Doing Your Homework: How to Maximize Your Home Office Deduction… The Christine Chronicles

Hi-

Rain, rain go away…. I never thought I would feel this way after years of drought and water rationing.  However, I am ready for blue skies and warmer weather. We have yard work we desperately need to complete and the continued rain stymies our plans to get to this.  However, I am certain Cameron won’t be too unhappy with a reprieve from yard work!

Tax time is always tense, at least for us. Business owners usually have more on their plates to account for, creating added stress. Hopefully you have a good bookkeeping system, or a good bookkeeper to provide the necessary numbers. If you work from home, make sure you are maximizing your business deductions by capturing the “Home Office” deduction.  We have laid out a few thoughts on these calculations for you today.

Until next time,

Christine

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Doing Your Homework: How to Maximize Your Home Office Deduction

If you work from home, you may be eligible for tax deductions on part of the rent or mortgage payments you make, but you may be afraid this puts you at risk of tax audit. And, rightly so. Calculating your home office deduction properly can minimize your taxes and keep you out of risk.

The IRS provides two methods with which you can calculate your deduction: the simplified method and the regular method.

Assuming your home office space is regularly and exclusively used for your business operations, you can choose the method that will give you the biggest deduction. Let’s take a look at these methods to see what kind of benefit they can provide the business owner.

The simplified method is based on the square footage of the office space in your home. To determine your deduction, simply multiply your home office square footage by $5. For example, if your allowable home office square footage is 60 sq. feet, you would multiply that by 5 to arrive at a deduction total of $300.

This method is as easy as it gets and makes calculating your home office deduction a breeze.

The regular method is based on adding up expenses you’ve paid to maintain that space, such as mortgage payments, rent, utilities and internet access. The percentage of your home you regularly and exclusively use for your home office will be another variable. To use this method, you will have to do some math, but the total deduction may be higher than it would be using the simplified method.

To maximize your home office write-off, you should run your numbers through both methods. Determine which method will maximize your home office deduction and use accordingly.

One other option, if you rent your home, is to enter into two separate lease agreements with your landlord. One lease with you personally for part of your rent, and the other lease with your business, for the part of your rent that is specifically for the space that is used for your business. In that case, you would not take a home office deduction, but instead categorize your business rent expense as office rent on the expenses part of your tax return.

Not sure which is best? Contact us to discuss options for how we can support you in maximizing your tax deductions with advice from a tax advisor you can trust, with our support.

It’s important consider these opportunities carefully when running a business out of your home. If you want to ensure you are getting the most out of your home-based business, start by sitting down with a Creative Business Lawyer®, like us. We can help you maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities of operating your business out of your home and ensure your business operates at its peak in any location.

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Watch Out for This Predatory Phone Scam… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello and Happy First Day of Spring.

It’s rather gloomy and drizzly for the first day of spring, but after this winter, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

Today’s article is about a new phone automated scam I’ve recently heard about.  When you answer “yes” to the callers seemingly innocent question, that “yes” is later used to authorize bogus charges.  And to take it a step further, these automated, robot callers sound sooo much like a real person!  One way to find out is to ask if they are a robot, and then ask the caller to repeat back to you, “I am not a robot.”  Even though they have been programmed, if that’s the correct word, to respond in a realistic way, including something along the lines of, “yes, I’m a real person”, complete with a little chuckle. Kinda scary.  BUT, they are not able to repeat a phrase back to you verbatim.  Gotcha.

Until next time,

Christine

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Watch Out for This Predatory Phone Scam

Today, even the most conscientious can fall victim to phone scams. Claiming everything from free cruise vacations to astonishing tax rebates, phone scammers prey on the financially vulnerable, but that’s not all. As scammers become more sophisticated and find clever ways to elude legal consequences, new and convincing scams are on the rise.

A recent phone scam asks unsuspecting callers seemingly harmless questions such as, “Can you hear me?” to illicit easily recorded “yes” answers that are later used to authorize charges. Some callers who’ve later denied such charges have even been threatened with legal action, making this one of the most predatory phone scams yet.

Now that you know, tell your adult children and elderly parents what to look out for so they don’t fall victim to a scam like this. Instead of answering “yes” to a “can you hear me” caller, respond with “who is calling” instead.

Once they happen, dealing with scams isn’t easy. It can feel embarrassing and as if you should have known better.  Accepting that you didn’t and having compassion for yourself is the first step. Then, call us so we can help.

