News & Articles

Team Member Spotlight: Ethan Rickelmann, CPA

Posted on Mon, Oct 26, 2020
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Tags: Tax, Assets, Team Member

Let's Take a Closer Look at New Business Tax Reforms

Posted on Mon, Jan 15, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provides businesses with more than just lower income tax rates and other provisions you may have heard about. Here's an overview of some lesser-known, business-friendly changes under the new law, along with a few changes that could affect some businesses adversely.

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Tags: Assets, Business Finance, intangibles, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

Access the Coverage You Need

Posted on Mon, Oct 16, 2017

While life insurance can be purchased for a variety of purposes, one of the most common is to maintain your family's standard of living in the event of your death. To ensure that your family is adequately protected, you need to purchase an appropriate amount of insurance. You are likely to hear various rules of thumb, such as you need insurance equal to five to seven times your annual income. Be careful of these guidelines. Since they don't take into account individual circumstances, they may leave your loved ones with an inadequate amount of insurance.

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Tags: Assets, Life Insurance, Insurance

Leaving a Legacy for Your Heirs

Posted on Mon, May 01, 2017

Despite its name, the term "dynasty trust" has nothing to do with aristocracy or the TV show that used to be popular. It involves preserving wealth for your heirs.

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Tags: Estate Planning, Assets, Trusts

FBI Case Exposes Massive Telefraud Scheme

Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2016

Do you dread getting phone calls from unfamiliar sources? It seems that callers are more likely to be aggressive solicitors, pushy telemarketers or even devious con artists than legitimate business people. Criminals typically target the elderly, disabled people or immigrants, threatening them with fines, penalties or deportation if they don't make payments to the callers. In some cases, unsuspecting victims lose their entire life savings.

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Tags: Assets, Fraud

Seven Reasons to Update Your Will

Posted on Fri, Sep 02, 2016

Even if you have a valid will, you may need to draft a new one for a variety of reasons. A will is an essential part of planning for the future. But don't think creating a will is a one-time proposition. Even if you have a valid document, you may need to draft a new will for a variety of reasons. For example:

1. Deaths - If individuals named (as heirs or executors) have died or they become incapacitated, a will should be reviewed to ensure changes are not needed.
 Where Is It?  

Before it's too late, people should let someone know where their original will is stored. If one can't be found after a person dies, a court may decide it was destroyed. It's a good idea to keep a copy in a safe deposit box, but don't put the original there without checking state law. Some states require that safe deposit boxes be sealed after the renter dies.

Other options include:

  • Store an original will in the office of the county Clerk of the Superior Court. (It is retrieved if the person moves.)
  • Have your attorney and/or your accountant retain the original will. Ask them what will happen to the document if they die, move, or quit practicing.
  • Store the will at home. Of course, it could be lost, destroyed or discovered by an interested party who could deliberately destroy, conceal, or alter it.

2. Assets - Revisions may be needed if the value of assets has increased or decreased significantly, or they are no longer owned. For example, if you specifically leave your home to one of your children, and later sell it, you may want to change the distribution of your other assets.

3. Marriage -
 Wedding bells usually signal the need to review a will. Which assets should pass to your spouse? Are step-children involved? If this is not spelled out in a will, the state will decide. In a community property state, a spouse automatically inherits half of all community property. In most other states, a spouse may receive one‑third to one‑half of the estate, absent any other directions.

Also, keep in mind that an unmarried couple living together may want to leave assets to each other but in order to make an inheritance happen, it must generally be spelled out in a will.

4. Divorce - In many states, a divorce automatically revokes a will or those provisions concerning an ex‑spouse. As a result, if you get divorced, it's best to have a new will drafted. For instance, you might have your former spouse removed as a primary beneficiary. In addition, you may want to change the beneficiary of your life insurance, pension or any existing IRAs. Consider the use of a trust if children from a previous marriage are involved.

You may also want to change your will if one of your children gets divorced.

5. Births - Once parents have children, you may want to consider updating your will to include the names of children. Also, you want to name guardians to care for the children in the event the parents die prematurely. (However, the naming of guardians is not binding by the probate court.) Grandparents might wish to draft a new will concerning the distribution of assets after children are born. Again, the use of a trust may be recommended.

