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Why taking a break at lunch is so important

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Why taking a break at lunch is so important

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Do you take time to get away from your desk at lunchtime? Studies show that more office workers are spending long stretches of time —including their lunch hours — at their desks.

Yet research shows that not leaving your work space and wolfing down a sandwich at your desk each day can have some serious long-term negative effects on your health. Getting away from your cubicle or office during the lunch hour can help you in a number of ways. Here are five reasons why taking a lunch break is so important:

1. Better health: Research shows that for better health, office workers should get up and leave their desks for at least two minutes each hour and if possible, take a longer lunch break away from their work station each day. Even better, get some fresh air.

2. Less stress: A recent study suggests that walking at lunch for as little as 30 minutes a day, three times a week can help you better handle on-the-job stress.

3. Better posture: Sitting in one position in front of a computer puts strain on your spine and muscles. Leaving the office at lunch can help you stretch your spine and muscles.

4. Increased productivity: Research shows that taking a lunch break gives your brain a chance to switch off and regroup and avoid the foggy thinking, tiredness and diminished productivity that can make afternoons drag.

5. Better concentration: By taking a walk at lunch with a friend or co-worker, you may find yourself better able to tackle the rest of your day. Walking and talking is a great anti-stress combination, research suggests. Socializing at lunch as opposed to staying in a cubicle with your computer screen is a ‘mind scrub’ that can help you be happier and more productive.


Single persons need estate planning, too

33727922 - close up portrait of a happy young black woman smilingAre you single? You need an estate plan, too! The implications of going without an estate plan can be far reaching.

For instance, who would you want to receive your assets if you were to die? Are there siblings, nieces or nephews you’d like as heirs? Or perhaps a friend? May you would prefer your assets go to a charitable organization. When you have an estate plan, your wishes are made clear.

Who makes decisions on your behalf? This includes designating someone to handle your financial decisions if you become unable to do so. This may take the form of a power of attorney document. You also should consider a health care advanced directive or health care power of attorney, which spell out who you want to make health care decisions for you if you’re unable to make them. These require careful consideration of who you trust, and who is willing to step in for you.

Are you single because of changes in your life? If you are single because of divorce or death of a spouse, don’t forget to update your estate plan. This also includes verifying any beneficiaries and designated decision makers are consistent with your life’s new status.

Are you single with children? You also need to ensure you have plans in place for guardianship to care for your children if you aren’t able to do so.

Are you single and a business owner? An estate plan can also help with any succession planning for your business.

We are ready to talk further with you about your unique needs. Just give us a call at 248-613-0007.


Small businesses: A new target of cyber attacks

21552870 - image of attractive businesswoman against hightech backgroundWhen you hear about a cyber attack, it’s often a large company such as Equifax, Yahoo and Uber that’s involved. But those are only the cases that make the headlines. The fastest-growing targets of cyber attacks today are small businesses. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 61 percent of breaches in 2017 targeted smaller businesses, up from 53 percent in 2016. It’s estimated that more than half of small businesses and organizations that become victims of a cyber attack go out of business or face severe financial difficulties as a result. Here are some important ways to protect your enterprise:

Have quality data security systems and procedures in place. Having a technology professional help you protect your business is well worth the cost. Test your systems and procedures regularly and consider cyber liability insurance coverage.

Make sure everyone in the office is using “strong” passwords. What’s a strong password? It’s one that’s not easily guessed by someone who already may have some of your personal information. It’s one that uses eight or more characters and includes both upper case and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. A strong password is also one that is changed regularly. Never share a password via e-mail or text messages.

Use different passwords for different accounts. Avoid using the same password for different online services, particularly for financial accounts. Using multiple passwords and changing them regularly requires effort, but it significantly reduces your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Avoid using public wi-fi and/or computers to access accounts. Avoid accessing accounts on a public wireless connection, such as at a coffee shop or airport. Passwords and other personal information can be stolen on a public wireless network. Make sure the settings on your computers and mobile devices will not automatically connect to any available wi-fi connection.

Watch out for links in e-mails. One of the most common tools for criminals are e-mails with links. Clicking on a ‘malicious’ link could send you to a website that’s designed to trick you into providing sensitive account information, cause computer viruses, or plant spyware to automatically infect your computer and allow fraudsters to obtain sensitive account information.

Having firewalls installed can help prevent this from happening, but everyone in your office needs to know that they should not click on links or download attachments in e-mails from unknown senders.

Understand the risk of ransomware. It’s a growing problem for small businesses. Using antivirus systems, being extremely careful when clicking on a link or downloading a file from an e-mail, backing up your data and keeping your software up-to-date can go a long way to helping manage this threat.


Estate planning for grandparents raising their grandchildren

18118399 - happy grandparents with grandchilden on sofaAre you a grandparent raising your grandchild? Maybe you know a grandparent who has wholeheartedly accepted this responsibility?

While an estate plan is important for any family, one where a grandchild is being raised by a grandparent brings up additional concerns and situations to address.

