What Is a Will?

What Is a Will?
The most basic estate planning tool, a will is the legal document that states the actions you wish to be taken after your death in regard to:
  • the disposition of your property;
  • the guardianship of your minor children; and/or
  • the administration of your estate
Do You Need a Will?
If you have a spouse, children and/or property, the answer is most definitely YES!
The alternative is to allow the state in which you reside to determine:
  • how your property will be distributed among your heirs, including who those heirs are;
  • who will serve as the guardian of your minor children; and/or
  • how your estate will be administered.
Who Can Make a Will?
State statute determines who can make a will. Generally, you must be “of age,” as defined by state law, and of sound mind. In addition, state law generally requires that your will be written, signed and witnessed by a required number of witnesses.
While you can draw your own will, the preparation and execution of this important legal document is generally best left to an attorney.

Alternative Minimum Tax Relief

The objective of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) is to ensure that taxpayers with itemized deductions and/or income from certain tax preferences will not avoid or defer all tax liability, but instead will pay a minimum tax. For more info, please check out the following link – Alternative Minimum Tax Relief

Deducting Charitable Contributions: Eight Essentials

Donations made to qualified organizations may help reduce the amount of tax you pay.

The IRS has eight essential tips to help ensure your contributions pay off on your tax return.

1. If your goal is a legitimate tax deduction, then you must be giving to a qualified organization. Also, you cannot deduct contributions made to specific individuals, political organizations or candidates. See IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, for rules on what constitutes a qualified organization.

2. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A. If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is more than $500, you must complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return.

3. If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, tickets to a ball game or other goods and services, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.

4. Donations of stock or other non-cash property are usually valued at the fair market value of the property. Clothing and household items must generally be in good used condition or better to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.

5. Fair market value is generally the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.

6. Regardless of the amount, to deduct a contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift, you must maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution. For text message donations, a telephone bill meets the record-keeping requirement if it shows the name of the receiving organization, the date of the contribution and the amount given.

7. To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more, you must have a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization showing the amount of the cash, a description of any property contributed, and whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. One document may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the written acknowledgement requirement for all contributions of $250 or more.

8. Taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which generally requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

For more information on charitable contributions, refer to Form 8283 and its instructions, as well as Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information on determining the value of donations, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. All are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Tax Tip 2012-57

Join Us TODAY @ 1pm for our Medicare Seminar

Medicare – Healthcare Options for Retirees
HarborOne U, Mansfield MA 
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Medicare Overview:
Eligibility / Enrollment / Coverage Options/cost
Prescription Drug Coverage:
Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D) / Employer Retiree Coverage / Other Options for Prescription Coverage / Help with Health Care Costs

Discussion & Questions on Medicare Planning & Retirement Strategies

Presented by James Schweitzer and Jeffrey Schweitzer of Northeast Financial Strategies Inc. and Peggy McDonough, Regional Director of the SHINE Program at HESSCO Elder Services.

Register today as seating is limited.