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Sunday, October 1, 2017

4 Tips for Snowbirds


After decades of braving the Michigan winters, you are entitled to spend weeks or months of the winter season in a warmer climate. You’ve earned it! Just make sure you know how spending some time down South or out West will impact your estate plan. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider.
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Monday, September 11, 2017

A Lawyer To English Dictionary


Deciding it is time to talk with an estate planning attorney and get your affairs in order is a difficult thing to do. It requires you to look death in the face and make some tough decisions about the future. But pondering one’s mortality is a piece of cake compared to having a conversation with some estate planning attorneys.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

6 Tips For Finding An Attorney That Is Right For You


The task of finding a good attorney can make you feel like Goldilocks. One attorney may charge too much, while another just gives you the creeps. But eventually, you will find an attorney that is “just right.
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Monday, July 10, 2017

We Will Do Anything For Our Clients, But We Won’t Do That


At our firm we pride ourselves on the work we do to help business owners throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area achieve their dreams. From formation, through growing pains, in the board room, and when a business is sold or a succession plan is put into place, we are there. To paraphrase Meatloaf: we will anything for our clients, but we won’t do that.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY Estate Planning Does Not Work Well For Everyone


The Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, movement has become huge since the Great Recession. What started as a necessity has now become a hobby. Hipsters have gone mainstream and it seems like everyone is taking to Instagram to show off pictures of their home brewed kombucha or a bookcase made from an old shipping pallet. But there is one task that DIYers should be extra cautious about tackling on their own:


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

IRA Inheritance Trusts


We all worry about how to provide for our loved ones and how they will be supported after we are gone. A well-designed estate plan can bring peace of mind by securing assets to benefit those we hold dear. Estate planning is not just about wills. There are several very useful legal tools that can be put in place to protect the financial future of your loved ones even after you pass away. One such valuable tool is the


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Estate Planning for Singles Without Children


Do I need an estate plan if I am single and do not have children?

If you are single and without children, you are part of a growing crowd in America.  About half of all Americans today are single and an increasingly large percentage of people are electing to forego children.  Many single people believe that an estate plan is not necessary for them.  However, without an estate plan, you will have no control over who receives your assets after your death.  Even further, you may be leaving critical health care and financial decisions to an individual you would not have selected.
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Help Clients Avoid Costly Tax Traps When They Give to Charity

When giving to a charity for tax purposes, your clients are not being Scrooges if they make sure they're following the letter of the law. They want a donation to do good for the charity - and for themselves - by avoiding mistakes.  Read more about it at the Daily Plan It!:

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Crowdfunding and Your Small Business

Financing and Growing Your Small Business Through Crowdfunding

What is crowdfunding? Part social networking and part capital accumulation, crowdfunding is simply the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their financial resources together to support efforts initiated by others.

Inspired by crowdsourcing, this innovative approach to raising capital has long been used to solicit donations or support political causes. This method has also been successfully implemented to raise capital for many different types of projects, including art, fashion, music and film.

Entrepreneurs can also tap the internet as a way to raise financing from a broad base of investors without turning to venture capitalists. With crowdfunding, you can raise small amounts of capital from many different sources, while retaining control over your business venture. Crowdfunding for business ventures, however, is not without its risks, and likely requires advice of an attorney.

In the traditional crowdfunding model, donations are pledged over the internet to fund a particular project or cause. The contributors are supporting the project, but receive no ownership interest in return for their monetary donation. This type of arrangement can exist with non-profit ventures and political campaigns, as well as start-up businesses. The person or entity soliciting the funding utilizes existing social networks to leverage the crowd and raise contributions in exchange for a reward, which is typically directly related to the project being funded, such as a credit at the end of a movie. With this type of arrangement, the contributor does not receive any ownership interest in the venture in exchange for the donation.

However, when for-profit companies solicit funds from a large number of individuals to raise capital in exchange for shares of ownership in the company, care must be taken to ensure the arrangement does not run afoul of federal and state securities laws.