Legal issues can arise over who has legal custody of the child. Is it the parent or the grandparent? Legal custody determines who ultimately has the right to make decisions for the child regarding medical, financial and even educational issues. It’s important to have the custody clear and legally protected.

Additionally, an estate plan for this type of family situation needs to provide for the proper transfer of assets from grandparent to grandchild. This doesn’t automatically happen if a valid will has not been created. As the grandparent, you will want to make sure your estate plan properly addresses the assets to be given to the grandchild.

Another aspect is who will handle the assets or take care of the grandchild if the grandparents are no longer available for such care. The naming of a trustee as well as a future guardian is beneficial in this instance. If legal custody is not clear, consider having a health care directive in place so you, the grandparent, can make medical decisions for your grandchild.

If you are raising grandchildren, we applaud you. Know that we stand ready to help ensure your grandchild is properly protected and cared for in the event misfortune prevents you from continuing this incredible endeavor.


How well does your company welcome new employees?

28431388_SDid you know that U.S. companies lose about one-fifth of all new hires within the first three to six months on the job? Or that employees’ feelings about the companies they work for are often shaped in the first weeks and months on the job? It’s a critical window of time for employees to find out about the companies they work for and whether the job, culture and co-workers are a good fit.

The reasons people leave employers can vary greatly. But studies show there’s one common factor for many employees who leave companies after a short time: A lack of on-boarding assistance. In fact, research tells us that as many as half of employees who quit jobs within six months had little in the way of on-boarding assistance — or none at all.

Why is on-boarding a new employee so important? Researchers say employees’ impressions of their companies are formed much earlier and more solidly than employers realize. And if those impressions are negative, they may stick with that employee, even if their later experiences at the company are more positive. How well does your company welcome new employees in their first days and weeks? Here are some elements of an effective on-boarding program:

  • Early communication. Sending several get-acquainted e-mails detailing what the employee can expect on their first days and weeks on the job can do a lot to relieve stress caused by fear of the unknown. A phone call the day before the employee begins is ideal. Ask if he or she has any questions before the first day.
  • A special first day. Send out an e-mail to your team letting them know about the new hire, along with some information about that person, such as their hobbies. Make sure the new hire’s work station is ready. Provide a small gift, such as a coffee mug or T-shirt with the company logo on it.
  • Assistance well beyond the first days and weeks. On-boarding should be continued through the early months and beyond.
  • A mentor or ‘buddy’. Having someone other than the boss to ask questions can be extremely helpful. Google calls them ‘peer buddies’. The key is to have someone a new hire can feel comfortable with who can provide support and encouragement.
  • A culture of celebrating new hires. Order in lunch or take your team out to lunch on the employee’s first day. It’s a great way to celebrate a new hire and make them feel special.
  • Social support. Provide opportunities for new employees to get to know their co-workers. Research shows that an employee with a social network on the job is more likely to remain with the employer over the long term.
  • An empathetic and interested boss. Don’t wait for the employee to come to you with questions or concerns. Make yourself accessible in the first days and weeks. Don’t just stop by the new hire’s desk on the way to somewhere else. Make sure they have time to ask you questions and provide input on their experiences, confidentially if needed.

 


Free tools to help safeguard your private information

45116784_MDo you feel like you’re behind the curve on preventing hackers from gaining access to your private information? Here are some free tools that can help you learn more about possible threats to you and your business and help prevent becoming a victim of a cyber attack:

Avast Free Antivirus: This free antivirus software is highly rated by PC Magazine. (Avast also offers an inexpensive antivirus program for small businesses.) Here are some other highly-rated free antivirus products.

Two-step e-mail verification. Security experts recommend that everyone should consider two-step verification when logging into e-mail accounts. With two-step verification, after you type in your ID and password to gain access to your e-mail account, you’ll be sent a secret code via text to your mobile phone. For more information on two-step verification, check with your e-mail provider. Most e-mail providers, including Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo Mail, make it easy to switch over to this more secure method of accessing your account.

CyberSecure My Business. This national initiative is designed to help business owners prevent their enterprises from being the target of cyber attacks. Get practical information about identifying possible threats, protecting yourself and your business, detecting problems and responding to them.

Small Biz Cyber Planner: Use this tool to create a custom cyber security plan for your company, choosing from a menu of expert advice to address your specific business needs and concerns.

U.S. Small Business Administration cybersecurity resources: The SBA provides information at this link about emerging and growing threats, such as ransomware and cyber vandalism.

Want to learn more? Entrepreneur magazine has even more free resources at this link.


Using a third party trustee in your estate plan

72705186_MHave you spent hours debating who you should appoint as your trustee within your estate plan? Are you still at a standstill? Or are you second guessing the decision you made? You don’t have to appoint a friend or family member as a trustee. You have another option: a third-party designated trustee. This can come in the form of a bank or a trustee company.

Why is this an option?

Families can have drama – now or in the future. Implementing an estate plan is a stressful time, and your estate plan should alleviate stress, not add to it, especially if drama is already a part of your family dynamic.

You may also not fully trust the decisions by your own family members or close friends. Maybe you don’t have children or close friends you want to put in the position of being a trustee. Maybe your blended family complicates some of these decisions.

