3 Key Benefits of Conscious Uncoupling….Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello and Happy Monday:

We are off to the races for another busy week.  I am now on a serious quest to drop some weight in preparation for our trip to Spain in Mid May for the Camino.  Beginning today, I will start a weight-loss program and begin walking again. I have been sidelined with some foot pain so I laid off of it for about a week, but now that we are 6 weeks out and counting; I’ve got to get back to it. I will also stop drinking alcohol in my weight-loss quest. That will likely be the hardest part (LOL). My goal is to lose about 10 -15 lbs prior to departing for which my joints will thank me.  My intention is to be as fit as possible prior to embarking on this journey.

Your intention is the starting point for action, which comes after. Being intentional in life, ergo, having a plan and then acting on that plan, most often yields the expected result. This is true also if you are divorcing. If your plan is experiencing an amicable divorce, one in which you spare yourself and your children the heartache of mudslinging and verbal assault, then familiarize yourself with the concept of  “conscious uncoupling”. If you are respectful and cooperative in other aspects of your life, continue that trend during your pending divorce.  You will save yourself money, years of counseling, and salvage your mental health to boot.   Sounds like a great plan! 

Christine

_____________________________________ 

3 Key Benefits of Conscious Uncoupling

________________________________________

The concept of conscious uncoupling, or conscious divorce, has been around for decades in the psychotherapy community. However, the actual term “conscious uncoupling” was thrust into the mainstream lexicon in 2014, when Gwyneth Paltrow used it to publicly announce that she and husband Chris Martin were separating. Since then, the term has been used extensively to describe what was previously called “amicable divorce” or “uncontested divorce.” In 2016, relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas wrote the book Conscious Uncoupling, and she now offers a five-week program of therapy designed to help individuals make a more healthy transition from marriage to singlehood. While there’s no precise definition of conscious uncoupling, according to Thomas, it basically involves reframing divorce from a traumatic experience into one that focuses on the positive opportunities a split offers for personal growth and spiritual development. The goal is to end the relationship in a truly cooperative and respectful manner, which can have tremendous benefits for both the couple and their children.

It’s important to note that conscious uncoupling has no legal effect on the marriage. Rather, it’s about maintaining a positive mindset that seeks to mitigate the often terrible effects divorce can have on our emotions, family, and finances. In order to actually terminate the marriage and resolve all of the legal consequences that this entails, couples must still undergo a divorce. This is one reason we often use the term “conscious divorce,” instead of conscious uncoupling. Based on numerous reports from therapists and couples, we’ve laid out the primary benefits conscious divorce offers those seeking a more compassionate and mindful way to end their relationship.

  1. A focus on the positives

Though it may seem like New Age hyperbole to reframe divorce from a traumatic experience to one that’s ultimately positive, the process of adjusting one’s perspective like this can be extraordinarily powerful. In fact, therapists who work with people at the end of life often report their patients wish they’d dissolved past relationships more amicably instead of focusing so much on the blame and pain involved. Indeed, one of the goals of conscious divorce is to move away from the “blame game” model to one that acknowledges that romantic relationships often end for a variety of reasons, not necessarily because it was anyone’s failure or fault. Like all changes in life, the best way to deal with divorce is to accept the loss of the relationship as a simple part of life’s natural roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. The challenge is to focus on all of the things you’ve gained through the relationship, rather than what you’re losing. You’ve undoubtedly shared some amazing times and learned a great deal from being married, and by focusing on these aspects, you can not only experience less trauma, but also be better prepared to move into your new life beyond the relationship.

  1. Puts the children first

While conscious divorce seeks to minimize the pain and hostility for the couple, the most important reason behind such a mindset is to protect your children. Make your kids the motivating factor for keeping the breakup as amicable as possible. When you’re tempted to keep arguing, choose your kids over being right. Don’t fight in front of your children, and never talk negatively about your spouse with them. No matter what happens, you will always be a family, so keep this in mind when making your decisions. By doing this, your children are far less likely to be seriously damaged by the divorce, and it will set the stage for everyone to move on to the next chapter in their lives in a healthier manner.

3. Avoids a contentious court battle

Anyone who’s witnessed a seriously contentious divorce proceeding can attest that such public battles should be a true last resort. Not only do these courtroom dramas take a toll on a family’s mental health, but they also can drag on for months or even years, unnecessarily draining bank accounts and corrupting the marital estate. Conscious divorce, on the other hand, can not only dramatically minimize the time, cost, and emotional toll of divorce, it lays the groundwork for the new non-traditional family to interact and function once the court proceedings are over. This is a huge benefit for establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship, and showing both your children and yourselves that marriage can still be “successful” even if it ends in divorce.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you navigate the more contentious aspects of divorce in a “conscious” way by supporting you to find the right counsel to guide you. And, of course, we’ll also help you restructure your assets properly after your divorce. If you’d like to end your marriage in a more positive manner, while ensuring that your children suffer as little trauma as possible, contact us today.   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. You can 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.

Posted in Amicable Divorce, Asset Protection, Celebrity, Conscious Uncoupling, Court, Divorce, Financial, Parenting | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on 3 Key Benefits of Conscious Uncoupling….Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

4 Vital Legal Agreements All Startups Should Have in Place…. The Christine Chronicles

Hello,

I am excited to have ordered a new front door for our home. We now have an extra wide wood door which has seen its better days, having become virtually impossible to open with the key. We ordered a new fiberglass door (no warping with the southern sun exposure) which is quite rustic looking.  We will add some very cool metal fixtures and I get to paint it red!  I have wanted a red door for years and now this will finally come to fruition.  My real estate friends advise that replacing the front door can add thousands to the value of your home, so this is a win-win for us. 

