Tax savings
Estate Planning

4 Year-End Tax-Saving Strategies For 2022

Although the end of the year can be a hectic time, it’s also the deadline for your family to implement a number of key tax-savings strategies. By taking action now, you can significantly reduce your tax bill due in April, but with just a few weeks left in 2022, you better act fast.

While there are dozens of potential tax breaks you may qualify for, here are 4 of the leading moves you can make to save big on your 2022 tax return. However, there may be other opportunities for saving, so meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® to make certain you haven’t missed a single one.

1. Maximize retirement account contributions

By maximizing your contributions to tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, you can not only save for retirement, but also reduce your taxable income for 2022.

In 2022, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA and up to $20,500 to a 401(k) if you're under 50, and up to $7,000 to an IRA and $27,000 to a 401(k) for those 50 and older. If you don’t have the cash available to fund the maximum amount, try to contribute at least any amount that will be matched by your employer, since that’s basically free money, and you lose it if you don’t use it.

That said, the ability to deduct your traditional IRA contributions from your taxes comes with certain limitations. These limitations are based on factors, such as whether or not you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your adjusted gross income (AGI), so make sure you know how your family is affected by these limits when taking deductions. On the other hand, Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible, since they are made after taxes are taken out, but withdrawals from a Roth in retirement are tax-free.

Additionally, consider maxing out contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA). Contributions to HSAs for 2022 are capped at $3,650 for individuals and $7,300 for families, with an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 allowed for those age 55 and older.

You have until December 31, 2022 to contribute to a 401(k) plan and until April 18, 2023 to contribute to an IRA or HSA for the 2022 tax year.

2. Defer income if you’ll make less next year

If you’re expecting to make significantly more income this year than in 2023, try to defer as much income into next year as possible. However, this strategy only makes sense if you’ll be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year.

This might mean asking your boss to delay paying a year-end bonus until after Jan. 1, 2023, or if you’re self-employed, waiting to invoice certain clients until the new year. On the other hand, if you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket in 2023, you may want to do the opposite and accelerate income into 2022 to take advantage of a lower tax bracket.

Meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® to find out what’s best for your situation.

3. Use “loss harvesting” to offset capital gains

With the stock and crypto markets down this year, it can be the ideal time to use a strategy called “loss harvesting,” which means selling taxable investment assets, such as stocks, mutual funds, and bonds, at a loss to offset any capital gains you may have realized earlier in the year. Capital losses offset capital gains dollar for dollar.

If your losses exceed your gains, you can write off up to $3,000 of collective losses against other income. Any losses in excess of $3,000 can be carried over into the next year. In fact, you can carry over such losses year after year over your lifetime.

Note that the loss harvesting strategy does not apply to tax-advantaged accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and 529 plans. Additionally, the IRS "wash-sale" rule prohibits using this tax write-off for buying a “substantially identical” asset within a 30-day window before or after the sale that generated the loss.

Given the restrictions, you should always consult your CPA or financial advisor before employing loss harvesting to ensure it doesn’t backfire on you. And if you’d like us to meet with you and your CPA or financial advisor, we offer that service to the clients in our top-tier support plans, so be sure to ask about that if you’d love help getting all of your legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems organized and coordinated before the end of this year.

4. Watch your required minimum distributions (RMDs)—or ensure your parents are watching theirs—if you or they are over age 72

If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, including a 401(k), 403(b), traditional IRA, SEP IRA, or SIMPLE IRA, you must start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) by April 1st of the year that follows the year you turn 72. After that, annual withdrawals must be made by December 31st each year to avoid a serious penalty.

If you fail to take the proper RMD, you may face a 50% excise tax on the amount you should have withdrawn based on your age, life expectancy, and your account balance at the beginning of the year. That said, if you do make a mistake, you may be able to avoid the penalty by requesting a waiver from the IRS. You can request a waiver if your failure to take the RMD is due to a reasonable error, and you take steps to make the required distribution. To request a waiver, submit Form 5329 to the IRS, with a statement explaining the error and the steps you are taking to correct it.

Note that in 2022 the IRS updated its uniform lifetime table to calculate RMDs to account for longer life expectancies. As a result, your RMDs for this year may be slightly lower compared to previous years. To determine your RMD, refer to the IRS RMD worksheet, or use an RMD calculator.

