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VALLEY BUSINESS

All in the Family

Mother-Son Malpractice Claims Investigators Rely on Each Other's Strengths

February 20, 2001|DAN TURNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seth Davis is confident nothing like that will happen to him. "A lot of that [trouble between family partners] comes down to greed," he said. "I can't speak for my mother, but I don't think she's in this to become a millionaire and take it all away from me."

Rhonda Davis agreed. "Seth knows that eventually he's going to be responsible for taking care of me in my old age, and he know it's in his best interest to make sure I'm financially solvent--so I don't have to live with him," she said.

Because of the dangers that go with partnerships, particularly in regard to liability, small-business experts universally advise hiring a lawyer at the beginning of the partnership and hammering out detailed legal agreements that spell out property and liability issues in case the partnership should be dissolved.

"The most important part of a partnership agreement is how you get out of it," said Allan Sher, chairman of the Los Angeles chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. "When a couple of entrepreneurs come to us, they're always excited and they think they'll never split up. But we tell them, 'You've got to do this. You're crazy if you don't.' "

Even partners as close as the Davises are advised to put together such agreements, and in fact, they say they have drawn up all the appropriate documents. But they're pretty sure they'll never need them.

"I don't think our relationship has changed [since becoming business partners]," Rhonda Davis said.

"Because we know each other so well, real explanation is not necessary. I just say two words and he seems to know what I mean."

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