Football participation for kids source of conflict in family court

Divorcing parents fight over a range of issues, from big questions like who the children will live with and how to handle major educational and medical decisions to some relatively minor issues.

Now another source of contentiousness has emerged: whether the kids should play football.

As more and more evidence links football to long-term brain damage, a lot of parents are having second thoughts about whether their children should play the sport. This has resulted in disagreements that led to some parents going to court over whether their custody orders should bar their kids from taking the field. [Read more…]

Deceased worker’s retirement benefits go to sister, not wife

If you’re getting married and want your retirement and other similar benefits to go to your new spouse if you pass away first, it’s very important to update all your policies and plans to name your spouse as the beneficiary. Otherwise, your property might not get distributed in the way you want.

This happened recently in Texas. A man got married in 2003 but never changed the beneficiary designation for his retirement benefits. He died eight years later.  His wife was also the executor of his estate and went to probate court seeking a ruling that the benefits were rightfully hers as “community property.” The judge, however, said they belonged to her late husband’s sister, who was named as the beneficiary. [Read more…]

Wife who abandoned husband forfeited spouse’s share of his estate

Living separate lives may be the key to some long-lasting marriages. But doing so could result in the forfeit of important interests, as a Missouri case shows.

The couple, in that case, Marilyn and John David Heill, married in 1968. In the 1990s, John started spending most of his time at his parents’ farm in another county.

He returned to the marital home to recover from a heart attack but went back to the farm in 1999 when he inherited it upon his mother’s death. [Read more…]

Father wins custody battle with grandmother

A recent case from Virginia demonstrates that a parent typically has the edge in a custody battle with a non-parent and that it takes extraordinary circumstances for a non-parent to overcome that advantage.

The case involved a dispute between the father of a 9-year-old girl and the maternal grandmother she’d lived with her entire life.

The father was in jail while the girl was a baby. During that time she lived with her grandmother in what the court described as a “spacious” home. Her mother lived there too before relocating to Georgia in 2015. [Read more…]

‘No contest’ clauses not bulletproof

A “no contest” clause is a provision in a lot of estate documents that automatically disinherit anyone who challenges its terms. The purpose is to scare people out of bringing lawsuits claiming that the will or trust doesn’t reflect the creator’s real wishes.

But a recent Massachusetts case shows that these provisions won’t necessarily bar all challenges. In that case, the mother of two adult siblings created an estate plan that distributed what one sibling thought was an unreasonable share of the family assets, which included significant wealth from a multimillion-dollar family ice cream business and valuable real-estate holdings, to her brother and his kids. [Read more…]

Digital spying on your spouse is a bad idea

There’s a lot of cutting-edge technology available today that makes it easy to spy on someone — or for someone to spy on you.

Some programs enable people to “jailbreak” your phone and get past your anti-spyware protection. Once that protection is gone, other programs can give someone access to emails, text messages and call history. Then other programs can be used to encrypt your data and send it to an account where it can be accessed.

Unfortunately, the existence of such technology may tempt someone in a bad marriage to use it to spy on his or her spouse.  That could lead to evidence of infidelity, help dig up dirt for a custody case, or provide evidence that an ex is cohabiting with a new significant other, which the spying spouse could use to get out from under his or her alimony obligations. [Read more…]

Manage Capital Gains Tax Tips

If not tracked and managed properly, capital gains tax can come as a large surprise at tax-filing time. In fact, many taxpayers don’t realize they have a capital gain until they get their 1099 form in January and see a capital gain distribution. Here’s what you need to know.

Understand capital gains and their taxability

Capital gains are recognized when you sell a capital asset for more than your basis in that asset. Capital assets are typically something of value like your home, a car and other investments. The basis is typically the original cost of the asset being sold. The difference between the sales price of the asset and your basis is the amount of the taxable capital gain. [Read more…]

Setting up Your Business Accounting System

You’ve done the hard work. You have a new business idea or you’ve found an existing business to purchase. Want to help ensure your business success? Pay attention to correctly set up your business’ accounting system. Here’s how: [Read more…]

Are you Sharing Too Much Information Online?

In today’s digital age, it is impossible to avoid the internet. Even if you don’t have a computer and actively avoid social media, there is information about you in some corner of the web. Here are some tips to help you manage your digital footprint: [Read more…]

Dramatic Sales Tax Change

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the South Dakota vs Wayfair case that opens the door for states to impose the sales tax on sellers outside their borders. The case highlights a new standard of business presence called “economic nexus” that may have major implications for businesses and consumers alike.

Economic nexus explained

The exact definition varies, but in general, economic nexus makes a connection between a taxing authority (usually a state) and a seller based on certain sales or transaction levels. The Supreme Court agrees with South Dakota that having an economic presence is enough to require an out-of-state retailer to register with the state to collect and remit sales tax. For example, the state of South Dakota mandates that if a retailer has $100,000 in annual in-state sales or has 200 separate in-state sales transactions over the previous 12 months, they must collect sales tax on all sales in South Dakota. [Read more…]