Ask TaxMama Issue 510 – Dying to Plan

Happy National Rose Month

Dear Family,

Just as we were starting last night’s EA Exam Review Class, someone announced that Michael Jackson (age 50)had died. Despite all the controversy surrounding this man-child, he has remained steadfastly popular. In fact, he had a series of 50 concerts scheduled in London that had already sold over $85m(£52m) worth of tickets. Aside from any personal mourning, Jackson’s death will serious impact the London economy.

And then there’s Farrah Fawcett. Clearly, this death was expected. Farrah (age 62)had been battling cancer for some. Last night ABC aired a Barbara Walters special about Fawcett with her close friends Ryan O’Neal, Alana Stewart and Jaclyn Smith. The International Movie Database is already updated with the date of her death.

Another tragedy. Both of these people were wildly popular and loved by fans. Both made a variety of major career mistakes. Ironic that two such popular icons die on the same day.

Earlier in the week, Ed McMahon died at age 86. Here’s a man who made a career of playing second fiddle. He managed to do everything right, career-wise – and had lots of devoted friends. Yet, when he died, he had wiped out his entire financial holdings and was living on the kindness of friends.

While I don’t know anything at all about Farrah’s finances, there’s probably not much of an estate left for Michael Jackson or Ed McMahon’s families to address. No doubt, though Farrah and McMahon had done their planning, knowing death was imminent…or inevitable. Since Jackson died suddenly of a heart attack…it’s quite possible he did’t quite have an estate plan in place.

We heard from someone recently whose father passed away peacefully in his sleep. (Sad…but a nice way to go.) They had just moved all his accounts and had not listed any beneficiaries on those accounts. Which means they will be facing probate. Depending on the state you’re in and the size of the estate, that could be quite costly. Take a moment over the coming weekend to look over your estate. Do you have a list of your assets and insurance policies so your survivors can find things quickly? Do you have your beneficiaries properly identified on your accounts? Have you updated your will (if you have one) in the last decade or so? Did you specify who would become your childrens’ guardian if you should die?

Nolo Press has some tools to help you.

Also, remember to have this conversation with your parents – and perhaps with yourself. Sally Dalton, EA provides a list of talking points

Sheesh, I didn’t mean to start out so morbidly. But there is a fascinating draw when it comes to the lives of people like this. You grew up, probably knowing more about them and their lives than the lives of some people close to you. In fact, how well do you know those closest to you?

For instance, your parents. Do you know what they wanted to be when they grew up? Who were their best friends in school or college? (Or are those folks still in their lives?) What would they have done if they had not been your parents? What do they really wish they could do right now? Just some thoughts to open up new lines for conversations with people you take for granted every day…

Aaahhh well…let’s move on to taxes and today’s issue of Ask TaxMama.

In IRS News this week, you get to see the updated Form 941 – the Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return (revised in April 2009) as we learn about how to treat seasonal employees. There’s also a tip on how to stay out of trouble if you don’t need to file the Form 941 each quarter.

In today’s Money Funny – you will learn how to build up lucrative retirement savings.

In TaxQuips this week, we learn how to avoid paying California taxes on a corporation that’s never been used; how to contact legislators when you have an urgent concern about a pressing issue; what to tell an employee who stirs up trouble insisting he wants to be paid as an independent contractor…when he’s clearly an employee; and where to get a complete list of deductions for your business.

As always, we love your feedback, opinions and ideas.
You are what makes all this fun – and interesting!

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Hugs from your favorite TaxNerd,

Eva Rosenberg, EA

Your TaxMama is watching…out for you.


07.15.2009 Employers Make monthly Payroll tax deposit

07.31.2009 2nd Quarterly Payroll Returns and Pay Taxes Due

07.31.2009 2nd Quarterly Sales Tax Returns and Pay Taxes Due



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