 Starting a business takes an investment of your time and money. It’s a big deal, as this represents your passion and your livelihood. Understanding the crucial legal documents you need in place as a business owner is only the first step.  You must take action to draft and then use the documents in your business so that you are protected. The idea is that such documents both define ownership interest in intellectual property, but also defining rights and obligations of the parties involved, whether they are business partners, investors or employees.  Setting up the right kind of entity which best protects your assets with the most advantageous tax treatment can be a challenge if you do this without proper legal guidance.  In other words, “Don’t try this at home”! 

Christine

___________________________________________________

4 Vital Legal Agreements All Startups Should Have in Place

___________________________________________________ 

When getting a business off the ground, one common mistake business owners make is not establishing a solid legal foundation to protect their company from unforeseen situations and circumstances. The most effective and efficient way to provide this legal bedrock is by putting a set of key legal agreements in place. Gleaned from years of business experience and advice from seasoned and highly successful entrepreneurs, we’ve outlined the core four legal documents that a company’s founders should put into place as soon as your business “idea” evolves into a reality.

1. Business Entity Agreement

When starting a business, it’s crucial to select the proper business entity structure in order to maximize tax savings and minimize personal liability. Some of the most popular entity structures include sole proprietorships, general and limited partnerships, C corporations, S corporations and limited liability companies (LLC or even an LLC taxed as an S-Corporation). Once you choose the most advantageous structure, you should—and are sometimes legally required to—draft the proper entity agreements to lay the groundwork for how the business will be governed and operated. Different entity structures require different types of agreements. For example, C corporations require corporate bylaws, while LLCs use an operating agreement. These agreements are legal documents that define each shareholder or member’s rights and responsibilities, along with establishing the provisions for running the company, both on a daily basis and in the event one person dies or becomes incapacitated—as well as if the company dissolves. Moreover, these agreements also outline how business communications will be handled, along with how disputes will be resolved.

You may also have a shareholder’s agreement or a partnership agreement, if there are multiple owners of the business, where you want to further define the relationship among the owners. To avoid any conflicts, these agreements should be created and signed by all parties as soon as the company is launched. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can advise you on the entity structure that’s best for your business as well as draft entity agreements to ensure maximum protection.

2. Intellectual Property Assignment Agreements

When launching a new business, you should make sure that all of the intellectual property (IP) brought into the company by its founders before startup, as well as any IP that’s subsequently created by owners and/or employees once the business is operational, is owned by the company, not the individuals. Transfer of IP ownership from individual to the company is done using intellectual property assignment agreements. These agreements “assign” the company with complete ownership rights to all intellectual property assets—patents, trademarks, and copyrights—that are used to conduct business. Such agreements are typically required by most venture capital investors, and they also help protect the company from competitors and/or trolls looking to steal your ideas or products. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you draft IP assignment agreements, so you can retain total control of all IP assets that your business relies on to operate and grow.

 3. Employee Contracts and Offer Letters

Unless you plan on running the company all by yourself, you should create comprehensive employment contracts and offer letters before hiring new employees. These agreements clearly lay out the terms and conditions of employment, so your team will understand exactly what’s expected from them. Employees should be required to sign these documents, providing evidence that both parties are aware of the employment relationship’s scope and conditions. Employment contracts should also include any non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and/or non-compete agreements you require to ensure your company’s trade secrets and/or proprietary systems and products don’t fall into the hands of competitors.

 4. Sales and Service Contracts

Whether your company sells products, provides professional services, or a bit of both, you should have legal agreements in place to clearly lay out the rights and responsibilities of both the business and its customers. Sales contracts typically lay out the key elements—price, payment and credit terms, tax responsibilities, warranties, and liability limitations—for the sale of products and other goods. Service contracts, on the other hand, explain the fees, terms, and conditions under which your company provides services, along with spelling out the responsibilities and liabilities of each party. Ideally, service contracts should offer your company maximum flexibility for delivering the services, while also limiting its liability. Be sure the contract not only covers the traditional terms listed above, but also any unforeseen events or circumstances that may occur.

If you’re starting a new business, or have already started one but still need to draft the necessary legal agreements, contact us as your Creative Business Lawyer®. We’re experienced in helping entrepreneurs protect their business interests and limit their liability by drafting comprehensive legal agreements. What’s more, as your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can also help you establish sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems for your business, to ensure it experiences maximum growth and minimum hardship. This article is a service of Christine Faulkner,Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Posted in Asset Protection, Building Wealth, Business Entities, Death, Employment, Financial, Intellectual Property Protection, Investing, Lawsuits, Startup, Success, Succession Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 4 Vital Legal Agreements All Startups Should Have in Place…. The Christine Chronicles

Estate Planning Tips for Ensuring Your Pets Are Properly Cared For… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello,

I am feeling amazing after having the brilliant idea to work on our lawn yesterday. Despite being slightly sunburned, we mowed a reasonably substantial portion of our property. While I know this sounds like nothing special, having close to 2 acres means this is usually a HUGE spring job, taking weekend after weekend. That is because we are usually accomplishing this in May when the grass is hip high….and wet!! Although it rained a few days before, it seemed dry enough which turned out to be mostly true.  The property looks very green, smells like freshly cut grass and it really feels to me like spring.  We lost our gardener almost 2 years ago, and I have been too busy to get back on top of hiring someone.  The amount of time spent yesterday reminds me of why I need to get a professional gardener to make our yard look great again.

We are pet lovers indeed.  Between us we have 2 beloved pooches and  many kitties.  We know how important your pets are,  as part of your family. That is why when planning, you should really give thought to what would happen to your pets should something happen to you. A thorough plan provides for all members of the family, including your pets. Specifically setting forth what you do and don’t want to happen with your pets is crucial to ensure your furry pals are attended to and provided for. Making sure they never end up in a kill shelter, requires thoughtful and detailed planning. At Cava & Faulkner, we will make sure your  planning covers the bases so that your beloved pet will live a healthy,  long life.

