Frontera Fund News Resources

Tools to Protect Undocumented Business Owners’ Assets

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Written by Carmen Cornejo

You have achieved the American dream. You run your own business, you generate wealth, employ people and pay taxes. However, you are not legally in the country. What do you do if you are detained or unable to continue managing your business?

If your business is a one-man or one-woman show, it is more a self-employment situation. The business stops without you. However, if you own a store, employ people, and/or have diverse customers buying services or products, you must have an emergency plan and documents in place that allow your business to continue operating and generating wealth for you and your family.

Phoenix attorney Marcos E. GarciaAcosta recommends having your business registered with the state. “The most popular form is as an LLC or Limited Liability Company. Anyone – regardless of citizenship, residence or immigration status – can own a company in the United States. Businesspersons must also meet all the requirements like applying for Tax Identification Numbers, licenses (depending on the business), etc.,” says Garciaacosta.

Even if you are a sole owner, but especially if there are several partners, Garciaacosta recommends that you put in place an operating agreement. The government does not mandate this type of agreement, but it is useful, as it puts in writing eventualities that may occur and how they will be resolved. Finally, you must have a power of attorney that transfers authority to another person to run the business.

In the event that you are unable to continue with the business, the operational agreement and power of attorney may describe the steps to be followed, such as employing a legal representative to continue to operate the business, or initiating a business transfer, sale, liquidation, distribution of profits or other actions. If there is no agreement in place, many of the decisions will be determined by the statutes of the state where your business is based.

If you need to leave the country, depending on the type of business you run, you could continue to operate it remotely, if you use technological tools and have the right documents in place. If you operate the business from outside the U.S., you must continue to comply with state requirements such as your federal tax obligations.

Prepare for any eventualities and do not let your achievements evaporate!