Tuesday, April 17, 2018

3 Steps to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams

Today is that day, tax day when, if you haven't already, it's time to get your taxes or extension files and taxes paid. Tax day always brings some stress, some angst and the scammers. Con artists constantly look for new ways into your wallet and accounts. Your job is to be ever vigilent and protect yourself.

1. The IRS does not call on the phone or email ANYONE!

This is an old trick used by con artists--imitating people you are already afraid of--like the taxman. Be aware that the IRS does not call, text or email. Also, if you take a call, all IRS personnel must identify themselves by name and identification number. Scammers will not.

2. The IRS and states do not contact you via social media or text.

As tempting as it might be to respond bear in mind that you are receiving a message from a con artist and not from the IRS. Your best course of action is to use your delete key.

3. Do not post your financial information online or on ANY social media site.

Does this require explanation? No. Just don't do it. Ever.

The only person who can prevent a con artist from scamming you is you. Always apply these 3 simple steps as your first line of defense. For further information refer to articles and FAQ sections of the IRS, State of Colorado and Colorado Attorney General's websites.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Don't Let Hackers and Predators Prepare Your Will: 3 Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family

Social media and internet have many benefits. They also are traps for the unwary and unprepared. Don't let hackers and predators on the internet get your personal, financial and family information and data.

In my world of estate planning this is critical. If you are considering doing your will and estate plan the last place to look for advice is social media. You could subject yourself to foreign hackers and predators who fish for unsuspecting people 24/7 on social media sites like facebook. We hear everyday how foreign agents are using facebook to influence your every day decisions.

Here are the ways you can protect yourself, your family and your property:

1. Never reveal personal information online to anyone, anytime.

Trusted websites like your bank, brokerage firm etc. are acceptable places to use their secure tools for doing this. Never reveal your personal information on any social media site. Ever.

Also to be avoided are chat sites for your personal information. These sites are not secure and frequently mined by hackers to steal your information.

2. Don't post pictures of your property, home, young children, cars or accounts on any social media site.

If you are inclined to post the pictures of your trip or vacation do so after you have returned to avoid providing the robbers the information about when they can go to your home and steal your stuff.

3. Do not rely on legal, accounting or tax advice you receive online or social media.

You would never ask how to do surgery on your knee or ankle on facebook and you should act the same about your property and money. Use social media to get referrals to competent specialists and professionals and go meet with them in person.

Doing your will and estate plan requires the assistance of qualified specialists just like an operation or surgery. Protect yourself and family by avoiding providing the means to hackers and predators to steal from you. Remember: You are the first and best means of protecting yourself and family.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How the New Tax Law Impacts You!

Hopefully you have heard that we have a new tax law. This new law is called: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018. It is a major redo of the tax code and extends the impacts of the 2010 tax re-write into your estate planning.

Here is what you need to know now:

1. Run don't walk to your estate planning attorney's office to amend your plan if you have an old style A-B trust or marital trust plan. If you don't know, then find out immediately. The doubling of the estate, gift and generation skipping tax exemptions are the reason this is so critical.

Just like in 2010 and after, if you die with an old plan with these old formula provisions you will wreak financial havoc on your family and create results you never expected and your family will hate you for forever.

2. While you are in your estate planning attorney's office make sure your beneficiary designations and titling are properly coordinated with your revised estate plan.

3. Next schedule a meeting with your accountant and income tax advisor and learn just how much the new tax law changes your income tax situation. Again, you will be surprised just how significant the changes might be to you and your family.

No matter how you feel about politicians, their involvement in your money and estate plan can be minimized or eliminated. Make sure you discuss how you can do that with your estate planning attorney.

Don't delay, make sure you take these actions immediately or sooner.