Maximize Your 2022 Tax Savings

Implementing these—and other—year-end tax-saving strategies could save your family thousands of dollars on your 2022 tax bill. But if you don’t act soon, some of these opportunities may vanish for good, so meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® today to schedule your appointment and lock in your savings.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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Recession
Estate Planning

How Will A Recession Affect Your Family?

As you’ve surely heard by now, we’re in the midst of great economic shifts. The collapse of the crypto market, the roller coaster that is the stock market, rising interest rates, dropping home values, and inflation through the roof—it’s enough to make you sick. And it can make you sick unless you take the actions we are sharing here.

During every economic shift, whether it’s the Great Depression, the last Great Recession, or even during the pandemic, some people get rich, while others lose everything. Whether your family got rich, lost it all, or just hung on by their toes, you can learn from what happened and create the exact future reality you want for yourself and the people you love.

But to do that, you need to get into action now. In service to that, here are 3 steps you can take right away to change your family’s future and ensure you have the stability you need to sail through the economic shifts in the best way possible.

On that note, whether you’ll be passing on wealth or inheriting it, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to reduce the massive loss that will occur if you wait to start the estate planning conversation. Whether you have a little or a lot, not getting clear on what you do have (or will receive) can cause major upsets that can cost you far more than just money.

1. Get Into Conversation And Connection

The first step to ensure your family benefits from the current and coming economic shifts, regardless of what happens, is to get into conversation and connection with the people you depend on, the people who depend on you, or who you will depend on if something happens to you or your assets.

With the economic realities that are upon us, we can no longer go it alone, expecting everything to just work out because the stock market is on the rise and there’s plenty of savings cushion in the bank. Instead, this is the time to bring your family together and talk about what there is, where it is, and how it’s being managed (and will be managed) in the event there is a black swan event, such as the pandemic or a major stock-market crash.

If you are afraid to have these conversations because you think your family might not do well with knowing what you have, because you think they can’t handle knowing what you have (or don’t have), or because there has been upset in the past when talking about family financial resources, that’s a sign that it’s more important than ever to get into conversation and connection as soon as possible.

If you’ve attempted to have these conversations with your loved ones in the past and it hasn’t gone well, reach out and ask for our help. We’ve got processes and systems in place to support you to have these delicate conversations with your parents, kids, or siblings, with far more ease than you trying to do everything all on your own.

And if you don’t have living parents, kids, siblings, or a spouse, it’s even more important that you start these conversations. You can begin by identifying who you need to have these conversations with. We work with many single people and unmarried couples to help them navigate and talk about what can be a confusing and uncertain future, and we can help you, too.

If talking about assets and the allocation of family resources is easy for your family, that’s great—it’s time to take it to the next level by following the rest of the steps outlined here. Once you get into conversation with the right people based on your family dynamics, the next step is to get comfortable enough to “open the kimono.” This involves creating an inventory that lists all of the assets you own, where they are located, and how the people you love can find them in the event you become unable to share those details yourself.

2. Open The Kimono: Create Your “Family Wealth Inventory”

Whether you’ve created a formal set of estate planning documents already or not, it’s time to create (or update) an inventory of your assets. In our experience, most estate plans don’t do a very good job of keeping assets organized. When a loved one becomes incapacitated or dies, this is actually one of the biggest sources of expense, heartache, and pain—no one knows what there is, where it is, or how to find it.

One of the greatest gifts you can give the people you love is what we call a “Family Wealth Inventory,” and it’s something we create for all of our clients as part of their estate plan. We will not only create this inventory for you, but we have systems to keep it consistently updated year in and year out, as your life, assets, and the law change over time.

During a major economic shift, creating, updating, and revising your Family Wealth Inventory is critical, and doing that with the people you love is your number-one mission. As we see it, family wealth isn’t just about your financial wealth, it’s about your whole family's wealth, including your intellectual, spiritual, and human assets. In fact, these non-financial, intangible assets are usually what we all care about most, and yet they are so often overlooked in estate planning.

One of the best ways to maximize your family’s intellectual, spiritual, and human assets is for your loved ones to get into relationships around your family’s financial resources. Begin by creating (or updating) your Family Wealth Inventory, and share it with your loved ones, so you can discuss how to best allocate (or re-allocate) those resources. Having this conversation can help ensure your family’s intellectual, spiritual, and human wealth continues to grow, even as we move through these uncertain economic times.

If you don’t have a Family Wealth Inventory yet, contact us and ask about our Personal Resource Map. This free, online resource-mapping tool will help you start creating your asset inventory right now, without the need for a lawyer. From there, meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. During this meeting, we’ll look at what you have, where it is, and who will take care of it if you can’t, so we can create a plan that’s right for you and your family, whether we have a recession, depression, inflation, or whatever else may come our way.

3. Consider Reallocating Your Resources

Once you’ve created your Family Wealth Inventory, which allows you to see all of your assets in one place and consider the needs of your family, regardless of the economic climate, you may decide to reallocate your resources. For example, now might be the time to invest in multigenerational housing that will allow you and your kids to live together for many years or allow you to care for aging parents, while still maintaining privacy. Or you may decide that it’s time to create that homestead you’ve been talking about building, or launch that business you’ve been wanting to start. And it could be that now is the time to do all that with the people you love.

When we meet with you for a Family Wealth Planning Session, we’ll help you look at whether your resources are being held in ways that will support you to reach your short and long-term goals. Then, we can either help you reallocate your resources to achieve those goals, or refer you to professionals we trust to help you reallocate. The worst thing you can do right now is not looking at your family resources because you are afraid to see what’s there or you want to keep your head buried in the sand.

Times are changing, and the best time to look at what you have, so you can consider the future you want to create and intentionally allocate (or re-allocate) your resources is right now. Those who do so will thrive. Those who don’t will fall behind and wish they had done something different once it’s too late.

4. Update Your Plan

Once you look at what you have, where it is, and how you want it allocated, the next issue to decide on is who would take care of it all if you cannot. Leaving the management of your affairs to chance or to out-of-date estate planning documents is the worst thing you can do for yourself and those you love.

In an upcoming article, we’ll cover the Great Wealth Transfer that’s happening, detailing how between $30 and $80 trillion of wealth will be transferred between the generations over the next few decades, and how you can best prepare for that transfer.

In the meantime, start by updating the estate planning you already have in place to handle your assets in the event of your incapacity or death. If you don’t have any plan at all, the state has one for you, and it almost certainly isn’t what you would want to have happen. And if you do have an estate plan in place, it’s likely out of date, or possibly wasn’t even created properly, to begin with.

No matter what you have—or don’t have—we can help.

Secure Your Wealth, Your Legacy, And Your Family’s Future

Regardless of how much, or how little, wealth you own, now is the time to look at what you have, talk to your parents about what they have, and talk to your kids about what they’ll need to take care of you. And if you don’t have living parents or kids, talk to your siblings or close friends. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, our Life & Legacy Planning Process is designed to guide you to look at all of these things with ease and talk to the right people based on your family dynamics and assets, as affordably and effectively as possible.

Every plan we create has built-in support for your life and legacy, which can greatly facilitate your ability to make wise legal and financial decisions throughout your lifetime and beyond. That’s why we call our services Life and Legacy Planning, not just estate planning.

By working with us, as your Personal Family Lawyer®, you can rest assured that no matter what happens with the ongoing and future economic shifts, your family wealth will offer the maximum benefit for your loved ones. Schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session today to start having these critical conversations to ensure you and your family will thrive through the recession and any other calamity that may occur.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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Disability Insurance
Estate Planning

7 Issues to Consider When Purchasing Disability Insurance

If you earn a good living now, but you worry about not having enough money for a future time when you cannot work due to illness or injury, disability insurance is your answer. However, you need to make sure you are getting an insurance policy that will meet your needs and not waste your money. This article covers 7 issues to consider when purchasing disability insurance.

Disability Insurance: Issues to consider

The answers to these 7 questions can give you the best chance of finding a policy that is well-suited for your particular situation.

1. What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance pays benefits when you are unable to work because you are sick or injured. Most policies pay a benefit that replaces a percentage of your income. But disability insurance is not the same as health insurance—it will not cover your medical bills.

