On the House

Ideas for Garage Conversions Do you need more space but don’t want the cost of adding on to your home? Look no further than the garage space you already have. With a little effort and a lot of creativity, you can turn that cold, hard garage into an oasis that will be the envy of your family and friends. Extra Bedroom: If you have a growing family, an attached garage can be converted into extra bedroom space or a larger garage can be turned into a master bedroom. Because you’ll want the bedroom to feel as though it’s a natural extension of the rest of your home, ensure the area can be heated and cooled. Add extra insulation to keep that heat and cold in. Build up the floor so it’s at the same level as the rest of your home. No one wants … [Read more...]

Pick of the Vine

Walnut Creek Skin & Laser For years, Walnut Creek Skin & Laser has provided expert dermatology services to the community, specializing in medical conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Consistently ranked highly among Northern California practitioners, they offer both medical and cosmetic treatments. Located in Brentwood and Walnut Creek, they help patients to become and stay healthy and greatly value their active role in enabling others to look and feel their absolute best. Should you develop or suspect a dermal medical condition, it’s important to consult an attentive dermatologist to evaluate and manage the ailment. The offices are equipped to facilitate with problems such as skin cancers, acne, benign growths, eczema, … [Read more...]

Law Offices of Joan Grimes

Do You Still Have an AB or ByPass Trust? Up until 2011, it was very common for estate planning attorneys to draft an AB or ByPass Trust for clients. The purpose of the AB/ByPass Trust was to create estate tax savings by keeping a deceased spouse’s property out of the estate of the surviving spouse. However in 2011, federal estate tax laws were changed dramatically to exempt most estates from paying any estate taxes. For 2016, the exemption for each person is $5.45 million. The amount will go up each year based on a “cost of living” increase. In addition, under the rule change called “Portability”, a surviving spouse may use any unused portion of a deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption upon filing a 706 tax return. For example, a … [Read more...]

For Your Dental Health

Block The Path To Addiction The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of health and Human Services estimates that nearly 2 million people are currently abusing or are dependent on prescription painkillers. The Nation is facing a serious substance abuse problem. It is an epidemic with alarming statistics. The number of fatal drug overdoses outnumbered the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the US for the first time in 2009. In 2014 more than 28,000 people died from opioid related drug overdoses ranging from legally prescribed painkillers to street obtained heroin. In 2015, according to the Surgeon General report on Alcohol Drugs and Health 12.5 million Americans misused prescription pain … [Read more...]

Who’s Who In East County

OrthoWorks If you are in need of orthodontic care, put your smile in the good hands of the Ortho Works professionals. OrthoWorks is a team of seven orthodontic specialists in the Bay Area, with a combined experience of over 70 years treating both children and adults. With nine locations (including Dr. David Shen in Antioch), you’re sure to find an OrthoWorks that is conveniently located to you. OrthoWorks has thousands of satisfied patients who have had orthodontic treatment with them. As a team, they are committed to providing beautiful, healthy smiles for children and adults through the best orthodontic care. They are dedicated to providing extraordinary personal service with compassion and consideration for each individual’s needs, … [Read more...]

Amy’s Bright Advice

Who Is Your Power Partner And What Can They Do For Your Business? Every company has a perfect power partner and ideally you, as a highly effective networking agent, will be able to not just find one power partner, but multiple. Last month we discussed the importance of branding and marketing. Branding and marketing, if done correctly, will bring in many cold leads for your company. Power Partners will bring your company warm leads. You might be asking what is a warm lead? A warm lead comes to you, in some or most cases, already sold by someone else who referred them to you. Your job as the skilled sales person is just the close. The biggest difference between a warm and a cold lead is the conversion rate. Obviously, the amount of … [Read more...]

Who’s Been Snooped?

Where Luxury and Style Collide! Well folks, I think we just experienced the trip that Dorothy took on the way to the Land of Oz. The farmlands managed to keep the top layer of soil in place for this year’s corn and all the flooded signs are taken down. It is the first day of May and there is still a breeze outside, but Mt. Diablo has clear skies all around so it looks like we are actually going to launch right into the high temperatures with summer lurking around the corner. What a great time to look in on a local business that can create that “new you” for the season. I must say, I was pretty excited to get this assignment because a few months ago I stopped in my favorite Starbucks in Discovery Bay and my coffee was compliments of this … [Read more...]

Travel Time

Wales, the Hidden England With summertime fast approaching, vacation planning is definitely on everyone’s to do list. So why not think about a trip somewhere else in the world? Have you ever wondered about touring the nation from whence Tom Jones came from? Yes I am speaking about Wales. It’s an amazing place. This is Wales’ Year of Legends, celebrating its epic past, present and future like never before. For lovers of nature or the great outdoors this is a paradise on earth. It’s a land of stark beauty and rolling landscapes of green and rocky crags. With three stunning National Parks and over 750 miles of coast, Wales is an exhilarating choice for outdoor activities. Wales has some of the most beautiful and historic gardens in all … [Read more...]

From the Desk of the CEO

Power Up! For the past 23 years we have had great success as a local business and many of our readers use our office as a referral agency for service providers and products sold within our community. When looking for just about anything, from a florist, to a hair dresser, to a gutter cleaning service; and everything in between, we are more than happy to recommend any of our wonderful advertisers! With companies such as Yelp and Angie’s List that have come into successful existence, it has become apparent of the needs from our society that people greatly prefer to use companies that have been referred to them rather than a cold call from a list of providers. We are pleased to announce and to support the businesses in East Contra Costa … [Read more...]

Law Office of Michael Primus

1099’s This time of year I routinely get inquiries about forgiven debts and the dreaded form 1099.  As a general proposition, the tax laws create an obligation to pay tax whenever the taxpayer’s finances improve.  For example, a paycheck improves my financial position and creates an obligation to pay tax on that income.  With a paycheck, the taxes are taken out directly and remitted by my employer.  With that in mind, if I owed $30,000 but was able to resolve the debt by paying $5,000 I would have improved my financial position and might assume I would owe tax on the $25,000.  Whether I owe the tax depends on my circumstances.  A couple examples of forgiven debt provide context before I delve into the rule and its exceptions.  Debts can … [Read more...]