February, 2018 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Things You Can’t Ignore in the Family-Owned Business Succession Planning Process

February 16, 2018

Filed under: Business Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

A company that you started with your spouse decades ago may hold sentimental value for you but it also has significant financial value and possible future value if your children or other heirs intend to take it over. There are multiple different things you need to consider in the process of business succession planning for a family-owned business. 

Often the emotions and conflicts that are present in a family owned business may be more difficult to deal with, highlighting the importance for an experienced business succession planning attorney. First of all, you must consider exit strategies. You must evaluate whether or not your children have the desire and the qualifications to take it over and to outline the appropriate exit strategy for the family from a financial perspective. Transferring a business can generate major tax implications if you don’t do advance planning.

You might lose 30% or more to taxes which could impact the departing business owner’s retirement. Communication with key employees and family members is another crucial component of business succession planning. Discussing the plan helps remove uncertainty about the business’s future and involving advisors to help with the streamlined process can keep everyone informed and confident. Business succession planning should also coordinate with individual estate planning tools. Transferring assets to children is a common concern for people in this situation but this needs to be done carefully and with the guidance of a lawyer who has worked in this field for many years.      

James Brown’s Estate Is Still Unsettled

February 15, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Eleven years after the death of James Brown, his estate planning has fallen short in the plan to distribute his wealth efficiently. None of the beneficiaries in the will have received even a dime of the money. This includes underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. Mr. Brown intended to donate significant amounts of money to these entities, however, a number of legal disputes have emerged and kept the estate dispute alive for more than 10 years. A dozen separate lawsuits related to the estate were initially filed after Mr. Brown passed away in 2006 on Christmas Day. The most recent of these was filed last month in California. 

Nine of the children and grandchildren of Mr. Brown are suing the widow and the estate administrator, arguing that copyright deals made by the widow were improper and illegal. Another lawsuit alleges that the widow was not actually ever James Brown’s wife. His will initially set aside $2 million to underwrite scholarships for his grandchildren and it gave his household effects and costumes to the six children he did recognize, a bequest that was estimated approximately $2 million.

The will was challenged, however, and an initial settlement was proposed that would give the children and grandchildren a quarter of the estate and the widow another quarter. However, that was overturned by the Supreme Court due to asset distribution that did not appear to be in line with James Brown’s original goals.

Why Do Wills Need to Be Recorded?

February 14, 2018

Filed under: Wills — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

 

You may not need to necessarily record a trust although an important component of your trust strategy is to fund it after you have put it together. Far too many people stop after the establishment of a trust and fail to follow through with the funding. There are many different estate planning concepts included in the answer to the question about why a will needs to be recorded or filed. When you leave a will, you leave a clear set of instructions that help to determine how your property is distributed to your heirs after you pass away. estate plan and legacy

Someone must have the authority to transfer this property and this authority is granted by a court after the will is appropriately filed. The process of presenting the official will triggers the beginning of the probate process. A trust, however, is an entity that is generated when a trustee and a settlor enter into a trust agreement. A person who does not control the trust may have more challenges than a person who establishes themselves as a key player in the trust. Although you can’t touch or see a trust as you would a printed will, this is a legally recognizable entity that contains some distribution instructions after you pass away.

However, the court does not have the authority to grant the settlor’s final instructions included in a trust. This is a major departure from a will. Since the trust can survive the settlor and the trustee is granted the authority in such an agreement under state law, no court involvement may be required. Schedule a consultation today with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more about your options with regard to estate planning.

Five Crucial Ways That Estate Planning Can Help Your Business

February 13, 2018

Filed under: Business Planning — Laura Pennington @ 7:48 pm

 

When most people think of estate planning, they are looking at their individual opportunities available with putting together critical documents and strategies to protect them and their loved ones. The truth is however, that if you play a critical role in any business, you can also benefit from estate planning for the company. Without a proper plan in place, you’ll leave many difficult questions to be answered and problems that may arise if you need to suddenly exit the company or if something happens to you. There are five primary reasons why you need to consider the benefits of estate planning in your business. 

  •   It helps ensure the longevity of your business so that your brand lasts well beyond your lifetime.
  •   It minimizes your taxes since estate taxes can put significant financial problems in front of a business. Transferring business assets to your children is one such example.
  •   It gives you the option of a buy/sell agreement. Estate panning allows you to use a buy/sell agreement that can be beneficial if you have multiple co-owners of a company. This means that they may be eligible to automatically purchase a deceased owner’s interest in the company and this can prevent unintended beneficiaries from accidentally becoming owners or key players in the business.
  •   It allows your business to look forward towards the future. Estate planning allows you to look to the future of your business while you’re still around and maintain your message in years to come. Since no one knows what the future holds, estate planning for the business is important.
  •   It generates a succession plan, if you want to include multiple components in your business succession plan, including strategies to keep the employee, outside directors that may be used to bring objectivity, support training and development of successors and the delegation of responsibility and authority to successors.

Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer to learn more

Documents to Keep Indefinitely in Your Estate and Financial Planning Process

February 8, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 

Although in the previous three blogs, we’ve discussed getting rid of unnecessary paperwork and clutter after three months, one year and seven years, some documents should be kept on hand forever. learn what estate planning documents need to be stored forever

This is because they are so important that you may need to reference them at any point in time and it may be a good idea to keep copies and backups. These should always be stored in a safe location, such as a box that is safe from a fire. These documents should be maintained forever:

  • Personal identification documents like your social security card or birth certificate.
  • Income tax returns.
  • Legal documents such as lawsuit settlements, divorce and marriage certificates, and estate planning materials, unless they have been replaced by amended materials.
  • Loans for your car and vehicle titles. These should be kept for at least three years from the date the transaction is finalized. This information can prove helpful long after the transaction is finished, however, so you may wish to keep it forever.
  • Educational records such as transcripts, degrees and diplomas.
  • All major receipt purchases.
  • Any relevant financial planning documents and records, like pension plan documents, power of attorney designations, burial information, medical details, and living trusts and wills.

Talk to your estate planning lawyer to learn more about how to safely store these items.

 

Documents to Keep For At Least Seven Years in Your Financial and Estate Planning Process

February 7, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 

It can be difficult to figure out which documents you’ll need to have on hand, which ones should be stored in a safe deposit box and have a copy at your lawyer’s office, and those that you can eventually get rid of after some time. learn what documents to keep for seven years

This is because there are so many different periods of time associated with holding on to particular documents, and in an effort to clear out clutter and ensure that you are legally protected in the event of a problem, you’ll need to be mindful of both. Some documents need to be kept for at least seven years before you can dispose of them safely. These include:

  • 1099 and W2 forms that can be used for tax audits and prove your income for loans
  • Tax related receipts which can become helpful if the IRS comes asking questions
  • Bank statements which should be kept for at least a year in electronic or printed form. These can be helpful if you have issues of identity theft, fraud or other challenges with your account.
  • Cancelled checks for mortgage, home improvement, business and tax purposes. Some people like to keep all of their cancelled checks, but this is an unnecessary process if you want to cut down on clutter.
  • Disability records or unemployment income stubs. Any paperwork you receive that is directly from the government related to an income source should be kept.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer in addition to other professionals on your team can be valuable for ensuring that you have the appropriate paperwork, and drafting the paperwork for your estate planning purposes when you don’t have it yet.

Documents to Keep for One Year: What You Should Know About Estate and Financial Planning

February 6, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 Some documents need to be kept longer than the three-month period as discussed in yesterday’s blog. These should be stored in a safe location so that they can be accessed quickly in the event of a sudden problem, or in the event that your financial power of attorney agent needs to step in and make critical administrative or financial decisions on your behalf. 

These documents can be disposed of safely such as using a shredding service after a one-year period. These include:

  • Paycheck stubs
  • Monthly mortgage statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Insurance records and statements
  • Undisputed medical receipts and bills
  • Checkbook ledgers

Only hold on to these documents if you currently have a case dealing with the insurance company or a personal injury case.

After you receive your annual W2, there’s no reason to hold on to your paycheck stubs and your annual tax statements can be used in lieu of monthly mortgage statements. Investment account statements can include trade confirmations and monthly statements, but these materials don’t need to be kept longer than one year

Important Documents Series Part 1: What Should You Keep for Estate Planning Purposes?

February 5, 2018

Filed under: Distribution of Assets — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Many people worry about having the appropriate documents on hand. In this four-part series, we’ll explore the various issues associated with keeping documents so that you know exactly what to hold on hand for the long term and what can be disposed of in a safe manner after an appropriate period of time. Certain documents should only be kept for three months or less. how long to keep planning documents

These might initially seem important or have personally identifying information on them, but they don’t need to be kept over the long haul and could actually expose you to a higher risk of identity theft if they’re floating around your home.

These may be good to keep for a couple of months, in case you become incapacitated and your financial power of attorney agent needs to step in. These documents to keep for 90 days or less include:

  • Utility bills
  • Receipts for everyday purchases
  • Credit card receipts
  • ATM receipts

Unless you have specific issues, like business deductions on your income tax return or company reimbursement practices, these receipts become inconsequential after a three-month period and can only add to the clutter in your office or your home. Your canceled checks or credit card and bank statements can be proof of payment for regular purchases and utilities. Certain documents need to be kept on hand for longer and we will explore these in tomorrow’s blog.

Will Less Planning Occur Because Of High Estate Tax Exemptions?

February 1, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Do you think you don’t need estate planning?

Perhaps you did estate planning in the past, but you think that new high estate tax exemptions mean that it doesn’t make sense to engage in this process. 

Many estate planning attorneys and clients alike, were interested in how the most recent tax bill will play out. Although plenty of people are still digging into the mechanics of what this tax bill will actually mean for people planning on the ground, the high estate tax exemption is the subject of the most commonly asked question.

Taxes are at the front of many people’s minds these days, even more so than usual. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will double the gift tax exemption and the estate tax exemption. However, many estate planning attorneys expect to still find themselves helping clients of all types to put together an appropriate estate plan. The biggest anticipated growth in coming years is likely to be with income tax planning, with more than 45% of those attorneys expecting to see more work.

Just over one-quarter of estate tax planning attorneys expected to see less of this kind of work for estate tax planning purposes. Many believe that the current changes to the estate tax are not likely to last over the long run, meaning that people will eventually wind back up in their estate planning lawyer’s office.