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Estate Planning is Not Complicated

If you have a family, you need to protect it. It's your job. If you die, what happens to your spouse and children? The solution can be simple. An estate plan and life insurance. The estate plan usually involves a living trust and the life insurance can be a 20 year term policy. That will protect most families. It doesn't have to be difficult, but it does have to be done. Don't…

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Money for Your Business

My entrepreneur clients often ask me how to raise capital. My first response is the same response I give entrepreneurs when they ask me to help them issue stock to an employee: Do you really need to? Just like I advise business owners to not issue equity to an employee unless absolutely necessary, I advise business owners not to take on investors unless absolutely necessary. Why? You tend to make better decisions…

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Making Charitable IRA Donations in 2012

Making charitable donations from your IRA is different in 2012. Congress has made life difficult for tax attorneys, accountants, financial advisors and their clients as they continue to give and take away deductions. In 2011, under the Qualified Charitable Distribution provisions of the tax code, you could make an IRA distribution to a qualified charity and not include the distribution as income. IRA owners age 70½ or older could contribute up to…

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Why Are You Working?

You work very hard to make your business successful. Why? To become the market leader, to make your clients' or customers' lives better,  to pay the bills and get out of debt, to save for your children's college education, to take a vacation or two, to build a retirement nest egg and to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. These are all good. I just read Matthew 4 about the temptation of Jesus. Again,…

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Is Your Living Trust Funded?

Although most families have not done their estate planning, many have, and many have established living trusts. The objectives in establishing a living trust are to avoid the high costs and hassles of a California probate and to provide an easy administration of the estate assets. Living trusts are great and will accomplish these objectives – if they are maintained.

Your estate will still go through probate, even if you have a living trust, if you have not transferred your assets to your living trust. We tell our clients to consider their living trust like a container. The trust will only control the assets that have been transferred to the container. If when you die, you left significant assets (real property, bank and investment accounts) outside the container, your loved ones may have to take your estate through probate. Probate is unwelcome to most families because it is expensive and generally takes at least a year in court.

Ask yourself these questions to confirm your assets are in your living trust.

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Give them ears to hear

Seth Godin on selling to those who don't think they need you. No, they won't respond to a better-than-them pitch. Instead, they're much more likely to respond to a new statement of their problem and a new statement of the solution. Don't ask them to announce that they were wrong when they decided that they didn't need a tablet, a survival kit or an anti-impotence drug. Instead, make it easy for them…

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Do You Need Money for Your Business?

My entrepreneur clients often ask me how to raise capital. My first response is the same response I give entrepreneurs when they ask me to help them issue stock to an employee: Do you really need to? Just like I advise business owners to not issue equity to an employee unless absolutely necessary, I advise business owners not to take on investors unless absolutely necessary. Why? You tend to make better decisions…

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Is Multitasking Slowing You Down?

The Harvard Business Review report by by Tony Schwartz says we get less done by doing more than one thing at a time. Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while…

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Be Content and Indispensible

Seth Godin writes about needing more to be happy: If your happiness is based on always getting a little more than you've got... then you've handed control over your happiness to the gatekeepers, built a system that doesn't scale and prevented yourself from the brave work that leads to a quantum leap. The industrial system (and the marketing regime) adore the mindset of 'a little bit more, please', because it furthers their…

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Estimated Taxes and Tax Refund Robbers

Is it malpractice for CPAs to recommend their clients pay estimated taxes in light of the tax fraud epidemic? Here is a provocative article suggesting it might and it is generating a lot of discussion among lawyers and accountants. The issue is if you pay estimated taxes and someone steals your identity and files your return and gets your refund (which came from your estimated tax payments), would you have been better…

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