26241712_10214783156352047_1398870215_n

Christine

___________________________________________________________

Estate Planning Tips for Ensuring Your Pets Are Properly Cared For

____________________________________________________________

It’s sad but true that many pets end up in shelters after their owner dies or becomes incapacitated. In fact, the Humane Society estimates that between 100,00 to 500,000 pets are placed in shelters each year for exactly this reason, and a large number of these animals are ultimately euthanized. Whether we like it or not, the law considers pets to be nothing more than personal property just like cars, furniture, and electronic devices. In light of this cold reality, it’s vital that you provide for your pet’s future care through estate planning, so when you die or if you become incapacitated, your beloved friend won’t wind up in a shelter or worse. The following tips offer helpful advice to ensure your faithful companion receives the best possible care when you’re no longer able to do it yourself. Identify a new caregiver for your pet.

 Selecting a trustworthy caregiver is the first—and most important—step in protecting your pet(s) through estate planning. Many people assume their children, relatives, or friends will be suitable guardians, and these folks may even tell you as much in conversation. But the reality is, properly caring for most pets is a major commitment of time, emotion, and finances. It’s best to come up with a list of potential candidates, and then have a frank talk with each of them, discussing the extent of care your pet requires and whether they have any personal issues (allergies, housing, other pets) that might prevent them from providing the necessary care. If you don’t know any suitable caregivers, charitable groups, such as the Safe Haven® Surviving Pet Care Program, can provide for your pet in the event of your death or incapacity. Get it in writing Once you’ve chosen a guardian—along with one or two alternates in case something happens to your top choice—outline all of your pet’s care requirements, listing its health issues, dietary concerns, medications, etc. These requirements should be indicated within a properly drafted legal document to ensure that your wishes are properly carried out and enforceable. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you create a legally binding agreement detailing your pet’s specific needs, which can be easily added to your other estate planning documents.

    Provide funding for your pet’s continued care All pets have basic food, shelter, and medical needs, and these needs can be quite expensive, depending on the animal’s age and health. And if you’re like most pet owners, you probably want your pet to receive more than just the bare necessities, so it’s imperative that you leave enough money to cover all such expenses. Be sure to not only provide clear, detailed instructions on how your pet should be taken care of in your estate plan, but also include the necessary funding to cover these costs. And be sure you think about all of your pet’s future needs, including any extra services—grooming, boarding, and walking services—when calculating these expenses.

    Set up a pet trust Because pet care can be quite complicated and costly, the best way to ensure your wishes are properly carried out is to set up a pet trust. While it’s possible to leave care instructions and funding for your pet in a will, a will cannot guarantee the new caregiver will use the funds properly or even that they’ll care for your pet at all. Indeed, a person who’s left your pet in a will can simply drop the animal off at a local shelter and keep the money for themselves. A pet trust, on the other hand, allows you to lay out detailed rules for exactly how the trust’s funds can be used. To ensure your wishes are accurately carried out, you should name someone other than the caregiver as trustee, so this person can manage the funds and make sure they’re only used as spelled out by the rules you’ve created.

While leaving assets in a pet trust is fairly simple, creating a properly drafted trust that includes all of the necessary terms can be quite complex. Given this, you should work with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, to be certain that all of the necessary elements are in place to ensure your pet will continue to receive the love and care it deserves if you aren’t around to do it.   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/pets 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. You can 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.

Posted in Beneficiaries, Caregiver, Charitable groups, Death, Estate Planning, Financial, Guardianship, Healthcare Directives, Incapacity, Pets, Trusts, Uncategorized, Wills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Estate Planning Tips for Ensuring Your Pets Are Properly Cared For… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Choosing the Right Life Insurance Policy… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hi:

In speaking with a client this morning about how title is held, I am reminded of how the smallest details in the planning process can have big consequences. The wording in your real estate title (deed) can mean the difference between a quick, inexpensive transfer and a full blown probate, even when one spouse is still alive.

Likewise, the kind of life insurance you chose can result in very different outcomes. Completely understanding how your insurance investment works is key prior to making the investment.  Working with a good insurance advisor is of course your first step. Next, when creating your estate plan, we will guide you in understanding just how your life insurance fits in your estate plan to achieve the ideal outcome for the people you love.

Until next time,

Christine

______________________________________

Choosing the Right Life Insurance Policy

While purchasing life insurance may seem pretty straightforward, it’s actually quite complex, especially with so many different types available.

In order to offer some clarity on the different types of policies out there, we’ve broken down the most popular kinds of life insurance here and discussed the pros and cons that come with each one.

Term life insurance
Term life insurance is the simplest—and typically least expensive—type of coverage. Term policies are purchased for a set period of time (the term), and if you die during that time, your beneficiary is paid the death benefit.

Terms can vary widely—10, 15, 25, 30 years or longer—and if it’s a Level Term policy, the premium and death benefit remain the same throughout the duration. If you survive the term and want to retain coverage, you must re-qualify for a policy at your new age and health status.

In addition to Level Term, other variations include “Annual Renewable Term,” in which the death benefit is unchanged throughout the term, but the insurance is renewed annually, often with an increase in premiums. With a “Decreasing Term” policy, the death benefits decrease each year until they reach zero, but the premium remains the same.

Decreasing Term life insurance is often used to cover a mortgage, student loan, or other long-term debt, so the policy expires at the time the mortgage/debt is paid off.

Whole life insurance
Whole life, or permanent, insurance pays a death benefit whenever you die, no matter how long you live. With a whole life policy, both the death benefit and premium stay the same for your entire life span.

