Monday, July 23, 2018

Avoid Family Strife with the Proper Documentation

Times are hard. 

  Many of our adult children come home to get back on their feet. Many of our clients want to help their family and friends by loaning money or guaranteeing and/or co-signing a loan. This can cause a disaster. Don't Assume Anything. When adult children come home, there needs to be a "plan" that everybody understands. How long will the child stay? Will the child be responsible to cover any expenses? Will the child be expected to help with maintenance, repairs, cleaning, etc. Discussing these matters up front and openly will help avoid misunderstandings; and memorializing this will avoid arguments later. Sometimes a family counselor is helpful, or even necessary.

Is it a Loan or a Gift?

 Many people are "loaning and/or gifting" monies to adult children for a variety of reasons. Please make sure that these money transfers are properly documented. If it is a gift, have a gift letter and file a gift tax return, if required. We have seen too often when a parent dies and one child demands repayment of a "loan"; and the other child insists that it was a "gift". Feuds break out and families are broken.

 If it is a loan, have a Promissory Note or other agreement memorializing the terms. When is it due? What is the interest? What if the parent or child dies? Memories fade and family members can argue in good faith. But, these arguments can destroy your family.

Co-Signing/Guaranteeing

 Life Insurance is to "guarantee your guarantee". Many parents are co-signing college, home and car loans for their children. It is recommended that you require your children to have sufficient life insurance in place, dedicated to paying this/these debts, just in case tragedy strikes. If your child dies, you still have to pay these debts. Insurance can protect your family from further disaster.

 You should also have an written understanding that the child will pay the loan on or before the due date. If a payment is late (even by one day), the loan will last longer. The child must tell you immediately if he/she cannot make a payment so that the parent can decide whether or not to cover the payment. The child must sell his/her car or house if he/she cannot make payments timely and regularly.


Friday, June 1, 2018

What is “Bitcoin” and how do I include it in my Will or on my Taxes


What is “Bitcoin” and how do I include it in my Will or on my Taxes

Bitcoin is legally known as cryptocurrency. It is an Internet Asset.

As the world expands and “real” life becomes intertwined with the internet, more and more people are going to have internet assets. One of the most popular forms of internet assets is cryptocurrency, for example, “Bitcoin.”

Cryptocurrency actually refers to a code with a unique number that takes immense computer power to generate. This code can be traded, much like money, and keeps a digital record of every transaction it has been a part of. Many people will accept this in lieu of centralized, government backed money, making it a potentially valuable asset that should be protected accordingly. Although Bitcoin is the most popular type, there are over a thousand different forms of cryptocurrency and growing.

Taxes

The IRS considers cryptocurrency to be property, rather than money for tax purposes. Therefore, if you are have not been reporting either selling your cryptocurrency or using it to purchase goods or services as you would with money, or have been reporting it incorrectly, now is the time to change it! Start reporting your income correctly using IRS guidelines. That means keeping track of what you sell and report the gain. Though buying or possessing cryptocurrency and not making any money off of it does not require you to report it, all other transactions do. Visit https://bitcoin.tax/ and https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-14-21.pdf for more information on the specifics of cryptocurrency and taxes.

Wills

Similarly, you should make sure to protect your cryptocurrency assets during Estate Planning. You must include this in your asset list. You should keep extensive written records on your cryptocurrency, including how much you have, where you got it, where it currently is, and the digital key to access it. This will make it much easier when the time comes to pass your cryptocurrency on.

Additionally, the cryptocurrency could be set up so that it goes directly into a Trust as soon as you die. This will make it significantly easier for your heirs to protect and control the assets. Ideally, you want to make it as easy as possible for your beneficiaries to take full advantage of the assets you leave them.

Whatever you choose to do to protect your assets, we can help.