Reluctance to seek help can make you an easy victim. That is why it is so important to know where to turn for help if you or a family member has been scammed. Call us and let us  support you to know where to turn, and how to recover your losses, limit your future liabilities and put effective protections in place for the future.

The truth is, anyone can fall victim to a scam. To really know better, you should never be embarrassed about seeking help. A trusted legal advisor, such as your Personal Family Lawyer®, can be there to protect what is most valuable to you throughout all of life’s challenges.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we provide the support and guidance you need to make sound financial decisions and establish robust legal protections that ensure your assets are protected from scams and fraud of all kinds. If you aren’t already a client, come in for a Family Wealth Planning Session to make the most empowered, informed decisions for yourself and the one’s you love.

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Helping Employees Access Health Care While Easing the Burden on Small Businesses… The Christine Chronicles

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As an Irish Lass, both in ancestry and in spirit, March 17th is always a day I look forward to.  But I must say, like many other celebration days in the U.S., things seem to gone rather over the top.  Not that that’s a bad thing–just different.  When I was young, there were green top hat & clover decorations in the classroom and everyone was on the lookout for who needed to be pinched because they were sans green.

Now, craft stores have entire departments devoted to everything Irish and green, for the many, many parties and events now being held. Bravo for people, Irish or not, taking advantage of an opportunity to celebrate and be happy.  But my one bit of advice for you St. Pat’s day revelers, and it comes from experience (in college, mind you,) is to keep your eye on those green drinks and/or pints of Guinness, because they will sneak up on you!

Today’s article is about health care and small businesses.  With the whole “repeal and replace” debate going on, it’s hard to know exactly what the future holds.  But for the time being, in addition to Obamacare, there is the 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress last year.  Take a look to see how it might be of assistance to you and your employees.

Until next time,

Christine

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Helping Employees Access Health Care While Easing the Burden on Small Businesses

In December 2016, former President Obama signed an important health care act that will help alleviate the burden of employee health insurance on small businesses.

The 21st Century Cures Act will allow, among other things, small businesses to reimburse their employees for individual health insurance if they do not offer a group plan. For small companies with less than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, managing a company-wide group health insurance plan can be a complicated endeavor that saps valuable time and resources. To counteract this, the 21st Century Cures Act will help small businesses contribute to their employees’ health insurance premiums with relative ease.

Businesses don’t have to pay payroll taxes on the reimbursement and can escape the administrative headache of maintaining a group plan. And employees don’t have to pay taxes on their employer’s premium contribution. This can help small businesses attract employees who want health care coverage without taking on the responsibility of managing a group care plan. Businesses must offer the reimbursement on the same terms to all employees but can adjust the amount based on the employee’s age and family size.

Many small businesses that offered employee insurance coverage through group plans under the Affordable Care Act have struggled with the resources required  to manage them. Under the 21st Century Cures Act, however, the costs are more manageable, and the administrative responsibilities significantly reduced. The new act also reduces employer liability when it comes to maintaining coverage.

Helping your employees access health care can make you a more competitive employer to those on the job market. But as a small business, you may also be concerned about the benefits and responsibilities that come with offering premium reimbursements. For example, there are caps on premium contributions, rules on small business health care credits and regulations in place that can make switching from a group plan to a reimbursement model complicated for any small business. With so many rules and regulations to consider, professional guidance is highly recommended.

If you need help with employee health care, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you contribute to your employees’ health insurance premiums while minimizing your costs and administrative burden.

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Estate Planning Essentials for Parents… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello-

My youngest son is set to graduate this year, and I realize how time passes so quickly. We visited our eldest son Daniel in AZ over the weekend, who just turned 20.  Wow, very proud of these young people who are my children.  Their strength, wisdom and generosity is thrilling to observe.

It was not long ago that my kids were young, and we worried about their futures, should something happen to my husband and me. Honestly, that was the reason I moved into estate planning – to help others plan a secure future for the people most precious to them–their family. If you are like me, and worry what will happen  to your children without a proper plan, read today’s article for insight and ideas on how to make the right guardian decisions which are crucial to a solid estate plan.

Until next time.

Christine

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Estate Planning Essentials for Parents

A comprehensive estate plan can protect the things that matter most. For many, this means their property and their family.

Including provisions for the care of your children in your estate plan is essential for peace of mind. But many parents struggle with including such provisions as naming a legal guardian for their child in their plan. Indeed, even the fictional parents in the popular television sitcom Modern Family struggled with this issue in a recent episode. While Jay and his new and much younger wife Gloria agonized and argued about who they should name as a legal guardian for their children, their children were left at risk that if something happened to Jay and Gloria before they decided and properly named guardians in a legal document, a judge would make the decision for them. Not ideal, under any circumstances.

When naming a legal guardian for your minor children, there are many factors to consider, such as whether the guardian has similar values to yours or can provide a welcoming home environment. But the toughest decisions are often the most important. Consider the outcome if you died without having legal protections for your children in place. Your children could be subject to conflict between relatives or they could be raised by someone you would never want, or in a way you wouldn’t want.  They could even temporarily be taken into the care of strangers.

Identifying and naming a legal guardian for your children in your estate plan is a difficult and important task. Don’t put off naming a legal guardian for your child. While thinking about what will happen to your child if you die is difficult even for fictional parents, your kids deserve the protection and you deserve the peace of mind that a legal guardian can provide.

Unfortunately, even if you have made the hard decisions and worked with a lawyer to name legal guardians in a Will, your kids could still be at risk, because that would not take into account what happens if you become incapacitated, or if your named guardians all live far from your home, and it wouldn’t protect against anyone who may challenge your decisions. The only way to ensure your kids are raised by the people you want, in the way you want, never taken into the care of strangers (even temporarily) and that your kids would never be raised by anyone you wouldn’t want, is by creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®, which only a select few lawyers, like us, are trained to prepare.

If you are ready to take that step, start by sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can walk you step by step through creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® that not only names a legal guardian for your child in your Will, but also ensures your kids care is fully provided for, in the short-term and the long-term, and in the event of your incapacity.

Working with a trusted Personal Family Lawyer® will ensure your entire family is protected and cared for no matter what.

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Thinking About Small Business Bankruptcy? First Consider These Important Factors… The Christine Chronicles

It’s Friday!

It’s been so fantastic to have the sun out for the last several days, hasn’t it?  Not sure I’m quite ready for it to be in the 70s but you can’t have everything. Some of the flowers in my garden have started bloom which makes me thankful I had the foresight to do some planting last fall.

The time change this weekend marks the beginning of our longer afternoons and evenings–just the thing for some time in the garden after work.

It’s time for me to get busy now with some vegetables to enjoy this summer–especially tomatoes.  Homegrown tomatoes are so much better than grocery store varieties.  Looking forward to delicious Panzanella (bread, tomato & cucumber) salad, bruschetta,  and sandwiches etc…

Today’s article is about a subject that no entrepreneur wants to contemplate.  Bankruptcy.  And while this may be a last resort if/when your business gets into financial straights, it may also be the best option for the possibility of keeping your business, or to close that chapter and move onto the next.  Take a look at the different types of bankruptcy and what each could mean for small business owners.

Until next time,

Christine

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Thinking About Small Business Bankruptcy? First Consider These Important Factors 

Although often perceived as a worst case scenario, bankruptcy can be an appropriate way for small businesses to recover from unmanageable debt by reorganization, reducing personal liability or liquidating business assets. Sometimes small businesses (or their owners) must turn to bankruptcy when cash flow slows or business expenses cannot be met.

There are three types of bankruptcy filings available. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of considering bankruptcy, here are useful tips to help you determine a path toward solvency that fits your specific business needs.

Identify Your Liabilities
Some business owners are personally liable for their businesses’ debts. For example, creditors can seize the personal assets of sole proprietors and general partners. If your business is structured as an LLC or corporation, however, your personal assets cannot be seized unless you are a co-signer or guarantor of the debt. How your business is set up will determine whether you are personally liable for company debt. This can help you decide what type of bankruptcy makes the most sense for your business.

Typically, if you received an SBA Loan or business credit on credit cards, you did personally guarantee the debt and so you are likely considering a personal bankruptcy, rather than a business bankruptcy.

Know Your Options
There are three types of bankruptcy filings to choose from: Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies liquidate assets to pay off the debt, but will also terminate the business entity, or if a personal Chapter 7, will terminate all of the debt. If you intend to to keep your business going, consider a Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 filing, or a personal Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcies essentially reorganize the debt. Businesses (or their owners) are given a payment plan allowing them to repay debt over time, sometimes without additional penalties. Some remaining debts can even be discharged at the end of the repayment period. An LLC or corporation can file for a Chapter 11 while continuing to operate. Before considering a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, you likely would want to contact each of your individual creditors to determine if you can work out a direct repayment plan/renegotiation of the debt, usually at zero percent interest and a substantially reduced debt amount.

Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, assets are retained while business debts are restructured in order to pay them down over time. Again, some debts may be discharged if they are not paid in full at the end of the repayment period. Only individuals, such as sole proprietors, can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Like with Chapter 11, if you are considering Chapter 13, negotiate with your lenders directly first.

One thing to note about negotiating debt with your lenders rather than using the bankruptcy process is that you could be liable to pay taxes on the amount of debt forgiven, as if the amount forgiven was income to you. When you file bankruptcy, debt forgiven is not taxed as income.

Deciding which bankruptcy option is right for your business can be difficult. You may need legal guidance during this critical time. If you want help navigating the bankruptcy process for your small business, contact us as your trusted legal advisor today. With the assistance of your Creative Business Lawyer®, you can learn about your options, get the help you need and make the best decision for you and your business.

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Estate Taxes in Trump’s America… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello.

I had a call the other day from a gal calling on behalf of her father and step-mother.  Her father, in his 90s and step-mother in her mid 80s, had apparently had wills drawn up some time ago and wanted to meet with me to discuss whether their wills should be updated, and if a trust would be a good idea.  I scheduled an appointment to meet with them in a couple of weeks.

A few days later the daughter called to advise that her step-mother had passed away, but that she and her father still wanted to meet with me to discuss not only his plan, but what would need to be done to administer his wife’s estate.

Prior to my meeting with potential clients, we send them a fairly extensive questionnaire so we can assess priorities and concerns, as well as get an idea of the value of assets.  We received that questionnaire back today but nearly all of the financial information was left blank.  In an attached note, the daughter explained that her dad’s financial matters were a mess and they were sorting it out, but that he estimated assets to be worth between $2 million and $3 million dollars!

I’ll be meeting with this gentlemen soon and with luck, he and his daughter will have been able to sort it out and have more information for me.  My real concern for him is that he very well may be looking at some serious probate expenses in order to get his wife’s estate settled. fortunately though, California does not have an estate tax, and because his assets appear to be under the  federal limit, he won’t face federal estate tax either.

Today’s article is about the federal estate tax and whether it’s staying or going away.  Time will tell but whether it does or doesn’t, as the story above illustrates, it’s important to get your affairs in order sooner, rather than later, taxes or no taxes.

Until next time,

Christine

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Estate Taxes in Trump’s America

Donald Trump has proposed a radical tax reform agenda for his presidency. Part of this reform is his intention to repeal the estate tax. For some people, this will be a considerable change with significant repercussions. But, because more changes to the tax code are anticipated, high-net-worth families should consider what this change could mean for their estate plans.

The estate tax (aka the death tax) is a federal tax on the transfer of property in the estate of someone who has passed. Upon death, your estate’s taxable value is assessed and then taxed. There are many rules on when and how the estate tax can be taken, but Trump plans to repeal the estate tax altogether.

Comparatively, the estate tax is not a huge revenue producer for the IRS, and many believe the estate tax is baseless, while other forms of property transfers between family members are untaxed, such as property divisions as the result of divorce.

While many applaud the suggested repeal, it’s important to remember that lost revenue will be certainly be gained elsewhere. Though the estate tax may be abolished, Trump still plans on initiating a capital gains tax on any assets left to heirs over the $10 million threshold.

Some argue that the estate tax only affects the very wealthy. Indeed, the 2017 federal estate tax exemption is $5.49 million. Estates valued below that threshold will not be taxed. For families with significant wealth, steps should be taken to plan for a potential estate tax, even if the estate tax is repealed because it’s likely to return in the future, even if it is repealed now.

Basing estate plans on proposed tax reform is unwise. However, considering proposed tax changes as well as the changing political climate while planning your estate will help you make educated decisions. Regardless of the size of your estate, now is a great time to sit down and discuss your estate planning options with a Personal Family Lawyer®.

Proper planning for your estate means staying abreast of changing tax regulations and ensuring your estate plan minimizes its tax burden and protects the assets you will leave behind. Because tax regulations are not set in stone and change quite frequently, it’s important to work with a Personal Family Lawyer® to prepare for all eventualities.