Instead, disability benefits replace a percentage of the income you lose due to your inability to work, so you can cover your basic financial needs, such as paying bills, covering daily living expenses, and providing for your family, until you can return to work. To begin your search for disability insurance, first you need to get clear about your minimum financial needs, or what we call your “minimum to thrive” number, should you become unable to work.

If you don’t currently know what your “minimum to thrive” number is, contact us for help calculating this number, and we can refer you to tools or an advisor who can support you.

2. Should I get disability coverage?

If you are the breadwinner in your family and your income would stop if you become ill or injured and could not work, you should look into disability insurance. According to U.S. government’s statistics, one in four 20-year-olds become disabled before reaching retirement age. Statistics like this make it all the more important that you consider protecting yourself and your family with disability coverage.

3. What’s the difference between short and long-term disability insurance?

There are two primary types of disability insurance: short-term and long-term. Short-term disability insurance typically lasts between 3 to 6 months, and sometimes up to a year or more. These policies generally cover about 60% to 80% of your monthly gross income, and the premiums you pay generally range from 1% to 3% of your annual income. One major upside to short-term policies is that payouts usually happen within two weeks, which can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

Long-term disability insurance can pay benefits for a few years or until your disability ends, even if that's when you retire. Most long-term policies cover 40% to 60% of your monthly gross income, but policies that pay up to 70% do exist. Long-term disability policies also cost 1% to 3% of your yearly income, but based on the benefits, they tend to be more cost-effective in the long run.

That said, it can take up to 6 months to see a payout from a long-term policy, which may not be a realistic option if you need money immediately to cover your living expenses. Therefore, we recommend covering your short-term financial needs with emergency savings of 6 months, and then getting a long-term policy to cover your longer term needs.

4. What does ‘portability’ mean?

If you purchase your disability insurance through your workplace, ask if you can keep that insurance if you leave the company. If your insurance is non-portable, your coverage will end when you leave the job. Having a portable policy means that you will be covered no matter where you work.

Although many disability policies purchased through an employer are not portable, it’s definitely something you should look into. If portability is important to you, consider purchasing disability insurance on your own, rather than through your employer.

5. What are the renewal options for disability policies?

A “guaranteed renewal” policy allows you to renew, without making any changes to your coverage, but your premium can fluctuate. A “non-cancelable” policy means your coverage and your premiums cannot be changed, assuming you pay your premiums on time. Also, be sure to find out if premiums are waived during a qualified disability.

Given these considerations, the best policies will be non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable. Obviously, such policies will cost more, so consider what’s best for you, and if you need help making your decision, we’re happy to recommend a trusted insurance agent and then talk through the options with you.

6. How do cost of living benefits work?

Cost of living benefits are not included in most policies, but adding this rider is definitely something to consider. Cost of living benefits are designed to provide financial stability by offering an increasing benefit to keep pace with an increased cost of living, which is especially important right now, when we are experiencing unprecedented levels of inflation.

When choosing cost of living benefits, consider choosing policies that increase on a compounding basis. Compound interest is earned on the principal and the interest. This additional rider can help your benefits keep pace through inflation, even after your disability ends.

7. Do I need a ‘future increase’ rider?

A future increase rider is another option to consider adding to your disability coverage. It’s worth looking into particularly if you think your income may increase significantly over time. With this rider, you are able to increase the monthly benefit of your policy, regardless of your health status.

Without it, your policy will not change to protect your future income, and your benefits will pay out according to your income when you first obtained coverage. That said, many insurance companies will limit the total supplementary coverage that can be implemented each year with a future increase rider, so even if you have this option in place, the benefits might not fully reflect your future salary.

Get help choosing your coverage

When shopping for a policy, it’s best to work with an insurance agent who can survey many different companies to help you choose the right policy for your budget, age, health, and other factors. And remember, you must have the policy in place before something happens—if you’re already sick or injured, you can’t buy disability insurance to make up for lost income.

One of the ways we support our clients is by discussing matters like this with you during your Family Wealth Planning Session, or at your annual or 3-year review meetings after you’ve completed your Life & Legacy Plan with us. If you do not have an insurance agent you are already working with, we can connect you with an agent we trust, and then provide objective counsel to help you decide on the best coverage for you and the people you love.

