Friday, November 21, 2014



Yes, crude oil is now under $75 a barrel, thanks to the huge increase in domestic production and Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness to decrease production. Local gasoline prices are well under $3 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, and some economists are predicting that prices should stay low for at least the next year because it would take about two years for increased demand to move prices back up to more than $90 a barrel.

This is good news for the U.S. economy, and in particular for consumers. A 15-20% drop in gas prices means money is freed up for consumption or investment. Plus, as the decrease in transportation costs (should) lead to lower prices of shipped commodities, we’ll be saving even more.

Americans were spending about $1 billion a day on gasoline, so a 15% price decrease means that just in November and December, about $8.4 billion is being re-injected into the economy. By comparison, the economic stimulus package passed in 2009 amounted to some $840 billion over ten years, most of which ($816 billion) was already spent by the beginning of 2014. Of the remaining funds to be re-injected into the economy from the stimulus package, there would be an average of $0.4 billion added to the economy per month, and these funds do not reach Americans equally. By contrast, the $4 billion per month being re-injected naturally by the petroleum boom are directly helping every American who uses petroleum products.

Hopefully, this natural stimulus will have long-lasting effects for our economy and coupled with the recent Republican tide in Congress, will place our country on a path to true prosperity.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The One Document Everyone Should Have

What is an Advance Medical Directive and why should I want one?

Let’s say, heaven forbid, you are in a car accident and lose the ability to communicate. You are being kept alive only with the use of a respirator. Your family is divided about whether they should wait to see if you can recover, at a great expense, or allow you to die naturally and move on. This is certainly not a pleasant scenario to imagine, but it is unfortunately all too common.

An Advance Medical Directive can help avoid potential conflicts from arising, by giving advance direction to, your family, your doctor, and others about your intentions regarding medical care.

An Advance Medical Directive is typically drafted by an attorney as part of your estate plan. It outlines your wishes regarding such decisions as, whether you want to be kept alive by extraordinary means such as respirators or other medical technology, whether you wish to donate organs, whether you wish particular ethical and moral standards to be used in determining medical decisions for you, etc.

This takes the heavy burden of making key decisions about your health off of your loved ones and provides a clear path for health professionals to follow when you cannot communicate your wishes directly.

An Advance Medical Directive also typically names a health-care proxy or agent, a person, often a loved one, who stands in your place to make authorized decisions on your behalf regarding medical treatment decisions when you are incapacitated.

This is closely related to a Durable Power of Attorney, which we will discuss in a later post.

It is never too early to get an Advance Medical Directive in place. Talk to your loved ones. Discuss the type of treatments you may want in the future. Make these decisions now so that should calamity arise, you and your loved ones are prepared.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nature's Seasonal Transition Cues Our Preparation for Change

Fall is a time of transition and preparation. Both man and beast are taking stock of the bounties of the summer growing season and preparing for the coming of winter. For the beasts, it may be a question of merely eating more before hibernating or creating stockpiles of food in their dens. 

Man is more complicated. Our stockpiling is often done on a much larger scale. A family may have a pantry, closets, monetary accounts of various kinds, and a business may have equivalent warehouse stores, far larger accounts, and so forth. But whether an individual, family, or business owner, we often have more goods to manage than we can by handle efficiently by ourselves. So we have someone else manage aspects of our lives.

Normally, these relationships are governed by contracts of some kind or other, sometimes for goods, sometimes for services. When everything is going smoothly, the contracts themselves may not seem very important. When something goes awry, however, the contract becomes crucially important. Who bears the risk? Whose responsibility was it? Were there supposed to be records of such and such kept? Is this the entire agreement?

During this harvest season, maybe it is a good time to pull out some of those contracts and make sure they are still up to date and designed to do what you want them to do. 

Drafting and reviewing contracts of whatever kind is something we do every day at McCarthy and Akers, PLC. If you have a contract question or issue, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with an attorney today.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Good Time to Organize Your Sole Proprietorship

As has been reported in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, the U.S. economy has grown considerably over the past quarter. The Gross Domestic Product has expanded at a rate of 4.2% and corporate profits rose 6% from the first quarter.

For those small business owners and entrepreneurs out there in the northern Shenandoah Valley who have experienced some of this growth, this may be a good time to consider investing in more protection for your enterprise. Many small business owners operate as sole proprietors- the business and the owner are basically one and the same- but this leaves you and your family open to liability should the business be sued for some reason. Forming a Limited Liability Company can be a good way to help shield your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. Operating as an LLC can also provide your business with more credibility in the marketplace.

If the time is right for you to move your business forward, give us a call to set up an appointment to discuss the best form of business for your situation.   

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Don't be a statistic..."

As an attorney who handles a lot of Wills and Trusts, it amazes me how few people have taken the time to do even the most basic estate planning. As Laura Fletcher reported in a recent article on planned charitable giving, only 40% of Americans have wills, and of Americans with children, only 50% have wills. But estate planning should not be seen as something for the wealthy alone nor should it be put off until tomorrow.

Estate planning is a means not only to provide monetary legacies for our loved ones, but also to designate guardians for minor children, plan for future medical decisions, and to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

Estate planning can also be an effective way to leave a legacy, even a modest one, to charitable institutions. So many of us give regularly to charities throughout our life, why not continue the support even after we have passed on? On the other hand, perhaps we have not been able to be as generous with charities as we would have liked- a planned gift at our parting could make up the difference.

If you do not have an estate plan established, or if yours needs to be updated to account for life changes, McCarthy and Akers can help. Give us a call to set up an appointment. It is never too soon to plan.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Winchester Area Remains Great for Business

As reported today in the Winchester Star: Unemployment in the Area Remains Steady - Winchester Star,  with recent unemployment numbers staying low in Winchester, Frederick County, and Clarke and continued economic growth in the area continuing steady, the Northern Shenandoah Valley remains great for business!!

Take advantage of this rising tide of positive economic indicators and consider starting that business or making that investment you've been thinking about.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Planning for the Future of Your Family Business

Small business owners work long and hard to create something of significance--Families work even longer and harder.  

Unfortunately, in the commotion of building and running a successful enterprise, many do not take the time to prepare for the future and to prepare the future owners and managers to carry on their legacy.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the difficulties and approach taken by some companies to plan for their future.  As the article points out, "family businesses exist at the intersection between personal and professional life."  Any successful plan for the future must necessarily reflect this reality.

Have you planned for the succession of your business?  It doesn't matter if you are an entrepreneur, farmer, or landlord: If you have a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or sole proprietorship, consider planning for the next generation and give us a call!