30June
2016
What Happens if a Trustee Commits Fraud?

If you are beneficiary of a trust, it is sometimes practically impossible to obtain information about the trust or the trustee’s activities. This may not be because of the trust’s terms or statutory requirements, but because the trustee believes it is unnecessary to respond to every beneficiary request. Trustees are given discretion in handling the assets and may not receive much oversight. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to the trustee committing malfeasance and/or fraud. This article reviews a trustee’s responsibilities and what a beneficiary can do if the trustee is committing fraud — or is suspected of it….

30June
2016
Follow Detailed Recordkeeping Rules for Vehicle Expense Deductions

Many business owners fail to follow the strict tax rules for substantiating vehicle expenses. But if your business is audited, the IRS will most likely ask for mileage logs if you deducted vehicle expenses — and it tends to be especially critical of the amount deducted if you’re self employed or you employ relatives. While the basics seem simple, there are numerous exceptions. Mileage Logs Taxpayers can deduct actual vehicle expenses, including depreciation, gas, maintenance, insurance and other vehicle operating costs. Or they can use the standard mileage method, which allows a deduction based on the standard rate for each…

30June
2016
Taking Advantage of Family Funds

Remember when you were a kid and your parents paid all the bills and told you what to do? Well, if the family business runs into a cash crunch and you need to borrow money, think carefully before borrowing from parents and other relatives — or you could find you stepped into a time warp. For the most part, family loans come with emotional attachments — that’s why it’s sometimes called “love money.” Borrowing from relatives or allowing them to invest in your new business can put personal relationships at risk if you aren’t careful. In lending money, many relatives…

16June
2016
Business Interruption Claims Require Professional Help

Smart company owners and executives obtain business interruption insurance — and possibly contingent business income coverage if the operation relies heavily on outsourcing or a particular supplier. The idea is that the policy will compensate the company for lost earnings if a devastating event forces it to temporarily close down. But the calculations and coverage of business interruption policies is complicated and mounds of paperwork are often required to Calculating Historical Earnings Data    The calculation of losses is one of the most important and complicated issues involved in business interruption insurance claims. The policies often state that “past performance” must be…

16June
2016
Focus on Your Profit Centers

It can be a hard choice to make, but successful companies often have to make strategic decisions to “fix it or exit.” In other words, every element of a business must earn its keep, be fixed or let go. Companies must have a growth and profitability mentality that prompts them to maintain their winning profit centers and dump the marginal earners and losers. Many businesses tend to avoid taking the time to identify their key profit centers and eliminate marginal products or services. During good economic times when sales are booming, problems tend to go unnoticed. But when business turns…

16June
2016
Will Your Estate Be Distributed as Intended?

Often, a great deal of thought and work goes into estate planning documents. You need to consider all your assets, who to distribute them to, and the best way to accomplish your goals. However, your work isn’t over once you’ve signed those documents. You need to make sure your assets are properly positioned to go to your intended heirs. Some problems to look out for include: Your assets aren’t titled properly to fund trusts.  A common estate planning strategy that preserves your estate tax exclusion is to set up a credit shelter or bypass trust. Assets up to the estate…

02June
2016
Measuring the Value of a Financial Advisor

What’s the value of a financial advisor? Two studies found that working with a financial professional can result in higher returns and potentially lower personal stress.1,3 Lower Stress Seventy-six percent of people within 15 years of retirement are stressed when thinking about retirement savings and investments.2 Working with a financial advisor to develop a written retirement income strategy, however, can increase your confidence and happiness, according to Franklin Templeton’s annual Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations Survey. With and Without Investors Confident with Plan Happy with Plan With an advisor 91% 92% Without an advisor 44% 44%   Higher Returns In…

02June
2016
Watch Out for Unfavorable ‘Related Party’ Rules

Beware of the tricky “related party” tax rules if you are considering buying or selling business assets or an ownership interest (corporate stock or a partnership or LLC interest). The Internal Revenue Code contains a number of rules aimed at penalizing sales between individuals or entities that are considered closely connected and thus more likely to try to beat the federal government out of tax revenue. The problem is that the rules are not very well known, quite complicated and reflect a notion of “related” that far exceeds what most people would have reason to suspect. These provisions can snare…

02June
2016
Put Social Networking Sites to Work for Your Family Business

If you think that social media is just for teenagers, think again. More than half of those logging on to social media sites are in their mid-thirties or older. Traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio and television have long served the purpose of delivering one-way messages, like your company’s advertising. Social media, by contrast, uses Web-based platforms to not only deliver your message, but to allow the recipient to participate. You’ll find a number of technologies under the umbrella of social media, including email, instant messaging, blogs and social networking websites. In fact, sites like Facebook and Twitter have…