However, depending on when you purchase coverage, the premium can vary widely depending on how much the policy’s death benefit is worth. So, for example, purchasing whole life in your senior years can be extremely expensive and possibly not even available at all.

What’s more, your whole life policy premiums will be much higher than your term life insurance premiums because the insurance company knows the policy will pay out when you die, no matter how long you live.

Indeed, the premium for whole life policies can be among the most costly of all types of life insurance coverage, including similar types of “permanent” policies discussed below. This is simply the price paid for the guaranteed death benefit and a level premium.

Universal life insurance
Universal life is a variation on whole life—it covers you for your entire lifespan, but also contains a “cash-value” component. Rather than putting 100% of your premium toward your death benefit, part of your premium is put into a separate cash-value account that earns interest and is tax-deferred.

The insurance company invests the cash-value funds in various investment vehicles of its choice, and provided the market performs well, you can access those extra funds for things like paying the policy’s premiums, paying off debt, or supplementing your later-in-life fixed income. Some insurance companies will even let you take tax-free loans against the policy’s cash value.

That said, the cash-value account is set at an interest rate that can adjust to reflect the market’s current rates, so if the interest rate of the cash value account decreases to the minimum rate, your premium would need to increase to offset the account’s reduced value.

While universal life premiums are typically more costly than term policies, universal life also allows you to adjust the death benefit within certain guidelines. This added flexibility allows you to choose how much of one’s premium funds will go toward the death benefit and how much goes into the cash value, offering you the ability to adjust the death benefit as your financial circumstances change.

Variable universal life insurance
Variable universal life insurance is quite similar to normal universal life except that variable policies allow you to choose how your cash-value funds are invested, rather than the insurance company. This offers you more control over the cash-value investment and potentially higher returns.

However, if the invested cash-value funds perform poorly or the market tanks, your policy could be at risk. Given a major drop in the cash-value account investments, you may have to pay increased premiums just to keep the policy in force. Moreover, the fees and expenses associated with the cash value investments for variable policies may be much higher than you would pay if you simply invested the funds on your own.

Because understanding life insurance can be confusing, it’s best to get the advice of a trusted advisor before you meet with an insurance agent, who might try to talk you into more coverage than you need in order to earn a larger commission. By sitting down with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can work with you and your insurance advisors to offer truly unbiased advice about which policy type is best for your family and life circumstances.

Contact us today, and we’ll walk you step-by-step through the different life insurance options and help you with your other legal, financial, and tax decisions to ensure your family is planned for and protected no matter what happens.

This article is a service of Christine E. 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. You can 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.

 

Posted in Death, Estate Planning, Financial, Insurance, Probate | Comments Off on Choosing the Right Life Insurance Policy… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

What Will the New Tax Law Mean for Your Business?.. The Christine Chronicles

Hi:

I’m out for training today but I thought you would like a tax update, so here you go.  Some useful tidbits for your tax prep this year!!!

Stay dry this weekend!

Christine

_________________________________________

What Will the New Tax Law Mean for Your Business?

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill into law, and taxpayers are still trying to figure out how it might affect them. This is especially true for business owners, as the most dramatic changes under the law are aimed at how businesses are taxed.

We’ve highlighted the most significant changes to business taxation that will likely affect you here, but to clearly understand the law’s full effects and take advantage of the benefits offered, you should contact us as your Creative Business Lawyer®, so we can meet with you and your CPA right away.

Reduced corporate tax rate
The new law sets a flat 21% tax rate for corporations. However, this flat rate only applies to C corporations, and not so-called “pass-through” businesses, which are taxed at the business owner’s individual rate.

Obviously, this would eliminate the competitive benefit of the pass-through status if the individual rates were higher than 21%, so the law was revised to provide a new deduction for pass-through entities, which is covered below.

New Deduction For Pass-Through Businesses
Owners of pass-through businesses—sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLC), and S corporations—now qualify for a straight 20% deduction on their taxable income. However, this deduction is subject to several restrictions and limitations, so not all pass-through entities will qualify.

For example, the deduction comes with a threshold amount that begins at $157,500 for individual taxpayers and $315,000 for married couples. If your income is above the threshold amount, you are subject to additional limitations and exceptions that are determined by your occupation type as well as wage and capital limits.

These limits and exceptions are extraordinarily complex and vary greatly depending on the type of business you run and where your business income comes from. Given the complexity of this new change, it’s crucial that you meet with us as your Creative Business Lawyer® now to discuss how this deduction affects your unique situation.

Limit corporate AMT
The corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT)—which was aimed at ensuring business owners pay at least some federal income tax—has been completely repealed.

Changes to tax credits & deductions
Under the new law, a company can only deduct interest expense of up to 30% of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Any amount in interest expense beyond that amount is no longer deductible.

In 2022, the deductibility of corporate debt will be capped at 30% of earnings before interest and taxes but after depreciation and amortization expenses.

Enhanced Depreciation
Bonus depreciation has been expanded, and businesses can now deduct 100% of the cost of property acquired after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before December 31, 2022. And for the first time, bonus depreciation also applies to “used” property purchased by a taxpayer, meaning the property no longer needs to be first original use to qualify for bonus depreciation, as long as the property is “new” to the taxpayer.

Because the new law puts in place such sweeping changes, it’s vital that you contact us immediately if you want to ensure your business is structured in the best way possible to take advantage of (or not be negatively impacted by) the new tax laws.

By planning ahead and working with us as your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you implement tax strategies that could potentially save your business huge amounts of money. Don’t miss out on this opportunity—contact us today!

