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Blog Archive September 2019



Understanding A Power of Attorney

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The purpose of a power of attorney is to name another person as your attorney-in-fact, which gives them control over your financial decisions and any assets held in your name should you become mentally incapacitated. This documentation holds a great deal of power and is very important in the process of estate planning. For many, choosing who should be their power of attorney can be difficult as it must be someone you trust wholeheartedly and have no qualms revealing your financial situation to.

A power of attorney is a legal binding document. Once you’ve determined you would like to pursue the filing of a power of attorney, there are a few steps to complete.  Talk to those closest to you regarding your plans and decide who will be your trusted agent. Determine the best type of power of attorney for your needs and obtain the services of a recommended trusts and estates attorney to guide you through the process of properly filing your documentation.   

There are two types of power of attorney. A durable power of attorney is designed to be effective immediately and stands throughout a period of incapacity. The second type, called springing power of attorney, takes effect at the moment incapacitation initiates. A springing power of attorney is more common for obvious reasons. Most people would not want to relinquish control of their personal finances until there is a need. However, a springing power of attorney is more difficult to have initiated.  Usually a lawyer needs to be involved to guarantee your financial institution will follow the power of attorney. A bank does not want the responsibility of making the determination of someone’s incapacitation. 

A power of attorney outlines how the owner of the assets designates their use. In agreeing to be the agent for someone in a power of attorney, there is a fiduciary duty to use the assets only according to the wishes documented. This is the aspect of the document that relies on trustworthiness. There have of course been instances where money has been misused or stolen by an agent. In such cases, legal action can be taken and the agent can be sued.

Unfortunately, abuse does happen. It is common to hear of a second husband or wife transferring assets to prevent children from the previous marriage receiving their fair share of their deceased parent’s funds. This scenario occurs often because the dying person entrusts his or her estate to his or her trusted spouse. By doing so, the trusted spouse can add himself or herself as joint owner to every account, therefore leaving him/her the sole owner of the accounts when the original owner dies. This leaves the surviving spouse able to liquidate the accounts without the to need to probate the will for the children. One method used to avoid this scenario is to name two agents as power of attorney. This allows for a checks and balances scenario to avoid one agent from taking advantage. This is also beneficial in the case that your named agent may pass away or become incapacitated and not able to act on your behalf when needed.

Be sure to read through the power of attorney document in detail and understand the various powers you are assigning to your agent. Consider each one carefully. There may be some you do not wish to include or you may want to revise. Once you die, the power of attorney is no longer valid. At the moment of death, the power of attorney is no longer valid and the executor under your will assumes control of your assets and estate.


How to Make Communication a Priority in Your Workplace

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The goal of every workplace is productivity and that cannot be achieved without efficiency and motivated employees. Every aspect of the detailed cycle needed to reach a company output or goal requires defined communication. Managers must dedicate effort into offering clear communication techniques to ensure trust is developed with their employees. Trust based, highly communicative relationships between colleagues results in higher levels of productivity and morale. Consider the following points as reasons to ensure communication is a priority in your workplace.

Creativity An environment that allows individuals to express their ideas without fear of criticism or negativity will also allow for the greatest possibility for growth. If communication is an encouraged concept this mindset will easily follow.

Empowering Employees Leading by example is a huge factor in the workplace. If a manager is a solid communicator that responsibly delegates, motivates and leads his team, he/she is setting the tone for how his/her employees will interact with each other. Employees feel empowered when they have clear direction in their pursuits, which gives them focus and drive, eliminating wasted efforts and frustration.

Instilling a Voice For All – If communication is a commonly established principle in the workplace, employees of all levels feel heard. This is an important point. Everyone should feel comfortable voicing a concern or opinion.

Effective Teams – Communication is essential to create the collaborations that drive team building and general employee satisfaction. Successful teams function on the basis of effective communication strategies.

As a manager it is vital to know the importance of having fluid communication concepts in the workplace. Once that is established, how does one ensure and instill those same concepts in their employees? Here are some methods to consider:

Be the Example – As a manager, make it a point to be as detailed and clear as possible when delegating or giving instructions. By communicating in a respectful and detailed manner, you are setting an example of how others should direct themselves as well.

Outline Directions and Expectations – Give defined instructions of what is needed from each employee or team so that misunderstandings are avoided. All parties involved should understand the timing and objective, as well as every step needed to reach it.

Type of Communication Choice – The manner in which you choose to communicate to your team adds or decreases the respect and impact attributed to the message by the recipient.  Face-to-face is, of course, always the best method of communication in that it afford the most attention and focus. However, due to the nature of location, logistics and timing, that may not always be an option. It is up to you to decide which of the various methods available to you would be best for the intended message.

Open Communication – Ensure that all parties that need to be informed of the different aspects of an ongoing team effort are included in the many communications it may involve. Certain team members not having all of the information may lead to aspects of a project not being completed properly or on time.

Demonstrate Empathy – In the workplace, it is sometimes easy to focus so wholeheartedly on the task at hand that one can lose sight of the fact that every person involved has a personal life. While most can put aside family, stress and other issues they may be experiencing, there may be times where the job at hand or a problem at home can affect their professional performance. An employee should not feel as though they cannot share a struggle as such with a manager, or that an accommodation cannot be made if needed, if it is justified. With understanding and time, that employee will return appreciative and resolute to work at their highest potential.


Methods to Defeat Procrastination

Close up of man wearing dress shirt and tie writing the words: now, later, tomorrow. Representing procrastination.

