Category Archives for "Property Division"

Summer Tax Checklist

Written By: David Amiss, CPA, CVA

Carr, Riggs & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors

 

New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Cleaning are initiatives that focus on motivating individuals to address a perceived need. Accordingly, the aim of this article is twofold. First, to convince you of the perceived need of giving your taxes adequate attention on the eve of summer; and second, to give you a list of things to consider and do related to taxes.

New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Cleaning are initiatives that focus on motivating individuals to address a perceived need. Accordingly, the aim of this article is twofold. First, to convince you of the perceived need of giving your taxes adequate attention on the eve of summer; and second, to give you a list of things to consider and do related to taxes.

Visit any of your local CPA’s office and the examples would be replete of clients engaging in a significant transaction and informing their CPA subsequent to executing the transaction. ‘If only we would have talked to you before’ or some variation thereof is what typically ensues after the first of the year when the client comes in to drop off their tax information. The resulting conversation reveals that the CPA could’ve saved their client significant amounts of cash had they been informed of the transaction prior to its execution.

That example may sound a bit dramatic. However, that which is true with significant amounts of cash is also true with lesser amounts of cash. Further, the benefits to engaging your CPA at multiple times of the year, as well as, prior to major decisions have other benefits as well, just as visiting your doctor and dentist does.

With that said, and hopefully the importance thereof established, what are some things to consider on the eve of summer? First things first, finalize your 2015 tax return. For those that have requested an extension of time to file their tax returns, acquire the necessary data to complete the tax return and provide it to your CPA. For the most part, you know now what it will take to finalize your tax return. Move quickly to complete it. Completing the tax return now has several benefits, including but not limited to allowing you to move forward to focus on a year you can plan for and assessing your 2015 tax return which brings us to the next ‘to do’.

As with most anything, a prudent response to your 2015 tax return is to evaluate it. What went well? What didn’t go well? Did your return match your expectations? Did your return match your plan and or, if applicable, your projection? Did you learn anything about your tax return? Were you made aware of opportunities moving forward? Are you confident in the competence and care that you’ve received from your CPA? These questions are a good start towards evaluating your 2015 tax return in hopes of making improvements for 2016, which leads to our next task.

Once you’ve tied a bow on the 2015 tax return it’s time to turn our attention to 2016 and beyond. Some of the leg work should have already been completed with our evaluation of the 2015 tax return. For those run of the mill components to your return such as wages, interest, dividends and other annual recurring revenue, are you satisfied with your payment of estimated taxes and subsequent liability or refund? Are your withholding and/or estimated taxes adequate for your tax liability? Do you typically owe tax or receive a refund when you file a return? Are you satisfied with those results? Are you aware that you potentially could be subject to penalties on the underpayment of estimated taxes? Further, are you aware that if you don’t pay your total tax liabilities by the due date in April you will be subject to additional penalties and interest? Now, to be sure, some individuals are aware of and content to pay penalties and interest as a result of paying their taxes later. This is due to the fact that they have the ability to use the cash now in such a way as to derive a return greater than the penalties and interest creates. If this matches your prerogative, that is certainly fine. The aim of this article however, is awareness to those facts to enable proactive planning and reducing surprises.

Another strategy is to give consideration to future transactions that you can begin planning for now. Thinking of the pieces to the puzzle now will have a direct impact on your future cash flow. There are numerous tax strategies that can be employed to minimize tax liabilities. Further, potential transactions can be structured in such a way to further reduce liabilities.

This time of the year is also a good time to make adjustments to wage withholding in order to avoid underpayments or excess refunds. Additionally, the June 15th due date for second quarter estimated tax payments is fast approaching. Be sure to pay in an appropriate amount by this date. Furthermore, if you’ve extended your tax return you may need to double up and pay for first and second quarter estimated tax payments to avoid estimated tax penalties.

Lastly, consider making aware and introducing the various professionals you work with, such as attorney, CPA, financial planner, etc. with one another. These are the trusted individuals in your lives that are charged with caring for you and your posterity to various degrees. It’s helpful for these professionals to know one another in order that they may act with prudence and efficiency when called upon.

I hope that this article has illuminated the need to be engaged in your tax situation on the eve of summer, as well as throughout the year. Additionally, that there are some specific tasks that you can address in the here and now. Finally, that in doing so you’ll receive multiple benefits which will be the proverbial ‘proof in the pudding’ of this call to action.

Is Love Enough? 6 Big Questions to Ask Before Marriage from Your Divorce Attorney

The institution of marriage has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Back in the day, a young woman would marry the similarly aged young man that lives down the street. Their respective parents would approve of the marriage, finding the perspective wife to be a decent care giver and the perspective husband a hard worker with income earning abilities. Together they would build wealth, raise children, and contribute to social status of the joined families. These marriages will remain solid with hard work, social and religious constraints, and self-sacrifice.

Today, more often than not, people marry for love. We want not only someone to raise children with but we want to marry our soulmate, someone who will be not only a companion but a best friend and an even better lover. The bar has been raised for committing to a spouse today, we desire someone truly special. However, when the honeymoon period of love fades, and it will, unless you and your spouse are one of those sickening perfect couple everyone loves in the movies but despises in real life, it’s important to know what to expect underneath the crown of love. There may be other questions you may personally want to ask your partner, but consider the six questions listed below as a starting point to open the channels of communication about committing your lives to each other.

