My husband and I would like to set up a non-profit research institute can we do that on our own or do we need a lawyer?

Asked 3 months ago - Sacramento, CA

We already have a research designation that we work through and fund ourselves but we have not filed paperwork to make it a non-profit. We have friends that just did that themselves in Illinois but we don't know about California. Ultimately we would leave part of our estate to this entity as a trust.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Samuel Watson Eastman


    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Based on your question, you definitely need to contact an attorney with experience working with non-profits, particularly in relation to any tax exemptions (501c3 or otherwise). I suggest that you contact an attorney with non-profit experience, particularly with respect to tax. I have linked a recent blog post below that I've written on the subject which should be helpful in understanding the general process and applicable.

    This advice is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney-client... more
  2. Michael Charles Doland

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sure you can do it yourself. The issue is the efficiency of using an experienced attorney to get it right the first time. With unlimited time and patience I am sure you have the intelligence to do it yourself.

    You are mixing apples and oranges however with you last sentence. In addition to an attorney who does not-for-profits, you need to speak to an estate planning attorney.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may... more
  3. Scott W Brunner

    Contributor Level 3


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . While your intended designation as a nonprofit seems like it'd be a rather simple matter, that's not always the case, and your particular circumstances raise a few unique issues. You may be receiving grant money, for one; so how's that being monitored? Have you consulted the California corporations code as it relates to non-profits; do you know the organizational requirements? You're also devoting a lot of your own wealth into this, it seems--so who are your board members? What happens if the research non-profit changes hands at all? What happens when one spouse dies? Truthfully, your estate may be the more complicated aspect. I encourage you to seek out a business attorney that advises non-profits and handles estate planning on a fairly sophisticated level. They should be findable, as opposed to having to hire two attorneys.

    The information contained in this post is not intended as and should not be construed as legal advice. Please... more
  4. Scott Gregory Nathan

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yours is a great question. As you can tell from the other lawyers, it would be best for you to work with a lawyer on this fine endevor. This is one area where you should also purchase and read a few books on the proper way to run a non-profit. You want to be familiar with the many intricacies and record keeping tasks involved. Good Luck.

    *Scott G. Nathan has been licensed to practice law in California since 1983. The information presented here is... more

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