By Attorney Kelly Jesson
This year, make a resolution to prioritize estate planning. Estate planning allows you to gain control and peace of mind over difficult and unpredictable situations. We have previously written about the difficulties caused by dying without a will in North Carolina and the pitfalls of the probate process in North Carolina; however, many of the “worst-case” scenarios can be avoided with proper planning. Let us help you make 2022 the year you plan for emergency scenarios and protect your business and personal assets for the benefit of your loved ones through estate planning.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has shown us that there are no guarantees, but it has also highlighted what is most important to each of us: family. Estate planning allows you to plan for what happens when you pass away, including naming a trusted person to handle your final affairs, name guardians for minor children, and distribute your assets according to your wishes. In addition to planning for death, our office drafts durable and health care powers of attorneys, where you can name agents to make both financial and medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and cannot communicate.
There is no reason to wait to do planning, and as the pandemic continues to be a part of our “new normal,” you should get a plan in place before it is ever needed. If you do become incapacitated or ill, it may be more difficult or impossible to get documents in place, as you must have testamentary capacity to create valid estate planning documents.
Some of our clients delay estate planning because they do not have any friends or family members they trust to serve in fiduciary roles. In some circumstances, members of the firm may serve in these roles for the client if the client feels comfortable. It is better for you to take control and name someone yourself than to have the government appoint someone in an emergency or when you pass away.
We want to help you take CONTROL in 2022! Please call Jesson & Rains if you have questions about getting your estate plan in order or updating an existing estate plan. While You Build, We Protect.
By Attorney Kelly Jesson
We hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday so far. People frequently make new year’s resolutions to stop bad habits or improve their lifestyle, but what about a new year’s resolution for your business?
Make 2022 the year that you start running your business and stop the business from running you. One key to making this switch is delegating tasks to others, and Jesson & Rains is happy to take a few things off your plate. Last year, we started offering annual plans that include some of the administrative annual tasks with which businesses (i.e. YOU) have to comply, such as filing annual reports and keeping meeting minutes, and offer cost-effective peace of mind with discounted legal services, registered agent services, and quarterly or unlimited calls. There’s never a reason not to consult your lawyer if we make it easy for you.
Not running your business properly can result in a loss of asset protection, which is one of the whole points of formalizing your business. We wrote about this in a past blog HERE, and this LINKS to our annual plan packages. Give us a call if you would like more information! Start 2022 off right!
By Associate Attorney Danielle Nodar
The holiday season always comes with numerous reminders about giving the perfect gift to express love and gratitude to our loved ones. This season of giving also inspires increased donations to charitable organizations. However, many people are not aware that they can use their estate plan as a tool for charitable giving and how these gifts can have benefits that extend beyond the charity, such as minimizing taxes during one’s lifetime or after death.
For lifetime gifts, the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 provides several provisions to help individuals who give to Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organizations through the end of 2021. One change impacts the majority of taxpayers: those who elect the standard deduction. Ordinarily, these individuals cannot claim a deduction for contributions to a charitable organization, but the law now allows these individuals, including married individuals filing separate returns, to claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made to qualifying charities during 2021. For married couples filing jointly, this amount increases to $600. There are certain cash contributions that may not qualify, including gifts to private foundations or donations carried over from previous years, so it is important to work with your tax preparer to ensure that this gift qualifies.
There are also many methods of including a charity in one’s estate plan. A charity can be a named beneficiary in a will or trust, with the terms of the will or trust designating the asset being distributed and the charitable purpose of the gift. Your named Trustee or Executor will be responsible for making the distribution to the charity. When considering what to give to a charitable organization, it is important to remember that your gift can go beyond cash, but can include assets like a stock portfolio, artwork, a car, or even real estate.
Another way to include charitable giving in your estate plan is by naming a charity as a beneficiary of life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, or other retirement plans. Depending on the other assets you have at death and their value, these gifts may have tax benefits to your loved ones or estate. For example, naming a charity as the beneficiary of a retirement accounts may be a wise choice for some individuals as retirement accounts are some of the highest taxed assets in any estate. By gifting your retirement account, your estate tax burden is reduced because your estate will receive a federal estate tax charitable deduction on the value that is held in the account. Furthermore, the charity does not have to pay income taxes on this gift.
Finally, when making a charitable gift through an estate plan, there may be benefits to your estate and loved ones. Gifts, during life or at death, to Section 501(c)(3) charities do not count towards the total taxable value of your estate. Thus, naming a charity as a beneficiary will reduce the value of your estate at the time of death, which can lower or eliminate the amount of estate taxes owed by your estate.
