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Meet Grimbleby Coleman Team Member Cynthia Guerrero


Cynthia Guerrero, CPA and Manager, has been with Grimbleby Coleman since 2005 and utilizes her skills to help clients meet their present needs and future goals.  

"Knowing that we can bring clients peace of mind, even if in just one aspect of their lives, is what makes our work worthwhile," she says. 

Cynthia is an active member of the Stanislaus Estate Planning Council and is training to become an estate planning expert. Cynthia has served on the Board of Directors for the CalCPA San Joaquin Chapter and has participated in the Relay for Life.

Learn more about Cynthia here. 

You’re Dead… Now What?

Top 10 Estate Planning Myths and Mistakes

April 9, 2015

Recently, Clive Grimbleby, Partner and CPA, and Vince Jamison, attorney at Ross W. Lee, presented "The 10 Myths of Estate Planning" during a breakout season of United Capital Modesto's event titled "This Economy and You," which featured presentations and breakout sessions providing practical advice on real estate, personal finance, health care, preparing for retirement and estate planning. The event took place at the Gallo Center for the Arts on February 25, 2014.  

The Top 10 Myths and Mistakes

  1. An estate plan is not necessary unless I’m old or rich. You’re never too old to start planning, and by no means must you rival Warren Buffett! At all income levels, making arrangements early in life ensures that not only will your financial goals be met, but your family will avoid unnecessary stress and uncertainty in what will unquestionably be a difficult time.
  1. If I have a will, my family will avoid probate following my death. A will tells the world how to distribute your assets post death; however, it won’t save your family the time and expense of probate*. To do that, you must set up a trust. Trusts are legal devices which allow you to put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed, thereby negating the need for court-supervised inventory and division of your estate.
  1. If I have a trust, my family will avoid estate taxes following my death. Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes, and this remains true for estate taxes. Having a trust will not eliminate them, but a properly drafted trust, knowledgeable legal and tax advisors, and creative gifting can help reduce the estate tax burden. Additionally, having a trust will help avoid the additional expense of probate fees.
  1. I can gift property to my children during my lifetime without worrying about taxes. Dead or alive, taxes are always something to bear in mind when gifting. While it is true that you can gift tax free, the exclusion amount caps off at $14,000 per individual for tax year 2014. If you’re trying to whittle down your estate, this can be problematic, but there are creative ways to go about gift distribution that will keep you out of the tax zone. For example, a husband can give his son $14,000 tax free and his wife can do the same, adding up to a grand total of $28,000 for that particular child. For help with your gifting plans and avoiding unnecessary taxes, we recommend talking to your attorney or accountant.
  1. A trust will make everything more complicated for my family. On the contrary, a trust will make everything much easier! Not only will having a trust negate the need for probate, it will also minimize the bickering and disagreements that often arise when splitting an estate. You’ll save your family time, money and possibly preserve their relationship. Trusts offer increased asset protection against creditors and lawsuits, too.
  1. I have to leave assets to my children outright regardless of their maturity level and my concerns. So little Johnny is 20 years old, has totaled 3 vehicles in 4 years, and can’t hold down a job for more than six months, and you have a nagging suspicion that $500,000 will not be well managed in his possession (we can’t imagine why!) A trust might be your, and his, best ally. Through the trust, funds can be disbursed when certain stipulations are met (such as Johnny reaches 30 years of age), and they can be distributed in a lump sum or slowly over the course of many years. This type of plan can also be useful in the case of special needs children whom you want well cared for in your absence.
  1. There’s no need to coordinate my life insurance and investments with my estate plan. Life insurance can be a powerful tool used not only to support surviving spouses and heirs, but to cover the taxes and fees associated with your death. Although insurance proceeds are almost always income tax free, estates over the applicable exclusion amount of $5.34 million may have their death benefits taxed as part of the estate. Means exist to keep your life insurance both income tax and estate tax free; a knowledgeable tax or legal expert can guide you.
  1. I formed a trust but have no idea if it’s funded or not. Chances are if you’re not certain, it’s probably not. To “fund”, all of your possessions must be titled in the name of your trust. An unfunded trust will not be of benefit to your trustee, as they can only control assets in the trust’s name. This means your assets will go through probate following your death and assets could end up in the hands of unintended individuals. Full and continuous funding of your living trust is essential.
  1.  I haven’t reviewed or update my estate plan in years! There’s no hard-and-fast rule about when you should review your estate plan, but due to economic and tax code changes, a quick review should occur annually, and a thorough review should be conducted every five years. An additional review should occur after every major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, addition of a dependent, family death, retirement, change in relationship with trustee, etc.) Doing so will give you peace of mind and ensure that all of your goals are being met.
  2. I have a CPA that I talk to during tax season, but I don’t feel the need to establish a tax and legal team. Not only should you establish a team to help with your estate planning, you should establish a team capable of communicating and working together to develop a plan best suited to your needs. To get started, contact a member of our Estate Planning Team at (209) 527-4220 or 


*Probate is a legal process that takes place after death to establish the validity of a will. It includes identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property, having the property appraised, paying debts and taxes, and distribution of any remaining property as the will (or, in the absence of a will, state law) directs.

