We’re diving in, with sleeves rolled up, with a bunch of our area tax preparation clients in creating the best tax return possible for their 2020.
Get on our list here: https://waterbury-cpa.com/schedule/
But here at Emelia Mensa, CPA we’re also keeping an eye on the Congressional conversation around the “American Rescue Plan” (or Stimulus Round 3) presented by Biden.
Lots of political “smoke” around this, but as of this writing, no fire.
In general, I prefer to keep focused on what actually *is* before dealing in speculations. But the plan, as it’s currently being discussed, includes:
- An expansion of individual stimulus checks
- An increase in the Child Tax Credit
- An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (and a few other related credits)
- Extension to September and increase (from $300 to $400/wk) in federal unemployment compensation
- Increase in the federal minimum wage to $15/hr
- Assistance to renters and small landlords
There’s more, and the devil is in the details … but I will reserve further comment until something actually gets passed — instead of merely discussed. We shall see.
And speaking of putting action behind our words, I want to continue discussing estate planning for our New Haven County clients. What it is, what it isn’t, and who it’s for…
More Estate Planning Thoughts From Emelia
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
Last week, I wrote about these common myths still held by the majority of Americans.
In fact, as of this writing, it’s a fact that almost 60% of Americans don’t have a basic will, and that’s a big problem.
Much of the reason for this is because of misconceptions about estate planning, and I dealt with two already:
Myth 1. Only rich people prepare estate plans.
Myth 2. Everything goes to your spouse, if something happens.
Well, I’ve got three more for you to chew on and dispense with.
Myth 3. After I create my will or living trust, there’s nothing else to think about.
Well, if you follow this line of thinking, it could lead to a lot of problems. For instance, once you set up a trust, you need to re-title the assets you want to transfer to the trust. Otherwise, the trust doesn’t help a thing.
On top of that, families need to periodically update their will or trust to reflect major life events, such as a divorce or the birth of a child. You’ll also want to revisit your estate plan if you move to another state.
In fact, it’s a good idea that I recommend to my Connecticut area clients (and beyond) to re-evaluate your plan every 3 or 4 years to make sure your plan is fully up-to-date.
Myth 4. If I have a will, my estate automatically won’t go through probate.
Well, again — that’s not the case. In fact, ALL wills are subject to “probate.” This is a process in which a court determines whether the document is actually valid and ensures that relatives and creditors are notified. This process can take several months and drain thousands of dollars from your estate.
So here’s one way to avoid that entirely–create that living trust. Essentially, a living trust is a legal document you create which holds property (such as brokerage accounts and real estate). When you die or are incapacitated, the property is smoothly transferred to your beneficiaries. This transfer occurs outside of the probate process, which saves a TON of hassle.
Not everyone needs one of these documents, but it’s something which you can’t paint over with a broad brush. Which is why it’s important to walk with a competent guide on these matters.
By the way, if you own property in more than one state, a living trust is a no-brainer. Going through probate in multiple states is a nightmare.
Another advantage to a living trust is privacy. A will is a public document, and anyone can come to the probate hearing to see if any fights break out. Living trusts aren’t published in any courthouse, so people can’t gain easy access to them. That’s quite nice.
Myth 5. I could be held responsible for a deceased parent’s debts.
No, you’re not responsible for credit card debts from your parents.
In general, children aren’t responsible for a deceased parent’s debts, and in some cases spouses are often exempt as well. Again…you can’t paint it with a broad brush. But as a general rule, the estate is responsible for paying debts. If there isn’t enough in the estate to cover the amount owed, the debts usually go unpaid.
So really … there is no “great” reason to avoid this kind of planning. And it just so happens to be something that would make a great addition to your tax preparation process. So, let me know if you’re interested, and we’ll help you get started on the right track.
I hope this helps. To your family’s financial and emotional peace.
And a reminder: this is how you can get to us: