Consider These Important Steps When Creating Your Estate Plan

No one likes to think about death, especially their own. However, death is a certainty for all of us. So even though it might be an uncomfortable subject, it’s still a great idea to prepare for it. No matter what you will leave behind, having a plan is important. Without one, you basically leave everything to chance. 

So what does it take to have a successful estate plan? 

There are many important aspects to successfully planning your estate. However, it all comes down to two key components that you can’t afford to overlook.  

The first thing you need to determine is how you want to divide your estate.  That seems obvious, right? Well, you have three basic choices: equally, fairly or equitably. They might sound similar but they are not the same. Equal is not always fair, and vise versa. One option is to use all three choices for different parts of the estate. In any case, this is an important decision that every estate owner must make.  

The next step is all about communication. No matter which distribution plan you go with, you need to make it clear, as early as possible. Your family members, or other beneficiaries, need to know what’s coming so they can be ready to receive it. That requires regular communication, and in some instances some education or training on how things will work, and what steps they will need to take. 

Yes, the estate planning process is much more involved than that, but those two steps are crucial for an estate plan to go smoothly. Without them, your loved ones could be headed for a rocky road after you die. 


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Now Is a Good Time for Itemizers to Review Their Taxes

Itemizers, listen up. Now is a good time to review your taxes. But it’s only June. Why should you worry about that now? Well, it’s never too early to get prepared for the next tax season. And that’s especially true this upcoming tax season, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

With all the changes, your 2018 tax year is surely going to be different than your 2017 tax year. Specifically, there have been significant changes to itemized deductions. For starters, the standard deduction has increased by nearly double. That means for many people it will no longer be beneficial to use itemized deductions.   

So what should you do? You need to give your paycheck a checkup, so to speak. In other words, you need to make sure you have the right withholding amount. You can do this by heading over to and using their withholding calculator. Plug in your numbers and find out if enough money is being withheld from your paycheck each pay period. 

This can help you plan ahead for 2019 tax season, which will help you avoid any nasty surprises come tax time. If you need to change your withholding, simply fill out a new Form W-4 and submit it to your employer. 

If the Tax Cut and Jobs Act has affected your paycheck, then don’t wait till the next tax season to review last tear’s taxes. Get it done now and save yourself some headaches when tax time rolls around. 


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What Sets Confident People Apart?

What makes someone successful? Successful people have many positive attributes, but what really sets them apart from others is confidence. Those who have confidence are more likely to succeed than those with self-doubt.  That’s really a no-brainer, right?  But what makes confident people different?

Well, you can start with some things that confident people won’t do. Here are just a few things that confident people avoid.

They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame other people, or their circumstances, for their own results. That’s because they believe they are in control of their own outcomes in life.

They act before getting permission. Confident people know when and how to act.  They seize the moment instead of waiting for someone else to tell them what to do or how to act.  When they see something that needs to get done, they do it. They don’t wait for direction and miss opportunities.

Praise is not the goal. Everyone likes to be praised. It feels good. But confident people don’t need constant praise. They know success does not depend on what others think of them. They determine their own success, no matter who recognizes it, or who doesn’t.

Conflict is not a bad thing. Confident people aren’t afraid of conflict. They recognize that conflict is not always a bad thing. They don’t seek it out, but they don’t avoid it, either. When something needs to be said they aren’t afraid to say it.
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Use These Helpful Tips Now to Make Next Year’s Taxes Easier

The 2018 Tax season has come and gone. By now you’ve probably already forgotten about them. However, if you want to get ahead on next year’s taxes, now is the perfect time to start. The more prepared you are, the easier tax filing will be.

It may seem a little early to start thinking about your 2018 taxes, but the sooner you get started the better. So what can you do right now? There are several ways to get ahead. And by taking these simple steps you could relieve yourself of a lot of headaches come 2019.

Start by reviewing what happened this year. How did things go? Were there mistakes that could have been corrected? What would you have changed if you could go back and do your 2017 taxes again? Now apply all that to next year’s tax filing season. It’s not a bad idea to look at other previous returns as well.

Now is a good time to get organized. Create files and folders to gather, track, and store important documents and receipts. Having these ready now for next year will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Is now a good time to change your W-4 withholding status? If you had any changes in your family status then consider changing your withholding.

Now is a good time to make sure you understand the tax rules that apply to your situation. This is especially true if you’re self-employed.

