April 24, 2018

Memo from the Desk of Theresa Rose DeGray, Esq.

“Leverage: the use of a small initial investment…to gain a very high return.”

— Dictionary.com

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I have been debating how to talk about this in a delicate manner and I simply could not figure it out. So, I will just come out and say it: People being crushed by debt can leverage their tax refunds to file Bankruptcy and get a Fresh Start. There, I finally said it.

 

It may not sound kosher but it is. Instead of using your tax refund to pay off a portion of your debt, or to buy a big screen TV, people can pay for their legal fees to get out of massive amounts of debt if they qualify and it is the right thing for them to do based on their circumstances.

 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with debt and wants to explore this option, please contact my office and schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Mindful Money Management: 3 Strategies for Financial Success | By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

How do you feel when you think about your financial situation? If you experience anxiety, uncertainty, or other unpleasant symptoms, you are not alone. Finances are a significant concern for many people. A 2017 study by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America entitled “Mind, Body, and Wallet,” found that money is cited as the #1 source of stress for a majority of American workers. The same survey showed that worry about personal finances is the leading cause of emotional stress and contributes to lower physical wellness.

But managing your money does not have to be an upsetting experience that negatively impacts you. Applying mindfulness techniques to your finances can help you cultivate a deeper awareness of your total financial picture, enabling you to approach your financial decisions with greater conviction and calculated risk.

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an intentional focus on the present moment. It has evolved over time to become a secular, psychological practice of developing and sustaining attention to thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environmental stimuli that impact our experience of “now”.

Non-judgmental awareness of each moment is cultivated through mindfulness. Practitioners challenge themselves to attain a heightened sensitivity to the present through a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, meditation, pauses, and gentle movements. The impact of mindfulness on physical, mental, and social well-being is documented widely through scientific and academic studies.

Strategy 1: Create Space
Mindfulness promotes a consistent, ongoing process of using our senses to become more attuned to what is going on inside our bodies and outside us in our surrounding environment. This disciplined activity of “creating space” on a regular basis enables practitioners to experience feelings of groundedness and centeredness in the midst of racing thoughts and life’s busyness.

Try incorporating this strategy of “creating space” to your approach to your finances. Do you think about your finances beyond just paying the next bill that’s due? Do you know what you save and spend and check your statements? Do you review your insurance policies and ensure they continue to make sense for your needs?

Consider dedicating time – it can be as brief as a few minutes, or as long as 30 minutes, as long as it’s recurring – to pay your bills and consider questions like this as part of understanding your total financial picture. Formally reserve this time in your calendar and don’t cancel the appointment.

In the same way you go to the gym on a regular basis to take care of your physical health or ensure that you get a certain number of hours of sleep for your mental health, “create space” in your lifestyle to take care of your financial health.

Strategy 2: Plan with a Purpose
Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and non-judgment. Through mindfulness, we discover that our thoughts are narratives that we create as a result of our own unique perceptions and life experiences. Repeated practice of mindfulness empowers us to let go of the constant chatter – especially the negative thoughts – that monopolize our focus, and just be.

Adopt this same open, curious awareness to your financial situation. Without worrying about how you’ll do it, ask yourself “What do I want to do with my money?” Reflect on this question repeatedly during the spaces that you have created in your schedule, and observe what bubbles up for you. If the same priorities emerge each time you reflect on this question, these could be the goals that form the foundation of your unique financial plan.

When you are able to articulate clearly without judgment what is important to you and what you want to do with your money you can formulate a purpose-filled financial plan comprised of actions and behaviors that you can implement to make your financial goals a reality.

Strategy 3: Invest with Intention
Mindfulness facilitates sustained focus. It enables practitioners to cultivate greater clarity and improve their capacity to tune out distractions. As a result, mindfulness facilitates the ability to make decisions.

Apply this objective, intentional focus to your investment strategy. Do you know what you have invested your money in? Do you know why you chose the investments you selected? Are your investments in line with your values, comfort level with risk, and do they consider your tax situation?

When you invest with intention, you know what you invest your money in and why. This disciplined approach provides comfort and structure when the financial markets – and life – inevitably surprise us.

When you apply techniques promoted through mindfulness to manage your money, you can obtain greater control over your finances, confidence with your financial goals, and comfort that you are taking steps to realize your financial dreams.

