Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello:

One day and counting to Cameron’s graduation. Yipee!  We are excited for Cameron to matriculate and begin a new chapter of his life.  It is an exciting time for our family, especially Dave and I, watching our youngest graduate from high school.  One major milestone done. Cameron likely plans on moving to Tempe, just like his older brother, and attending college there. Will be truly be a family of Sun Devils!

Family wealth is not just the kind of wealth you see on paper in financial statements. Your most precious assets are the people you love in your life, and their stories, insights and wisdom should not be lost. The 32 questions (below) are designed for you to learn what matters most in your family, and help you pass this on to future generations.  At  Cava & Faulkner, we complete a family legacy conversation, similar in design and intent to these 32 questions, so that your most precious family wealth, your stories, wisdom, hopes and dreams are never lost.

Until next time,

Christine

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Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions

What can we learn from earlier generations? Quite a bit, says Brendon Burchard, but only if we ask the right questions.

Brendon Burchard, famed personal development trainer and author of The Motivation Manifesto (Carlsbad, Hay House, 2014) says asking your mother, father and/or another loved one these 32 important questions can teach you valuable lessons about love, life, and what matters most. Burchard suggests recording the conversation so the lessons and messages can be passed down easily to your children and grandchildren. Use these questions as a springboard and see what you didn’t know about your elder loved ones:

1. What comes to mind when you think about growing up in your hometown?
2. What did you love to do as a kid, before high school?
3. What did you love to do in high school?
4. What do remember most about your teenage years?
5. What do you remember most about your mom (grandma)?
6. What was most important to her?
7. What do you remember most about your dad (grandpa)?
8. What was most important to him?
9. If Grandma and Grandpa had a message to pass along to the grandchildren, what would it be?
10. How did you meet your spouse? How did you know (s)he was the one?
11. How did you choose your career? What was your favorite part about it?
12. What made you successful?
13. What did you believe about yourself that helped you become successful and deal with hard times?
14. What times in your life truly “tested your mettle,” and what did you learn about yourself by dealing (or not dealing) with them?
15. What three events most shaped your life?
16. What do you remember about when I was born?
17. Were you ever scared to be a parent?
18. What three words would you say represented your approach to parenting and why?
19. When you think about [sibling] how would you describe him/her?
20. What message do you have for [sibling] that you want him/her to always keep in mind?
[Do the last two questions above for each sibling in your family]
21. When you think about [spouse], how would you describe her/him?
22. What message do you have for [spouse] that you want her/him to always keep in mind?
23. What three words would you say best describe who you tried to be in life? How would you like to be remembered?
24. What do you think your children and grandchildren should  focus on professionally?
25. What have you learned about people in life?
26. What do you think the world needs more of right now?
27. What do you believe people want the most in life?
28. What were the three best decisions you ever made?
29. What are you most proud of?
30. What were five of the most memorable moments of your life?
31. What message would you like to share with your family?
32. What are you most thankful for?

These questions can reveal a wealth of valuable life lessons–family treasures to share with generations to come. But having this conversation is just a start. To preserve and protect your family assets and other things of value, you should create a comprehensive estate plan that will safeguard what you value most. And, we include a recorded Family Legacy Conversation, which becomes a priceless family legacy piece for your loved ones, with every estate plan we create.

If you need guidance in planning for your future, 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 most valuable assets. Before the session, we’ll send you an Estate Planning Worksheet to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you want to leave behind.

We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

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Leaving Without a Plan: Prince Didn’t Leave a Will & Here’s Why You Should… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello-

I hope you had a lovely Mother’s day with your mother, wife  or daughter. I enjoyed a lovely brunch a la Daniel, Cameron and Dave comprised of Crepes Suzette (yes my kids are adventurous in the kitchen indeed, bacon and mimosas. It was lovely and most especially that we are all together again as a family. It is so good to have Daniel home again, and I know Cameron misses Daniel tremendously when he’s away at school. As always, I think of and miss my mom Nancy on Mother’s Day, remembering the lovely woman that she was.

Mother’s Day is a time you celebrate your mother–everything she means to you and to show your love. Every mom worries about her kids, and what will happen if she is not around to care of them.  That is why creating a plan is key, so that your mom, or you (if you are a mom), have the peace of mind knowing that your family is taken care of under  ALL circumstances.  Prince and many celebrities like him never get around to planning and we get to see the results play out in public. It’s never pretty. The good news is that this does not have to be you or your family.  Give us a call and we will create a custom plan that meets the specific needs of your family!

Until next time,

Christine

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Leaving Without a Plan: Prince Didn’t Leave a Will & Here’s Why You Should

Even after death, celebrities are highly publicized for their mistakes, many of which we make ourselves. This time last year, superstar musician Prince died suddenly, leaving no will, and the management of his substantial estate fraught with legal complications and added costs.

It’s easy to assume that the wealthiest among us have all their ducks in a row, but it’s hard to judge someone—even a celebrity—for neglecting something like the creation of a will. Until you stop to seriously think about what will happen when you die, creating a will can seem like an unnecessary and morbid task, certainly not something you casually check off your to-do list. Nevertheless, the importance of having a will simply cannot be stressed enough. Below are just a few of the reasons why everyone should have a will, no matter their wealth, age or health.

You can name the person you want to manage your estate in your will. You will get to choose someone you trust and make sure they have all the knowledge they need to ensure your wishes for your estate are carried out.

You can decide who your beneficiaries will be. You can also disinherit those who would normally stand to inherit from your estate if you choose. Your wealth and possessions are yours; a will provides a legally enforceable way to ensure they go to the right people.

You can ensure your minor children will be raised by the people you want, for the long-term. If you have minor children, you should name a legal guardian and include provisions for their care in your will. But, don’t rely on a will alone because it won’t address the immediate care of your children if something happens to you, it won’t provide for your children’s care in the event of incapacity and it won’t ensure someone you would never want to raise your kids could not.

You can leave gifts and donations to your favorite charities or people you love beyond your legal family. Without a will, your estate would pass to the people designated to receive it under the law, and that may not be who you would want to receive everything you own. Creating a will ensures you get to choose who gets what.

Important as they are, a will can only do so much. For example, a will does not keep your family out of court.

And, a will does not ensure your kids will never be taken out of your home, if something happens to you.

And, a will does not keep your family out of conflict.

A will is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan that will protect and enforce your wishes when you die.

If you are ready to take the right steps toward making informed, empowered and educated decisions for the legal and financial future of the people you love, start by sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we will walk you step-by-step through the creation of an estate plan that will protect what you value most. Our Family Wealth Planning Session™ helps you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

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Defining the Legal Relationship Between Grandparents and Their Grandchildren… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

 

Hello and Happy Monday:

I had a wonderful, relaxing girls’ weekend in San Luis Obispo.  Mostly, I enjoyed sleeping in, and shopping with my girlfriends. I have never been to SLO, and enjoyed my time away tremendously. We wine tasted in Morro Bay and Avila Beach. I joined a wonderful wine club which was completely unexpected. However, you can never have too much good wine, right? I hope to visit again with my family sometime over the summer and spend more time in these laid back beach locales.

As a grandparent, if you care for or have physical custody of your grandchild, you likely expect that with responsibility flows certain rights as well.  Many times, this is not the case. You might be surprised to know that parents maintain these rights and you may need a court order to act on behalf of your grandchild. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities and how to go about securing these rights so you have no unpleasant surprises.

Until next time,

Christine

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Defining the Legal Relationship Between Grandparents and Their Grandchildren

Raising a grandchild (or even spending a lot of time with your grandchild while his or her parents work) can be fraught with legal and financial complications. Lacking many of the inherent rights parents have, grandparents who are responsible for the care of their grandchildren may encounter unexpected legal challenges.

Even if you are your grandchild’s full-time caregiver, consider obtaining certain legal rights so you can avoid unnecessary complications and instead focus on raising a happy and healthy child.

If you are raising your grandchild, don’t assume you can make legal decisions on your grandchild’s behalf. Without legal custody, you do not have the authority to make important decisions such as where he or she will go to school. If you are responsible for your grandchild’s care, it’s critical to establish a clear relationship in the eyes of the law.

The legal rights you need will depend entirely on your role in raising your grandchild. Does he or she live with you? Are you the sole caregiver? What role do the parents play? Are you financially responsible for your grandchild?