If you are not already a client, contact us today to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. If you are, and you are ready for a review of your legal and financial choices, contact us for a plan review. We look forward to supporting your next step in Life & Legacy Planning.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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Social media after death
Estate Planning

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death—Part 3

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.

Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.

In parts one and two of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, and Apple offer to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part three, we’ll conclude this series by covering the most effective methods for including digital assets in your estate plan.

5 Steps For Including Digital Assets In Your Estate Plan

If you’re like most people, you likely own numerous digital assets, some of which may have significant monetary value, and others which have purely sentimental value. You may even have some digital assets that you’d prefer your family not access at all when you pass away.

To ensure these assets are managed in exactly the way you want, take the following five steps to include this digital property in your estate plan. While many of these tasks you can do yourself, you’ll definitely want to consult with us, your local Personal Family Lawyer® to ensure your estate plan is properly prepared and works exactly as you intend.

1. Create A Detailed Asset Inventory, With Access Instructions

Start by creating a list of all digital assets you currently own. Then, for each asset, provide detailed information about where the asset is stored and how it can be accessed, including all of the relevant login information and passwords. If you have numerous different accounts, password manager programs, such as LastPass, can simplify this effort.

If you own cryptocurrency, it’s essential that you prepare detailed instructions about how to access it, and ensure that one or more people you trust are aware that you own crypto and know how to find your instructions. Additionally, accessing cryptocurrency often requires complex user identification data and private keys.

Moreover, to effectively manage these assets.the person you choose to control your crypto after your death will need to know how to use a variety of digital tools, such as online wallets, digital exchanges, and other programs. Given this, leaving a detailed “How To” guide can be an ideal way to ensure your loved ones can access your digital currency with minimal hassle.

After you’ve created your inventory and access instructions, store these documents in a secure location, with your other estate planning documents, and ensure your fiduciary (executor or trustee) and lawyer know how to access these documents should something happen to you. Finally, back up any digital assets stored in the cloud to a computer, flash drive, or other physical device to make them easier to manage. And remember to update your digital asset inventory regularly to account for any new digital property you acquire or accounts you close.

2. Add Your Digital Assets To Your Estate Plan

The next step is adding your digital assets to your estate plan. As with other assets, you’ll typically pass your digital property to your loved ones through either a will or a revocable living trust. Meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer®, to determine which estate planning vehicles are best suited for your particular assets and situation.

From there, specify in your will or trust the person, or persons, you want to inherit each asset, and include detailed instructions for how you’d like each asset managed after your death, if that’s something you’re interested in. On the other hand, some assets might have no value to your family or be something you don’t want them to inherit or even access, so you should specify that those accounts be closed or deleted by your fiduciary.

One thing you should NEVER do is provide the account information, logins, or passwords in your planning documents, where others might read them. This is especially true for wills, which become part of the public record upon your death.

For maximum security, keep this sensitive information in a secure place, and let your fiduciary know how to find and use it. To make securing and managing your digital assets easier, consider using a digital management service, such as Directive Communication Systems, instead of trying to do everything yourself.

It’s also a good idea to include terms in your estate plan allowing your fiduciary to hire an IT consultant if necessary, especially if your fiduciary doesn’t have much technical experience, or if you have particularly valuable digital property. Having a consultant available can enhance your fiduciary’s ability to manage and troubleshoot any challenges that come up.

Alternatively, you can designate a separate co-fiduciary just to manage your digital assets. Known as a digital executor, this individual is specifically tasked with managing your digital assets upon your death. If you have a lot of digital property or you own highly encrypted digital assets, like cryptocurrency, this option can be an optimal solution for safeguarding your online property.

3. Limit Access

Your estate plan also needs to include instructions for your fiduciary about the specific level of access you want him or her to have. For example, do you want your executor or trustee to be able to read all your emails, texts, and social media posts before deleting them or passing them to your heirs?

If there are any assets you want to limit and/or restrict access to, we can help you add the necessary terms to your estate plan to ensure your wishes will be honored and your privacy protected.

4. Include Relevant Hardware

Your estate plan should also include provisions for passing on any physical devices—smartphones, computers, tablets, flash drives—on which your digital assets are stored. Having this equipment will make it easier for your fiduciary to manage your online assets. And since the data contained on such hardware can be wiped clean, you can even leave this gear to someone other than the person who inherits the data stored on the devices.

