Right now, it’s almost impossible to escape the conflict, the noise, and the shaming over various cultural decisions we’re having to make. Lockdowns, schooling, more economic stimulus, elections, vaccines — it’s all enough to drive you crazy if you pay close attention.
And here at Ann M. Hartz, CPA and Associates, because we get to serve Des Moines families and individuals from every point along the spectrum (and each issue seems to have its own spectrum), we have learned that sometimes the most peaceful, hopeful and PRODUCTIVE people are the ones who simply opt out.
Yes, it’s crazy, but it’s true — our Facebook debates aren’t usually accomplishing much aside from making all of us mad at each other. Minds aren’t being changed, choirs are being preached to, and people are doubling down.
Three more months until the elections, and maybe — MAYBE — things will settle down. Although with how things seem to be progressing, I’d put my money on even more chaos, depending on how things shake out.
As for our tax work, we are still working with Des Moines clients who went on extension (due October 15th). But since most of our clients have already compiled and submitted their tax paperwork, I like to take the chance offered by this “paperwork gathering lull” to encourage you to consider another, often-neglected financial task…
Now Is The Time For An Estate Plan For Des Moines Taxpayers
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives working for our families and accumulating wealth.
But unless you’re careful, much of it could go to waste.
That’s why a well-crafted estate plan is so critical. It ensures that your hard-earned wealth (including intangible, non-financial assets) can pass intact to those you intend to be your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats, or even being lost. We all dislike handing over our resources to those who don’t have our best interests in mind.
A well-made estate plan guarantees that this will NEVER happen to your family.
“But Ann, what happens if I don’t create an estate plan? Doesn’t the judicial system have easy steps in place for families?”
Yep, and it’s called “probate” (Latin for “prove the will”), and it’s an ugly process.
You see, “probate” guarantees government interference in how you transfer your estate (however large or small). Documents must be filed, and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property. Oh, and even worse — it all takes place in the public’s view.
If you fail to plan your estate, not only do you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process (that is a burden at best), but it’s slapped across the public domain for all to see.
Then, of course … there are taxes. You think the government is incentivized to keep those low on your behalf? There’s a variety of solutions for each family’s particular situation, but the plain fact is that working without a plan is U-G-L-Y no matter how you slice it.
When it comes right down to it, planning is a gift for your family (the people you love most), because if you don’t take care of things while you are living and able, they’ll have a mess to clean up when you are gone.
Even more, if you have children, you want to establish the proper (legal) procedure for ensuring they’re taken care of properly.
So if these issues are important to you (and I believe they are), make your tax preparation appointment with us count twice, and we can set you up with information about how to get the estate planning process started right.
“CRISIS Action Plan” for my Des Moines tax clients and friends:
1) Don’t marinate in other people’s panic. Be mindful of your social media consumption.
2) Continue to stay financially and logistically prepared for worsening situations.
3) Make sure you have some ready, liquid assets, if you are able. (I.e., cash in the bank, and in hand.)
4) Set aside plans for any big spending until the dust settles — but especially look out for your small business owner friends and vendors.