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Should You Add Bitcoin to Your Estate Plan?

Even though many people may feel uncomfortable planning for death, it's an important thing to do, especially for your loved ones. In the absence of an estate plan, property will be divided based on state intestacy laws, which could result in your assets going to people you don't want them to go to, and it can be a hassle for your loved ones.Assuming that you've decided to plan your estate, you may wonder what you should include. Well, the more detailed you have, the better. And, if your property changes -- maybe you added new investments, such as Bitcoin -- it's best to add that to your estate plan as well. It's All in the Details Probate issues can easily become overly complicated because family members often end up fighting with each other over their deceased relative's assets. To avoid this, it's important to be as detailed as possible in your estate plan, both in listing beneficiaries for particular items or sums of money, and making sure to list all of your assets. This includes any investments, such as real property, stocks, or Bitcoin. When it comes to Bitcoin, or other types of cryptocurrency, it's important to be a little more detailed than you may be with other property. For example, when you have an investment account at a bank, it'll list the particular stocks you have in your portfolio and will usually allow you to designate a beneficiary. The nature of cryptocurrencies is secretive, so it can be much more difficult to get access to it once the investor dies. For this reason, it's important to not only list that you own Bitcoin, but also list where it was bought and how it can be accessed. Show You Care It's hard enough to grieve the death of someone you love, but also trying to sort through his or her assets, and possibly deal with greedy relatives, can make it unbearable. So, show your loved ones you care about them by planning your estate, or updating your estate to include any new assets. And, if you don't know where to start or need professional help to plan your estate, you can contact a local attorney who can guide you through the estate planning process and make sure you have a solid estate plan. Related Resources: Find an Estate Planning Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Estate Planning (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Digital Estate Planning: How to Prepare Digital Accounts for the End of Life (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Bitcoin and Estate Planning: Top FAQs (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Interview with Nina Beattie

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nina Beattie who is a partner at Brune & Richard in New York City. Nina is an experienced litigator who focuses her practice on representing individuals and entities in white-collar criminal and regulatory matters. Many of her clients are from the financial sector both in the United States and abroad. She won an acquittal at trial for one of the defendants in the Bear Stearns hedge fund case and she remains at the forefront of representing clients in what is now a highly scrutinized industry. Nina graduated from Yale Law School in 1996 and before joining Brune & Richard, she clerked for a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, and worked at the Capital Defender Office. She has been recognized as a leading lawyer in her field by Chambers USA, which describes her as an “extraordinarily gifted lawyer who is very smart and tremendously hard-working.” She has also been repeatedly identified as one of New York’s top white-collar defense attorneys by Super Lawyers. Nina is a tireless advocate for her clients who are lucky enough to have her by their side and I am thrilled to introduce her to you. What do you love most about being a criminal defense lawyer? Getting to know my clients, mastering complicated fact patterns, and working in a very dynamic area of the law. Also, that the stakes are high – that what I do and how I do it matters a lot. Of course, that is also what keeps me up at night. Much of your practice is focused on white-collar defense and representing clients in regulatory matters. What are some of the challenges you face in white-collar cases? In a white-collar case, there are usually multiple governmental agencies (not to mention plaintiff’s firms) investigating the client. For example, in a typical financial fraud case, a lot of attention is often focused on the role of the United States Attorney’s Office or some other criminal prosecutorial agency. But often times, the SEC, FINRA or the CFTC is conducting its own parallel investigation or proceeding; and, today, various state agencies – such as the New York State Department of Financial services – as well as US Senate committees can be in the mix, too. In some of the more recent financial crime cases – such as those involving LIBOR and foreign currency manipulation – there have been international regulatory and prosecutorial bodies involved as well, which has added a new layer of complexity. The challenge comes in when the various entities are not truly coordinated, as is often the case.  If a client does agree to be interviewed or give testimony, it’s likely that he or she may end up giving statements multiple times over a number of years to various different entities and parties. Navigating the best course, knowing that there will be multiple competing considerations, can be quite challenging. Do you think that women bring unique skills or attributes to defending the criminally accused? It’s hard to say. There are a number of traits that I think are crucial for any successful criminal defense attorney to have. Some of those – such as being able to listen well, being empathetic, or being detail oriented – are often associated with women, for one reason or another. But plenty of men have those traits as well. Have you had women role models and how has this impacted your career? I have had women role models throughout my legal career, and they have been very important to me. When I graduated from law school, I clerked for the Hon. Kimba M. Wood of the Southern District of New York, and the experience of working for her still inspires me. She is both a brilliant and forceful jurist and a wonderfully kind and down-to-earth person. I try hard to emulate her. What kind of struggles do you think that women in the field have to deal with that our male colleagues do not? I was once told in a job interview that I couldn’t do the job because I had a child. I responded that I guessed he, the interviewer, didn’t have any children. He said that he had three children, but it was very different because he had a wife. In fact, he said, he had two wives, an ex-wife and a current wife! I think having to overcome obstacles in life can make you a better advocate.  You can’t let one individual’s foolish opinion stop you from succeeding.  I focus on getting results for my clients and leave the rest behind. ...
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IRS: Bitcoin Is Property for Tax Purposes

The IRS has news for Bitcoin holders: The virtual currency isn't considered currency for tax purposes -- it's property. The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that since Bitcoins and other virtual currencies have no legal tender status in any jurisdiction, they cannot be classified as "currency," reports Reuters. Instead, the IRS explained that Bitcoins can be treated like taxable property. With Tax Day looming, how will Bitcoin holders need to report their virtual riches? Bitcoin Like Other Investments By considering Bitcoin as "property" for federal tax purposes, in many ways, Bitcoins will be treated like other investments. In a press release Tuesday, the IRS noted that paying for work in Bitcoins is taxable: Wages paid to employees in Bitcoins are taxable to the employee and must be included in the employee's W-2 Form. Payments to independent contractors in Bitcoins are taxable and typically must be accounted for in Form 1099. When calculating gross income, taxpayers well need to determine the fair market value of their Bitcoins in U.S. dollars at the time when they received them. However, like stocks and bonds, if you use Bitcoins to buy something or sell Bitcoins to receive U.S. dollars, you may have to pay capital gains tax if you made money in the deal. Then again, if you lost money in a Bitcoin transaction, then you may qualify for a capital loss deduction. Bad News for Bitcoin 'Miners' New Bitcoins are "created" when Bitcoin "miners" run special software designed to help Bitcoin users process transactions faster. Some individuals have decided to make "mining" a business, much like stock traders, but the IRS requires Bitcoin miners to report every "mined" Bitcoin as income. A lawyer for one virtual currency startup company told Reuters that this is going to make life difficult for miners. Because income in Bitcoins is determined based on the date you received the virtual currency, miners will have to "include in income the fair market value of the virtual currency on the date they mined it," the lawyer said. As an experienced tax lawyer would likely explain, any increase in value in Bitcoins gathered by miners would be seen as capital gains, and should be subject to capital gains tax. With these new limits on miners and Bitcoin investment, this new IRS guidance may spell the end of the Gold Rush era of Bitcoins. Related Resources: I.R.S. Takes a Position on Bitcoin: It's Property (The New York Times) Should Your Business Accept Bitcoin? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) It's Official, Bitcoin is Money, Honey (FindLaw's Technologist) Bitcoin Phishing Email Alert: 3 Red Flags It's a Scam (FindLaw's Common Law)
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