Changes in federal law to impact tax liabilities in 2009.

Qualified, seasoned and prepared, trust the estate, tax and probate division of Novit & Scarminach to effectively structure your estate, minimize your tax burdens and prepare for the unexpected. Based on the changes enacted in 2001, the federal estate tax exemption will increase to $3.5 million for taxpayers dying in 2009. (The exemption in 2007 and 2008 was $2 million.)

As markets begin to stabilize, recovery is on the horizon.

Is there one of us today that hasn’t questioned what is going on in our economy and whom to blame?

Or could a recovery already be in sight? These are excellent questions and there may even be some some relatively easy answers.

The bottom line: It’s entirely possible that television’s “talking heads” and print media pundits have turned a normal market cycle into the economic crises of the century. It is time for wiser and cooler heads to prevail.

Let’s take a journey back in time to 1992 as we were welcoming the new Clinton Administration and just beginning to emerge from the recession of 1990.

Capturing ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Cathy EvangelistaLocal video producer Cathy Evangelista, deciding that there is quite enough documentary coverage of celebrities’ lives - worthy or not - available for popular consumption, chooses to point her camera in a different direction.

 Whether you call them ordinary people doing extraordinary things, or regular folks just being themselves, Evangelista finds them much more  interesting to shoot.

“We already know everything about them (famous people),” she said.

Through her Video Memoirs service, part of Cathy Evangelista A-Z Creative, Evangelista uncovers the sometimes unexpected and compelling stories that every-day people have to tell and puts them on record for posterity.

Hilton Head Island’s world-renown ‘beacon’

Mary & charles Fraser, c. 1980sWhen George Leigh Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest before his ill-fated attempt, the British mountaineer answered, “Because it’s there.” For much the same reason, others climb the 114 steps to reach the summit of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, where they can explore the island’s rich history on the way to The To p of the Lighthouse Shoppe and the observation deck.

“Originally the lighthouse was intended to be a focal point for Sea Pines,” said Porter Thompson, vice president of the marketing and public relations agency CNSG, who worked closely with Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser. “Creating the museum and shop later made it functional.”

Lawful employment ordinance

L to R: Andy Patrick and Larry McElynnThe nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’” said President Ronald Reagan in one of his many famous quips. So what is a Beaufort County business owner to think when a former United States Secret Service agent calls to say that he’s coming to audit your business for the county?

Technically, Andy Patrick and Larry McElynn are not with the government. They used to be. Patrick served as a special agent in the Secret Service and McElynn is a former special agent with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Drug Investigation Division Chief at Interpol. Now they run Hilton Head Island-based Advance Point Global (APG), a security risk management firm. Beaufort County hired APG to conduct Lawful Employment Ordinance audits of county businesses.

“Wow, that’s pretty heavy,” is what you’re probably thinking. Terms like “ordinance” and “special agent” sound pretty ominous and there is a perception out there that the county initiative is some sort of dragnet to round up illegal aliens. You can relax, though, because it’s not that, at all.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Spending on home remodeling projects in the United States hit $215 billion in 2005. (According to the CIA World Factbook the GDP of the country of Argentina was $210 billion at the official exchange rate in 2006.) Home remodeling costs account for approximately 40% of all residential construction spending and makes up nearly 2% of the U.S. economy. That’s a serious amount of coin.

Numbers don’t lie; Americans love investing in their homes, and for good reason. Usually it’s a win-win situation. Not only are homeowners improving their residence, they are increasing the equity – the difference between the value and what is owed – on their home.