Saturday, July 4, 2009

Client Newsletter June 25th 2009

I have some fantastic news to share with you:

On May 24, 2009, I got married to Diedre Wachbrit (now, Braverman). I truly could never imagine finding a more compatible and lovely partner. I first met Diedre when she was instructing an estate planning course that I took a few years back. Coincidentally? Diedre is also an estate planning attorney. I hope that you will have the opportunity to meet her sometime in the near future!

This email is also the first installment of an informational series, regarding relevant estate planning topics --

Funding your Living Trust, why is it important?

Many of you have created Living Trust based plans with my Firm (if you are not sure whether your estate plan includes a Living Trust, please contact me to review your estate plan, at no cost).

In order for your Living Trust plan to meet your estate planning goals, it is critical that your assets be titled in the name of your Living Trust. Avoiding probate, management of your assets in the event of incapacity and maintaining privacy, are just some of the goals of a Living Trust plan.

The process of transferring the title of your assets into your Living Trust, is called “Funding.” Your Living Trust can only control the property that is actually in the Living Trust. That is why Funding is so important! Your Living Trust cannot begin to work for you, until you transfer your assets to it.

The Integral Role of Funding

I am keenly aware that the worst impression that you can have, is that your funding process is languishing in my office. You may find yourself somewhere on a continuum between your Living Trust being completely funded through having made no progress towards the funding of your Living Trust at all.

My experience has provided the following insights regarding Living Trust Funding

*The Funding of your Living Trust is a collaborative process between you and my office, with each party playing a vital role.

*No matter how diligent my office may be, there are steps in the funding process, that I cannot take on your behalf. For example, some documents must be signed elsewhere, such as needing Medallion Signature Guarantees. Also, brokerage firms generally have questions about the features of your account that must be answered by you, etc.

*The duration of the funding process depends a great deal upon the number and types of assets to be funded into your Living Trust. As well as the cooperation and ability of the third party companies or agents who we must work with to effectuate the changes of ownership and beneficiaries.

*There is a “potential deadline” for all of us, which is the day we become incapacitated or die.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of funding your Living Trust. It is imperative that we combine our efforts to ensure that your Living Trust is funded. There is much that I can (and will) do to assist you with your Living Trust funding. There are also certain steps that can only be taken by you, as the owner of your property.

Weekly emails throughout this summer will address the individual types of assets that should be funded into your Living Trust and how to accomplish each one.

It is my fervent hope that by providing relevant information (and reminders), that you will contact me, and we will work together to get any unfinished funding matters completed.

As always, it is my privilege to be of service to you.

I encourage and welcome you to call me regarding this email or for any other reason at all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Independent Contractors - New Law

From time to time there is a change in the legal world that we feel is important enough to justify sending a note to our clients. We don’t do it often, but such an event just happened.

With tax revenues down some 30% last year, governments are trying to raise money however they can. One way to raise taxes is by ensuring more workers are classified as employees vs. independent contractors. On June 3, Governor Ritter signed House Bill 09-1310, which substantially increases the ramifications against employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid their workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance obligations.

The new law empowers the Colorado Department of Labor to more easily investigate misclassifications. If a violation is found, the Department may order employers to pay back taxes and interest. If the investigation reveals that the employer has willfully misclassified an employee, the law authorizes fines of up to $5,000 for the first misclassification, and up to $25,000 per misclassified employee for the second and any subsequent misclassification. Employers found to have engaged in multiple, willful violations also may be barred from contracting with the state for a period of two years.

As you may know, there are several requirements for a party to be considered an independent contractor in Colorado. If you are concerned about meeting the independent contractor requirements, we are happy to discuss your situation and help ensure you are doing what you can to comply with Colorado law.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wall Street Journal: Obama Plans To Keep Estate Tax

As you know, if you are a client of mine - The Estate Tax or "Death Tax" has been fluctuating since 2001, with a future uncertain. Well, now the future is beginning to take form.

When President Bush was elected in 2000, one of his campaign pledges was to make the estate tax go away. And Congress did, in fact, pass legislation that would abolish the estate tax. Sort of...

What they passed, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGGTRA) enacted a series of increases in the amount of money your estate could be worth without paying “death taxes” — increases in the estate tax exemption, leading eventually to abolition of the tax during the year 2010.

However, EGTRRA sunsets, or reverts to the provisions that were in effect before it was passed on January 1, 2011 unless further legislation is enacted to make its changes permanent.

We may not have to wait long.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Bottom line: if you expected the estate tax to actually go away, you were mistaken. As the laws change, it is important that you have your plan reviewed to make sure it is up to date. We can help you with this review. And if you haven’t yet created an estate plan, you should come and see us for a plan that takes all these new realities into account.