This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

 

Posted in Asset Protection, Building Wealth, Business Article, Taxes | Comments Off on What Will the New Tax Law Mean for Your Business?.. The Christine Chronicles

Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths….Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello:

I am off and running this Monday.  I have my two backpacks and walking shoes and plan to make a decision about which backpack I will use in Spain. I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago from mid -May to mid -June, a 500 mile trek which has been a bucket list trip for almost 10 years. I have been lax in training and today committed to training in earnest commencing 3/15/18, 2 months before departure. We plan to walk on average 17 miles a day for 30 days and I need to walk about 4-5 miles per day in training and start building to the longer walks, 10-15 miles per day on the weekends. Considering that we will also be getting up early every day for the most part, I must start practicing getting up early (not looking forward to that part). I have two backpacks and have started training with them partially full but can’t decide which I like best. The Libra in me makes it difficult to decide, having to weigh the pros and cons of each very carefully. 

Do you avoid certain conversations because they make you uncomfortable? Perhaps you assume discussing estate planning with your parents is insensitive or would make them (or you) squirm? If so, take heed in the outcomes of other famous folks with a lot at stake in today’s newsletter.  Failing to plan usually has devastating impact on the people you love. Failing to review and make necessary updates to existing plans may lead to similar, unintended and possibly disastrous outcomes for your family.  True love and compassion for your parents and children requires the courage first to talk about the inevitable, death, and then taking action to create your own, well defined estate plan.  Alternatively, the best gift you can give to yourself and your siblings is a thorough plan that your parents create. You may need to be the driving force to help get your parents first educated about why planning is so necessary and assist them in finding an attorney who will take great care in creating the ideal plan for them.  Cava & Faulkner first educates clients on the “why”… why is a plan necessary, before creating a custom plan to fit the individual needs of each client. 

Christine

_________________________________________________________

Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths

__________________________________________________________

Discussing death can be awkward, and many people would prefer just to ignore estate planning all together. However, ignoring—or even putting off—such planning can be a huge mistake, as these celebrity stories will highlight. The next time one of your relatives tells you they don’t want to talk about estate planning, share these famous celebrities’ stories to get the conversation started. Such cautionary tales offer first-hand evidence of just how critical it is to engage in estate planning, even if it’s uncomfortable. The Marley Family Battle You would think that with millions of dollars in assets—including royalties offering revenue for the indefinite future—at stake, more famous musicians would at least have a will in place. But sadly, you’d be wrong. Legendary stars like Bob Marley, Prince, and Jimi Hendrix failed to write down their wishes on paper at all. Not having an estate plan can be a nightmare for your surviving family. Indeed, Marley’s heirs are still battling one another in court three decades later. If you do nothing else before you die, at least be courteous enough to your loved one’s to document your wishes and keep them out of court and out of conflict.

Paul Walker Died Fast and Furious at Just 40 While Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker was just 40 when he died in a tragic car accident, he had enough forethought to implement some basic estate planning. His will left his $25 million estate to his teenage daughter in a trust and appointed his mother as her legal guardian until 18.

But isn’t 18 far too young for a child to receive an inheritance of any size? Walker would have been far better advised to leave his assets in an ongoing trust, with financial education built in to give his daughter her best shot at a life well lived, even without him in the picture.

Most inheritors, like lottery winners, are not properly educated about what to do after receiving an inheritance, so they often lose their inheritance within just a few years, even when it’s millions.

Indeed, none of us has any clue when we’ll die, only that it will happen, so no matter how young you are or how much money you have, and especially if you have any children, don’t put off estate planning for another day. You truly never know when it’ll be needed.

Heath Ledger Didn’t Update His Estate Planning. Even though actor Heath Ledger created a will shortly after becoming famous, he failed to update it for more than five years. The will left his entire fortune to his parents and sister, so when he died unexpectedly in 2008, his young daughter received nothing, as she hadn’t been added to the will. Fortunately, his parents made sure their granddaughter was provided for, but that might not always be the case. Creating an estate planning strategy is just the start, be sure to regularly update your documents, especially following births, deaths, divorces, new marriages, acquiring new assets, or retiring. Many estate plans fail because most lawyers don’t have built-in systems for updating your estate plans, but we do, mostly because we don’t want this to happen to your family.

Paul Newman Cut Out His Daughters Too Though it’s a good idea to regularly update your estate plan, be sure your heirs know exactly what your intentions are when making such updates, or your family might experience significant  shock by not knowing why you did what you did. The final update to Paul Newman’s will, which was made just a few months before his death in 2008, left his daughters with no ownership or control of Newman’s Own Foundation, his legendary charity associated with the Newman’s Own food brand. Prior versions of Newman’s will,  and indeed his own personal assurances to his family, indicated they’d have membership on the foundation’s board following his death. Instead, the final version of his will left control of the foundation to his business partner Robert Forrester. Some allege that during his final months, when Newman was mentally unstable, he was secretly persuaded to change his estate plan to leave control of the Newman’s Own brand and foundation to Forrester. Newman’s daughters are currently fighting Forrester in court over the rights they believe they’re entitled to receive.

While changes to your estate plan may seem perfectly clear to you, make sure your family is on the same page by clearly communicating your intentions. In fact, if you are making significant changes to your plan, and your children are adults, we often recommend a full family meeting to go over everything with all impacted parties, and we often facilitate such meetings for our clients.