Various companies and websites have popped up to assist entrepreneurs in raising capital through crowdfunding. Some operate on a flat fee, others charge a percentage of funds raised.  Keep in mind that any securities in a company sold to the public at large must be registered with regulatory authorities, unless they qualify for a specific exemption from the registration requirement. Selling shares of ownership to low-net-worth individuals (“unaccredited investors”) can trigger numerous registration and disclosure obligations. Additionally, state laws may also affect the transaction. As the number of investors and states involved increases, so do the cost and complexity of obtaining this type of capital financing. The various rules can be difficult to navigate, and missteps can result in significant penalties.
 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Estate Planning Don’ts

Estate Planning Don’ts

Preparing for the future is an uncertain business, but there are steps you can take during your lifetime to simplify matters for your loved ones after you pass, and to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Planning for what happens to your property, or who cares for your family members, upon your death can be a complicated process. To simplify things, we’ve created the following list to help you avoid some of the pitfalls you may encounter before, or even long after, you create your estate plan.

Don’t assume you can plan your estate by yourself. Get help from an estate planning attorney whose training and experience can ensure that you minimize tax implications and simplify the process of settling your estate.

Don’t put off your estate planning needs because of finances. To be sure, there are upfront costs for establishing the estate plan; however establishing your estate plan is an investment in the future well-being of your family, and one which will result in a far greater cash savings over the long term.

Don’t make changes to your estate plan without consulting your attorney. Changes in one area of your estate plan could impact other provisions you have made, triggering legal or tax implications you never intended.

Don’t assume your children will intuitively know your wishes, and handle the situation appropriately upon your death. Money and sentimental items can cause a rift between even the most agreeable siblings, and they will be especially vulnerable as they deal with the emotional impact of your passing.

Don’t assume that once you’ve prepared your estate plan it’s set in stone. Estate planning documents regularly need to be revised, often due to a change in marital status, birth or death of a family member, or a significant change in the value of your estate. Beneficiary designations should be periodically reviewed to ensure they are up to date.

Don’t forget to notify your family members, friends or other beneficiaries of your estate plan. Make sure your executor and successor trustee have access to your end-of-life documents.

Don’t assume your spouse will handle everything if something happens to you. It’s possible your spouse may be incapacitated at the same time, for example if you both are injured in the same accident. A proper estate plan appoints alternate representatives to handle your affairs if both you and your spouse are unable to do so.

Don’t use the same person as your agent under both the financial and healthcare powers of attorney. Using the same individual gives that person an incredible amount of influence over your future and it may be a good idea to split up the decision-making authority.

Don’t forget to name alternate agents, executors or successor trustees. You may name a family member to fill one of these roles, and forget to revise the document if that person dies or becomes incapacitated. By adding alternates, you ensure there is no question regarding who has the authority to act on your or the estate’s behalf.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporations

Exemption Requirements for Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporations

A public benefit corporation is a type of non-profit organization (NPO) dedicated to tax-exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code which covers: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.  Public benefit NPOs may not distribute surplus funds to members, owners, shareholders; rather, these funds must be used to pursue the organization’s mission. If all requirements are met, the NPO will be exempt from paying corporate income tax, although informational tax returns must be filed.

Under the rules governing public benefit NPOs, “charitable” purposes is broadly defined, and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. These NPOs are typically referred to as “charitable organizations,” and eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions from donors.

To be organized for a charitable purpose and qualify for tax exemption, the NPO must be a corporation, association, community chest, fund or foundation; individuals do not qualify. The NPO’s organizing documents must restrict the organization’s purposes exclusively to exempt purposes. A charitable organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of any private interests, and absolutely no part of the net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Additionally, the NPO may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities, and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

All assets of a public benefit non-profit organization must be permanently and irrevocably dedicated to an exempt purpose. If the charitable organization dissolves, its assets must be distributed for an exempt purpose, to the federal, state or local government, or another charitable organization. To establish that the NPO’s assets will be permanently dedicated to an exempt purpose, the organizing documents should contain a provision ensuring their distribution for an exempt purpose in the event of dissolution. If a specific organization is designated to receive the NPO’s assets upon dissolution, the organizing document must state that the named organization must be a section 501(c)(3) organization at the time the assets are distributed.

If a charitable organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with someone who has substantial influence over the NPO, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any NPO managers who agreed to the transaction. An excess benefit transaction occurs when an economic benefit is provided by the NPO to a disqualified person, and the value of that benefit is greater than the consideration received by the NPO.

To apply for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3), the NPO must file Form 1023 with the IRS, along with supporting documentation, including organizational documents, details regarding proposed activities and who will carry them out, how funds will be raised, who will receive compensation from the NPO, and financial projections. If approved, the IRS will issue a Letter of Determination. Public charities must also apply for exemption from state taxing authorities, a process which varies from state to state.


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