Even if you trust the person you would ask, being a trustee requires a large time commitment. It is also possible that as family members move, they may not be close enough to pop in for ongoing decisions and meetings related to the estate plan.

These are all reasons why a third-party trustee may be the best option for implementing your estate plan just as you intend. If you think this would be a good option for you, we’d love to talk to you about the next step to include a third-party trustee in your estate plan.


Have you claimed your Yelp business page?

58779259 - yelp website on a computer screen.Does your business have its own Yelp page? Yelp is a social review platform that has 83 million unique desktop visitors, 74 million unique mobile visitors and 28 million unique mobile app users each month. It’s growing in popularity by virtually any measure. Yet only about 1 million businesses nationwide have ‘claimed’ their Yelp business page. While a business may have a strong social media presence elsewhere, by disregarding Yelp, it could be missing out on a vital opportunity to demonstrate top-notch customer or client service and to address complaints.

Many business owners and executives think that Yelp doesn’t apply to their business. Yet the reality is that consumers are increasingly turning to Yelp not only for restaurant and retail reviews, but for information on a wide variety of other businesses, including those that provide professional services such as insurance, engineering and architecture. Yelp is for B2C and B2B companies.

Consider ‘claiming’ your business page on Yelp. A vast majority of business pages on Yelp are unclaimed, which unfortunately signals to Yelp users that customer/client satisfaction is not a top priority. While there’s no downside to happy customers or clients simply reporting a good experience with your business, unsatisfied customers publicly posting about their bad experiences can damage your brand’s reputation if you aren’t able to respond to them (which you can only do if you prove you own the business and claim it). Additionally, you could be missing out on a useful communication channel for inquiries about your businesses if Yelp users aren’t able to message you questions, comments, reservation requests, and other concerns.

Finally, don’t forget to have a sign somewhere in your business (and website) that encourages satisfied customers to leave reviews for your company on Yelp. Even this simple call-to-action could make a difference for your reviews count, and more Yelp reviews suggest greater popularity for a business, so you could score new customers through this valuable method as well.


The purposes and uses of a designated power of attorney

63663182_MPeople toss out the term ‘Power of Attorney’ freely these days, and it can be a simple document that lets someone else act on your behalf in all cases. But there are various uses for and kinds of POA documents.

Aging parents might want to give a medical power-of-attorney to a child. A wife might want to sign a temporary POA allowing her husband to sign for her on a real estate transaction because she’ll be out of the country. Young adults might give a roommate or friend POA for handling financial matters temporarily.

Simply put, a POA gives one person the power to act on another person’s behalf if he or she is unable to act for himself or herself. Two common types of POA documents are financial and medical POAs, and you don’t have to have to choose the same person for both. Maybe you have a family member with medical expertise who should be your medical POA. Maybe you have a friend who is better with finances than your own family members. The important thing is to choose a trustworthy person who would act on your behalf under these POAs.

Both financial and medical POAs can be as detailed or as general as you want them to be. A medical POA can include your preferences for life-sustaining treatments, as well as your wishes regarding facilities, medical staff, food and even personal care. The financial POA can allow your designated person to handle all your financial matters, or it can restrict his or her actions to bill-paying, access to accounts, doing your taxes, making investment decisions, managing your property or discussing public benefits with government agencies.

One common misunderstanding about POA documents is that they continue after death. At your death, the executor of your will takes over any financial decisions — and there are no more medical decisions to be made. Don’t forget that in order to sign a POA, you must be competent to make the decision. Don’t wait until your health declines to the point you are no longer competent.

Are you ready to talk further about establishing a POA for a specific or future need? We are easy to reach. Just call 248-613-0007.


When parents won’t share their estate plans

31993041 - happy 3 generation family in grandparents' backyardDo your parents have an estate plan in place? You hope so, but maybe they are hesitant to discuss their estate plans with you.

Finances can be a tricky topic for some families. However, it is an essential conversation to have for your understanding and overall family planning. Not knowing what to expect can be almost as bad as not planning at all. So how do you start this conversation?

Can you tie the conversation into a current need? If a parent, for example, is having health concerns, start the conversation with “Mom, what health directives are within your estate plan?” If you are concerned about not being able to fully help your parents as they age, consider asking if they have a power of attorney in place in case someone needs to speak on their behalf. Just be honest as you ask the question; you just want to ensure someone can help them handle difficult situations.

Can you tie the conversation into local or personal news? Maybe you know someone who has a tragic estate planning story. Maybe something in the news is bringing attention to estate planning. That conversation could even start with, “Dad, you know Fred made sure his children knew about his plans. What are your plans, Dad?”

Can you tie the conversation into your own estate plan? Hopefully you also have your estate plans in place. If so, use that as a way to start the discussion. You could start with “Mom and Dad, we decided to make some changes to our estate plan because of certain circumstances. When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan?”

Know that these aren’t one-time conversations. They should be ongoing. You also may be met with resistance at first. Continue the conversation in non-threatening ways so you all understand the estate plans that could affect generations.


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