Muhammad Ali Made His Wishes Clear Boxing great Muhammad Ali wanted multi-day festivities to be held in his honor, including a large festival, an Islamic funeral, and a dazzling public memorial at the KFC headquarters in Louisville, KY. Given such elaborate plans, he worked with his lawyers for years, ensuring his wishes would be properly carried out. While you probably won’t need a multi-day festivity to celebrate your life, you may have wishes regarding how your life should be memorialized when you pass or how your care should be handled if you’re incapacitated. If you eat a special diet or want certain friends by your side while incapacitated, you have to make these wishes clearly known in writing or they very well might not happen. At the same time, you should spell out exactly how you want your remains cared for and what kind of memorial service, if any, you prefer.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help ensure your final wishes are carried out exactly how you want. But more importantly, we’ll help protect your family and keep them out of conflict and out of court in the event of your death or incapacitation. With a Personal Family Lawyer® on your side, you’ll have access to the exact same estate planning strategies and protections that A-List celebrities use, so don’t wait another day—contact us now to get started! 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. You can 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.

Posted in Asset Protection, Beneficiaries, Blented Families, Celebrity, Death, Divorce, Estate Planning, Ezine, Financial, Guardianship, Healthcare Directives, Incapacity, Inheritances, Investing, Lawsuits, Legacy, Parenting, Probate, Same Sex, Success, Trusts, Wills | Comments Off on Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths….Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

How to Deduct $5,250 of Your Adult Child’s College Tuition as a Business Expense… The Christine Chronicles

Hi:

Looking forward to this weekend so that I can get back in the groove of learning Spanish and training. I traveled with Cameron to Tempe last weekend for Daniel’s 21st birthday which was fun. We hiked the Camelback which made me realize how much further I have to go to really get in shape and disciplined to embark on the Camino in 2 months.  This is a busy time for me, both personally and professionally, and things are heating up in terms of business and fitting it all in. I’m working more weekends to keep on top of it all, but I am not complaining.  Life is good.

The next tax reform may have you scratching your head. As a business owner, you will undoubtedly benefit from new business deduction provisions. The good news is that, if you’re savvy, you can also now deduct a portion of your child’s tuition.  Not so fast though. There is a catch. You must hire your son or daughter as your employee…… that may cause you to question how much you are willing to deal with to get the deduction!  There are other provisions in the tax code that may or may not make this feasible for you. However, if you are looking for more deductions, this option may prove viable, depending on your situation.  Another feather in your cap, perhaps?

Until next time,

Christine

__________________________________

How to Deduct $5,250 of Your Adult Child’s College Tuition as a Business Expense

With today’s tuition costs at astronomically high levels, paying for a child’s college education can feel like extortion. If your child is an adult, you may have decided that it’s up to him or her to pay for tuition, but if you do want to help your adult child (or grandchild) with college tuition, there is a way to do that—at least part of it—tax free.

One method is to hire your child as an employee and set up a Qualified Educational Assistance Plan, which allows employers to provide up to $5,250 per year, per employee, in tax-exempt tuition benefits.

Under Section 127 of the federal tax code, employers can offer this tuition assistance to employees (who don’t have to report it as income) and then deduct the cost of the benefit as a business expense on their company’s taxes. What’s more, the assistance includes any form of instruction or training that improves or develops the capabilities of an employee, not just job-related or degree programs.

Seems like a win-win, right? It definitely is, as long as certain requirements are met. First off, the money can be used for tuition, fees, books, equipment, and supplies, but it can’t go toward meals, lodging, or transportation costs. And the equipment and supplies (other than textbooks) aren’t eligible if the employee gets to keep them at the end of the course.

Beyond those stipulations, an adult child is eligible if he or she:
1. is age 21 or older,
2. a legitimate employee of the business,
3. doesn’t own more than 5% of the company, and
4. is not a dependent of the parent/business owner.

Additionally, the tuition reimbursement plan must be written up as a benefit available to all employees, and employees must be given reasonable notification of the availability and terms of the program. Moreover, no other benefits can be offered as an alternative—the employer cannot provide additional pay or other bonus options for employees who don’t use the educational reimbursement.

Outside of funding your adult child’s schooling, an educational assistance plan may also be an attractive benefit that can be used to recruit top talent to your team and help retain your current employees.

For help setting up tuition reimbursement for your employees—whether they’re your children, grandchildren, or non-relatives—and to make sure you’ve structured hiring your children or grandchildren properly to maximize tax benefits, contact us as your Creative Business Lawyer®. We’ll walk you through the legal, financial, and tax issues related to the Section 127 plan and discuss other business strategies that can be used to defray education costs and save on taxes.

This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Posted in Building Wealth, Business Article, Employment, Financial, Success, Taxes | Comments Off on How to Deduct $5,250 of Your Adult Child’s College Tuition as a Business Expense… The Christine Chronicles

Common Estate Planning Issues You Must Navigate When Contemplating a Second (or more) Marriage… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello,

I’m in Scottsdale Arizona at the moment about to embark on the go to local hike…..Camelback. I’m looking forward to hitting the trail with my son Daniel and his girlfriend Serena. We celebrated Daniel’s 21st birthday yesterday and it was great to be with the kids! I’m looking like a local in my blue cowboy hat. Check us out!! 

Camelback

Second marriages and blended families take estate planning to another level. If you’re contemplating remarrying or are a blended family come see us to put thoughtful planning in place!! 

Until next week!

Christine

_____________________________________

Common Estate Planning Issues You Must Navigate When Contemplating a Second (or more) Marriage

These days, second and even third marriages are fairly commonplace. And the estate planning issues that arise from multiple marriages can be highly complex and confusing. Merging two families into one presents unique legal and financial challenges that can cause significant conflict and distress unless effective estate planning has been put into place early on. Here are a few of the most common issues that blended families should keep in mind when it comes to estate planning.