Answering these questions will give you a good starting point for seeking the legal rights and protections you need and deserve, which might include:

Physical or Legal Custody
If you have full-time custody for your grandchild, do you have a custody order? If not, you may want to consider getting one. Physical custody gives you the right to have your grandchild live with you. Legal custody gives you the right to make important decisions pertaining to education and medical care. Your grandchild’s parents may still retain some rights if you have custody.  Also, custody orders are subject to modification if and when circumstances change.

Legal Guardianship
If you care for your grandchild regularly, make sure his or her parents have named both short-term and long-term guardians, so that if anything happens to the parents, you are able to immediately step in and make legal decisions for your grandchild.

Adoption
Adopting your grandchild would terminate his or her parents’ parental rights. You would become your grandchild’s legal parent, which is preferable in cases where the parents pose a risk to the child or when the child’s parents are deceased or no longer in contact. Adoption is permanent.

Power of Attorney
If you do not have custody, your grandchild’s parents could give you Medical Power of Attorney, which provides you with the temporary authority to make specific decisions around the health care of your grandchild. The parents can specify what decisions you can make and can revoke Power of Attorney at any point. Power of Attorney does not revoke the rights of the parents.

Educational or Medical Consent
Some states will grant non-custodial grandparents the rights to enroll their grandchildren in school and seek medical treatment. Speak with us to see if these are options in your state, if you would like to ensure you can make educational and medical decisions.

Even something as simple as enrolling your grandchild in school can be difficult if you don’t have the proper legal authorization.

If you’d like to simplify decision making while raising your grandchild (or even just full-time caregiving for your grandchild), meet with a Personal Family Lawyer® for guidance. We can help you obtain the rights and protections that will help you raise a happy and healthy grandchild. Our Family Wealth Planning Session™ guides you to the empowered, informed, and educated legal and financial decisions you need for the love of your family.

This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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Avoid These 5 Common Start-up Legal Mistakes… The Christine Chronicles

Hello-

I headed out of town for a bit of R&R with my friends to see San Luis Obispo- a place I have never been.  Looking forward to getting away from the tension of finals weeks for my kids and winding down with school.  Here are a few thought provoking ideas about start ups and mistakes you would be better off avoiding.  Enjoy your weekend!

Until next time,

Christine

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Avoid These 5 Common Start-up Legal Mistakes

It seems that everywhere you look, a new start-up is trying to make it big with a game-changing idea. But it’s only the ones that can turn that idea into reality that reach business success. Too many start-ups fail to make the transition from idea to execution or encounter major setbacks along the way. In the midst of developing your growing start-up, don’t make the common mistake of disregarding tedious, but vital tasks such as making sure all your legal, insurance, financial and tax ducks are in a row.

Establishing a solid legal system can help you avoid costly mistakes and save time and stress down the road. Many entrepreneurs struggle with developing such systems because they don’t foresee the most common mistakes start-ups make. Avoiding these only takes a little self-awareness and planning, so read on to learn how to sidestep the five biggest legal mistakes a start-up can make.

1.      Be strategic when creating your entity. Think about your long-term goals, and choose an entity that  matches up. Have your eye on major growth and raising capital? Consider a Delaware C-Corporation, which could set you up for venture capital. Looking for tax advantages? Look into the advantages of an S-Corporation structure that will allow you to minimize your payroll taxes by splitting your personal pay between salary and distributions.

And, while you can always convert your entity later on, doing it right the first time will save you time and money. When you talk with a lawyer about the best form of entity, make sure your lawyer doesn’t just suggest a one-size fits all solution, but actually understands the details of your business now and where you want to grow to in the future.

2.      Be clear with co-founders. Don’t wait until your business begins to make a profit to begin discussing what each founder is worth. Confront the elephant in the room (i.e. money and position) and be clear on rights, decision-making authority and equity from the get-go. A well-drafted operating agreement or shareholder agreement is key here. The agreement process itself can surface potential conflicts in advance, and confirm whether you and your co-founders are truly in alignment before big investments of time and money are made.

3.      Protect your intellectual property. It’s essential to establish ironclad protections for the intellectual property that impacts your business’s future value. Think beyond just patents and trademarks; consider having founders, employees and third-party developers sign intellectual property rights agreements so you retain the value they may create while working for you.

4.      Develop a robust set of contract templates. You will thank yourself later for establishing clear guidelines and minimizing your liabilities in writing. Online legal document drafting services are one size fits all; your business will be best served by developing a set of templates that meets your business’s unique needs.