Lastly, consider using a professional. If your taxes have become overly complicated and using a professional would make sense, then now might be a good time to start looking for a good accounting firm.

Taxes don’t have to be a nightmare. A little extra preparation now can go a long ways next year.

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Gaining the Trust and Confidence of those Around You

Whether it be in business or everyday life trust and confidence are key ways of how we interact with others.  Building trust with your boss could land you that next promotion or show people that you are someone they can count on or could open doors for you in the future. How does one build trust and gain the confidence of those around them? It’s a task that is easier said than done for sure. It takes time and patients to gain the trust and confidence of others.

Build a Relationship
The first thing in building trust with others is gaining a relationship with them. If people know that you genuinely care about them and being their friend, they’ll be more apt to trust you. Don’t try to build a relationship to gain favors, people will see right through you.  Be genuine in your connections and get to know the person on a personal level.

What’s in it for me? 
When building a relationship based on trust with an individual avoid the “what’s in it for me” attitude.  Just know what comes around goes around and if you help someone today with no thought of return, when you need a favor down the road they’ll be much more likely to help you out.

Be Reliable
Be reliable 100% of the time. In order to gain the confidence of others, show them that you are someone they can depend on all of the time. People remember the negative more than the positive, so that one time you fell through may stick out in people’s mind as someone they can’t depend on. Show people what your worth and what you can do.
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The Best Way to Deliver Criticism

If done in the wrong way, criticism can break a relationship or leave someone feeling bad or upset. When critiquing, you want to avoid these negative emotions at all cost, after all criticizing is meant to help someone improve, not bring them down. Is there a way to criticize in a positive, uplifting way? Of course there is!

The Sandwich Method

Many have found the Sandwich Method the most successful avenue for giving constructive criticism, feedback and delivering bad news. The method is simple and quite effective. The Sandwich Method consists of delivering two positives with a negative criticism sandwiched in between, hence the “Sandwich Method.”

Why is it Effective
Unlike delivering straight criticism which focuses on the negative, the Sandwich Method focuses on the big picture (positive and negative).  For example, instead of telling someone that you didn’t like the report they wrote up for X Y and Z reasons, tell them what you thought was good on the report, what they need to improve and end with what else you thought was good.  This maintains and grows good relationships with others.

In business and in life, relationships are the key to almost everything, delivering feedback, criticism or bad news in this manor protects you from losing those relationships you have worked so hard to gain.
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Here’s What Successful People Do Differently

Think about some of the most successful people you know. What makes them stand out? How did they become successful? What things do they do differently than most people? It takes hard work and the right attitude to become successful.  And most successful people share very similar characteristics.

So if want to be more successful than you currently are, here are some of the traits you should shoot for.

Successful people are very passionate. They don’t stop at simply taking an interest in things. They actually love what they do and because of that, they completely dedicate themselves to their passions.

Successful people don’t leave things unfinished. If they start something, they keep going till the end, rather than giving up too early. A good idea is just that, unless you make it happen. Successful people make good ideas a reality.

Successful people aren’t afraid to go against the grain. In other words, they aren’t afraid to be different, or take some risks in order to accomplish whatever it is they want to achieve.

Successful people are resilient. Again, they don’t give up, even after they fail. In fact, failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and get better. They don’t let failures stop them from trying again. Furthermore they don’t dwell on failures or on problems, instead, they look for solutions.

Successful people also take care of themselves. Their health matters to them so they work hard, exercise regularly, eat right and get enough sleep.
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Social Media Platforms Trying to Shut Down Crypto Scams

The world of cryptocurrency is ripe with excitement. However, it’s just as ripe with scams. In fact, a growing number of entities are doing their part to try to curb some of these scams and protect those interested in investing in cryptocurrency.

Recently, Twitter announced that it’s trying to stop all alleged scams related to digital currencies that are being spread via the social media platform. Twitter is not the first social media giant to take this step, either. Facebook has taken similar steps, recently, including banning all ads tied to cryptocurrencies.

According to a Twitter spokesperson, who spoke to Bloomberg News, the social media company is aware of cryptocurrency-related “manipulation,” and is working to “prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner.”

The company made the statement after it had restricted an account by the name of “@Bitcoin handle,” saying: “Caution: This account is temporarily restricted. You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account.”

