Recent Blog Posts

  • The Trustee, Executor and Guardian: The Estate Plan Trifecta
    Many people ask us on a regular basis ‘who’ is going to carry out their wishes when they’re gone.  All of us should have a Will or Trust, but the ‘people’ that are going to implement it can be a big question mark sometimes.  It’s common to be concerned about who will pick it up and ‘run with it’ making sure all of your wishes are carried out. In fact, when setting up your Will and Trust, it’s vital to understand the roles and differences between the Trustee, Executor, and Guardian.  In fact, these three parties are the foundation, or ‘trifecta’ of the persons that will be implementing your Estate Plan.The Guardian First, and most importantly for those with children, is appointing the proper guardian for your minor children. This is the individual or individuals who will raise your children if you were to pass away before they reach the ... Read more
  • Emergency Preparedness for Your Business
    Natural disasters are all around us.  It is absolutely astonishing how the weather patterns are changing and the impact they are having with storms and even the likelihood of fires. Right now it is flooding, but what could it be next. With that said, if we bring up the topic of being “prepared” for such a disaster, many of us immediately think of our personal or family situation, but not the for emergency preparedness in regards to our business. We often forget that these same disasters affect business owners and can create even greater hurdles for entrepreneurial families to get back on their feet. Personally, I have been a Scoutmaster off and on for years, and not only do I try to teach my boys to live the Scout Moto: “Be Prepared”, but even I oftentimes forget the little things.  There was a particular trip on a campout that ... Read more
  • What is a Self-Directed IRA? – The Truth
    A self-directed IRA (traditional or Roth), is a retirement account YOU control. That’s right, you get to decide what you invest in…NOT just stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, or whatever your brokerage account is selling that month. Now your broker may tell you that you can’t do this and it’s prohibited. They’re blatantly wrong or simply lying. You can actually invest in real estate, promissory notes, precious metals, cryptocurrency, small businesses, and concert tickets, or raw land. The truth is your brokerage, ‘the typical Wall Street platform’, can’t allow you to self-direct, but you can move your account to a custodian or trust company that follows YOUR direction to invest in what you know best!! The usual reaction I hear from investors is, “Why haven’t I ever heard of these self-directed IRAs or self-directed 401(k)s before? Furthermore, why have I always been told that my retirement portfolio has to be ... Read more
  • Your Estate Plan and its Supporting Cast: Mini-Me, Thor, The Office, and The Titanic
    When most people hear about an estate plan, they normally associate it with a trust.  Certainly the trust is the lead actor in the estate plan because the trust is designed to set forth the plan or instructions for what will happen to your assets in your trust upon your death.  For most people, making sure your legacy goes to who you want it to go to (or not!) is the primary reason to for estate planning.  However, estate planning is not limited to just what happens to our assets when we die, but also includes a supporting cast of other legal documents which, although it may not be as popular as the trust, serves very important purposes in your estate plan.  This usually includes the Certificate of Trust, the Pourover Will, the Durable Springing Financial Power of Attorney, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and/or Living Will. ... Read more
  • RV Ownership Tax Strategies
    Let’s get real, we don’t buy an RV for a tax write-off.  They are a utility vehicle in some rare circumstances, but they are certainly by far a lifestyle choice and just what they are called: a “recreational” vehicle. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find a few tax perks.. IF WE DO IT RIGHT. Now with that said, I’ve got good news and bad news, and as my mother taught me to ‘get your chores done first’, let’s get it over with.  The regrettable news I need to share is that the RV no longer qualifies as a 2nd home for a mortgage interest deduction. Personal deductions for an RV Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December of 2017, and in effect until 2025, the only deductible mortgage interest is that of your primary residence. Furthermore, it’s only interest on acquisition indebtedness.  That means you ... Read more
  • What to do if You’re Being Audited
    Being audited is one of the most stressful and dreaded experiences a taxpayer can go through. It’s a wonderful blessing to live in America, and paying taxes comes with that privilege, but enforcement is a reality. Sometimes our actions will increase our chances of an audit (see my article Top 10 Ways to Avoid an IRS Audit), but sometimes our ‘number just comes up’. It’s difficult to grasp this reality because we typically want to blame someone when a tragedy hits…like an audit…however again, sometimes the IRS is simply going to check your numbers and possible receipts. Whatever the case may be or the reason for you being audited, there are certainly some things you can do that will help you through the experience. Adhering to the following tips and advice will either help the audit progress more quickly, lessen the damage and possibly even encourage the IRS to drop ... Read more
  • California Supreme Court Makes It Harder to Call Your Worker a “Freelancer”
    It seems like you can’t talk business at all these days without hearing something about the “gig economy.”  For those unfamiliar with the term, the gig economy is a combination of two factors. It’s an environment where many people have a ‘side gig’ to make ends meet, and organizations not wanting to commit to employees, contract with independent workers on a short-term basis. This situation can actually be a win-win. American workers are able to start a small business on the side, make more money per hour, take better tax write-offs and companies save on employment taxes…a perfect world right?  Well apparently the State of California doesn’t think so. The most famous examples of gig economy companies, of course, are the ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft.  But did you know that if you are over age 21 and have a valid driver’s license, you can be your own boss by ... Read more
  • 7 Deadly Outcomes of Treating Employees as Sub-Contractors