By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Disclosure:

Caroline Wetzel is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) and Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor with Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC.  Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC and Procyon Institutional Partners, LLC (collectively “Procyon Partners”) are registered investment advisors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This article is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This article is derived from numerous sources, which are believed to be reliable, but not audited by Procyon for accuracy. This article may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. Procyon Partners does not provide tax or legal advice.

For more information:

Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Vice President

Private Wealth Advisor

Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC

1 Corporate Drive. Suite 225  |  Shelton, CT  06484

M: (844) Procyon |  D: (475) 232-2713 |  F: (475) 232-2736

cwetzel@procyonpartners.net   |  www.procyonpartners.net   |  https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-wetzel/

Ever wonder how to become a Notary?

The following is provided as a quick and convenient source of general information about the appointment of Notaries Public in the State of Connecticut.   For more detailed information, please consult the Notary Public Manual on the website below.

Qualifications, Fee & Examination

Section 3-94b of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) provides that any person eighteen years of age or older, who either resides in, or has a principal place of business in Connecticut may apply for appointment as a Notary Public.

All applicants must submit a completed application form, pay the application fee of $120.00, and pass a written examination administered by the Secretary of the State’s Office.  The examination is contained in the application form and the applicant completes the examination under oath.  Successful applicants will receive a certificate of appointment.

The Term of Appointment

Notaries in the State of Connecticut are appointed for terms of five (5) years.   Each term is separate

The Oath of Office & Recording the Certificate and Oath

All notaries, whether new or renewal appointments, are required by Section 3-94c CGS, to take an oath of office before they can perform any notarial acts.  The notary’s certificate of appointment contains a panel for recording the administration of the oath.   The oath may be administered by any official having the authority to administer oaths (see Section 1-24 CGS), but notary’s may find it convenient to take the oath of office from the town clerk at the same time they record their certificate, see below.

Section 3-94c CGS also requires that the oath and the notary’s certificate be recorded with the town clerk in the town in which the notary resides, if the notary is a Connecticut resident.  Nonresidents who have qualified for appointment because their principal place of business is in Connecticut, must also record their oath of office and certificate.  That recording is made with the town clerk of the town in which their place of business is located.  It is very important for all notaries to remember these requirements, which must be completed within 30 days of receiving the Certificate of Appointment.

Renewal of Appointment

All five year terms of appointment expire on the last day of the month in which the notary was originally appointed.  Renewal applications are mailed three months in advance of the expiration date to the address recorded in the Notary Public Database.   If a notary fails to record changes of address, it will be unlikely that they will receive the renewal application.  As a consequence, the notary’s term may expire.   For further information see “Changes of Name & Address” below.

Changes of Name or Address and Replacement Certificates of Appointment

If a notary who is a Connecticut resident changes his or her name or residence address, the notary is required to report that change to the Secretary of the State’s Office within thirty days. Nonresident notaries must maintain a principal place of business in Connecticut and must report any change in their business address, as well as changes in residence address. Forms for reporting such changes are available from this web site’s forms page. When completed, the forms must be filed with the Secretary’s office with the appropriate fees ($15.00 for Change of Name and Change of Address, $5.00 for Duplicate Certificates).

When the form has been processed, a new certificate will be issued. It is not necessary for the notary to take an oath of office upon receiving a replacement certificate, but if the notary has relocated to a new town of residence or principal place of business, the replacement certificate must be recorded with the town clerk in the new town of residence.

Resignation

A notary may resign his or her commission at any time, by advising the Office of the Secretary of the State, in writing, of his or her intention to resign and the effective date of that resignation.

Complaints

Any person may file a formal complaint against a notary public. All complaints must be submitted in writing to the Notary Public Unit of the Secretary of the State’s Office. A complaint must allege a specific violation of Connecticut Notary Public Law. It must also include photocopies of relevant documents.

SOURCE: http://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Legislative-Services/Applying-for-Appointment-as-a-Connecticut-Notary-Public

Federal Tax Refunds During Bankruptcy

You can receive tax refunds while in bankruptcy. However, refunds may be subject to delay or used to pay down your tax debts. If you believe your refund has been delayed or offset you can check on its status by going to Where’s My Refund tool or by contacting the IRS’ Centralized Insolvency Operations Unit at 1-800-973-0424. The unit is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time.