5.      Don’t overlook the importance of working with a lawyer. Working with a trusted lawyer can help you avoid all the mistakes above plus countless others you will likely make as you grow your start-up. A lawyer who also works as a creative, strategic advisor, as we do, will guide you to not just avoid legal mistakes, but set your business up with the right legal, insurance, financial and tax systems for a lifetime of business success.

Just because you’re a start-up doesn’t mean you have to be naive. If you are serious about developing a solid legal foundation for your start-up, begin by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you identify your liabilities, mitigate any legal risks and get you on the right track for success. This will allow you the freedom and energy to focus on growing your business.

Posted in Asset Protection, Building Wealth, Business Article, Business Entities, Entrepreuner, Intellectual Property Protection, Startup, Success, Taxes | Comments Off on Avoid These 5 Common Start-up Legal Mistakes… The Christine Chronicles

How Can I Plan for a Strategic Retirement?.. Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

 

Hello-

Feeling a bit green today, and not sure why so will keep this brief, although we have exciting news having hired a new, very experienced attorney on our litigation side.  He will help Dave grow that side of our practice. I too have been busy and will tell you about that when I am feeling better.

Making sure you time strategically, your retirement,  social security pension and medicare can be tricky business. Read our helpful tips to help you make a smooth, mistake free transition.

Until next time,

Christine

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How Can I Plan for a Strategic Retirement?

Are you approaching retirement? Not sure how you can ensure a smooth transition from working life to retired life?  Walking away from regular paychecks and employer-provided benefits can feel a little nerve wracking. Minimize the impact of these major life changes by planning accordingly.

Time It
Get your timing right. Review and understand your employer’s policies on 401(k) matching and profit sharing. Make sure you plan to retire at a time when you can reap all the vested benefits you have coming to you before they expire. Sit down with your company’s HR department to maximize your retirement benefits.

Bridge the Insurance Gap
If you are retiring before the age of 65, you could have a lapse in insurance coverage before you are eligible for Medicare. If your employer doesn’t offer retiree health insurance benefits (and most don’t), look into COBRA insurance to extend your current coverage or an individual insurance plan to carry you over until Medicare kicks in. Don’t forget about life insurance and long-term care insurance either. If you do not have an insurance advisor you trust, we can refer you to someone, and we can also provide an objective backstop review on any insurance you do have in place to make sure it’s the right amounts and right types for you.

Petition for Your Pension
Apply for your pension at least five months before you retire. Get a benefits statement, and consider your payout options if you have them (e.g. lump sum vs. annuity). Coordinate your pension payout to minimize your tax liability while still meeting your financial needs.

Rearrange Your Retirement Funds
Consider consolidating accounts and rolling 401(k) funds into an IRA for more investment freedom and easier management. Conversely, some retirees find the investment options with employer-provided 401(k)s are cheaper than those bought independently. Make sure you discuss your options with a financial professional and choose the option that maximizes your income and gives you the flexibility you need. And, of course, ensure your beneficiary designations are set up to make sure your retirement benefits go exactly where you choose

Planning a strategic retirement takes forethought, and don’t short sell yourself on all the perks you may be owed. Make sure you take advantage of all the benefits your employer offers and carefully plan how you will manage your retirement income to minimize tax liabilities. Following these simple steps can help ensure you are financially prepared for retirement.

If you are nearing retirement, consider sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you strategize your retirement to reap maximum benefit before you retire. Before the session, we’ll send you an assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you need to do to preserve your financial well-being and retire comfortably.

 

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When Duty Calls: Navigating the Sandwich Generation with Ease… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello:

Hope you’re starting your week out nicely. Cameron was away this weekend for his graduation trip to Disneyland and returned last night. He’s gearing up for his senior portfolio and getting all of his ducks in a row to finish up school. He graduates in about a month. We’re so excited for Cameron and to see what next steps he takes in his life.

Have you heard of the “sandwich” generation?  It’s a term which refers to people who have, or will, take on the responsibility of caring for a parent in one fashion or another, while at the same time still raising kids of their own.  It’s a tough place many of us have or will find ourselves.  Today’s article provides some suggestions on key things to focus on.

Until next time,

Christine

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When Duty Calls: Navigating the Sandwich Generation with Ease

The average age of parents raising children in the US continues to rise, leaving many middle-aged Americans in a category commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation.