Keeping assets separate                                                                                                                 If you get remarried and have children from your previous marriage(s), you need to think about how you want to balance providing for your new spouse and ensuring the children from your previous marriage are taken care of in the event you become incapacitated or when you die. If you intend to keep your assets separate, so each spouse can pass an inheritance to his or her own children, you’ll need to create and maintain separate accounts. One account contains the assets you want to pass on to your children, and the other can be either a separate or joint account that contains the assets you want to share with your spouse. If you and your spouse commingle your income and assets, then the new spouse will have claim and control of those assets when you die, which can leave your kids with nothing. Moreover, joint accounts can be subject to claims from a former spouse and/or creditors, so unless you want your new spouse to share that risk, keep at least some assets separate.

And, if you’re keeping assets separate, be sure to talk with us about how to do that properly, as it can get tricky, particularly when you start sharing some assets and buying new assets together.

Inheritance timing                                                                                                                      If you have children for whom you want to leave an inheritance, you should think about how and when you want those assets passed on. For example, what if you die prematurely or your spouse is significantly younger than you? Do you want your kids to wait until the new spouse dies to claim their inheritance, or do you want them to receive it immediately following your death? Establishing a trust can protect assets for each spouse’s children and stipulate when the kids receive their inheritance. You may want to provide your children with some of their inheritance, such as proceeds from a life insurance policy, upon your death and then release the rest at some point in the future. Or if your kids are very young, you may decide to leave that decision up to your spouse or a third-party successor trustee.

Trustee considerations                                                                                                             A common scenario for blended families is for one spouse to set up a living trust that names themselves as the trustee during his or her lifetime, with the surviving spouse named as successor trustee once they die. This is done to ensure the surviving spouse will be provided for for life and the children will receive the remaining assets once the new spouse passes.

But the new spouse and your children may have conflicting interests, especially if the spouse is older. For example, the new spouse may choose to invest the assets conservatively, ensuring he or she has enough money to live comfortably for a few more decades. However, the children—particularly if they are younger—might be better off having the assets placed into higher-risk investments, which can offer better returns in the long run, but leave less income for the surviving spouse. In this case, it’s best to name a neutral third-party as successor trustee, so both the children and surviving spouse’s interests can be balanced fairly.

That said, we do recommend leaving at least something to your children from a prior marriage immediately upon your death (in trust if your children are minors). By doing so, you can mitigate potential conflicts between your children and surviving spouse.

Incapacitation                                                                                                                        Beyond finances, the issues of power of attorney and health-care directives must also be discussed. If one spouse becomes incapacitated, you must decide who you would want to make legal and medical decisions for you. If the children are young, it’s probably best to leave those decisions up to your surviving spouse. However, if your children are older, you may want them included in the discussion of how your health-care decisions will be made.

Comprehensive and effective estate planning is especially important for blended families. Indeed, it’s crucial that these families work with a professional who is trained in counseling blended families on how to properly protect their assets in a manner that’s best for both the spouses and any children involved.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’re specifically trained to work with blended families, ensuring that you and your new spouse can effectively clarify and clearly document your wishes to avoid any confusion or conflict over how the assets and legal agency will be passed on in the event of one spouse’s death or disability. If you have a blended family, or are in the process of merging two families into one, contact us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, so we can discuss all of your options.

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. You can 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Beneficiaries, Blented Families, Death, Divorce, Estate Planning, Financial, Financing, Guardianship, Incapacity, Inheritances, Insurance, Parenting, Trusts, Wills | Comments Off on Common Estate Planning Issues You Must Navigate When Contemplating a Second (or more) Marriage… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Same-Gender Couples Still Face Legal Challenges Over Parental Rights… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello-

We had hoped to get our lawn mowed before it rained again but that did not happen. So happy that we’ve got some rain coming our way and cool weather which will help the snow stick. I’m hibernating today, hunkering down with an eye toward getting a lot of work done.

I may walk today also to get a feel for walking in the cold and wet. I’m heading to Spain in a few months for a lengthy trek. I’ll tell you more about it as I iron out the details.

We’ve come along way in terms of equal rights for all married couples. However, parental rights do not yet parallel marital guarantees. The article today may be eye-opening for same-sex couples who believe they share equal rights when it comes to parenting. This is where we come in. Rather than enduring the lengthy/expensive adoptive process, we put in place for you our extensive kids protection planning, ensuring the non biological parent is named as guardian in the event of disability or death of the biological parent. If you want to know more, give us a call!

Christine

_____________________________________

Same-Gender Couples Still Face Legal Challenges Over Parental Rights—But Protections Via Estate Planning (Outside of Adoption) Are Available

In 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-gender couples had the right to marry, the LGBTQ community celebrated a huge victory. With the issue of marriage settled, it looked as if same-gender couples were finally going to have equal standing with heterosexual couples in the eyes of the law.

But while same-gender couples now have nearly all of the same matrimonial rights as heterosexual couples, there is one key right that’s still up in the air—the automatic right to be legal parents. Known as “marital presumption,” this right deems that when a married man and woman have a child, they’re both automatically considered legal parents of the child.

While parental rights are automatically bestowed upon the biological parent of a child in a same-gender couple, the non-biological spouse/parent still faces a host of legal complications and challenges. Because the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the specific issue of the parental rights of non-biological spouses/parents in a same-gender marriage, there is a tangled, often-contradictory, web of state laws governing such rights.

If you’re a same-gender couple, for example, some states and courts may not consider you a legal parent based solely on your marriage. And even in places where there are some protections under the law, same-gender couples can still experience discrimination and difficulty gaining all the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples. Indeed, it’s a real possibility that you could have total legal rights as a non-biological parent in one state, but drive across the border to a neighboring state and be a complete stranger to your child in the eyes of the law.

Given the murky nature of state laws, most legal experts advise same-gender couples that the best way to ensure you have full rights as a non-biological parent in every state is to obtain a second-parent adoption. The Supreme Court has ruled that the adoptive parental rights granted in one state must be respected in all states.