Discharge: If you successfully complete your bankruptcy plan you will receive a discharge of debt. A discharge releases you (the debtor) from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Some taxes may be dischargeable. Whether a federal tax debt may be discharged depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Consult your bankruptcy attorney to determine which tax debts may be discharged.

SOURCE: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/other-types-of-bankruptcy-chapters-9-12-15

Not an April Fools Joke: Means Test Numbers Going Up!

2Means Test Numbers April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find out if you qualify for FREE:

Qualification for Bankruptcy is based solely on income. It is calculated using your last six months of income. The Means Test used to determine qualification allows you to make up to certain amounts of money based on your state and household size. We’re excited about the new Means Test Numbers (above) as they are going up, therefore allowing many more people to file for Bankruptcy relief.

Please click here to schedule your free consultation which includes a FREE Means Test.

New Medicare Cards Start Mailing in April 2018

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and keep taxpayer dollars safe. They will mail the new Medicare cards from April 2018 through April 2019. Learn how they will mail the new Medicare cards in phases by geographic location below.

New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new, unique Medicare Number will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on each new Medicare card. Starting April 2018, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare on a flow basis by geographic location and other factors.

These mailings will follow the sequence outlined below. Additional details on timing will be available as the mailings progress. Starting in April 2018, people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings in their area on Medicare.gov.

New Medicare Card Mailing Waves Wave States Included Cards Mailing
1 Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia April – June 2018
2 Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon April – June 2018
3 Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin After June 2018
4 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont After June 2018
5 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina After June 2018
6 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming After June 2018
7 Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands After June 2018

 

SOURCE: CMS.GOV

Alimony in Divorce & Bankruptcy

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In Divorce:
“In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall consider the evidence presented by each party and shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability and feasibility of such parent’s securing employment.” -Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-82

In Bankruptcy:
Alimony is treated as ordinary income or a necessary expense (depending if you are receiving it or paying it) in Bankruptcy. Back-owed alimony is not discharge-able in Bankruptcy.

If you have questions about Divorce or Bankruptcy, please contact me here for a free consultation.

FREE INCOME TAX PREPARATION

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The following is summarized from the websites of the American Association of Retired Persons: www.aarp.org/ , the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS): www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1462&q=289046 and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc101.html

People needing free help to complete their federal tax forms have a number of options available to them. They can seek assistance at an IRS office, call IRS toll free numbers for forms or questions, or bring forms to a volunteer at a site offering AARP Tax-Aide program or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services. All options are free to the taxpayer.

TAX ASSISTANCE BY TELEPHONE AND ONLINE

  • Refund status information can be obtained four weeks after a claim has been filed, by calling, 800-829-4477. The following information must be given to obtain refund status: social security, filing status and refund amount.
  • Tax assistance for people with hearing impairments and TTY equipment can be obtained by calling: 1-800-829-4059, 24 hours, MondayFriday, 7:00am-7:00pm. People without TTY equipment may be able to obtain access through federal or state relay services.
  • If an individual believes that they may have been the victim of identity theft, they should dial 1-800-908-4490.

 

Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/refunds/tax-season-refund-frequently-asked-questions

TAX ASSISTANCE AT DRS OFFICE

  • The DRS offers in-person income tax filing assistance at the Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Waterbury offices until April 15. DRS staff help taxpayers prepare Connecticut tax return forms only. Taxpayers must go to the office by 4:00pm and bring their completed federal tax return. No appointments are taken for tax assistance at the DRS office. Taxpayers can call (860) 297-5962 or 1-800-382-9463, MondayFriday, 8:30am-4pm for assistance over the phone.

AARP TAX-AIDE PROGRAM

  • AARP Tax-Aide volunteers offer free income tax assistance for low and middle income households at Tax-Aide sites during the tax season. Assistance to people ages 60+ is given priority. Local Tax-Aide sites can be found by calling the Tax-Aide Site Locator number: (888) 227-7669, using the Site Locator at the AARP website or going to the 2-1-1 database
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only.

VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA)

  • Trained volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offer free tax filing assistance from mid-January –April 18. (Dates and times vary by site) Anyone, regardless of age, can use a VITA site for assistance. VITA volunteers help taxpayers prepare basic tax return forms. The general eligibility for VITA assistance is income last year was less than $54,000. VITA sites are held at libraries, churches, senior centers and other community meeting places. Link onto the 2-1-1 website , to find a VITA site
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only

FORMS TO BRING TO A TAX ASSISTANCE SITE

When visiting an IRS, DRS, Tax-Aide or VITA site, bring the following:

* Photo ID for Caller (and/or spouse, if filing jointly)
* If married filing jointly, both spouses must attend appointment
* Social security cards for every member of the family (if a card is lost, the taxpayer must contact the social security administration to replace card prior to having taxes prepared)
* W-2s and/or 1099’s from ALL jobs worked in 2016
* A check from the taxpayer’s checking account or a savings account number for direct deposit (NOTE: The taxpayer can open a bank account or cash card at the tax site for direct deposit if they do not have an existing account.)
* Interest statements from financial institutions (if applicable)
* Tuition and student loan information (if applicable)
* Documentation from daycare provider, if taxpayer paid for child care in 2015
* Any other income information or IRS notices received
* All 1095 forms
* Health Insurance Statements (including Health Insurance Exception Certificate, if received)
* Copy of last years tax return


SOURCES: 2-1-1 database; AARP website; Connecticut Department. of Revenue Services website; Internal Revenue Service website
INTERNET PAGE PREPARED BY: 211/pt
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: December201

(Reposted from: http://uwc.211ct.org/freeincometax-assistance/)

Attorney for the Minor Child

1. What is an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC)?
An attorney for a minor child, often referred to as an AMC and also called Counsel for the Minor Child is an individual the court appoints, either upon motion of a party or when the court determines an AMC is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court will consider the appointment of an AMC if the parties are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute. The AMC’s role is different from that of a guardian ad litem (GAL). The AMC represents the child’s legal interests and supports the child’s best interests, while the GAL represents only the child’s best interests.

2. Who can be an AMC?

Only an attorney who has completed the comprehensive training program required by Practice Book Section 25-62, which is sponsored by the Judicial Branch, is eligible to be an AMC. The AMC cannot be the same attorney that is representing either of the parents.

3. What is the role of an AMC?
In cases where the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or there is a child related dispute, the court may appoint an AMC to be the child’s attorney. The court will specify the role of the AMC in each case. Just as the parents may have their own attorneys advocating on their behalf, the AMC represents the child’s wishes and advocates on the child’s behalf. The AMC can speak in court on all matters pertaining to the interests of the child including custody, care, support, education and visitation. The AMC can also file motions and call witnesses on behalf of the child in court. Unlike a GAL, an AMC does not testify as a witness, but participates fully as a lawyer in the case.

4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from an AMC?

The AMC is expected to avoid any conflict of interest, be courteous and professional and act in good faith. An AMC is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys in Connecticut. The client, however, is not either of the parents, but the child. The AMC’s duty is to the child, and the parents should not expect the AMC to advocate or argue on their behalf.

5. Who pays the AMC?

The parties to the case pay the fees for the AMC. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court. The court will consider each party’s financial situation and order how such payment is to be split between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of an AMC that is paid for by the state. The parties must submit their financial affidavits to the court for review. If the parties meet the eligibility requirements of the Division of Public Defender Services, the court will appoint an AMC who is paid for by the state.

6. Can an AMC be removed from a case?

If a party believes that an AMC has acted improperly in a family case, he or she can file a motion to ask the court to remove the AMC from the case. After the motion is filed, the court may refer the motion to the Family Services Unit of the court. If the parties involved in the case cannot resolve the motion themselves, the court will have a hearing and decide the motion.

REPOSTED FROM: http://www.jud.ct.gov/faq/family.htm#1

Divorce without an Agreement

While it is always preferable if you and your spouse can work out the terms of your divorce, if you are unable to do so, a judge will make the decisions that will impact your family, such as:

  • who will have custody of your children
  • how to divide your property and assets
  • how to pay your debts
  • whether either spouse gets alimony

Note: This information also applies to dissolution of civil unions performed in a foreign jurisdiction.

REPOSTED FROM: The Connecticut Judicial Branch Website.

For more information, please contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at 203-713-8877.

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.