Firm & News Events
Four Pillars Proudly Introduces
Our New Video Series
Have you visited our website recently? If so, you'll see that we've got a fresh new look! Our Four Pillars Video Series is now on the home page of our website and on YouTube. Click on the photo above or visit our home page to see it.
Our introductory video allows new visitors to dive right in to our company and our services, explaining what we do and how we do it. Want to see more? Explore the site for videos that dicuss the importance of estate planning, asset protection, veterans benefits, elder law and long-term care planning.
A special thanks to the clients and friends who helped us by allowing us to film the backs of their heads, their hands, their elbows, and their ears! This permitted us to protect our client confidentiality while showing viewers what we look like when we're hard at work.
Our 'actors' may remain anonymous to the public, but please don't follow their lead--we'd love your feedback on our new video series and your requests for future video clips.
Watch Out for That Cliff!
“Fiscal Cliff” Deal Includes Small
Change to Estate Tax:
As you know, Congress recently approved a tax compromise to avoid tumbling down the “fiscal cliff". But do you know how the new tax deal affects your estate taxes?
1. The American Taxpayer Relief Act, which passed the House by a vote of 257 to 167, permanently sets the estate tax exemption at $5 million for an individual (now $5.12 million due to inflation) and $10 million for a couple (now $10.24 million). (With new inflation adjustments, the exemptions are estimated to rise to about $5.2 million and $10.4 million.)
2. Although the amount that is exempted from estate taxes will remain the same as it has been for the past two years, the maximum tax rate will rise by 5 percentage points. Therefore, the maximum tax rate on inheritances beyond the levels listed above will increase from 35 percent to 40 percent.
3. The gift tax and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions will remain the same as last year, adjusting for inflation.
4. The estate tax portability provision remains intact, though it does not apply toward generation-skipping transfer taxes.
If trying to understand these rules makes you want to "jump off a cliff", and you have questions about estate planning or the new estate tax provisions, give us a call; we'll be happy to explain how these changes affect your situation.
Legal Spring Cleaning
As you spruce up your home and your yard for the arrival of the sunny spring weather, don't forget to conduct a financial and estate planning spring cleaning too. Check your bank signature cards to ensure proper ownership is listed:
a. If you are married, are husband and wife listed jointly with right of survivorship so that when one passes, the other automatically becomes sole owner of the account without need for probate and court intervention?
b. If you are single and there is no joint account owner, have you named a “payable on death” beneficiary or do you have a properly executed Last Will and Testament to ensure proper administration of assets upon passing?
c. If you have assets that are normally transferred by beneficiary designation (e.g. retirement accounts and life insurance), have you completed a beneficiary designation form and is it still current with your wishes?
Need help with your financial spring cleaning? Give us a call!
A man walked into a bar with his alligator and asked the bartender, "Do you serve lawyers here?".
"Sure do," replied the bartender.
"Good," said the man. "Give me a beer, and I'll have a lawyer for my gator."
And, since it's also tax season, we couldn't resist one more:
If a tax man and a lawyer were both drowning and you could only save one, would you go to lunch or read the paper?
If you think you have a good lawyer joke, please share it with us and we may publish it in our next newsletter. We invite you to submit jokes, cartoons, questions, and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Woof! Woof! Now that the days are longer and warmer, I'm excited about taking Kelly and Matt for extended after-work strolls. One place I'm anxious to visit is a local spot--Greenfield Lake.
Believe it or not, people actually used to swim in Greenfield Lake. There were diving boards, docks, bathhouses, a pavilion, and even an amusement park with a roller coaster and a petting zoo.
According to local legend, because of its natural beauty (spanish moss, azaleas, and scenic vistas), Greenfield Lake was the inspiration for the Azalea Festival.
Today, the 250-acre park that surrounds the scenic lake boasts a five-mile paved pathway, tennis courts, a children's playground, and a newly renovated amphitheater which regularly hosts musical and theater arts events.
You'll see birds, green turtles and lots of green algae. Look closely, and you just might spot an alligator or two.
In July 2005, a man inexplicably jumped into the lake when an alligator made a beeline for him. Thankfully, the alligator let him survive to tell the tale.
In August 2010, a 12-foot alligator, estimated to weigh around 600 pounds, crawled up on shore and gave visitors a sight they'll never forget!
These alligator sightings make Kelly a little squeamish--she's worried that I might get snapped up as an alligator appetizer. But as long as we stay close to the other dogs, I'm not worried at all.
Dogs work great in teams; we can even take down alligators!
Want proof? This picture is not for the faint of heart, but if you dare:
Check out this dogs-on-alligator attack (photo bottom left) where one dog holds the gator's snout shut so it can't breathe, while another holds the gator's tail so it can't be used to sweep the attackers away. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the formerly unbeatable predator.
Now that's what I call teamwork!
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