independent contractor

Employee or Independent Contractor? Avoid the Costs of Misclassification

by Zachary C. Lindley, Esq.

One of the most important questions a business owner faces is how to properly classify its workforce.  Businesses are oftentimes able to choose between whether to classify a worker as an “employee” or “independent contractor.”  The determination, however, must not be reached lightly or without thorough consideration. 

Over the last few years, federal and state agencies (such as the IRS and Workforce Services) have increasingly begun to more closely scrutinize the classification of workforces.  This is because such government bodies, as well as the workforce in general, are being denied important protections, benefits, and revenues.  Oftentimes, businesses simply decide to classify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying into programs such as unemployment, Social Security, Medicare, worker’s compensation, or to avoid withholding other state and federal taxes.  However, in their efforts to avoid such costs, some businesses may be opening themselves up to more costs due to misclassification.  By improperly classifying its workforce as “independent contractors,” rather than “employees,” a business opens itself up to regulatory scrutiny, both federal and state, including imposition of fines and penalties.  The following represents a list of some of the possible liabilities that are associated with misclassification of workers:

  • Worker’s Compensation premiums
  • Unemployment Insurance premiums
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • State and Federal Taxes
  • Overtime and other work-related expenses and benefits

Each agency applies its own intricate test to determine whether a worker should be deemed an “independent contractor” or an “employee,” and a business must be compliant at all levels to avoid fines and penalties.

If you, as a business owner, have been notified by either a federal or state agency that your business is being audited for allegedly misclassifying your workforce, or if you have general questions as to how you should be classifying your workforce, reach out to us at Gallian Welker & Beckstrom, L.C.  Our attorneys have experience in helping various businesses come into compliance with applicable laws and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Meet Carma!

Carma is a secretary in our St. George office and is a wonderful and valuable employee. Get to know her better below!


Black Bean Tostadas

Chances are, if you’re from southern Nevada, you’ve had tostadas at least once in your life. The problem with tostadas a lot of times is that they’re prepared by frying them in a ton of oil, which isn’t too good for the waistline. These tostadas are baked rather than fried, so you can enjoy eating them without the guilt! This recipe comes from one of our own here at Gallian Welker & Beckstrom. And everyone who has tried it loves it! These tostadas are delicious, light, and healthy, and perfect for those spring and summer months coming up. Enjoy!
Ingredients: 6 corn tortillas 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 can black beans, rinsed 1 cup shredded cheese (we use Mexican blend) 1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp garlic salt 1 avocado, diced 1 small bag frozen corn, cooked 2 green onions, diced 2 Roma tomatoes, diced Cilantro, chopped Lime juice Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Lay out tortillas onto a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the tortillas with the olive oil. 3. Mix black beans with chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt. Top tortillas evenly with the bean mixture. 4. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tortillas and place in the oven for 10 minutes. 5. While the tostadas are cooking, prepare the topping. Combine the avocado, corn, green onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice together. When tostadas are done cooking, top each with a couple spoonfuls of the avocado mixture and enjoy!
creme brûlée

Creme Brûlée for Dummies

And by dummies, we mean monkeys. Seriously, this creme brûlée is so easy, even we can make it! And the best part is that it doesn’t require any fancy equipment (like a blow torch). Lacey over at A Sweet Pea Chef is the author of this recipe for Easy Creme Brûlée. We tested it out ourselves, and not only is it easy, but it’s creamy and decadent, just as you would expect a creme brûlée to be. Thanks, Lacey, for making our dreams of becoming a professional chef come true!


Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 1 hr 10 mins Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins Servings: 4 Calories: 566 kcal Author: A Sweet Pea Chef


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus more to sprinkle for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: fresh berries or mint for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add cream and vanilla and gently stir to combine, taking care not to mix quickly so as not to introduce extra bubbles. Place un-filled ramekins in a baking or casserole dish and fill baking dish with hot water until about half-way up sides of ramekins. Pour egg mixture into ramekins.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking every 10 minutes after 35-40 minutes. When done, a knife inserted into the center of the egg mixture should come out mostly clean.
  4. Remove from baking dish (I use a spatula) and lay onto clean dish towel to dry, set and cool. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Set oven to low broiler setting.
  6. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar over the top of the cooked custard. Completely, but lightly, cover the custard with the sugar. Place the ramekins back into the baking dish and surround by ice and cold water until the water almost reaches halfway up the sides (don’t fill too high with water, as the ice will melt and add to the volume of water).
  7. Place baking dish with ramekins under broiler (or use crème brûlée torch, if you’d prefer) for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and creates a golden brown, caramelized crust.
  8. Garnish with berries and/or some fresh mint leaves.
telemarketing fraud

4 Tips to Avoid Telemarketing Fraud

Phone scams and fraud via phone calls are prevalent in this day and age, and it seems to only be getting worse. In fact, most of us here at GWB receive multiple spam calls every day on our personal phones. There are some scams that are easier to see through than others, but scammers are getting smarter and it can be hard to know how to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to remember to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

1. Ignore whatever it is they’re selling.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. When anyone calls you uninvited, whether it’s a bank, sales people, a charity organization, a survey company, or even a business you’re familiar with, don’t give in to any pleas or pitches. Caller IDs can be easily be faked and you have absolutely no way to confirm they are who they say they are.

2. Give them absolutely nothing.

Most of the time, scammers will ask for personal information. That information can be as simple and seemingly-innocent as your name. Do not give it to them. Don’t verify your mailing address. Don’t verify if your spouse is home or what kind of car you drive. If they ask you for any personal information, simply hang up. Scammers can use even the simplest of information to inflict harm to you or your bank account.

3. I’ll call you directly.

When the callers tell you they have to speak to you regarding your account, credit cards, or something else seemingly important, tell them you will call them directly to discuss the matter. Some scammers will give you a number you can call them at, but don’t use it. Look up the phone number to the company they say they’re calling from in the phone book or on the Internet.

4. Stay alert to avoid fraud.

Always do your research before you give any personal or financial information over the phone. Check with the Better Business Bureau to verify that a business is legitimate, and check their website to see if it looks authentic and trustworthy. It can be overwhelming to deal with so many spam calls on your phone and to try to avoid being scammed or a victim of fraud. But by remembering these tips you can better protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets against fraudsters. And if you’ve received a phone call, piece of mail, or email that you believe may be a scam, report it to the FTC by calling its consumer hotline at 877-FTC-HELP or by filing a complaint on the FTC website.

New Resource for Veterans

We are excited to announce the opening of our new resource for veterans! GWB just launched a new program called Southwest Veterans Advocates. Travis Barrick, one of our Vegas attorneys, focuses on veterans claims and is passionate about helping veterans receive the help they deserve. Read on to find out a little more about why Travis is so passionate about his work and what the SVA is all about!

What motivated you to get started with your work with veterans?

“I am not a veteran, but my best friend died from cancer from Agent Orange in 2006. Before he died, he asked me to promise to help veterans, and I did; and I meant it.

“So, in 2007-08, I started meeting with veterans who came my way and learning how to help them get their benefits. I also joined NOVA and have never stopped learning the process and improving my ability to help.

“Other people have helped me along the way, and the joy of success gives me the motivation to keep going.”

What is your favorite thing about working with veterans?

“The best part of working with veterans is witnessing the impact on their lives when their claims are granted. They like the money, but they LOVE having their issues acknowledged by the “Machine.” The Justice of it all is worth much more to them than anything else.”

What is the SVA about and what will it accomplish?

“The need for what SVA does seems endless. We already have many, many clients, so SVA is all about increasing our capacity to give the highest level of assistance, at all levels of the claims process.

“One of the reasons we are so successful is the amount of work we put into analyzing the claims file on the front end. I honestly believe we know a veteran’s file better than anybody, including the VA.

“Because we constantly need more help working on the claims files, we are always looking for people to train and join the SVA team.”