And, of course estate planning is about so much more than just saving taxes, and even about so much more than just your financial estate. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we see estate planning as about helping you make the very best personal, financial and legal decisions for your wealth, health and happiness throughout your lifetime and then being there for your loved one’s to minimize conflict, when you cannot be.

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Hiring? Great! Here’s How to Get Started with Your First Employee… The Christine Chronicles

Hello.

As you may know, Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras and Carnival occurred this past Tuesday, with spectacular celebrations, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and in New Orleans.  This festival traditionally takes place the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of the Lenten season, lasting 40 days.  You may have either participated in or heard about the tradition, particularly in the catholic church of “giving up” something of value for Lent. It’s certainly a good opportunity to put one’s self-discipline skills to work!

For a few years, primarily as an exercise of will, I’ve put myself to the test in a number of ways, including no sweets (sooo hard), no mindless television watching, and no snacking.  This year I’m giving up my Sunday mornings on the couch.  Instead, I plan to get busy training for the Komen 3-Day Walk in San Diego, which Jean Marie and I will be doing again this year.

And speaking of giving up something, as a business owner, how about giving up the idea you have to do everything?  As an entrepreneur, especially when starting out, you do have to do it all.  But when business starts to become successful, and to grow, there comes a time when, by trying to do it all, the business, as well as having some balance in your life, actually suffers.  That’s when it’s time to consider getting some help.  Today’s article is about hiring your first employee and what you need to know.

Until next time.

Christine

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Hiring? Great! Here’s How to Get Started with Your First Employee

Up until now, you alone have been running your small business. Now you need help. The moment when a small business owner decides to hire his or her first employee is one of triumph. Conversely, knowing how to start the hiring process can be a moment of confusion.

If you’re ready to hire your first employee, first of all, congratulations! Second, don’t worry. Follow these steps to ensure your hiring process goes smoothly and you adhere to state and federal regulations.

 Apply for your Employee Identification Number (EIN) if you don’t already have one. You will need this for taxes purposes and to get the hiring process started.
 Prepare forms and establish a recordkeeping system for employee tax withholdings. You need to maintain records on your employee’s federal income tax withholdings, your federal wage and tax statements, and your state taxes for four years. Get organized now, and don’t wait until tax season!
 Have your employee fill out an I-9 statement, and verify his or her eligibility to work in the U.S.
 Register with your state’s New Hire Reporting Program. You must report your new hire within 20 days.
 Sign up for workers’ compensation insurance. This is required for all companies with employees. This covers on-the-job accidents and injuries and protects your interests.
 Post required notices at your work site, such as state and federal labor laws.
 File your quarterly tax return (form 941). This is required if you withhold any taxes from your employee’s earnings.
 And, perhaps most importantly, get organized! Hiring an employee means mandatory reporting, more complex tax filings, numerous legal requirements, good recordkeeping and looking out for your employee’s well being. Now is the time to consider employee benefits, maintaining a safe workplace and keeping your employee informed on your company’s practices and their rights and responsibilities. You will also need an excellent record keeping system to keep track of important information about your employee, stay abreast on labor laws and make sure you comply with state and federal regulations.

Hiring your first employee is a big step. When you are ready, start by sitting down with us as your Creative Business Lawyer®. We can give you legal guidance before, during and after the hiring process.

Developing a trusting relationship with a Creative Business Lawyer® can ensure your business complies with state and federal regulations and is positioned for success.

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(Re)Defining Family: Estate Planning for the Post-Nuclear Family… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello.

It’s amazing to me that tomorrow is the last day of February! I’ve had a list of projects to start or work on, and some to finish.  I told myself that if I started soon after the holidays, by spring I’d be able to cross items off my list.  That’s NEXT MONTH!  When did the speed of time change? (I suspect it was somewhere around my mid-40s, but that’s another story :-) ).  If I hope to come anywhere near my spring deadline, I’d better get busy, and pronto!

We all know that time speeds up when we’re having fun and slows down when we’re not. And interestingly, it’s the reverse, when anticipating fun or an unpleasant task or event.  Thus, in the latter example, procrastination.  As evidenced by my spring deadline, it’s so easy to put off things that you don’t really want to do, even though you know you should.  Today’s article is about the importance of estate planning for all families–“traditional” or not.  Hopefully it will give you the nudge you need to move ahead now with what you know you need to do, rather than realize, ” Wow, it was 3, 6, or 12 months ago that I read that article.  How did so much time pass already?”

