is exhausted, and you have further medical bills, you should talk to a personal injury attorney about how to ensure that these claims are handled as you go through the process. In some cases, this means that your personal injury attorney sends letters to the medical providers or collection agencies explaining to them that the process is continuing and that, at some point, you expect payment on your claim. Personal injury lawyers can sometimes negotiate these claims or at least establish a delay in payment for you.

Third, establish payment plans if necessary. Some medical providers will agree to accept payments and can do so without any interest if you begin making certain amounts of good faith payments on these bills. Furthermore, you can sometimes negotiate these bills to a more reasonable level by offering to pay cash up front for a reduction in the overall bill.

Finally, medical bills can also mount after someone has passed away in a car accident. In that case, the estate of the person who died will be responsible for the bills, but these costs can be recouped from the wrongdoer in a wrongful death action.

If you’ve been in a car accident or otherwise injured on the road, contact the personal injury lawyers at Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss your case and see how we can help you. To learn more, read our article on your next steps after a car accident.

Does a Treatment Plan Effect my Drug or Alcohol Charges?

When you’re facing drug or alcohol charges, getting treatment is important not just for personal and health reasons, but also as a piece of an appropriate defense. Charges involving addiction include possession of marijuana or methamphetamines, drug paraphernalia, DUI (driving under the influence), and other possession-type charges. Being able to show that you are taking steps to deal with your addiction is extremely important in your defense.

Below are two significant ways that a treatment plan can assist in your defense to these charges.

In-patient treatment can count as jail time

In the event that you’re facing serious charges that will require you to do jail time, doing a treatment plan and spending time in an in-patient treatment center can be credited towards jail time. In-patient treatment means that you have spent time in a facility where you spent the night and received intensive treatment. If you were in such a facility, the time that you spent there can be credited towards your jail time. For example, if you spend two weeks in a treatment facility, and end up sentenced to a month in jail, you will be nearly halfway finished by the time you check in for your first night in jail.

In-patient treatment plans can feel extreme, and we’ve found that clients are resistant to seeking this sort of treatment. It feels like jail—until you compare it to the possibility of actually going to jail. There can also be significant financial costs to in-patient programs depending on your insurance situation.

If health insurance covers in-patient treatment, you should consider taking advantage of this immediately, as health insurance plans do not typically cover such treatment if it is court-ordered. Taking advantage of an in-patient program right away can allow you to have it covered by insurance and then to use it as part of your defense mitigation after the fact.

In other words, you should aggressively and proactively pursue in-patient treatment at the beginning of the criminal process. Doing so means that it may be covered by your insurance. Even if you have no insurance, in-patient programs are almost always better than jail.

Out-patient programs are helpful too

Short of in-patient programs, simple steps like Alcoholics Anonymous or church-run programs can help to give you tools to combat addiction, to identify dangerous warnings that you might slip up, and can provide accountability to build toward new habits. As discussed below, this is helpful to show a prosecutor or judge as the process moves forward.

Proactive treatment can factor into your attorney’s arguments for a better plea agreement on your possession or other addiction-related charges

Although this is not always the case, when your defense attorney can show a prosecutor and police officers that you have been proactive with your treatment, they often are more willing to consider better offers. In addition, judges at sentencing who hold the power to confirm or deny a favorable plea agreement are often more persuaded by the steps that someone has taken to get serious treatment before being required to do so, even if it was after being arrested or charged with a crime.

Not every judge is the same, and of course not all prosecutors or officers will be won over by this step. However, there are very few ways to show that you’re serious about getting help quite like an aggressive treatment plan. Everyone tells a judge at sentencing that they want to get their life together. Showing that you’re willing to do so before being ordered to do so by a court can be persuasive in convincing the court or prosecutor that this is the truth.

Conclusion: Treatment plans are a helpful part of your defense

If nothing else, getting help and getting treatment is never a wasted decision when you’re facing drug or alcohol charges. For many people, charges can be a wake-up call that helps get them back on the right track. If you have questions about your charges or how treatment plans can impact what you’re facing, contact Cornerstone Law Firm today.

Dissolving a Church or Nonprofit in Pennsylvania

When a church or nonprofit organization comes to the point where it is no longer large enough to sustain its purpose, there are a number of steps to take to properly dissolve it. To avoid creating personal liability for any of the directors or officers, it is important to dissolve the nonprofit organization legally and distribute its funds and property pursuant to Pennsylvania law. This article will give you a few of the steps that are involved so that you can prepare for the road ahead.

At the outset, we should note: this article is meant to give you helpful tips but is not legal advice. Every situation is different, and you should speak with an experienced nonprofit attorney who can help you through the process.

  1. Take an Official Vote of the Board of Directors/Members

Who gets to decide to dissolve the nonprofit? Under Pennsylvania law, your organization can either be member-run or run by the board of directors. Whoever holds the power should be the body to take the vote. Sometimes organizations take a vote of both, and this isn’t bad if everyone is in agreement. However, you can create a conflict where the board votes for dissolution and the members vote against it.

In most cases, if you have members of your organization, they’re probably the body empowered to vote to dissolve the corporation. In old-style nonprofit corporations, there were even stock certificates that were held by members, and their voting share was often different depending on how much stock they held. In most modern organizations, this is no longer the case. Regardless, members vote in a member-run organization on a major decision such as a total dissolution.

Churches can be a particularly confusing situation because they may have “members” who are not members within the meaning of Pennsylvania nonprofit law. To be sure, check your articles of incorporation and see if your organization was elected to be a member organization or not. You should also consult your by-laws. If there is a conflict between these documents, it’s important to discuss this situation with your attorney.

Once you’ve taken a vote, you need to document the vote. For a board of directors, this usually involves either meeting minutes or a corporate resolution documenting that everyone is in agreement (or noting the number of dissenting votes and showing that you had a majority). For a member vote, it’s important you have some sort of meeting minutes kept by a secretary, documenting the precise vote. This is done so that there can be no question that it was agreed that the organization should be dissolved.

  1. Obtain Tax Certificates

For most nonprofits and churches, this part won’t be an issue, but you will need to ensure that you have no outstanding tax due to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue or the IRS. You may be wondering how a nonprofit could ever owe taxes. In most cases this has to do either with property tax for a property that was never granted tax-exempt status or for sales tax that was collected as part of some sort of business venture. There are other times that taxes can be collected from a nonprofit that are fairly rare. However, you should still obtain tax clearance certificates through the Bureau of Charitable Organizations in Harrisburg. Having these certificates will smooth the process for the rest of the way.

  1. Obtain Attorney General Approval

The Attorney General of Pennsylvania is granted power by statute to oversee all nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania. This means that the Attorney General has the power to review dissolutions, mergers and other major changes to nonprofits. The idea of the Attorney General’s approval is based on ensuring that a non-profit does not collect donations and then simply dissolve, either giving those donations to a private party or giving that money to a nonprofit for a totally different purpose.

As a simple example, one could imagine that a nonprofit collecting money for a conservative cause and shutting down only to give that money to a liberal cause would incite a lot of consternation among individuals who’d given large amounts of money to the initial organization. Similarly, if a church were to shut down and give all of its money to an atheist organization, there would be many donors who would be wronged. The Attorney General’s approval is usually not hard to obtain, and simply requires showing that the final funds are being given to a similar organization.

  1. Obtain Court Approval to Sell Real Estate

As an important part of the process, any real estate owned by the nonprofit or the church needs to be sold and the sale or transfer will need to be court-approved. In many cases, a buyer will insist on court approval before the sale goes through, as title companies typically don’t insure purchases from dissolving nonprofits until the court order is obtained.

This is sometimes known informally as a “comfort order,” because even in situations where it is not legally required under Pennsylvania law, buyers and other third parties are often not comfortable until it is obtained.

  1. Ensure that Money Left Over is Transferred to a Similar Nonprofit

As discussed above, dissolving nonprofits should typically give their money to a similar organization. Churches often choose a church within their denomination or a church with similar doctrine. Nonprofits look for organizations with similar missions. A veterans group that is winding up will look for other groups that serve veterans, for example.

Another factor to be considered is geography. If your nonprofit serves the people of one county, a nonprofit that will be similarly invested there is a good choice. Ultimately, the Attorney General’s office gives broad latitude to the choice as long as it is a similar nonprofit, and as long as no one person is taking personal benefit from the dissolution.

Having said that, there is an appropriate way to pay out salary and other costs to the executive director, pastor or other employees of a nonprofit. Many of these individuals may have spent years trying to keep the nonprofit afloat during difficult times. There are legal ways to pay out extra salary, bonuses, and even retirement funds or annuities for these individuals without running afoul of the rules.

Conclusion: A nonprofit attorney can help dissolve your entity

When it comes to winding up a nonprofit, there are many choices you’ll face. Contact the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm for a full review of your situation and to discuss next steps in your process.