Why You Need a Will and Why You Want to Avoid Probate

Most people know that they need a will, but many don’t know exactly what a will is and how it works, or what happens if you die without one. Read on to find out about wills, why they are important, and whether you should have an attorney write one for you.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document utilized by people primarily to express and carry out their wishes about how they want their property and assets distributed upon death, and how any minor children, dependents, and pets are to be cared for in the event of their death. You may list someone as executor (also called a personal representative) of the will, which means that, upon your death, the executor has the legal responsibility to carry out the directions of your will and take care of your financial obligations, such as paying off debts and taxes, paying for funeral and burial expenses, etc. They also usually distribute property among beneficiaries listed in the will. If an executor is not listed in the will, the probate court will have to appoint one, and the probate laws specify and prioritize those who may be appointed as executor. Anyone over the age of eighteen can be listed as executor, and the executor can also be a beneficiary in your will. Most people choose a spouse, partner, or child to be their executor. If there is no executor listed in the will, a probate court will appoint one.

Talking about and setting up a will may not be the funnest thing to do, but it is very important if you don’t want strangers deciding what to do with your assets or dependents after you die. In the absence of a specified executor or a living family member willing and able to serve as executor, any of your creditors has the right to serve as executor as a matter of last resort.  Thus, naming someone you trust as executor, and someone else as an alternate executor, is imperative.


What is probate?

“Probate” refers to the legal process of proving that a will is valid, and then administering its terms. When there is a written will, a probate court validates the will and then authorizes the executor to distribute the assets among the beneficiaries as listed in the will, as well as pay off debts and taxes, and provide for dependents as the will directs.

When there is no written will, the court gets to decide how your estate will be divided. They will appoint an executor, who will then follow the judge’s instructions on how to distribute your assets. This may result in a distribution of your belongings entirely differently than what you would approve of or be happy with if alive. If you die without a will, it doesn’t matter what your wishes were; a stranger will essentially be in charge of deciding what goes where.

A common misconception is that creating a will avoids the probate court. On the contrary, the probate court’s primary purpose is to administer wills. A will must go through probate except where the value of your assets is very small. Most people elect to create a living trust in conjunction with their will in order to bypass the probate court.

Why should probate be avoided?

Sometimes, probate is simple. Most of the time, however, there are three common complaints about the process:

  1. Time. Probate can be a long, drawn-out process, meaning your assets will be tied up for your beneficiaries. This is especially true of large estates or if there is a contested will.
  2. Cost. In most states, probate comes with executor fees, attorney fees, and appraiser’s fees, among other expenses. And if probate takes a long time, you can expect those costs to go up even more.
  3. Family feuds. No, we’re not talking about the entertaining game show. Probate has been known to cause rifts among family members. If a will is not clear on how to divide your assets or provide for dependents, or when there is a third party making decisions about your estate, and they didn’t know you or what your wishes were in the event of your death, it can result in legal fights and much bitterness between beneficiaries, who all may end up unhappy with the outcomes.

A will alone is good, but adding a living trust to your will is even better for the majority of families. A separate blog post will go into more detail about living trusts, as well as other types of trusts.

Do I need an attorney to write a will?

Not necessarily, and an attorney is not required to make a will valid. If you have simple assets, you can make a basic will naming beneficiaries for your home, investments, and treasured items. You can also name a guardian for any minor children. But if you fail to follow the legal procedures for valid wills in your State of residence, or fail to be consistent and clear in the language used, or forget to mention something important in your will, the probate court will have to make those decisions for you. Almost all wills are quite inexpensive for a lawyer to draft, often costing less than $200. The expense can be worth it to make sure the will is done right. And, for larger estates, an attorney can be very useful in providing estate-planning strategies and helping to navigate some of the more complex areas.

A will also does not need to be notarized in many states. However, in order to make things go as smoothly as possible in probate when proving the validity of a will, it’s best to have two witnesses sign the will, and then have your signature and the witnesses’ signatures dated and notarized. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries in the will.

Our Las Vegas, Nevada estate planning attorneys are highly skilled in the areas of wills, trusts, and probate. We would love to sit down with you and talk about your needs.