No one is immune to the feeling of procrastination when a dreaded task is on your to-do list. Typically, chores, work responsibilities or household jobs that are disliked or found difficult are put off. In order to overcome the feeling of negativity associated with these tasks, one must change the approach. Here are several ways to overcome procrastination and remain productive.

  1. Get it done quickly – Most times the thought of doing the task builds so much anxiety that it is delayed numerous times and causes more mental stress than it’s worth. Complete the task at your first available opportunity. Removing it from your list will free you mentally, providing instant relief and avoid dread.

  2. Evaluate your position – If you find that the majority of your job related tasks are not enjoyable and that you procrastinate for many of them, you should be looking for another type of position.

  3. Avoid distractions – Even a quick 2-minute check on social media can cause a much longer delay in accomplishing a task. The interruption of your thought process takes much longer to regroup and your focus is affected, stretching the task you dislike even longer.

  4. Consider Procrastination a Challenge – Completing a chore we do not enjoy usually leads to a sense of fulfillment. For example, organizing a garage, completing a difficult report or helping at a fundraiser. In each instance, the task itself should not be the focus because the result will be rewarding. Focus on the positive feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction you’ll feel upon completion.

  5. Have a plan – Many times one procrastinates when faced with a large task because it seems overwhelming. By breaking down the project into smaller tasks and having a plan of how it will be carried out, the process seems manageable and not as daunting.

  6. Ask for help – In some instances, projects or responsibilities may be more than one person can handle. There may be emotional reasons, time constraints or legal/financial matters that must be handled correctly. In these situations, help should be sought, whether by a trusted individual or a paid advisor when applicable.

  7. Eliminate the most difficult first – When faced with several duties you are not looking forward to, tackle the one you are dreading most first. Aside from the sense of satisfaction you will have for checking it off your list, you will also be able to focus better on the rest of your items because you will have eliminated that worry of completing your hardest assignment. Also, by starting with your hardest task, you will be at your most alert, rather than leaving it for last when you will be more tired and less focused.

  8. Delegate when possible – If you are in a position where assignments can be delegated, do not feel as though you must conquer the world. At some point everyone must relinquish some control to be able to continue growth and productivity. Utilize resources available to you and allow others to use their talents.

  9. Organization – Sometimes half the battle of beginning a project is finding all of the information or searching your house for all of the tools you’ll need. Keeping your inbox or toolbox in order on a daily basis is an easy habit that can avoid messy situations. Being organized in general is a huge opponent of procrastination.

  10. Take a break – When in the midst of a long assignment or chore that you are not enjoying, consider taking a break to re-group. If you’ve been focusing on it for too long, you may be frustrated or tired and after a short break, you may have a new perspective and renewed energy.


How Income Affects Your Quality of Health

Stethoscope on calculator.

On average, those grouped in a higher income bracket tend to be healthier and have a longer life expectancy than those not as well off financially. In fact, data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention proves that several diseases are more common among lower income groups such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. For example, strokes affect 3.9% of people with household incomes of less than $35,000, 2.5% of people with household incomes between $35,000 and $50,000, 2.3% of people with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000, 1.8% of people with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 and only 1.6% of people with household incomes over $100,000. Hence, the higher your total household earnings, the less likely chance you will suffer from a stroke.

Data also showed that overall, when polled, almost 23% of people in U.S. households earning incomes of less than $35,000 responded to having poor health compared to roughly 6% of households earning over $100,000. While these numbers are worrisome, the opposite correlation must also be considered, which is that health also influences income. Therefore someone with poor health will not be able to work and provide income, worsening the situation further.

There are several factors that contribute to this overall scenario. Those in the lowest income bracket are not usually focused on self-care such as exercise, healthy eating and expensive doctor visits. Grocery shopping in this category is a matter of providing meals that provide sustenance and fulfillment in the most economical manner possible. When a budget is limited, the main items in the grocery cart cannot afford to be whole grains, fresh produce and organics which are more expensive, but proven to maintain better health. Furthermore, a gym membership or in home exercise equipment is a luxury when you are struggling to cover the costs of basic needs such as food and housing. Without regular physical activity, health also suffers and leads to disease.

Stress is frequently associated with lower income situations, especially during adolescence, and plays a large role in increasing the risk for several diseases such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, etc. Lower income families typically do not live in areas that offer resources that would promote healthy living. Great schools, unpolluted air, sanitary housing and safe recreational facilities are elements higher income communities can utilize on a daily basis to enhance their wellbeing. Without the opportunity to run and play, children are less likely to maintain a healthy body. If their academic or home environment is unsafe, the constant negative emotions evoked from those situations can result in emotional, psychological or physical issues.

Higher income jobs usually provide individuals with perks that allow them to maintain their health in ways lower paying positions do not. Paid leave, health insurance and wellness programs are just a few of the benefits offered to upper level individuals, not to mention the decrease in occupational hazards. Several lower income positions tend to be physical, which can result in injury and additional loss of income. Typically, a person earning over $100,000 will be able to pay for health care, if needed, as well as afford a healthy lifestyle for their entire family.

The discrepancy between upper and lower income households and the correlation to health is remarkably unbalanced. Income seems to directly affect health and wellbeing because those with higher incomes can afford the means required to safeguard and improve their health. In comparison, individuals from lower income households do not have access to the time, benefits and assets to maintain their health.
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