The company intends to keep a close eye on all crypto-related accounts and posts in an effort to prevent scammers from taking advantage of Twitter users with deceptive practices.

Social media platforms are not alone in this crackdown. Regulators, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are also stepping in, in an effort to crackdown on scammers in the digital coin industry.

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This Year Will Be the Last Time You Can Claim These Deductions

If you’re like many taxpayers, then you’ve already filed your 2017 tax return, and perhaps even received your refund. If so, congratulations are in order. You can now

forget about taxes for another year…although we don’t recommend that. On the other hand, if you’re one of the many procrastinators out there that just can’t find the motivation to get your taxes done, then you should probably read this before you finally get around to doing them.

Last Chance Deductions

Perhaps you’ve heard about some changes to the nation’s tax code? It was kind of a big deal. However, these changes don’t apply to the 2017 tax year. You’ll have to worry about them come 2019. That being said, because of the changes there are some things that will be a lot different next year. For example you won’t be able to enjoy all of the same deductions that you always have. In fact, here are five common deductions that won’t be back next year. That means you better make sure you claim them this year, because they will soon be a thing of the past.

Personal Exemptions–this is the last year you can claim a personal exemption of $4050 for you, your spouse and each of your dependents. The standard deduction has increased, but
that won’t benefit everyone that would have claimed the personal exemption, including some families with multiple children, or single parent homes.

Mortgage Interest Deductions–although most people will still be able to claim this deduction, there are significant changes that affect high price mortgages. If you purchased your home before December 15 of last year you can claim the mortgage interest on loans up to $1 million. For new mortgages after that, the cap has been reduced to $750,000.

State and Local Tax Deductions–This is the last year you can deduct state income, property and sales taxes from your federal return. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now combines the three and caps the combined amount for all three at $10,000.

Moving Expenses–anyone who had to move for work and incurred tangible moving expenses might be able to deduct those expenses. First off, your move must be because of work and it has to be more than 50 miles away from where you previously lived. So, if you moved last year, you’re in luck.  But going forward, at least until 2026, this deduction will no longer be available.

Alimony Payments–if you paid alimony payments to your ex in 2017 you can still deduct them. Starting in 2018 that won’t be the case. What’s more, the person who receives the payments will no longer have to report them as income. The one caveat: this only applies to new divorces that occur in 2019 or later.

Just Do It
So, if you still have to file your return this year, make sure you don’t miss out on any of these deductions. This might just be your last chance.
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Selling globally: How to get started

For many businesses, selling their products or services globally is a natural next step in their growth.  But while the prospect of billions of new potential customers is attractive, going global can be a daunting proposition.  Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Tap your network.  Take advantage of your network for ideas about going global and assistance in finding strategic partners and international customers.  This includes your advisors, colleagues, customers, suppliers, employees, trade association contacts and social media connections.

Leverage technology to boost your global presence.  To attract international customers, make the most of today’s technology to “broadcast” your business. Examples include websites, YouTube, blogs, social media networks, and other online platforms.  Regardless of the tools you use, the key is to make your business known internationally and to provide content that attracts international visitors to your website.

Determine how you will sell internationally.  You can sell directly to overseas customers, but keep in mind that you will be responsible for shipping and other logistics, as well as collecting, which can be risky.  A safer option may be to set up an e-commerce site or use an e-commerce platform, such as Shopify, to streamline and automate the sales and collection process in exchange for a percentage of your sales. Other strategies to consider include joint ventures or strategic partnerships with firms overseas, outsourcing global sales, using an intermediary to ship products to international consumers, and licensing and franchising arrangements.

Determine how you will collect.  Fear of not getting paid is the biggest obstacle to going global for many businesses, so it’s important to have a collection strategy before you dip your toes in international waters.  Strategies to consider include getting paid in advance; online payment platforms, such as PayPal; and banking products, such as letters of credit and sight drafts. In addition, the Export – Import Bank, the Small Business Administration and other organizations have programs that assist businesses in financing international transactions.

Get help. To mitigate the risks associated with going global, it’s important to work with a team of advisors – including lawyers, bankers, and accountants – with international experience. It’s particularly critical to find a qualified lawyer who can help you preserve your intellectual property, comply with the laws in the countries in which you do business, and draft contracts that clearly spell out the parties’ respective rights and responsibilities and protect your interests.
Here are a few sources for more information about selling globally: