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.

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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.

Posted in Asset Protection, Death, Estate Planning, Financial, Probate, Trusts, Wills | Comments Off on Estate Taxes in Trump’s America… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets