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Mind your Own Business
February, 2024 - Issue #227
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

2024 Gift & Estate Tax Changes Do they Apply to You?
Starting January 1, 2024, the annual gift tax exclusion amount was raised to $18,000 per person and lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion was raised to $13.61 million per person. These amounts are so high that less than an estimated 0.02 percent of gifts and estates will be subject to tax in 2024.
However, the current lifetime estate and gift tax exclusion is scheduled to sunset after 2025 to its pre-2018 levels, absent Congressional action to extend it. Even though the exclusion will still be several million dollars in value, there is no doubt that a much higher percentage of estates will be subject to tax and the amount of the tax will be larger than it has been in nearly a decade.
Regardless of what the gift and estate tax exclusion levels are, the costs of probate will remain the single biggest avoidable expense facing average middle-class families. Whether estate tax is a real threat or not, a well-designed trust can protect families and estates of all sizes, from large to small.
Law Attorney Michael Yeager 471-2177
courtesy of Shutterstock (left)
courtesy of Shutterstock (left)

The Real Reason your Digital Marketing isn't Working
by Therese Edwards

I hear it every day. "I've got ads on Google and ads on Meta - but they're not converting. It feels like money down the drain."
Here's what I immediately want to know: How's the quality of your ad copy? For visual platforms, what does your creative look like? Are you delivering to an audience that can afford your services or product? What interests and search terms are you targeting - and are they in alignment with your brand? If the ad is good, but the results aren't, is it an issue with your website copy? Is your content written to convert? How's your cart experience? Do you have a clever abandoned-cart automation? How's your value proposition? Your pricing? Your reviews? Your organic messaging? And... are digital/social marketing channels even the right platforms for your goals? What types of traditional advertising are you optimizing?
Often, busy business owners just want to check a box. "Marketing, done!" So they hire a digital marketer who knows everything about placing digital ads but nothing about crafting campaigns and then decide that "marketing doesn't work" when the truth really is: Bad and/or incomplete marketing doesn't work.
There are many advantages to hiring specialists like digital marketers - but even the best of them won't be able to deliver the results you want without clear direction on the overall campaign, a strong grasp of brand and, most importantly, a really good idea of who your ideal customer is and what they want.
Inside SCV Magazine Publisher Therese Edwards has taught marketing and public relations at the university level for 23 years and has served Southern California small- and medium-sized organizations as a business consultant for over two decades. Have a marketing question? E-mail her at tedwards@insidescv.com.

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Infiniti of Valencia 505-7800
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

New Year's Resolutions for Divorcing Parents
by Denise Lite

Resolve to get a custody order on the books immediately with the court.
Things might be "fine" now, but if tensions rise down the line, you'll be grateful to have a custody order in place. Without one, your ex partner could take your child - and not return with them - until you went through the process of getting an emergency order, which could take months.
Resolve to be smart about what you say, write and do.
If you and your ex are less than amicable, it can be tempting to let them have it when they screw up. Resist the urge to name call, use profanity, make threats or harass your ex in any way. The best rule of thumb: Don't write, say or do anything you wouldn't want a judge to see. Try to keep your conversations limited to short texts or emails that are focused only on the essentials.
Resolve to support your children's relationship with their other parent.
In most cases, it's in the child's best interest for both parents to be active participants in their lives. It's never appropriate to speak poorly of your ex to your child - and you could be setting yourself up for a parental alienation claim if you do it. Work hard on establishing a co-parenting relationship that benefits your child.
Resolve to get what you deserve in your divorce.
It's very common for emotionally-exhausted people in the midst of divorce to say, "Just give them what they want; I need to be done." While you might feel like that now, do a favor for "future you" and argue for your fair share of marital assets and support. Starting over after a divorce can be financially difficult; do what you need to do to set yourself and your children up for success.
Resolve to lean into your own support systems.
There are few things more devastating than the end of a marriage. You may be struggling with grief, anger, worry and stress. Be intentional about making your mental and physical health a priority. Eat well, exercise, spend time with good friends, have dance parties with your kids, talk to a therapist, spend time in nature - or do whatever else keeps you feeling centered and safe. This is the time to double down on your health and the health of your family so that, when it's all over, you're in the best position to move forward with your life.
Denise Lite, Esq. is a certified family law specialist at DaCorsi Placencio, PC. 877-317-8080
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