5. Check Service Providers’ Access Authorization Tools

Review the terms and conditions for each of your online accounts and web-based service providers for how they handle your data after death. As discussed in the first two parts of this series, some platforms have features allowing you to give your family and friends the ability to access, manage, and delete your accounts after your death.

If such functions are offered, use them to document the individual(s) you want to access and manage these accounts. Just make certain those you named to inherit your digital assets using the providers’ tools match the beneficiaries named in your estate plan. If not, the provider will probably give priority access to the person named with its tool, not your estate plan.

Adapt Your Estate Plan To The Evolving Digital Universe

As technology continues to evolve, it’s essential to adapt your estate plan to keep pace with these changes. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we have the knowledge and experience to not only properly include your traditional assets in your estate plan, but all of your digital assets as well.

Indeed, we are keenly aware of just how valuable your digital property can be, and our Life & Legacy Planning Process is designed to ensure all of your assets—digital or otherwise—are protected, preserved, and passed on seamlessly to your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity. Furthermore, we can ensure you have the maximum level of privacy, and you stay in full compliance with the latest laws governing the ever-changing digital universe. Contact us today to get started.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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The Small Business Resource Guide 2023
Estate Planning

The Small Business Resource Guide 2023

What is a small business and what are the benefits of owning one?

A small business is defined as a privately owned company with a limited number of employees. According to the Small Business Administration, there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States, accounting for 99.7 percent of all employers.

The benefits of owning a small business are many, including the ability to be your own boss, set your own hours, and make decisions about your business. In addition, small businesses often have less overhead costs than larger businesses, and they can be more nimble and responsive to change.

Moreover, research has shown that small businesses are the engine of job growth in the United States, creating two out of three new jobs each year.

Finally, small business ownership offers a unique opportunity to build something that is truly your own and to create value for yourself, your employees, and your community.

In this detailed Guide, we have put together a series of posts that you can read and refer back to for some in-depth information and use as a guide for your business.

How to start a small business - the basics

For anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, the lure of starting your own business can be hard to resist. Unfortunately, too many people jump into the world of small business ownership without doing their homework first.

As a result, many new businesses fail within the first year. Before taking the plunge, it's important to have a solid understanding of the basics of starting a small business.

One of the first things to do is to create a business plan. This document will serve as a roadmap for your new venture and will help you to secure funding from investors or lenders. The business plan should include information on your company's products or services, your target market, and your long-term goals. It should also outline your marketing strategy and your financial projections for the first few years of business.

Read our post about the 7 Tips For Creating A Winning Business Plan

Another important step is to choose the right entity structure for your company. The most common options are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to understand the implications of each before making a decision.

For example, sole proprietorships offer the simplest structure but give the owner full personal liability for all debts and obligations of the business. LLCs offer some protection from personal liability but may be subject to higher taxes than other structures.

Once you've got a handle on the basics, you'll be well on your way to starting a successful small business. If you are at this stage of deciding what entity to use, then you need to read these 2 posts here:

How To Choose The Right Entity Structure For Your Company—Part 1
How To Choose The Right Entity Structure For Your Company—Part 2

The different types of small businesses and which one is right for you?

The different types of small businesses and which one is right for you?

There are many different types of small businesses, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. For some entrepreneurs, the best option is to start a sole proprietorship, which is simple to set up and provides complete control over the business. However, sole proprietorships can also be risky, as the owner is personally liable for any debts or losses incurred by the business.

Another common type of small business is a partnership, in which two or more people share ownership of the company. Partnerships can be a good way to pool resources and expertise, but they also require careful communication and planning to avoid disagreements down the road.

Finally, many small businesses choose to incorporate as either a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. These structures provide greater protection for the owner's personal assets in the event that the business is sued or incurs debts, but they can also be more complex and expensive to set up.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the right type of small business. The best decision will depend on the specific needs and goals of the entrepreneur.

Resources for small businesses - funding, marketing, and more!

There are a number of resources available to small businesses, from funding to marketing assistance. One of the most important things for small businesses is to have a strong marketing strategy.

You need these strategies for your new business 6 Essential Strategies For Starting A New Business

There are a number of ways to market a small business, from online advertising to word-of-mouth referrals. Many small businesses also work with marketing agencies or consultants to develop an effective marketing plan. In addition to marketing, another important area for small businesses is funding.

Need to grow your business in 2023? read this post: How to Grow Your Business for Sustainable Success in 2022

There are a number of government programs and private grants available to help small businesses get started and grow. For example, the Small Business Administration offers loan guarantees and counseling services to small businesses.  There are also a number of private organizations that offer funding for small businesses, such as angel investors and venture capitalists.

Finally, another important resource for small businesses is networking.

There are a number of networking groups and events specifically for small businesses. This is a great way to meet other business owners and learn about new opportunities. By taking advantage of these resources, small businesses can succeed and grow.

Tips for staying organized and keeping your business running smoothly

Any business owner knows that organization is key to keeping things running smoothly. From keeping track of inventory to staying on top of appointments, there is a lot to keep track of. Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and keep your business running smoothly:

First, develop a system for tracking all of your important information. This might include using a planner to keep track of appointments and deadlines, or setting up a system of folders and labels to organize paperwork. Whatever system you choose, make sure it works for you and that you can easily access the information you need.

Second, delegate tasks and create clear expectations. Don't try to do everything yourself- delegate tasks to employees or other team members. When delegating, be sure to create clear expectations and deadlines. This will help ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner and that everyone is on the same page.

Need assistance in setting boundaries?  5 Best Practices For Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Clients

Finally, take some time each week to declutter and purge anything that is no longer needed. This will help prevent your workspace from becoming cluttered and overwhelming and will make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

By following these steps, you can develop good habits that will help you stay organized and keep your business running smoothly.

Mistakes to avoid when starting or running a small business

Starting or running a small business is not an easy task. There are many things to consider and many potential mistakes that can be made. Here are four of the most common mistakes small businesses make, and how to avoid them.

One common mistake is not doing enough research. Before starting a small business, it is important to do your homework and understand the industry, the market, and your competition. Without this knowledge, it will be difficult to succeed.

Another mistake is not having a solid business plan. A business plan provides direction and helps you track progress and measure success. Without a plan, it will be hard to make your small business thrive.

Another mistake small businesses make is not investing enough in marketing and advertising. Many small businesses think they can save money by skimping on marketing, but this is a mistake. In order to get customers, you need to let them know about your products or services.

And finally, one of the most common mistakes is not staying organized and efficient. As a small business owner, you need to wear many hats and juggle many different tasks. This can be daunting, but there are ways to stay organized and efficient. By avoiding these four mistakes, you will be well on your way to starting or running a successful small business.

Here are some other great resources for you to consider

Putting Your Kids On The Payroll Can Benefit Your Business AND Help You Save Big Money On Your Taxes
3 Red Flags To Watch For When Dealing With Problem Clients
5 Strategies For Boosting Your Startup Business’s Cash Flow
5 Cost-Cutting Tips To Reduce Your Company’s Expenses

CONCLUSION

Congratulations! You have learned a lot about what it takes to start and run your own small business. This is definitely not an easy task, but if you are organized and passionate about your product or service, then you will be successful. Remember to avoid the common mistakes that small businesses make and to always ask for help when needed.

If you need assistance with funding, marketing, legal matters, or any other aspect of running your business, then please do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Palm Desert Law Group. We specialize in helping small businesses in Southern California and would love to help yours too. Give us a call today!

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Social Media After Death
Estate Planning

How to Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death—Part 2

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.

Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.

Last week, in part one of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook and Google have in place to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part two, we’ll continue our discussion, covering how Instagram, Twitter, and Apple’s collection of online platforms handle your accounts once you log off for the final time.

Instagram

Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the photo and video-sharing social media platform’s processes for handling your account after your death are similar—but not entirely the same—as Facebook’s. As a reminder, Facebook allows you to name a legacy contact to handle your death, and Instagram gives you two options for managing your account after death: You can either have your account memorialized, or you can have it deleted.

However, it’s your family—not you—that has the final say. This makes it all the more important that your loved ones are well-aware of your wishes for how you’d like this digital asset managed when you die.