6. Retirement - This event may also trigger the need to make changes to an existing will. For example, many retirees sell their homes and move to other states. But state laws can vary widely. Furthermore, individuals may consider a power of attorney that enables someone else to act on their behalf in the event of certain illnesses.

7. Tax law revisions - The Internal Revenue Code is regularly changed. In fact, the estate tax rules have undergone significant changes in recent years and more changes could occur. A will should be reviewed to take advantage of maximum tax benefits that exist today so it may have to be updated if tax laws change.

Note: In some cases, a will might be amended with a "codicil." However, in many cases, it is best to draft a new will. Your estate planning adviser can guide you on how to proceed.

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Tags: Estate Planning, Assets, Divorce

Watch Out for Potential Tax Bill When Converting Corporation

Posted on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

Your medical practice, currently running as a C or S corporation, may be considering the idea of converting to a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP). Under the right circumstances, that could be a good idea from a tax perspective. Here's why: Both LLCs and LLPs can be treated as partnerships for federal tax purposes. The tax rules for partnerships are far more flexible than the corporate rules.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Assets, IRS, Newsletter, Articles, LLC, LLP, Corporation, intangibles, Taxes, Goodwill

Master the Fundamentals of Estate Planning

Posted on Sun, Nov 16, 2014

For many people, mapping out an estate game plan is something they intend to think about later. But too often, later never comes.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Estate Planning, Assets, Planning, Estate, Newsletter, Articles

Avoid Family Feuds When Distributing Assets - Estate Planning

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2014

In the days after a person dies, some family members may decide to take matters into their own hands. These individuals may have a key to the home and decide they are going to take items they want. Before the will is even read, furniture, jewelry, artwork and other items may disappear. Cash around the home may be grabbed. In some cases, trash bags of stuff are hauled away.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Estate Planning, Assets, Newsletter, Articles

Tracking Plastic Spending Accounts for Hidden Assets

Posted on Mon, Aug 25, 2014

When a bankruptcy or divorce case involves embezzlement, fraud, defalcation, or hidden assets, cash is the most difficult item to trace. It's interchangeable and leaves no record of ownership or transfer if kept outside of the banking system. Few of us keep track of the serial numbers on our currency.

Converting Stolen Cash into Economic Benefit

However, unless it can be spent, embezzled cash is useless. Thus, people who steal cash are faced with a significant problem -- how to convert it to economic benefit without leaving an easily traceable trail. In large-scale and sophisticated schemes, there may be offshore accounts, multi-layered wire transfers, dummy corporations, and elaborate money laundering schemes to convert the ill-gotten gains to disposable income.

For the most part, though, it's typical to encounter more "vanilla" sorts of crimes. Money orders are easy to obtain, require no substantial identification, and are readily negotiable. However, it's inconvenient to utilize them as currency, unwieldy to maintain a significant amount of funds, and some money orders have expirations dates. Credit card companies, on the other hand, are quite accustomed to receiving payments on accounts in the form of money orders.

Therein lies the solution for some perpetrators: Overpay a credit card account. The account will then carry a credit balance from which future charges will be deducted.

A novice perpetrator might use an existing credit card for this scheme. But more sophisticated embezzlers apply for new credit cards -- perhaps in a fictitious name.

Uncovering Plastic Spending Accounts

To uncover this ploy, a credit report must be obtained and all credit inquiries traced to determine if they represent the issuance of a new card. Additionally, the appearance of recently-acquired assets, trips, vacations and other items must be traced to discover the source of payment.

Requests for discovery of invoices associated with these assets are essential to this effort and the failure to produce them is a red flag. Once credit cards have been identified, all transaction records must be obtained from the issuer. Examining these reveals if overpayments have occurred and also identifies transactions that may point to other unreported assets. For example, payment of utility bills with the card should be traced as it could lead to the existence of unknown real estate.

Seeking Forensic Expertise

When your case involves fraud, defalcation, embezzlement or hiding assets in a divorce or bankruptcy situation, or other incidents of financial wrongdoing, be sure to turn to skilled and experienced financial investigators who know how to follow the cash.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Assets, Hidden Assets, Valuation, Newsletter, Articles, Forensic Expertise