Reasons Why You Should have an Estate Plan in 2021

Although it has been a year since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear of catching the deadly infection still looms over us. Besides this, many families and individuals are still trying to recover from the financial damages caused by the pandemic. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s the best time to consult an estate attorney Virginia. If you don’t have a proper estate plan, chances are, your surviving members will have a hard time managing and administrating your assets once you are gone. With a legally drafted estate plan, you can ensure your estate and assets pass on to your loved ones with ease. Estate planning also helps in managing and administrating the estate if you become incapacitated due to mental issues.

It’s a common misconception that estate planning and will drafting is for wealthy and affluent people. However, even if you have accumulated a small sum of wealth or assets, you should consider creating an estate plan. The coronavirus has made many of us concerned about mortality and sudden deaths. Thus, it’s best to prepare your loved ones for any unforeseen event in advance. If you don’t have a legal will or estate planning, the court will initiate the probate process. The probate is a time-consuming and tedious process wherein the state court assigns individuals to look after the financial affairs, healthcare decisions, and distribution of the assets. According to estate litigation lawyer, estate planning is the best way to avoid probate and ensure your assets gets managed as per your will.

A plan for you

Estate planning doesn’t just work when a person dies. Instead, it can come into effect if a person becomes incapacitated due to illness or injuries. Estate planning allows a person to control their assets and estate even if they are unable to make decisions. Designating a healthcare agent is one of the best ways to make sure your choices are followed, and your needs are well taken care of if you cannot do so yourself.

A plan for your children

The pandemic has given rise to uncertainty and insecurity. Anyone can become a threat to health, even our family members. Children are not only susceptible to contracting coronavirus; they are vulnerable to the disease’s financial consequences. If you are a parent of young children, you should be prepared for the unthinkable. Through an estate plan, you can assign a trustworthy guardian for your children and ensure they are well-taken care of if you become incapacitated or die. In the absence of a proper estate plan, the children’s guardianship passes on to the state-appointed guardian.

A plan for your assets

Probate is a mandatory process in every state. When a person dies, their estate and assets go through the probate process to ensure it is managed and distrusted to the beneficiaries. How the assets will be distributed depends upon the estate plan and will. In case a person dies without a legal will, the state decides how the assets and estate will be distributed. This process can be time-consuming and frustrating for families.

The coronavirus has taught us to be prepared for unexpected turn of events. Although preparing an estate plan can be an emotional process, it can save families from financial uncertainties.…

IRS Warns of a New Wave of Attacks Focused on Tax Professionals

The Internal Revenue Service today warned tax professionals of a new wave of attacks that allow identity thieves to file fraudulent tax returns by remotely taking over practitioners’ computers.

As part of the Security Summit effort, the IRS urged tax professionals to review their tax preparation software settings and immediately enact all security measures, especially those settings that require usernames and passwords to access the products.  The IRS is aware of approximately two dozen cases where tax professionals have been victimized in recent days.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry – working as partners in the Security Summit – recently launched the Protect Yourself  Protect Your Clients campaign to increase awareness that criminals increasingly are targeting tax professionals and the taxpayer data they possess. 

“This latest incident reinforces the need for all tax professionals to review their computer settings as soon as possible,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen‎. “Identity thieves continue to evolve and look for new areas to exploit‎, especially as our fraud filters become more effective. The prompt identification of these attacks is another example of the great benefits that result from the close‎ working relationship the IRS now has with the tax industry and the states through the Security Summit initiative. Information is flowing more rapidly between our groups as we continue‎ our efforts to protect taxpayers.”

These attacks come as the Oct. 17 deadline approaches for extension filers. The IRS first warned of a similar remote take-over attack in the spring, just ahead of the April 15 deadline, another peak period for tax professionals. Thieves are able to access tax professionals’ computers and use remote technology to take control, accessing client data and completing and e-filing tax returns but directing refunds to criminals’ own accounts.

Victims in the tax community learned of these thefts while reconciling e-file acknowledgements. In addition to activating security measures for tax software products, IRS urges all tax preparers to take the following steps:

  • Run a security “deep scan” to search for viruses and malware
  • Strengthen passwords for both computer access and software access; make sure your password is a minimum of eight digits (more is better) with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters and change them often;
  • Be alert for phishing scams: do not click on links or open attachments from unknown senders;
  • Educate all staff members about the dangers of phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and calls;
  • Review any software that your employees use to remotely access your network and/or your IT support vendor uses to remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support your systems. Remote access software is a potential target for bad actors to gain entry and take control of a machine.

In addition, the IRS recently issued instructions to tax professionals on how to monitor their PTIN activity. Tax professionals should review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, a Guide for Your Business, which provides a checklist to help safeguard taxpayer information and enhance office security. Also, practitioners should review Data Breach Information for Tax Professionals for information on what action they should take if they do become victims.…