Grimbleby Coleman CPAs Makes Technological Advances for the 2015 Tax Season

New website and online client portal enhance customers’ ease of use 

April 9, 2015

Grimbleby Coleman has invested in technology to embrace clients’ needs for faster, safer and more digitally available information. With a new website, Grimbleby Coleman is now able to digitally provide secure client access and enhanced security with document transfer. The new suite of website offerings is referred to as the “Client Corner” and provides one single place for clients to access electronic resources.  For client convenience, secure online credit card payments are now accepted.

As President, Clive Grimbleby shares, “We hope that our clients will appreciate and utilize the convenience of our new portal service, which will allow for a more secure transfer of information while embracing our environmentally friendly ‘green’ efforts.”

A summary of the new additions include:

  • Ability to deliver tax returns electronically and safely through the Client Portal
  • Ability to securely share files with a Grimbleby Coleman advisor, through either the Client Portal or Share Files feature
  • Access to and Intacct accounts
  • Electronic Payroll services account access
  • Disclosure Consent forms to allow Grimbleby Coleman CPAs to release your information to a third party
  • Accepting online secure credit card and e-check payments

“The client portal is great and provides real-time access to the important documents my accountant is sharing, with the easy capability to authorize and sign paperwork from my smart phone or iPad. I no longer worry about losing the key documents from scanning or saving to my computer,” said Mark Butler, Vice President, Joaquin’s Painting Inc.

To learn more about the Client Corner, please visit the website: To utilize the portal, each user must be a registered client. 

About Grimbleby Coleman:

Since 1973, Grimbleby Coleman CPAs have been committed to serving businesses, families and individuals of the San Joaquin Valley. Headquartered in Modesto, CA. Grimbleby Coleman’s specialty industries include Agriculture, Construction, Employee Benefit Plan Audits, Healthcare, and Estates and Trusts. Services include Tax, Core Accounting, Business Advisory and Assurance. For additional information, please call (209) 527-4220, email contactus@gccpas.netor visit

Succession Planning for Farming Families: Scary, But Necessary

What happens next? That question can haunt farm families when it's time to exchange ownership from one generation to the next. How can farm families and businesses plan for their children's futures and ensure financial security? Who is entitled to what? And by the way, how can you broach these emotional and potentially contentious topics without ruining a holiday dinner?

We recently hosted a farming succession event with succession planner Kevin Spafford, who gave us helpful tips he's discovered while working with hundreds of ag families. We think they'll help you, too.

Five Keys to Succession Planning:

  • Plan, plan, plan! This is a big fish to fry for any farming family. Don't avoid "The Talk" because it is a touchy or fight-triggering subject. Have an honest conversation with all parties involved and discuss who will be taking ownership of the farm in the coming years. Remember:  preparation will steer the farm away from failure. 
          ag orchard sunrise california
  • Obstacles like greed, family disharmony, control freaks, self-interest, and lack of contribution are tricky topics to air. Speak candidly about those downfalls and nip them in the bud with new solutions. Come to terms with the fact that your family and in-laws are dynamic people who make mistakes. No matter what the concern, you must focus on the BIG picture - your children's futures and the future of the farm.
  • Families can find common ground and unity by writing down both small and major goals that every person can agree on. What are your family's values? Write, type or record what your family's values are so they can properly be passed down to the next generation. Make sure every family member is aware of what you stand for and what your goals are.
  • Good communication with relatives is crucial to a farm, so it's important to schedule regular meetings with the entire family during the year. If a family member can't attend because of a scheduling conflict, have them attend the meeting via speakerphone or Skype. Again, make sure that notes are taken at every meeting; it doesn't matter whether they are handwritten, typed, or even recorded. If these meetings become unfriendly, make it a rule that any family member can call a timeout.
  • All the planning in the world isn't going to save a business if people don't commit, so strive to have every person on board with your family's succession plan. Speak freely when issues arise and keep lines of communication open.

