Four Easy to Avoid Mistakes People Make at Tax Time

It’s that time of year again: tax season. No one enjoys doing their taxes, and that is likely why many of us leave this tedious task to the last…possible…moment. As Tax Day approaches, millions of Americans are likely scrambling to track down all of their important documents to meet the April 15 deadline. But as with anything in life, the more you rush, the more likely you are to make mistakes. When it comes to your taxes, these mistakes can result in monetary penalties, delays in getting a refund, and even an increased chance of being audited. Below are four easily avoidable mistakes people make at tax time.

Not filing when you could get a refund: No matter what your income level, filing your taxes is important. This is particularly true if you are a low-income earner, as you may be entitled to a refund from the government through the earned income credit. Read More

Estate Planning…A must whether you have a little or a lot!

While everyone is celebrating during this holiday season, the manner of these celebrations can vary based on differing family traditions, religions, and geographic regions. Estate planning is no different—protecting your family’s future must be customized to fit your and your family’s unique needs. No matter your level of wealth, it is important to understand that the reasons for estate planning are universal.

Estate Planning Basics: There are several reasons why an estate plan is necessary for everyone. Some of these include protecting beneficiaries, sidestepping probate, protecting assets from creditors, and avoiding a mess in the event of incapacity or death. Estate planning gives you the tools to specify what happens to you, your assets, and even your loved ones should you pass away or be unable to handle your own affairs. Read More

An Easy Three-Step Review for Your Estate Plan “Helpers”

While putting together an estate plan is important for you and your loved ones, it is equally important for you to understand the role of the trusted individuals who will be carrying out your wishes when you are unable to. When it comes to estate planning, these helpers are key. They generally include a trustee, guardian, executor, agent under a power of attorney, and healthcare proxy, among others.

Reviewing Your Key Helpers: Determining who will handle your affairs when you are unable or once you are gone is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Here is an easy three-step guide to help you that you can use when reviewing your estate plan. Read More

Murphy’s Law and Estate Planning

As the old adage goes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Referred to as Murphy’s law, this well-known saying has no mercy. Sadly, estate planning is no exception to its wrath. There is hope! Below are five-estate planning mistakes and how to fix them:

Incorrect guardian for your children: A will is a way for you to control what happens to your estate and your minor or disabled children from the grave. If you fail to put together a will, the state will decide who cares for them at a court hearing. If you do have a will, be sure to review it regularly and confirm your original guardian is still a great choice for your children. If he or she is not, then amend your will and choose another guardian. Because all family law judges are required to make decisions in the “best interest of the child”, it’s a good idea to write a letter of explanation to help the judge understand the decision you’ve made. Read More

Your Fall “Legal Affairs” Checklist

There are several reasons to review and update your legal matters, including your estate plan. Understanding how your wishes are affected by applicable law will help make you make a more informed decision and protect you and your loved ones. Below is a checklist to ensure your planning meets your needs and is up-to-date: Read More

Just Like You Need a Medical Checkup, Your Estate Plan Needs a Checkup!

Whether or not you currently have estate planning documents, one important item to add to your calendar is getting an estate plan checkup.

If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your to-do list.

Why?  Because without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in a time-consuming and expensive probate proceedings after you die.

Worse yet, if you don’t take the time to have any estate planning done, then the state where you live at the time of your death will essentially write one for you. It most likely won’t divvy up your property the way you would have and certainly will not protect your heirs the way you would.  Read More