Latest Articles from Our Blog

Maryland Association of Paralegals

On September 18, 2018, Lusk Law’s paralegal, Anne Wolf, was a featured presenter at the Maryland Association of Paralegal’s MAP U#5, held at the Community College for Baltimore County. Anne gave a presentation on working with MDEC, Maryland’s online court document filing system.  Other topics at the seminar included E-discovery, Ethics and Social media, Pro Bono opportunities as well as Commercial real estate tips and legal search with West Law. Maryland Association of Paralegals is affiliated with the National Association of Paralegals and is highly active in the state. Anne is currently on the ballot for the new Administrative Vice President of the Maryland Association of Paralegals and is excited to continue to grow her skills and network in order to better assist the firm.

Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible Now

Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible NowBig changes have come to the mutual consent divorce laws in Maryland. A new law, which takes effect October 1, 2018, will allow parents of minor children to file for a mutual consent divorce without the previously mandated one-year separation. Mutual consent divorce is not a brand-new concept in Maryland. In 2015, it became possible for couples without children to obtain an absolute (final) divorce without being separated for a year, as long as they had a written final separation agreement. The new rule makes it possible for couples with minor children to do the same. The new rules will make it much simpler for couples to obtain a “no-fault” divorce, removing the lengthy and costly year-long separation process that previously forced both parties to maintain completely separate residences and finances, while remaining in the State of Maryland. Couples now have much more flexibility to come to a mutual agreement…

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax Law

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax LawIf you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may give you a big incentive to move quickly and have your divorce agreement finalized and signed by December 31, 2018. Or it may give you a big incentive to do the exact opposite – wait until after January 1, 2019, to execute the agreement. It all depends on whether you’ll be making alimony payments, or receiving them. Alimony rules have been historically frustrating, mostly because every state has its own rules about the amount and length of payments. "There's not really a cohesive rationale for alimony," Mary Kay Kisthardt, a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, told MSNBC. "In any given state, we're not sure what we're trying to do." One rule has been clear for all alimony arrangements, up until now. Currently, the payers of alimony can…

Client Spotlight – Angela Mays of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLC

Client Spotlight – Angela Mays of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLCAt Lusk Law, we have the privilege of working with incredible people, many of them entrepreneurs and business owners. We regularly take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on these clients to find out more about their businesses, achievements and relationship with our firm. For this installment of our Client Spotlight series, we talked to Angela Mays, Managing Director and Founder of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLC, which specializes in providing accounting and consulting services to the defense and real estate industries. Angela told us about her journey from part-time to full-time business owner, her ideal clients and her relationship with Lusk Law, LLC. Questions and responses have been lightly edited. When did you start your business and what achievements are you proud of? Angela Mays: I started my business 18 years ago as a part-time business providing accounting and tax services for small businesses. I officially started full-time in…

What Does Baltimore’s New Inspection Law Mean for Smaller Landlords?

What Does Baltimore’s New Inspection Law Mean for Smaller Landlords?A new law in Baltimore is requiring landlords of smaller rental properties to get their apartments inspected. The uncertainty of these inspections is concerning to some smaller landlords, although many still support it. The law is aimed at improving housing conditions in Baltimore’s lower-income areas, according to the Baltimore Sun. Owners of rental properties with one or two bedrooms have until Jan. 1, 2019, to pass a 20-point inspection before they can obtain a license to rent their properties. This is a new requirement for Baltimore’s smaller landlords—previously, only the owners of multifamily properties with three or more units were required to be registered, inspected, and licensed. However, the Sun reports that most of the city’s violations for problems such as rodents, mold, and lack of heat come from these one- and two-unit properties that make up half of Baltimore’s rental market. The inspection must be performed by a licensed third-party…

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business Climate

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business ClimateIn July 2018, CNBC released its list of America’s Top States for Business 2018. Overall, Maryland was ranked 31st out of all 50 states, an aggregate score that combined many metrics that CNBC considered as contributing to a state’s “business climate.” (Texas topped the list, and Alaska came in at the bottom.) Each state was ranked in “10 broad categories, weighted based on how frequently each is used as a selling point in state economic development marketing materials,” CNBC said. “That way, [the] study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.” The final ranking, therefore, may not tell the complete story of a state, which may not fare too well in one category while excelling in another. That’s certainly the case in Maryland. CNBC’s takeaway for Maryland, which fell six spots in the ranking since last year, was that “the workforce in the Old Line State is…

To Lease or to Buy Your Small Business’s Office Space?

To Lease or to Buy Your Small Business’s Office Space?Anybody who starts a small business is immediately faced with a seemingly never-ending series of decisions. Some are small, and some are large, but they all have the potential to impact your bottom line. One of the most important decisions a business owner will face early on has to do with office space. Is it better to lease or to buy your small business’s office space? Here are some things to keep in mind while you make this decision. Upfront costs: When you buy commercial real estate, you may typically have to invest up to six times in upfront costs compared with leasing commercial real estate according to an article on FitsSmallBusiness.com. Most purchasers of commercial real estate finance the purchase with a loan that may require up to 20 percent as a down payment. Add in due diligence fees and closing costs, and this becomes the largest drawback to purchasing commercial…

There’s Room for Negotiation Between Landlords and Tenants

There's Room for Negotiation Between Landlords and TenantsIt's been a decade since the housing bust of 2008, and according to the Pew Research Center, more households in the United States are headed by renters than at any time since 1965. In 2016, 36.6% of households rented their home, compared to 31.6% in 2006. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, gross rents have continued to rise in many metropolitan areas. The current rental climate – rising demand along with rising rent costs – may lead some renters to ask how much room there is for negotiation with a landlord. The answer is: More than you might think. A poll by the real estate website Zillow showed that 61 percent of landlords were willing to negotiate with a tenant if competition for a property was slim. “Negotiating rent may seem like an intimidating process, but it can be worth the effort,” Douglas Pope, co-founder of rental website HotPads,…

Three New Maryland Laws Business Owners Should Know About

Three New Maryland Laws Business Owners Should Know AboutMaryland business owners have seen the state’s minimum wage increase coming for a few years. The hike (from $9.25 to $10.10 per hour) went into effect July 1, 2018, and was the final phase of a law passed by the General Assembly in 2014. The first raise, from $7.25 to $8, went into effect in 2015, increasing three times after that. The minimum wage increase was not the only law to take effect on July 1. There are a few other new laws on the books now that business owners will want to keep an eye on. Corporate income tax: As of July 1, Maryland has officially initiated a phase-in of a single-sales factor apportionment system to calculate corporate income tax. What it means: In tax years 2017 and earlier, all multistate Maryland corporate taxpayers calculated sales tax with a three-factor formula based on property (how much land the corporation…

Picking the Right Structure for Your Business

Picking the Right Structure for Your BusinessStarting a business means making dozens of choices both big and small. One of the most important choices you will make is how you will structure your business entity. Two of the most common options are the S corporation (S corp) and C corporation (C corp). If you don’t understand the difference between the two, you’re not alone. Many budding entrepreneurs ask questions about which business structure they should choose. And yet it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your business. C Corporations are the standard corporation, whereas the S corporation takes advantage of a special IRS tax status. S corporations are so named because they are defined by Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code. IRS Form 2553 must be filed to elect S corporation status and all S corporation guidelines must be met. How S Corps and C Corps are Similar C corps and S…