Back to School Time!!

Parents

I, like many other parents, look forward to the kids heading back to school…not because I don’t love them but more because towards the end of the summer, they are just a bit much.

Now that the kids are back in school, you have time to focus on projects you have been putting off (for years) – including estate planning (Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, etc.).

Estate planning is the one extremely important service that is constantly kicked down the road.  It is likely that whenever you see a television show or movie with reference to a Will, you say “I/We need to do that.”  Then, that thought passes and the millions of other thoughts take over.

I am writing this to tell you that you should stop delaying and just contact Compass Law Partners.  The attorneys at Compass Law Partners will walk you through the process and make it as easy and understandable as possible.   If you make that call, not only will you be protecting your family, but you will never have to have that moment again where you say, “I/We need to do that.”  Instead, you can say, “I’m so glad we did that.”

College Students

Do you have a child in college?  Do you want to make sure you have the authority to speak with your child’s school (since you are paying his/her tuition) or with your child’s medical provider/therapist?

Well, surprise, you cannot.  Your child may still look like the fun 3-year-old (in my opinion, the best age) but, legally, he/she is an adult and must provide authorization to any medical providers and school administrators to speak with you.  The easiest way to provide that authorization is to have your college student sign a Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Although it is likely your child is already in school, this can still be accomplished using video conferencing.  Compass Law Partners has the technology and know-how to meet with clients through video conferencing software.  Then, your child can sign his/her documents when he/she visits you (a great reason to get them to visit).  Or, alternatively, Maryland law now allows Maryland residents to sign estate planning documents virtually. The attorneys at Compass Law Partners have experience in virtual signings and can easily guide your child through the process.

Now is the time to make sure you remain an important part of your child’s life.  Do not hesitate to contact Compass Law Partners to set up a consultation today.

Posted in Law

Electronically Signed Wills

On April 21, 2022, Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 36 (Chapter 177) into law. His signature codified the procedure for electronically signing Wills that [-‘had been implemented by Executive Order during the pandemic.  This means that Maryland residents can execute their Wills in the comfort of their own homes.  Witnesses can be present in the “electronic presence” of the testator/testatrix via Zoom or other video conferencing software.  However, to ensure all formalities are followed, the law requires that a supervising attorney be present via video conference and that attorney must certify the electronic signing. The certification will then become a part of the Will.

Have you been putting off drafting your Will?  If so, please contact the attorneys at Compass Law Partners to get the process started.

Posted in Law

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams have been on the rise over the past few years.  Phishing is the act of sending an email to an individual or business purporting to be a vendor/creditor and notifying of a recent account change. Frequently, the fraudulent emails so closely resemble previous emails from the actual vendor/creditor that it is extremely easy to become a victim.  While individuals are also victims of phishing scams, businesses seem to fall prey to these scams at a much higher rate.

If you become the victim of a phishing scam, you should notify your bank immediately upon learning of the scam.  Your bank will then notify the bank that received the funds. At times, there may be some funds remaining in the account that will be reimbursed to you. You should also notify the FBI and complete a report. The FBI is dealing with this every day and they will let you know that you are unlikely to recover the funds.

The final step you should take is to set up a consultation with an attorney at Compass Law Partners.  During that consultation, you will discuss the options available and the potential of successfully recovering some or all the lost funds.  While these types of recovery are difficult, they are not impossible.

Posted in Law

The Importance of Having a Will for your Children

With all the hype surrounding all of the twos last month, it made me think about the terrible twos and those of us with minor children.

No matter what stage our children are in, parents know their needs better than anyone else. As parents, we should be the ones to decide how to best meet those needs, whether we’re here to take care of our children ourselves or not. If you and the other parent of a child die, it is imperative to have a Will where you decide who will serve as the guardian of your minor child(ren). Without it, a court will decide who is “best suited” to care for them.

Not only could this take a very long time and become very expensive, but it could easily create enemies among your living family members (who may feel they are better suited than the others to care for your children). Your children need you to make that choice for them the same way they need you to help them through those terrible twos, pick them up from soccer practice, and teach them why the music of your generation is better than theirs. The best way to do so is to create a Last Will and Testament.

The attorneys at Compass Law Partners can help you through this process to make sure your children are in the best hands in the event you aren’t able to be with them in their formative years.

Posted in Law

Cybercrime

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) most recent Internet Crime Report, the number of internet crime complaints more than doubled in 2020 (791,790 complaints) compared to 2019 (300,000 complaints).  The 2021 report should be released soon but is sure to show the number of complaints continue to increase.

The ease with which a criminal can open a bank account now thanks to the banking industry providing consumers with the opportunity to open a bank account online is a primary reason for this trend.

Have you or has your business been the victim of a cybercrime?  Have you lost money as a result? Compass Law attorneys have experience recovering the money you lost.

Posted in Law

Child Tax Credit – Things to Keep in Mind

The American Rescue Plan temporarily converted the child tax credit into a fully refundable credit of up to $3,600 per qualifying child under the age of 6 and $3,000 per qualifying child between ages 6 to 17. This change was originally for the 2021 tax year only Congress is working to renew the credit for 2022. A fully refundable credit is a credit that is payable to a taxpayer, even if you do not owe any taxes.

Using 2019/2020 income tax numbers, many taxpayers have been receiving child tax credit monthly payments since July. Please be aware that if your income has increased in 2021, you may be required to repay some or all of the credit paid to you. Further, if one of your children is no longer considered a qualifying child, in some circumstances you may need to pay back some or all of the credit received.

While most people love receiving “free money” on a monthly basis, you should also be aware of the potential downside of accepting these payments. You are able to opt out of the payments by clicking here! (link to contact page)

Posted in Law

Proposed Changes to Treatment Capital Gains After Death Seem Unlikely…BUT

President Biden, as part of The American Families Plan, proposed an overhaul of the treatment of capital assets after death.  Under current law, all capital assets owned by a person when they die receive a “stepped-up” basis. This means that your beneficiaries would typically receive the capital assets from your estate with a higher tax-basis so, if they then turned around and sold those assets, there would be little or no capital gains tax due.

President Biden’s proposal would eliminate the automatic step-up in basis for estates with total unrealized capital gains in excess of $1 million.  Instead, the unrealized capital gains would be subject to capital gains tax at a potential rate as high as 39.6% rate (also part of the proposal).

It is particularly noteworthy that the estates subject to this new capital gains tax at death may also be subject to the federal estate tax at its 40% tax rate.  Further, the estates may also be subject to State estate tax if the estate is located in Maryland or DC.

At this point, it seems unlikely that Congress will pass The American Families Plan with these proposed changes to the capital gains tax law but the capital gain tax is increasingly becoming a target so these types of proposals should continue to be monitored.

As 2021 winds down, now is a good time to consult a tax attorney who can assist with your estate planning needs!

Posted in Law
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