Until next time,

Christine

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(Re)Defining Family: Estate Planning for the Post-Nuclear Family

Blended families, unmarried couples, assistive reproductive technology (ART) and same-sex unions and marriages challenge the traditional concept of “family” as it’s been known for legal purposes up until now.

Significant changes in the way we define family culturally means more families are left without the valuable protection they need, in the event of a death or incapacity of a loved one.

As these legal definitions and our personal situations expand, so do the priorities of the modern estate plan.

No longer is estate planning just for the wealthy, who wish to save money on their taxes; it’s for all of us who want to ensure our legal system recognizes the one’s we love.

For example, if you are in a life partnership (or more than one), married in the eyes of your community, but not married in the eyes of the law, your partner would have no legal right to see you or make decisions on your behalf, if you were hospitalized.

Even if you are married, your spouse or partner would not be able to access your financial accounts, without court intervention, without proper legal planning in advance. And, if you are not married, the Court is unlikely to give a non-legal spouse access and would instead appoint a professional fiduciary before allowing your unmarried partner access.

If you are part of a blended family (meaning one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship) or have children who aren’t biologically both yours and your spouse’s (or non-spouse partner), you need to include provisions in your estate plan that clearly define the inheritance rights of all children, biological or not.

It is vitally important that you clearly define any legally established relationships between you, your spouse (or non-spouse partners and loved ones) and your children, biological or otherwise, to ensure your wishes will be carried out in the event of your death or incapacity. If you do not do this, your kids could end up in the care of someone you would never want and taken out of the home of the non-biological parent they are living with.

Whatever your family’s configuration may be, estate planning is your chance to safeguard the people you love and your assets on your own terms and according to your own definitions. With the uncertainty of the current political and social climate, developing a carefully crafted plan tailored to your family’s needs is more important than ever.

If you need help crafting estate-planning instruments that adequately protect your family and your wealth but are flexible enough to be relevant as our legal definitions of family change, start by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can guide you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects and preserves your family’s values, as well as your assets.

Posted in Beneficiaries, Death, Estate Planning, Ezine, Healthcare Directives, Inheritances, Quality of Life | Comments Off on (Re)Defining Family: Estate Planning for the Post-Nuclear Family… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Leveraging Company Culture to Build a Successful Brand… The Christine Chronicles

Hello.

I hope many of you enjoyed a short week and last weekend could take advantage of an extra day of R&R. I generally view 3-day weekends as a double bonus-a long weekend AND a short week.  I know they’re the same thing really, but 2 bonuses are better than 1, right?  However, it seems that the past few of these short weeks have seemed even longer!  As an entrepreneur, it can be the nature of the beast from time to time.

One of the recommendations when contemplating a start-up is to clearly define your mission, including creating a mission statement which clearly outlines what your mission means.  It helps to clarify what you want your business to represent, and how you’ll get there.  Today’s article is about your company culture and its impact on success in your business.

Until next time,

Christine

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Leveraging Company Culture to Build a Successful Brand

Building a brand can transform your business into an enduring household name. But how do you build a brand when you are starting from scratch?

One good place to start is developing a consistent company culture. Company culture can be leveraged to create a unique and memorable company identity. More than just a corporate buzzword, culture can do the work for you, if you know how to leverage it.

You can leverage a well-developed company culture with clearly defined values to build the public persona of your business and your brand. Culture is the set of values, morals, hierarchies, beliefs, and way of life of a group of people.

For your business, what you believe in, what you strive to offer your customers, what sets you apart from your competitors, how you treat your employees and the operational ethos of your organization determine your company culture. Clearly define these components, and you have a solid blueprint for a business brand.

Companies with identifiable corporate cultures tend to be more successful. There is more integrity between company values and what employees actually do, and productivity and profitability reflect that. A strong company culture helps employees invest in the business and work together more effectively.

Once you have a clearly defined business culture, make sure those values are reflected in everything you do. Your business will attract like-minded employees, be approached by dedicated investors, and be more flexible in the face of change. And a robust company culture will eventually speak to the public in an authentic way.

A company that creates a unique company culture that is respected and believed in by everyone who comes in contact with the company, displays integrity and develops, defines, maintains and cultivates values has one major advantage over the competition: its employees genuinely want the company to succeed.

When your employees feel like they are a part of something bigger, they will do their best and strive to better both themselves and the company at the same time – this not only saves you big money on team turnover, but will also ultimately result in a powerful company brand.