1. Do you want children?

This is very important to discuss honestly before marriage. If the answers are different, no matter how much love you have, one party will resent the other for pressuring the decision one way or the other. If the answer is yes, then the follow-up questions are, how many? when? and will you help change the diapers? It is also important to discuss what role each will play as a parent.

2. How important is religion?

Are both partners equally entrenched or removed from their respective religions? Are there differences in each other’s families when it comes to religion and how will you deal with that? How will you as a couple celebrate religious holidays? If you plan on having children, how big of a role do you see religion playing in the education and upbringing of the child?

3. Is it my debt or our debt?

When it comes to divorce, your debt is my debt, but couples can still keep finances physically separate during the marriage. Discussing finances is crucial, as it is often a big source of arguments that arise during marriage. Will you and your partner be sharing bank accounts or would someone prefer to keep resources separate? When seriously contemplating marriage, disclosing debts is very important. Additionally, if your incomes greatly differ it might be helpful to budget according to each owns proportional income. Ask yourselves how much you’d be willing to spend on a luxury item, like a car. This question, in particular, will let you know whether your partner is cautious or reckless when it comes to spending habits.

4. How important is sex to you?

They say there are three true pillars to a happy and loving relationship: trust, laughter, and affection. Partners need to be able to trust each other, which comes by way of honesty and being open, discourse not distance. Partners need to have the same sense of humor, whether it’s sarcasm or void of humor altogether – happiness is love. Equally as important, couples need to be on the same level of desired affection. A healthy relationship will involve discussing what each partner enjoys about sex, how often they desire to have sex, and how important it is to them in the relationship. It is imperative that both partners remain sexually satisfied throughout the marriage.

5. How did your family handle conflict?

Was your family the type that screamed and threw objects across the room, calmly sat down and discussed issues, or did your family distance themselves from each other when disagreements arose? A person’s family dynamic often reflects on how they handle conflict, or it may have drastically changed the way a person desires to handle disagreements. It is important for couples to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with conflict. There will be many hard times during the span of a marriage, and if one partner shuts down while the other craves open, honest discussions, the marriage will likely not last long.

6. Where are we 10 years from now?

What are each partner’s relationship goals? What are their personal goals? If one partner desires to go back to school to get his PhD., knowing this will take another 5+ years of dedication, and perhaps relocation to a different state, the other partner might have concerns if she is ready to start a family and wants to stay close to her family. This is also an opportunity to discuss each other’s opinions on divorce and what their expectations of marriage are. It might be that one person truly isn’t ready, and will never be ready, to commit to marriage.

If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it during the marriage. Honesty is, as always, the bedrock of a strong and fulfilling relationship. Being completely honest with each other before marriage when answering the above questions, and more not included, will spur important discussions that will hopefully give couples a chance to explore these very intimate and important areas of their life before committing to marriage. Of course, the answers to the questions could change with time, as people do change, but getting started in the same direction as your spouse will let you know the love is accompanied by compatibility.

The role of trusts in complex asset division

Couples who manage to accumulate wealth and experience a certain lifestyle during their marriage could be in for a surprise in the event of a divorce. A high asset divorce in North Carolina can have a dramatic effect on the lives and finances of the parties. Retirement plans might have to be changed in light of the asset division, associated with a marital dispute.

An offshore account might be one method someone might consider as a way to hide money from a spouse in anticipation of a dispute over an asset division. Such conduct might conflict with financial disclosure rules designed to prevent one spouse from hiding assets to circumvent an asset division. Trusts, however, might offer a method for parents to allocate assets to their children while shielding the assets in the event of their own divorce or the divorce of one or more of their children.

Setting up an irrevocable trust in which the beneficiary does not control the distribution of the assets or income of the trust is one method of protecting the assets from the beneficiary’s spouse in a divorce. Some courts limited the effect of income distributions from a trust on spousal support requests by ruling that only those payments actually made in the past to the spouse could be taken into consideration. The theory applied by the court was that future payments, if any, were not within the control of the spouse seeking spousal support.

Whether real estate and other assets in a trust become marital property in a divorce dispute depends upon many factors. Individuals contemplating the creation of a trust for their children, or individuals involved in a divorce in which an irrevocable trust might be an issue, might benefit from consulting with an attorney familiar with complex asset division.

Dealing with alimony

Courts consider a number of factors when determining whether to order spousal support in a particular case. These factors may include such things as the length of the marriage, the total gross income of each spouse, whether a nonworking spouse has the education and background needed to enter the workforce and the age of the parties. When the marriage has been a long one and there is a large disparity between the incomes of the two spouses, alimony may be likely to be ordered.

People have a couple of options when they believe they are going to be required to pay alimony. They can try to negotiate an agreed-upon monthly amount with a specified duration. They might also be able to offer to buy out the other spouse’s potential right to alimony payments in order to prevent having to make continuous monthly payments. Some spouses who stand to receive alimony also choose to forgo it because of their beliefs in self-sufficiency or simply the desire to cut all ties.

When spousal maintenance is set and ordered by the court, the paying spouse will be required to pay the amount each month exactly as ordered. If their financial situation later changes in a substantial way, they may want to see a family law attorney. Through their attorney, the paying spouse can seek to modify the ordered amount to one that is more affordable. The spouse may also file such a request if their former spouse’s financial situation has changed to a degree that they no longer need the payments.