I.R.S.

MISTAKEN IDEAS REGARDING ESTATE PLANNING

There is a great deal of confusion and mythology regarding estate planning. It’s a subject that healthy, busy people really don’t want to think about. Understandably, the thought of suddenly becoming unable to function (due to disease or a catastrophic illness) and needing to depend upon someone else, along with having to come to grips with the inevitability of death, can really be distressing. However, by taking methodical, concerted action by creating a well-advised estate plan, one can at least confront these unpleasant realities in a rational way.     The following are some examples of erroneous information some people have regarding estate planning:   1. “I don’t have a will and I don’t really own a lot of property, so what’s the problem if I die without one?” You DO have a problem. Without having a witnessed will that is also valid within your state, if you die as a single custodial parent, your surviving minor children run the chance of being taken care of by blood relatives of the probate court’s choosing—not yours. In addition, any remaining financial assets in your name will be evenly distributed to your immediate family members. Without a clear-cut estate plan, your surviving spouse may not have enough of your money to supplement his/her retirement income.   2. “If I become incapacitated, my executor will take care of everything.” WRONG . Your executor is someone you have designated in your will to carry out your wishes after you pass away. If you’re still alive, and find yourself in failing health, your executor can’t help you. With a smart estate plan, you can...

BE SKEPTICAL WHEN GETTING AN EMAIL OR PHONE CALL FROM THE I.R.S.

In their never-ending pursuit with finding new ways to scare and defraud honest taxpayers, criminals are now employing a new scam. This one involves reaching out to citizens (either by telephone or via the internet), identifying themselves as I.R.S. agents, and making baseless criminal allegations demanding immediate payment of taxes owed. Once more, many scammers have been able to modify Caller I.D. readouts and in using the official federal agency’s logo embedded within their fraudulent emails in order to pull off this deception. This trick is currently being carried out across the United States, and has needlessly stressed out and swindled a large number of middle class families and retirees. According to the Internal Revenue Service, agents do not initially contact taxpayers either by phone or by email regarding a tax matter. Instead, residents are first notified by regular mail. Only after someone has been formally contacted by traditional methods do they confer electronically. If you or a loved one receives any type of phone call or email like this, the first step in taking action is to contact your local I.R.S. field office. Their number can be found in the white pages, or online. Second, you can notify the U.S. Treasury Inspectors at (800) 366-4484 and provide them with as much relevant information as you can. Another option to take in fighting back is to simply email: phishing@irs.gov and copy/paste the suspect email message. Lastly, the I.R.S. recommends that you also contact the Federal Trade Commission and activate a consumer complaint by filing an “I.R.S. telephone scam” report. Their main website is:...