Building a strong company culture to leverage into a successful brand won’t happen overnight. If you’re looking for a place to start, you could consult with us as your Creative Business Lawyer® before you begin. We are experienced in helping business owners identify the values and attributes that make them unique and ensuring each step their business takes contributes to the company culture and their brand.

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How to Make Your First Million by Age 40… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello.

Another soggy weekend come and gone. Personally, I really like all of this cold and wet weather and am looking forward to getting up to the mountains before too long.  I’ll bet with the amount of snow we’ve had, it is absolutely gorgeous.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and our frequent family trips up the hill to hit the slopes.  Snow, snow, snow.  There was never any talk of “no snow”, but then again, I was a kid and who paid attention to that kind of thing?

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to the many, many people facing the potential of flooding and for those already under water.  It’s truly a case of when it rains it pours and I hope a break in the weather is on the horizon.

Today’s article is about making your fortune by the time you’re 40.  I’m constantly encouraging the young people I know, and who are working, to get started on their retirement planning by opening an account, and tell them if they contribute to it regularly, even if it’s $5 a month to start, they could be a millionaire!  And for those that want to be in business for themselves, following the tips below will get them on another road to the millionaire’s club.

Until next time,

Christine

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How to Make Your First  Million by Age 40

Being in your 20s or 30s doesn’t mean financial success is decades away. In fact, earning big money is often even more possible when in your “growing up” years because most people are a lot more willing (and able) to take risks before they get bogged down with the “realities” of life.

While the old adage of “a penny saved is a penny earned” is applicable when you are talking about slowly growing a nest egg, incremental saving is usually an impractical route to millionaire status.

Many self-made millionaires in their 30s maintain that working smart and working hard can bring you from just making ends meet to a 7-figure income in as little as a decade. Focusing on these steps at any age can set you on the path to riches quickly.

Expand Your Earnings
Think big. Working a typical 9-5 schedule likely won’t make you a millionaire. Find ways to boost your income. Get creative and consider ways to make money on the side, start to create passive income streams, and start a business.

Many self-made millionaires have several streams of earned income, “passive” income and investment income. Multiple income streams can get you on the fast track to 7-figure status.

Invest Your Money
Saving is important, but it won’t launch you into millionaire status by your 40s. Elon Musk, famed tech billionaire, invested all his proceeds from his sale of Zip2 (which was the basis for PayPal). Instead of spending the money or putting it in savings, Musk, then just in his late-20s, invested every penny back into his next business ventures and even had to borrow money to pay his rent.

Musk’s strategy of investing rather than spending is tried and tested. Grant Cardone, another self-made millionaire, recalls he was still driving a Toyota Camry when he made his first million because he was putting everything he made back into his businesses.

Adopt a Money Making Mindset
Building financial wealth isn’t all hands-on work. Adopting the right mindset is just as powerful. Consider why you want to build wealth and let that desire guide your goal setting. Along the same lines, don’t set limits. Building financial wealth quickly requires big thinking, big goals and big actions.

Mingle With Like Minds
Networking with like minds is a powerful catalyst for success. Creative, intelligent and motivated individuals like you will best serve and inspire your interests. And, even more important than networking, get coaching, guidance and support from mentors and coaches who have been where you want to go. Otherwise, your subconscious limited thinking could get the best of you and keep you from achieving your dreams OR keep you from seeing the mindset pitfalls that could be holding you back.

Build Your Self Worth Before You Build Your Net Worth
Ultimately, making a lot of money won’t make you into the person you truly want to be. Money simply amplifies who you are, so if you aren’t already who you want to be, focus there first. Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost in the money focus and forget that money comes and goes, but who you are and how you are in the world is what’s truly most important.

Make Smart Decisions
Once you do begin earning a lot of money, it’s easy to become obsessed with keeping it and afraid of losing it, especially if you haven’t been raised by parents with great financial habits.

This is why we believe that every family should have the benefit of a Personal Family Lawyer® on their family wealth advisory team.  And, ideally, that relationship builds before you are earning big income so that you can build the relationship overtime, creating trust and then we can guide you as you face each critical juncture and life stage along the way.

Whether you intend to make millions, or you have more modest financial goals, your family wealth includes so much more than just your money. It also makes up your intellectual, spiritual and human capital. It’s our job to help you understand the full picture of your family wealth and allocate it properly throughout your lifetime and beyond.

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