    We all hope that having employees will help us better succeed in our business. Whether it’s in production, sales or admin, if done right, the proper team of employees can make all the difference in the world. However, many small business owners are often wary of the costs and extra paperwork to bring on an ‘employee’ in the business and try to cut corners. Terms such as SUTA, FUTA, FICA and Workers Compensation will often times scare the employer into making a decision that devastates their business. They try and treat their “employees” as “sub-contractors” and 1099 them rather than set up payroll and follow the proper procedures when hiring an employee. I will simply refer to this incorrectly classified worker in your business as a  pseudo-employee (someone that is really not a sub, but an employee that should be on a W-2.) The reality is that this can be ... Read more
  • Steps to Succeed in a Partnership – Dos and Don’ts
    If you are considering entering into a partnership, or are already in one, there are critical issues to address if you want to succeed. Recently on an episode of our Refresh Your Wealth” Radio Show and Podcast, we compiled our Top 10 Dos and Don’ts to insure success in a business partnership. The time to consider this is now. The wrong time is after a problem has occurred in the relationship. Here is a list of items to talk about with your partner over a Grand Slam at Dennys this weekend: Have a Written Partnership Agreement. Do have your agreement in writing? Are you simply relying on memory or on that napkin from Dennys? Everything always seems clear and positive while you are shaking hands across the table and the sky’s the limit. It’s vital that you put the agreement in writing from the start and continue to memorialize changes ... Read more
  • Using the Tax-Free Sale of Home Exemption on Your Rental Property
    One of the financial benefits to owning your home (personal residence) is that the gain from the sale of home can be tax-free up to $500,000 for married couples and $250,000 for single filers. To take advantage of this: You must have lived in the home for two years out of the previous five years (or have an acceptable reason for leaving i.e. job transfer, health, unforeseen circumstances etc.) The home must also be your principle residence (not your Park City condo you live in for several weeks each year during ski season). We already know this though, right? It’s our favorite memory of President Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s time together (at least our favorite tax break made permanent)! But what happens if you don’t move in to the home right away though? Let’s say you originally intend to have the house as a rental, can you move in ... Read more
  • Do I Need a Living Trust?- What You Need to Know
    Nobody wants to think about dying, but being prepared for a disaster is important in every instance, and dying with your assets disorganized could be just that: a disaster. Millions of Americans die each year without any type of estate plan in place, and this forces their families into the court system, where they experience huge expenses with probate and significant time delays when they would rather be mourning. In fact, more than 50 percent of Americans don’t even have a will or any type of estate plan whatsoever. So is a ‘Will’ the simple answer for everyone, certainly not. Many need to take a little extra time and money to implement a revocable living trust (RLT) as part of a coordinated estate plan.  It could your family thousands of dollars later and tons of time. Truth be told, there are a number of reasons for an RLT, and far ... Read more
  • Do I Need a Living Trust?- What You Need to Know
    Nobody wants to think about dying, but being prepared for a disaster is important in every instance, and dying with your assets disorganized could be just that: a disaster. Millions of Americans die each year without any type of estate plan in place, and this forces their families into the court system, where they experience huge expenses with probate and significant time delays when they would rather be mourning. In fact, more than 50 percent of Americans don’t even have a will or any type of estate plan whatsoever. So is a ‘Will’ the simple answer for everyone, certainly not. Many need to take a little extra time and money to implement a revocable living trust (RLT) as part of a coordinated estate plan.  It could your family thousands of dollars later and tons of time. Truth be told, there are a number of reasons for an RLT, and far ... Read more
  • Is My Pet a Tax Write-off?
    It’s estimated that there are over 78 million dog owners in the U.S. and over 85 million people that think they own a cat.  That’s A LOT of pets and they aren’t cheap either.  Pet industry spending in the U.S. is now over $67 billion.  (Source American Pet Products Association) Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a little help from Uncle Sam as well as a tax write-off for some of that pet food, vet bills, or even that big price tag at the breeder?  Well, there might just be an option to save some taxes in the process. I’ve compiled 7 ways you might be able to find a tax write-off for that little ‘best friend’ of yours. 1. Medical Expense. The most common method to write off your pet is as a service animal; this is typically a dog. More and more doctors are prescribing/recommending patients invest ... Read more
  • Is My Pet a Tax Write-off?
    It’s estimated that there are over 78 million dog owners in the U.S. and over 85 million people that think they own a cat.  That’s A LOT of pets and they aren’t cheap either.  Pet industry spending in the U.S. is now over $67 billion.  (Source American Pet Products Association) Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a little help from Uncle Sam as well as a tax write-off for some of that pet food, vet bills, or even that big price tag at the breeder?  Well, there might just be an option to save some taxes in the process. I’ve compiled 7 ways you might be able to find a tax write-off for that little ‘best friend’ of yours. 1. Medical Expense. The most common method to write off your pet is as a service animal; this is typically a dog. More and more doctors are prescribing/recommending patients invest ... Read more
  • How to Write-off College Expenses and Save For Children’s Education
    As I am now a parent with three kids in college, this topic has never become more important to me than it is now.  Yes!! I have written on this topic for many years, but I certainly want to take it to a whole new level. I apologize for the self-serving article, but I hope it will many of you now and those planning for your children’s college education in the future. Let’s break this down into three distinct groups.  1) Those already stressed out and having to deal with paying for a student in college now; 2) Those of you who are already paying back student loans and are hoping for a write-off; and 3) Those of you that have the luxury of a few years before a child goes to college and don’t realize how fast it is coming. Each one of these groups has options, but needs ... Read more