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

FREE INCOME TAX PREPARATION

Billboard in the snow

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/)

Divorce with Agreement (“Waive 90”)

If you and your spouse have an agreement as to all issues, you may ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period that is otherwise required for divorces.

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

What are the benefits of requesting that the 90-day waiting period be waived?

  • You can obtain a divorce as soon as you wish, subject to the court’s availability, as compared to the regular process, which takes at least 3 months.
  • You can move on with your life more quickly.

REPOSTED FROM: The Connecticut Judicial Website

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

All About the [Connecticut] Lemon Law Program

The “Lemon Law” is a nickname for Connecticut General Statute Chapter 743b, “Automotive Warranties. It establishes arbitration as an informal process for resolving disputes between consumers and automobile manufacturers. The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination or motorcycle) purchased or leased in Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and which, after “a reasonable number of attempts” cannot be repaired. The Lemon Law covers all new passenger, combination passenger/ commercial vehicles and motorcycles purchased or leased in Connecticut:

  • Which do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty;
  • Which have substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle AND
  • The repairs must have been addressed during the eligibility period*;
  • Have manufacturer’s defects that occurred during the first two (2) years from the original owner’s delivery date or the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).
*The time period involved may be extended when repair service is unavailable due to war, strike or natural disaster.
The eligibility criteria for the Lemon Law arbitration refers to occurrences / days that must be met within the specified time frame.  However, you do not have to apply within this time period.
Items NOT covered under the law include:
  • Defects not covered under the manufacturer’s express warranty
  • Defects caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle
For a car to qualify, the same problem has to be subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts and continue to exist after these attempts at repair. The law presumes that a “reasonable number” of repair attempts is four.  However, your car may be eligible if you have less than four repair attempts for the same problem and can justify this is a reasonable number of repair attempts, and repairs have been performed within the eligibility period.  
– OR –
  
When the vehicle has been out of service for repair at the dealership for a cumulative total of thirty days or more for any number of unrelated problems. These problems must occur within the eligibility period. 
– OR – 
In the case of a safety defect which is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven, the defect continues to exist after two or more attempts during the first year of operation or the term of the express warranty, whichever period end first.
How to Get Started
If you believe you are eligible and wish to pursue the Department of Consumer Protection’s Arbitration Program, please print the arbitration form from this website, complete it and return it by U.S. mail to the Department as soon as possible with the required fee.
Of course, you should report the vehicle’s problems immediately to the dealer or the manufacturer.  Check your owner’s manual/warranty booklet for the address and telephone number of the zone office designated to receive your complaint. The manual will also tell you if the manufacturer requires written notification of a claim requesting a refund or replacement vehicle.  If such notification is required, you must write to the manufacturer. Please send us a copy of your letter to the manufacturer when you submit your Lemon Law application.
If you lease your vehicle, you must advise the leasing company that you are applying for Lemon Law arbitration and if they wish to be a party to the proceedings, they must notify the Department of their intent within ten (10) days of their receipt of your letter. The letter to the leasing company must be sent certified or registered mail, and a copy of the letter and postal receipt must be included with your Lemon Law application to us.
If it is determined that your case does not qualify for arbitration, the fee will be returned to you. Additionally, the manufacturer is required to pay a fee.
Once your Request for Arbitration and filing fee are received, the Department will review your application to make sure all necessary documents have been submitted. If information has been omitted, your Request for Arbitration and filing fee will be returned to you along with a list of the information or documents required to complete the submission. If all documents and information have been included, we will complete an initial review of your case to determine whether basic eligibility criteria have been met. You will be notified within five business days of the results.
If the our review indicates your case is not eligible for arbitration, your filing fee will be returned to you with an explanation as to why your case did not qualify. You may file a written appeal with the Department if you do not agree with our findings.
If our review indicates your case is eligible for arbitration, the manufacturer will be notified and asked to submit a manufacturer’s statement and filing fee. An arbitrator and an Automotive Technical Expert comprise an arbitration panel.
The arbitration panel will make the final determination as to the eligibility of your case. It is possible for a case to be deemed ineligible by the arbitration panel even though it was initially deemed eligible by the Department.
Types of hearings
When you file your Request for Arbitration, you must choose between an “oral” or “documentary” hearing. The oral arbitration process generally results in a more expeditious rendering of a decision.
Oral Hearing:  If you choose oral arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be present at the scheduled hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case before the  arbitration panel. The hearing is informal and not structured like a court of law. Typically, the consumer is heard first, followed by the manufacturer. Either party is able to ask the other questions. The arbitration panel may also have questions and may order the Automotive Technical Expert to inspect the vehicle. If possible, bring the vehicle to the hearing to avoid scheduling an inspection for a later date.
Use your “Request for Arbitration” form as a guide when preparing for an oral arbitration hearing. The form contains much of the information you will need at the hearing.
  • Bring records of everything pertaining to the dispute including all correspondence, work orders, receipts, and warranties.
  • Organize your records – Putting them in chronological order will help guide you in presenting the history of the problem.
  • Prepare an outline of the major points you wish to present to help you remember relevant information.
Be prepared to discuss the problem in its entirety.  You should:
  1. State the specific nature of the defect;
  2. Restate any conversations with dealer’s or manufacturer’s representatives;
  3. Describe any new developments which may have occurred since you submitted your “Request for Arbitration” form;
  4. Describe any repair attempts or other actions taken;
  5. State your opinion as to what action would constitute a fair resolution of the dispute;
  6. State why you feel the vehicle is a “Lemon.” For example, how has the use, safety, and/or value been substantially impaired?
  7. Prepare a list of questions to ask the manufacturer’s representative.
  8. Prepare a final summary, which should briefly review the facts you have discussed, this should include a statement regarding your opinion of a fair resolution to the dispute.
Remember, the purpose of the hearing is to allow the arbitrators to gather facts, evaluate information presented by both sides and render a fair decision. Therefore, be prepared to offer SUBSTANTIAL PROOF of each point you make especially those you feel the manufacturer may dispute.
Documentary Hearing:  If you choose documentary arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be required to submit to the Department sworn statements and other evidence you would like the panel to consider. You will receive copies of each other’s statements and have the opportunity to respond to them in writing. The arbitration panel will meet and review the statements and responses. The panel will base its decision solely on documentation and materials submitted by the parties prior to the hearing. Parties cannot present oral testimony, but may observe documentary hearings. If the panel orders a vehicle inspection, one will be scheduled at a later date and the panel will reconvene to render their decision.
Use of an Attorney
The ”Lemon Law” Program is designed to be accessible to the lay person. Most consumers coming through the program do not use an attorney; however, you are free to use one if you so choose. If your attorney will be presenting your case, you must notify the Department of Consumer Protection no later than two (2) days prior to the hearing. Also, if anyone other than the purchaser of the vehicle will be presenting the case, you must also notify the Department no later than one (1) day prior to the hearing. If someone is going to accompany you and present testimony, no prior notification is required. You also have the right to have a third party assist you in your presentation or act as a consultant or interpreter.

Nonadversarial Divorce (“Non ad”)

Nonadversarial Divorce is a simplified process by which eligible parties can obtain a divorce within 35 days without having to come to court and appear before a judge.

What are the benefits of a Nonadversarial Divorce?

  • You can obtain a divorce in days, as compared to the regular process, which takes at least 3 months
  • You don’t have to come to court
  • You can move on with your life more quickly

Are you eligible?

If you and your spouse meet the following criteria, you may be eligible:

  • We have been married 8 (eight) years or less
  • Neither of us is pregnant
  • No children were born to us or adopted by us before or during the marriage
  • Neither of us has any interest or title in any real property
  • The total value of all property owned by us is less than $35,000
  • Neither of us has a defined benefit pension plan
  • Neither of us has a pending bankruptcy
  • Neither of us is applying for or receiving Medicaid benefits
  • There is no other action for dissolution of our marriage pending
  • There are no restraining or protective orders between us

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

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