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Do You Need a Lawyer to Buy a Business?

lawyer help buy businessNo, you don't "need" a lawyer to buy a business -- as in, there is no legal requirement to hire a lawyer to buy a business. You also don't "need" a contractor to build a house. You don't "need" a roofing company to change your roof. You don't "need" an accountant to do your taxes. But we hire people because of their expertise. And quite frankly, DIY legal services are not the highest and best use of your time as a business owner. (The highest and best use is bringing in business and making sales).

How Does an Attorney Help You Buy a Business?

The attorney has two goals when helping a buyer buy a business. 1) The lawyer helps you make an informed decision when buying your business and 2) puts safeguards in place if things were to go wrong in the future. In order to help you make an informed decision, the lawyer:
  1. Works with other business experts to determine the value and liabilities of the target business
  2. Ensures the target business does not owe any taxes
  3. Reviews the target's business contracts so the buyer knows what other obligations the buyer has
  4. Determines if there are other liabilities the buyer should be concerned about (such as potential lawsuits)
  5. Makes sure all of the target business owners agree to the sale of their business
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Skipping Due diligence Is One of the Biggest Mistakes in Buying a Business

due diligenceI get a lot of clients who have problems after they bought a business. Unfortunately, many of the problems were avoidable, but the biggest mistake we have seen by buyers -- particularly when the buyer bought the business without an attorney -- is skipping the due diligence process. Why do they have a problem? These buyers find out problems that exist in the business after they spent the money buying the business and have little recourse. Sometimes the buyer believes that they overpaid for the business because they did not consult an expert on the financial health of the business. Other times, the buyer learns later that they have more liability than previously believed because the buyer did not review all of the contracts.  Other times, the buyer did not check if the business had all of its certifications and licenses necessary to operate. The buyer thinks she bought her dream, but instead it becomes clear she bought a nightmare. To add to this nightmare, sellers often move out of the state, or even the country, so it's hard for the buyer to get the seller to contact the seller. Also, due diligence is the basis of the purchase agreement. In these cases, the language in the purchase agreement did not adequately protect the buyer's future. Lastly, another reason is when the seller commits ...
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