Practical Advice

Last Minute Tax Tips to Reduce Your 2017 Tax Bill [Updated]

last minute tax tips

We are almost to the end of 2017, and this year we may have some much bigger changes coming our way in 2018 than in a typical tax year. For that reason, you may want to pay close attention to this post. The reason we have so many changes coming is that Trump’s Tax Reform is finally upon us. There are a lot of changes coming down the pipeline in 2018 and 2019, so you may want to take some proactive measures before the end of this year to maximize your savings. Let’s start with the current state of the […]

Privacy and Estate Planning

privacy and estate planning

I’m amazed at the number of clients I have that have not truly considered the privacy implications of their estate plans. From the dawn of time, humans have been concerned about privacy. Privacy keeps us safe from predators, enemies, and even in some cases, our closest friends. But at the same time, many people forget about how important privacy is when constructing their estate plan. Will-Based vs. Trust-Based Plans There are two primary options people have when putting together an estate plan – a trust-based plan or a will-based plan. There are numerous advantages to selecting a trust-based plan, including incapacity […]

Why Estate Planning is so Important to Me, and Why It Should Be Important to YOU too

Why Estate Planning is so important

Today I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about why estate planning is so important to me, and why it should be important to you too. So many people just pass off estate planning as something they need to do, but never actually get around to doing it. Frankly, this is a terrible mistake and one that is easily avoidable. Check out this video to learn more about what I mean. Here’s a full transcript of the video… Why Estate Planning is so Important to Me Hey there. Good morning, gang. This is Jim Hart here from […]

How Much Can You Gift Someone in One Year?

How Much Can You Gift Someone

A frequently asked estate planning question is, how much can you gift someone in one year? The simple answer is you can give someone as much as you want. But you can’t give an unlimited amount without subjecting yourself to the federal gift tax. Now, before we get into the nuts and bolts of the gift tax and how it works, you should understand that if you manage your affairs properly, you should never have to file a gift tax return or pay any gift tax. But the key to this is, you have to manage your affairs properly. Let’s get […]

5 Reasons You Might Not Need a Living Will

living will

Let’s be honest. Not everyone needs a living will. I know you probably find that strange to read on an estate planning blog, but it’s true. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and telling you that you must have a living will drawn up. I mean, you aren’t going to be held in contempt of court or face a lawsuit if you don’t prepare a living will. 5 Reasons to Avoid Getting a Living Will And in case you think this post is in jest, here are five reasons that you absolutely, definitely, should NOT prepare a living […]

Getting Divorced? Don’t Forget to Update Your Healthcare Power of Attorney

healthcare power of attorney

When going through a divorce, the last thing that many people want to think about is reviewing their estate plan, specifically your healthcare power of attorney. But this is one of the best times to do this. When a married couple prepares an estate plan, often they will name each other as the health care power of attorney for the other spouse. Basically, if you were incapacitated, this means that your ex-spouse would be the person responsible for giving directions to your doctor about your health care. And, unless you split on good terms and remained best friends, I’m pretty […]

The Three P’s of Estate Planning

Three p's of estate planning

Whether you are just starting to think about putting together an estate plan, or you need to change one that you already have, it is helpful to think of estate planning in terms of the “three p’s”. What are the Three P’s of Estate Planning? Put simply, the three p’s of estate planning are the people and property that you need to include in your plan, as well as the plan that you put together to deal with them. To help make this more clear, let’s discuss these one at a time. People that you care about As you start […]

Why is Estate Planning Important to You?

why is estate planning important

Are you one of those people who secretly wonders, “why is estate planning important?” When you talk to friends and family about the topic, you all agree that it is something you should do, but deep down inside, you are wondering… Why? Why is estate planning important? Why should I care? Here are 5 reasons that estate planning is important. But before I get into that, let me explain that estate planning is important for anyone. You needn’t have a lot of money, or kids, or even a spouse. You see, estate planning is more than just getting a will […]

How a Spare Tire Is Like Your Estate Plan

estate plan

Yesterday was the first Monday of 2017, and while many people were home watching football, I was one of the few people in my office building working. But apparently that was a bad decision because when I left the office last night, I found a flat tire waiting for me when I got to my car. So I did what any normal adult would do, I called my Wife to tell her what had happened, then I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves, and put on the spare tire so I could make it home. This morning, I’m […]

North Carolina Estate Planning Do’s and Don’ts

North Carolina Estate Planning

Whether you are newly married, just had your first child, or are creeping up on your retirement, it’s a good idea to start thinking about putting together your estate plan. Creating an estate plan will help you to find peace of mind by knowing that in a moment of crisis, those closest to you would be taken care of. There are many downfalls to failing to create an estate plan, not the least of which include having your children taken into protective custody if you haven’t named a guardian, and not purchasing adequate life insurance to care for your loved […]