During this season of giving, we recommend that you not only think of the legacy you can leave your loved ones, but also the gift that can be made to a charitable cause during your lifetime or after your death. Contact Jesson & Rains for assistance with considering your options for charitable giving in your estate plan.
By Attorney Edward Jesson
With the rise in popularity of “HGTV” and “DIY Network,” and with people looking to make additional income in the real estate market, we have seen a rise in the number of people wanting to “flip” their own homes. However, in North Carolina, there are important considerations when undertaking any construction project, especially when you are “flipping” a home.
Generally, under North Carolina law, a General Contractor is any person or corporation who bids on or contracts to perform construction work where the overall cost of the project is going to be greater than $30,000.00. If you want to perform work for another person, and the cost of that work is over $30,000.00, you’ll typically need a general contractor’s license. Importantly, for work totaling less than $30,000.00, you don’t need a license. This is why handyman services, etc. do not need to necessarily be licensed with the state.
However, there is an exception to the rule requiring a license for any work performed over $30,000.00—after all, YouTube tutorials are a thing! In North Carolina, you can act as your own General Contractor so long as you own the building or land at the time the work is being done and so long as the building is intended solely for occupancy by that person and his family. North Carolina presumes that if the property is sold within 12 months following completion of the work, the person did not intend the building to be solely for their occupancy.
What does this mean for budding HGTV stars? If the “flip” you are doing is going to cost more than $30,000.00 and you intend to sell the home once the home is complete, you need to get a general contractor’s license prior to beginning work or hire a general contractor to oversee the work instead of yourself.
It is important to note that you still need to pull the relevant permits, obtain the necessary inspections, and have work such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC performed by properly licensed individuals, regardless of whether or not you need or have a General Contractor’s license.
Should you have any questions about the process or need additional help, please don’t hesitate to call Jesson & Rains today.
By Associate Attorney Danielle Nodar
Financial Planning Month is observed in October, and it is a great time to reassess your finances, budgets, and plan for achieving financial goals before the holiday season and beginning of a new year. When creating an estate plan for clients, we look beyond planning for death or incapacity through estate planning documents and discuss a client’s current financial plan and strategy. As we are not financial planners or advisors, we often advise our estate planning clients to work closely with financial professionals so that their estate plan works with their financial plan and goals.
One of the advantages of working with a financial professional is they can help you find the right balance that works for you so that you can save for the future, pay off debts, and provide for your loved ones if you pass away. The plan that you create with your financial planner oftentimes works in conjunction with your estate plan. For example, a financial planner can assist you with planning and saving for retirement. This works to assist you with goals for your lifetime, but also with your estate plan because you can designate a beneficiary (either an individual person or an entity like a trust or charity) to receive any remaining retirement funds when you die. The beneficiary of your choosing will receive the remaining retirement funds, even if your will says otherwise, as funds distributed using a beneficiary designation pass to a beneficiary outside of probate. Furthermore, there are different distribution timelines and tax consequences depending on whether you name a spouse, minor child, disabled person, or charity as a beneficiary.
Another important factor of financial planning is exploring life insurance. Just like retirement, life insurance is distributed directly to the beneficiary you name and does not pass through the probate estate. However, life insurance does not have the same restrictions on use of funds as retirement can (unless a trust is the beneficiary), is oftentimes passed to loved ones tax free, and is usually distributed more quickly. This can result in a tremendous burden being lifted as your loved one will receive money for expenses like funeral expenses, medical bills, or even a mortgage payment while they are grieving. It can also ease the burden of paying back your debts. If you pass away with debt, some of your assets may be included in your probate estate to pay those final debts, which can result in your loved ones not inheriting anything if your estate is insolvent. Life insurance will get to the beneficiary regardless of probate assets.
It is important to discuss the strategies and tools for creating a financial plan that alleviates stress for you and your loved ones while building wealth for your future. If you would like a referral for a financial planner, please reach out to Jesson & Rains. We feel strongly about the peace of mind these professionals can provide and believe it is an important part of the estate planning process.
October is National Women’s Small Business Month. Jesson & Rains is proud to represent and work for numerous women-owned businesses.
Charlotte is an exciting place for women entrepreneurs. As we previously reported, in 2018, it was named the “#1 City in America for Female-Owned Business Growth.” Women-owned business growth continued across the country in 2019. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Barbara Weltman reports that the number of women-owned businesses fell by 25% from February to April 2020. However, there are plenty of indications that women entrepreneurship is back on the rise.
Participation in women’s networking groups and trade associations is key. Attorneys Kelly Jesson and Danielle Nodar are members of the following groups: National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Women Lawyers of Charlotte, National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), and Women in Networking. Please reach out to Kelly or Danielle if you’d like to drop in on a meeting one day!
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