22April
2019
Minimize Legal Risk During Internal Investigations

Let’s say an employee tips you off that some payments to a vendor seem suspicious. After looking into it, your company discovers that $60,000 in payments were all authorized by one employee and no one else in the purchasing department has heard of the vendor. You become concerned about fraud. What should you do? Clearly, you need to start some sort of investigation to determine if there is fraudulent activity going on. You might think it’s best to hand the matter over to the HR department and let them look into the matter from every angle but that could be…

22April
2019
Estate Planning: Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Regardless of your income or net worth, there’s one estate planning move you should probably make right now: Check the beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies, bank accounts, brokerage firm accounts, retirement accounts, and other assets. If you’ve not yet turned in the proper forms to designate beneficiaries, do it now. If your forms are out of date, update them. The consequences of failing to take these simple steps can be serious. If you don’t believe it, consider the following real-life horror stories. Horror Story Number 1 In Herring v. Campbell, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that…

22April
2019
Keep Family Employees in Line

Running a successful family business can often be more difficult than running a non-family business because the dynamics of management are blurred. A Family or a Business? Family-run companies can slide into trouble when owners don’t differentiate between what’s acceptable in the family and what’s acceptable for the business. A common question that needs to be answered: Do you have a family-first business or a business-first family? A paternalistic culture can lead to management that is based more on consensus than on performance and action. To ensure that your family-run business operates efficiently, set up performance standards that every working…

04April
2019
Seven Non-Tax Reasons to Create a Trust

Using trusts as an estate planning tool is often done to achieve tax savings. By setting up certain types of trusts, a high-net-worth individual can avoid exposure to estate taxes levied by the federal and state governments. While this an important consideration if your estate is likely to be liable for death taxes, there are many other reasons to create a trust. Here are seven reasons that are not estate-tax driven: 1. To Avoid Probate or Estate Administration. Assets in a trust don’t go through probate or an estate administration, the court-supervised process for distributing the assets. (Probate is when…

04April
2019
Understanding IRS Audit Guidance

IRS examiners usually do their homework before meeting with taxpayers and their professional representatives. This includes reviewing any relevant Audit Techniques Guides (ATGs) that typically focus on a specific industry or audit-prone business transaction. Though designed to help IRS examiners prepare for audits, ATGs are available to the public. So, small business taxpayers can review them, too — and gain valuable insights into issues that might surface during audits. Auditor Specialization In the past, IRS examiners were randomly assigned to audit taxpayers from all walks of life, with no real continuity or common thread. For example, after an examiner audited…

04April
2019
Estate Management Checklist

Effective Estate Planning requires attention to a number of important details. The following checklist will get you started developing an estate management plan. Consult with your professional adviser after reviewing the following questions. 1. Do you have a will? A will enables you to specify who you want to inherit your property and other assets. A will also enables you to name a guardian for your minor children. 2. Do you have healthcare documents in place? Healthcare documents spell out your wishes for health care if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. They also authorize a person…