Grimbleby Coleman is a trusted ally when it comes to assisting with succession planning. We want every family to accomplish its long-term financial and farm goals. There's no time quite like the present when it comes to the matter of succession planning - make plans with your family today. 

Featured Article

How to Let Your Money Live on With a Charitable Remainder Trust
If you would like your money to continue to help others after you pass, it's time to start thinking about your estate's philanthropic capacity - and planning for its future.   Many of our clients proactively plan for the future by setting up a charitable remainder trust (CRT).  Charitable trusts allow you to make substantial gifts to a favorite charitable organization without giving up all rights over the property. Charitable trusts are an exception to the general rule that you can't claim a current tax deduction by making a limited or postponed gift. Through a charitable trust, you can make an irrevocable future gift to a charity and still claim a current income tax deduction. "Making the decision to establish a CRT should not be taken lightly, due to the initial legal fees and required annual accounting fees, but there are plenty of benefits for the right person," Principal and CPA Colleen Meenk says. "I've seen clients with modest means as well as extremely wealthy clients benefit from establishing a CRT. Almost always, there is stock or another type of investment property involved in the trust."   Who is a good candidate for a CRT? Consider establishing a CRT if you're charitably minded and have an asset that has appreciated significantly that would result in burdensome taxes if sold. For example, let's say you hold stock in a company and the value of the stock goes through the roof. If you sell that stock, there would be considerable  savings if contributed to a CRT first. A CRT would sell the stock and you would be taxed only on the income stream received.   If you're considering a CRT, think about your own life expectancy and your assets. Will they continue to grow? You'll be able to use the cash a CRT provides while you're living, but whatever amount remains in the trust after your death will go to charity.   "We caution our clients that a charitable trust does not work for everybody," Meenk says. "To be successful, this has to be the right person with an identifiable asset of significant value."    Why a CRT instead of a standard philanthropic donation? A CRT allows you to retain the right to an income stream. You won't pay capital gain taxes as you would if you took the earnings from the major asset's sale; rather, you'll be taxed a smaller percentage over the years, avoiding the immediate tax hit. The structure of a CRT also benefits the organization you want to support: It can lead to a larger donation, which will allow you to do more long-term, meaningful good.   How do you set up a CRT? Review the asset with your accountant as part of your estate and charitable giving plan. Your accountant will model and calculate your CRT based on your asset's long-term and current market value; this financial modeling will help you better understand the financial implications of a CRT. Your attorney will draft the trust agreement. Your asset must be funded, and then sold, by the end of the calendar year. Interested in donating to your university or a small non-profit? Most colleges or universities have a dedicated endowment staff that are well versed in CRT calculations and can help with advance planning. Of course, don't forget to run those projections by your accountant and financial advisor! Smaller, local charities are typically less equipped to plan and implement a CRT. It's best to get a professional opinion early on in this situation.   How is the CRT filed with the IRS? The CRT is filed on its own return each year, referred to as a Split Interest Trust, with its own K1 reporting the income stream distributed, which is then included in your individual return.   To learn more about the CRT guidelines, check out the IRS website. It would be our pleasure to help you set up your CRT. We're happy to explain the pros, cons, and long-term commitment. Please give Colleen or your CPA a call or email.  

Featured News

Lisa Mazza and Erica Hughes of True Strength Wellness Attended The National Association of Women Business Owners Meeting

In June, Lisa Mazza, CPA and Principal, attended the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) meeting in San Francisco with client Erica Hughes of True Strength Wellness.  Lisa is excited to have recently joined the SF Chapter and mentions, "the NAWBO mission is to help entrepreneurial women succeed in business - through education, connections and by providing support for each other." Erica Hughes recently founded True Strength Wellness, which aims to assist in finding addiction treatment for individuals and their loved ones. 


Featured Staff

Manoj joined Grimbleby Coleman as an Associate after four years in banking and 2 years in the transportation industry. In this role, he assists with tax planning engagements and business returns and greatly enjoys seeing his client relationships morph from professional to friendship. Manoj holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting from California State University, Stanislaus. 

A long time Livingston, California resident, Manoj stays very active in his community. He's been involved with Livingston Rotary, was a Livingston Planning Commissioner, and a Livingston Medical Group board member. He also volunteers at the Livingston Guru Sikh Mission. "And I would like to get involved with other organizations in the future." 

In his free time, you might find Manoj traveling, enjoying time with his daughter, or relaxing with friends and family. 

His favorite number is 21. "My dad, brother and I were all born on the 21st." How's that for a coincidence? 

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