However, it can be extremely difficult for married same-gender couples even to adopt. In fact, seven states currently permit employees of state-licensed adoption agencies to refuse to grant an adoption if doing so violates their religious beliefs. In other states, however, the state law specifically forbids such discrimination.

What’s more, second-parent adoptions are often costly, averaging about $4,000 nationally. They can also be extremely time-consuming and laborious, requiring the non-biological parent to jump through a range of legal hoops, including physicals, blood work, fingerprinting, along with additional state and FBI background checks.

Some states even mandate home visits from social workers to see if a “suitable environment” exists for the child. All of this can be a major inconvenience at the very least and downright demeaning in other cases.

That said, many people are not aware that same-gender couples can achieve nearly the same parental rights that are granted through a second-parent adoption by using a combination of estate planning and family law protections. Moreover, gaining such rights in this manner will involve far less—if any—background screening and/or additional legal obstacles.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we offer a number of unique legal services to provide a non-biological, same-gender parent with as many parental rights as possible, without a full adoption. Starting with our proprietary Kids Protection Plan®, couples can name the non-biological parent as a legal guardian of the child, both for the short-term and the long-term, while confidentially excluding anyone the biological parent thinks may challenge their wishes.

 

Posted in Beneficiaries, Blented Families, Estate Planning, Guardianship, Parenting, Same Sex, Trusts | Tagged | Comments Off on Same-Gender Couples Still Face Legal Challenges Over Parental Rights… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

5 Tips for Securing and Protecting Your Clients’ Data… The Christine Chronicles

Happy Friday:

I’m busy making ongoing reservations and attending to all the details of my trip to Spain in May. I’ll tell you more about what I’m doing so stay tuned. I continue broadening my spanish language repertoire, which isn’t saying much. Every time I go to Google translate I realize how little I really know. The goal however is to be somewhat conversant but at least understand a fair portion of what I will hear during my visit.

Keeping client data secure is yet another headache and expense in your business. However, you likely understand the breadth of the problem given the Equifax breach. We’ve set out five tips to prevent such a breach while also protecting yourself from the time and expense of cleaning up the mess!!

Until next time,

Christine

_________________________________

5 Tips for Securing and Protecting Your Clients’ Data

All businesses big and small are responsible for protecting the personal and corporate data of their client base. This data can include everything from names and addresses to Social Security numbers and credit card account information.

It’s not only good business sense to safeguard your customer data—-it’s also a legal requirement. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) imposes stiff fines and other penalties for failing to adequately protect this information. To keep your client data safe and ensure your company is not sued, fined, or tarnished by a data breach, follow these helpful tips.

1. Restrict employee access to client data
Limit employee access to company computers and servers containing sensitive customer data to only those team members who actually need it. This is most often done with password protection and password sharing applications. Password sharing apps, like LastPass, allow you to share passwords with your team without actually displaying those passwords across cyberspace.

Beyond electronic access, also limit physical access to computers, servers, and other devices that store such data. This can mean installing access controls, keeping hardware in secure off-site locations, and/or storing devices in locked rooms and cabinets when the office is not in use. Be sure to also inventory all devices that store client data to ensure they haven’t been stolen or misplaced.

2. Install multiple layers of security
Anti-virus software, firewalls,  intrusion prevention systems, anti-subversion software—these security systems and others like them should be used to protect your company’s server and computers. The key is to add as many layers of security as possible, since hackers are likely to move on to an easier target, if your network and devices are particularly well defended.

And don’t forget to regularly install updates and upgrades to your security software, so you’ll be defended against the latest viruses and malware. Regularly check your software vendors’ websites and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team’s (UC-CERT) site to stay up-to-date on the latest threats, vulnerabilities, and patches.

3. Select the most secure web hosting service
Web hosts are businesses that host your website and data on their own off-site servers. These servers tend to be fairly extensive and may host hundreds—and even thousands—of websites on the same machines. There are numerous web host businesses out there, but they come with varying levels of server-side protection, including things like security cameras, different types of anti-virus and anti-spyware systems, and hard-wired firewalls.

Be sure you select a web host that offers a high level of security, especially against cross-side server attacks, which involve hackers who open a fake account with the company to access other websites on the same host server. For enhanced protection, use a virtual private server (VPS), which partitions your website from other sites that share the same server.

For maximum protection, open a private server account in which your website and data are maintained on your own separate server. This option is pricey, but still a lot cheaper than getting fined and/or sued for a data breach.

4. Hire professional computer security experts
While your normal IT guy or gal may be able to offer you a minimal level of protection, it may be best to hire a seasoned security professional to monitor your company’s server and computer activity. These experts will be specifically trained in the latest trends in hacking and other electronic infiltration methods, offering the most effective safeguard for your customer information.

However, these IT security professionals are quite expensive, so as your Creative Business Lawyer®, we’ll help you think through the risk and reward of hiring one and advise you on whether your company requires such an investment or not.

5. Notify clients when their data has been compromised
If your computers or servers are hacked and your data is compromised and/or stolen, immediately contact your customers to let them know. Not only will this allow clients to take steps to protect themselves, like closing their vulnerable accounts or alerting their financial institutions to be on the lookout for suspicious activity, but it’s also required by state and federal data breach laws.

As a business owner, you’ll need to stay apprised of the latest legal requirements for protecting your sensitive client data. As your Creative Business Lawyer, we can advise you on what safeguards you should have in place and how to implement them. And if you’re ever hacked, we’ll defend you in court against any lawsuits and/or penalties that might result. Contact us today to learn more.

This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Posted in Asset Protection, Business Article, Entrepreuner, Financial, Lawsuits | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Securing and Protecting Your Clients’ Data… The Christine Chronicles