This growing population of professionals are often still raising kids at home when they become responsible for the care of their own aging parents. The stress and financial strain of managing the affairs of both children and parents can become overwhelming. The following tips can help make this challenging life stage manageable and more enjoyable.

Assess the Financial Situation
Taking time to thoroughly understand the financial picture for your own household is imperative as you step into a role of responsibility for your aging parent. Prepare for the inevitable and avoid surprises by working with a professional to consider how your role in the care of your parent will affect the plans you are making for your family’s financial future. Take advantage of our Family Wealth Planning Session process, a comprehensive planning process that ensures your legal, financial and insurance needs are covered appropriately.

Plan Ahead
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Planning for your family’s future means preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. As you move through helping your aging parent with important Estate Planning decisions, take time to be sure your own wishes are legally binding as well.
Be sure to include:
● Advanced Health Care Directive – appoints a person to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so
● Durable Power of Attorney – designates a person to make financial decisions if you are unable to do so
● Will – carries out your wishes in the event of your death
● Kids Protection Plan – designates a legal guardian for your minor children in the event of your incapacitation or death

Pay Attention to Red Flags
Even if your aging parent is still quite capable, work together to assess their financial situation carefully and be on the lookout for signs that anything is falling through the cracks. Common red flags are:
● Frequent calls from creditors
● Forgetfulness when it comes to bills and deadlines
● Unopened mail
Utilize professional legal and financial support when necessary and communicate clearly so everyone knows who is responsible for what.

Practice Good Self Care
Stress is one of the most common consequences of caring for two generations at once. Balancing the responsibilities of raising children and caring for aging parents with relaxation and play is vital over the long-haul. Remember that adequate rest and good nutrition will provide you with the extra energy you’ll need when times get tough. Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to do it alone! As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we are ready to assist you when duty calls.

Now is the perfect time to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we’ll review your current financial situation in light of your future responsibilities. With our assistance, you’ll gain the confidence of knowing you’re making the most empowered, informed and educated legal and financial decisions for yourself and the ones you love.

We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

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Leaving a Business Legacy… The Christine Chronicles

Hello-

I just spent time talking to my eldest Daniel, who now calls once a week.  I love hearing about his life and adventures in Arizona, his academic and athletic achievements and I always ask if he is happy.  He is and as a Mom, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing his life is good.  Our youngest, Cameron, is off to Disneyland this weekend with friends for his senior grad trip. We are pleased that he too is experiencing his own adventures, with good friends. Both boys are in flux, waiting to hear if they have been accepted to school; Cameron waiting to hear from ASU and Daniel waiting to hear if he will be accepted into the ASU architecture program. Exciting times.

Leaving a legacy of any sort requires thoughtful intention and then action.  Defining your business legacy is one thing. Living it can be quite another.  Are you living the values your business represents? Do you have a philosophy of leadership and do you live by it, or merely think about it?  Carefully consider how you wish to show up in your business to inspire your clients and employees. Then do it.

Until next week,

Christine

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Leaving a Business Legacy

As a business leader, you have the ability to make an impact, inspire future generations and leave a legacy of your leadership. But too often, leaders in the business world fail to consider how to accomplish these lofty goals until it’s too late.

Leaving a business legacy isn’t as simple as wisely planning your retirement. Don’t put off thinking about how to leave your business legacy until you formulate your exit strategy. Your business legacy is actually years in the making and the product of the many decisions, actions and even mistakes you make throughout your career.

A business legacy is formed over time, but even for late-career professionals, it’s not too late. There are a few important things to keep in mind as you consider how you’d like to be remembered professionally.

Legacy leadership isn’t something you achieve; it’s something you create. From the first supervisory position you hold to the day of your retirement, focus on communicating your company’s values and purpose. Relay stories with a message, highlight employees who are seen living up to those values and reinforce, one day at a time, the very legacy you wish to leave behind.

Doing this requires strong self-awareness and a conviction in your company’s values. With this in mind, always keep self-improvement at the forefront of your mind. Reflect on what you can do to teach your legacy through example.

Think about the leaders around you whom you admire. Emulate their actions. Ask yourself whether your vision is salient in the company culture and what you can do to further your vision among your peers and your team.

