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Starting a Business

Does a business partnership have to be legally formalized?

Can my son and I be partners in our own business with just our names on the business license in the state of Alaska?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Generally, filing business certificates with your county clerk (or secretary of state) does not absolutely require a lawyer's help. If it did, all of the online business filing companies you see popping up would be out of business.

That said, business certificates (or business licenses as they are sometimes called) are legal documents. And, while I might be biased, I believe it's good business hygiene to consult with an attorney whenever you are faced with a legal document. In addition, going into business with your son raises a whole host of issues concerning your ownership, management and entitlement to profits from your business.

Without the proper documentation, state laws often contain default provisions that make assumptions--and those assumptions may not match how you want to run your company. Another good reason to have a lawyer on your team.