In order to have your account memorialized, Instagram requires a family member or friend to submit a special request form, along with proof of your death, such as your obituary or death certificate. Once your account is memorialized, the word "Remembering" appears next to your profile name, and your account will basically be frozen, appearing exactly as you left it before your death.

All posts shared on your memorialized Instagram account will be preserved and shared with the same audience they were before your death. No one can log into your memorialized account, make changes to your posts, profile information, or settings. Additionally, your memorialized account will no longer appear in public Instagram forums, such as its Explore page.

Alternatively, Instagram allows your account to be permanently deleted after your death. According to Instagram's policy, only family members can have your account deleted, and this requires a bit more effort than memorialization.

To have your Instagram account permanently erased from cyberspace, your loved ones must not only submit a special form, but they must also supply your birth certificate, proof of death, as well as proof that they are your lawful representative under local law, the latter of which can take the form of a power of attorney document, a will, or an estate letter.

Twitter

Twitter’s policies regarding the management of your account after death are fairly simple. In fact, the company only gives you one option: the deactivation of your account. Like Instagram, Twitter leaves the decision as to what happens to your account after your death up to your family. Twitter’s Help Center offers a page with the specific details about deactivating a deceased person’s account.

If your family has your login and password information when you die, it’s fairly easy. Whoever has your login and password (plus 2fa access, if you have 2fa turned on) can login to your account on their own, and select the “deactivate my account” option. From there, the account will be deleted after 30 days of inactivity. That said, the account can be reactivated, simply by someone logging back into your account before 30 days expires.

If your family doesn’t have your login information, Twitter offers an alternate option for your account’s deactivation. However, Twitter notes that this option is only available to verified family members and estate executors.

The process starts by having a family member or your executor fill out a special form requesting the removal of your account. Following the request, Twitter will email instructions asking the person for additional details, including information about your death, a copy of their ID, and a copy of your death certificate.

From there, Twitter will review each request individually, but as long as the proper information is provided, Twitter notes that the vast majority of these requests are granted. Keep in mind that such requests will result in the account’s permanent deletion, so make sure your loved ones carefully consider their decision, since once deleted, the process cannot be reversed.

Apple Devices & Services

As you likely know well, all Apple devices and services require an Apple ID. This ID is used for everything from logging on to your iCloud files and making ‌App Store‌ purchases to tracking and finding your lost iPhone with the ‌FindMy app.

Like Facebook, Apple lets you select a “Legacy Contact” to manage the data and devices connected to your Apple ID after your death. Your Legacy Contact can be anyone you choose, and you can even designate more than one Legacy Contact.

The data your Legacy Contact(s) can access and manage includes items, such as photos, videos, messages, notes, files, contacts, calendar entries, downloaded apps, and backups of any devices stored in iCloud. Your Legacy Contact(s) will also be able to remove the Activation Lock from your devices, so they can personally use them, give them away, or sell them.

However, your Legacy Contact(s) will NOT have access to your login or password information, your payment information, your iCloud email accounts, or any of your licensed media. This means that you can’t pass on your collection of music, movies, or apps, unless that media already exists on one of the devices you own.

Before providing access, Apple reviews all requests made by your Legacy Contact(s). To gain access, your Legacy Contact(s) will need the access key provided when they were first nominated, as well as a copy of your death certificate and your date of birth. This makes it vital for your Legacy Contact(s) to print out a physical copy of their access key and safely store it, rather than relying on it being saved in your messages app or password manager.

Once access is approved, your Legacy Contact(s) receives a special Apple ID to access your account. From then on, your old Apple ID and password will no longer work, and Activation Lock is removed from all devices using your Apple ID. From the time the first legacy account request is approved, your Legacy Contact(s) has three years to access your data and devices, after which your account is permanently deleted.

We're Here To Help

Although you can manage many of the processes described here on your own, when it comes to preparing your estate plan, you should always work with us, your Personal Family Lawyer®. Using our Life & Legacy Planning Process, we’ll ensure that all of your digital assets, along with your more traditional forms of property and wealth, are preserved and passed on seamlessly to your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity. And we will accomplish all of this while ensuring you have the maximum level of privacy possible.

With this in mind, check back next week for part three, where we’ll conclude this series by offering an easy, five-step process for including digital assets in your estate plan.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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