Leaving a business legacy isn’t about accomplishing great feats or sealing once in a lifetime deals. It’s about how you show up in your business each day and leading others through your vision so they can carry on your legacy when you leave. You can accomplish this by focusing on the future and leading by example every day.

Leaving a legacy takes daily investment in yourself, your vision and your values. It’s no wonder so many business leaders fail to build an intentional legacy they are proud to leave behind. With the many responsibilities of leadership, it can be hard to put aside time every day to work toward it, unless you come to understand that leaving a legacy is more about how you “be” in each moment than anything you do in your business.

If you are serious about building an authentic legacy with intention, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face everyday as a leader in business. We can look out for your business’s legal and financial future so you have time and energy to focus on leaving a business legacy that aligns with your values.

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How Your Legal and Financial Decisions Can Impact Your Marketing for the Better (or the Worse) In the Eyes of Your Prospective Customers and Clients… The Christine Chronicles

Hello and Happy Friday:

I will keep this short because things are hopping here at Cava & Faulkner. We have lots of appointments. It must be the warm weather making people feel ready to take on the tough stuff.

Speaking of tough stuff, marketing can make you want to pull your hair out, in terms of cost, time and always feeling like you need to be on the cutting edge for business visibility.  You are a marketer if you are in business for yourself so getting savvy in the marketing department is a must. Check out our recommendations today.

Enjoy the lovely weather!

Christine

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How Your Legal and Financial Decisions Can Impact Your Marketing for the Better (or the Worse) In the Eyes of Your Prospective Customers and Clients

Running a small business often means you play a jack-of-all-trades. Whether it’s drafting client contracts or taking inventory, it’s likely you have a hand in all aspects of your business.

Marketing is no exception. And knowing how to create an efficient marketing plan for your business can be difficult, especially when you might not be sure how to tie that into the legal and financial aspects of your business. Surprisingly, tight legal and financial systems can enhance your marketing and set you apart in your marketplace. Here’s how:

Build a great website. Websites are an often-overlooked marketing platform, especially for small businesses. But to take full advantage of the plethora of creative online marketing techniques, do not make the mistake of eschewing this essential. And, make sure your website has a clear privacy policy, terms of service and disclaimers that improve your marketing, and don’t hurt it, inadvertently.

Keep a track record. You need to keep records of your business’s performance to be able to identify what is working and what isn’t. You can take advantage of user-friendly metrics programs that will do most of the tracking for you, but make sure you are paying attention to what those metrics mean. We can help you to read your metrics and understand how they tie into your financial goals.

Know what marketing techniques your competitors are using. And better yet, find out whether they are successful. This may lead you to discover a way to market your business that is particularly effective in your industry.

Be distinct. This is easier said than done. Building a distinct brand is the best marketing investment you can make. Stand out in your own unique way to catch the attention of prospective clients and customers. Having your legal systems set up with clear boundaries and expectations can actually be a huge differentiator and ensure one measure of distinction is how “on it” you appear compared to your competitors.

Market your business to the right audience. Don’t make the mistake of marketing to the wrong demographic or interest group. Identify who your audience is and tailor every one of your marketing efforts toward that group. This is where most business owners go wrong, either by trying to market to everyone (which you cannot afford), or by not ensuring that your legal agreements, disclaimers, terms of service and privacy policies take into account the audience you are reaching with your marketing.

Get marketing (and sales) literate. Don’t let someone else take over your marketing carte blanche. Know and understand how and why marketing techniques work so you can make educated decisions that tie into your financial objectives. Knowing how to market and sell isn’t enough, you also need to know how your marketing leads into sales, and then ensure your process for collecting payment and getting paid is smooth so you don’t lose the sales you’ve worked so hard and paid so much to line up.

If you need help knowing where to start, begin by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can review your marketing, sales and payment collection systems to ensure they are all congruent and will ensure you not only get customers and clients, but that you get paid and can collect on outstanding invoices with ease. Getting trusted legal guidance from a Creative Business Lawyer® can help you build a strong foundation and fully enjoy the advantages of running a profitable small business.

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Estate Planning and Divorce: Incapacity, Death and Alimony Considerations… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello:

I got my wish. It is a beautiful day and though we did not finish much needed yard work over the weekend, we made a good dent in. As a bonus, the lovely weather lifts my spirits and makes me feel good.  I must have seasonal affective disorder, or maybe I am just sick of the rain for so long, which is been a downer.  Perhaps spring has finally sprung?

Speaking of downers, anyone in the midst of a divorce knows what that feels like.  The process is more often than not, legally complex and emotionally exhausting. You likely never considered how estate planning decisions could be adversely affected during divorce, or what might happen to spousal support you receive, should your soon-to-be ex become incapacitated, or worse, pass away.  We have the answers and more than a few ideas in today’s article.  Let us know how we can help.

Until next time,

Christine

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Estate Planning and Divorce: Incapacity, Death and Alimony Considerations

If you are considering a divorce, it’s critical to understand the impact of your divorce on what would happen in the event of your incapacity or death, either during the divorce or after.

Unfortunately, most divorce lawyers do not give any thought to incapacity or death, simply because they do not have training on these issues specifically and it’s not at the forefront of their minds when they are advising you through your divorce.  So, that means you may need to be the one to bring it up.

When you do, here are some things for you to keep in mind

1.  As soon as you file for divorce, automated “orders” go into effect that will limit what you can do with your assets during the divorce. These are generally called Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders or “ATROs” and they impact how you can change prior estate planning documents and what you can do with future estate planning decisions while your divorce is in process.

Talking with your divorce lawyer about these issues (or making an appointment to meet with your Personal Family Lawyer®, if we have created your estate plan, before you file for divorce) is a wise choice

2.  If you have already filed for divorce, you may want to revoke any existing powers of attorney and health care directives giving your soon-to-be ex-spouse control over your assets and your medical decision-making if you were to become incapacitated, as well as execute what we call a “divorce will”, which is a “temporary” Will that would cover the disposition of your assets in the event of your death during your divorce.

Again, talk to your divorce lawyer about these temporary documents that can be executed while you are in the divorce process, and then ensure he or she is coordinating with us on your behalf to get these documents prepared and signed.

3.  Be sure to update your “temporary” during divorce estate planning documents once your divorce is final, and all asset dispositions have been handled, to take into account your new reality.

There are many ways to get divorced. The traditional litigation/fight oriented divorce could require years of litigation, and a division of assets based on legal rights, rather than your specific needs and desires.

Alternatively, there is a movement today towards “conscious uncoupling” in which you and your spouse collaboratively tailor the outcome of your divorce to meet each of your specific needs and desires, as well as the overall impact on your family.

With this method, instead of having a judge make all the important decisions in your divorce, you can make decisions that are right for you. This is especially helpful when dealing with alimony.

Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance depending on the state, is financial support paid to the non-income earning spouse during the divorce proceeding and after the judgment.

Alimony can be paid a number of ways. Most commonly monthly, over a predetermined period of time. Durational payments carry the benefit of a steady income for the recipient but can be modified under certain circumstances, leaving some uncertainty, but also room for continued communication about what’s needed over the non-income earner’s life as well as what’s possible over the lifetime of the income earning spouse.

With a conscious uncoupling process, the needs of each spouse can be revisited over time.

Because monthly payments (and a continuing relationship) aren’t right for every family, alimony can also be paid in a lump sum. This is also referred to as alimony buyout.

Lump sum alimony either in the form of a cash buyout or a disproportionate property division is not subject to modification or termination, so it creates a finality to the relationship that isn’t there with a continuing monthly payment.

If you do decide on continuing monthly payments versus a lump sum alimony payment, it’s critical to ensure that those payments would be able to continue in the event of incapacity or death of the spouse paying alimony. In that case, please talk with us about insurance options to guarantee the alimony. As well as ensuring that the spouse paying alimony has properly handled those payments in his or her estate planning documents.

If you decide on a lump sum alimony, be sure to update your estate planning to reflect the new assets you now will have titled in your own name. We can discuss trust planning options to ensure those assets stay out of Court, if and when anything happens to you.

For the legal and financial guidance in negotiating a divorce that works for you, come in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, if you are not already a client, so you can get clear on what you own, and what would happen to what you own, in the event of your divorce. And, if you are already a client and considering divorce, please contact us so we can help you consider your options and find the right lawyer or lawyers to support your process through the divorce.

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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.

Posted in Business Article, Taxes | Comments Off on Doing Your Homework: How to Maximize Your Home Office Deduction… The Christine Chronicles