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4 Things You Must know If You’re Planning Your Property Protection

4 Things You Must know If You’re Planning Your Property Protection
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Given the high cost of jury verdicts today, many professionals are looking for ways to protect their personal property from malpractice and negligence claims. For example, if you’re a healthcare professional and own a home, a car or a portfolio of stocks, it’s essential to protect your assets against lawsuits. The good news is that sound financial planning can go a long way to keeping your personal net worth from the threat of litigation. A comprehensive wealth management plan can also help you achieve other long-term financial goals, which may include planning a child’s education, ensuring a comfortable retirement for you and your spouse and minimizing property taxes for your heirs. While it’s advisable to seek out professional opinion from professional limited liability companies, like Wyoming, when planning your assets protection, also keep these 4 things in mind.

1. Have An Idea About Property Protection 

Never jump in making decisions, especially when it comes to protecting your assets. Make efforts to know what‘s involved and what it’ll definitely cost you. Note that:

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  • A well-structured financial plan discourages prosecution.
  • Good asset protection should not be expensive.
  • An experienced asset manager can help you take a more integrated approach to achieving your financial goals.

Starting with the basics, there are three levels of asset protection. The first is to invest in assets that are automatically protected against lawsuits in most states, such as your home, qualified retirement accounts, annuities and the cash value of life policies. The second level is the creation of private trusts and companies that remove assets from your personal domain. The third level is the creation of personal property entities in different jurisdictions, making it more difficult for people to place privileges on your assets through a lawsuit.

For many physicians, a good starting point is to simply implement the first level of asset protection – get the most out of your investments in assets that are automatically protected from lawsuits in most states. Many health professionals neglect these simple strategies:

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  • Your house. Part of your equity is generally exempted from prosecution in most states. In Arizona, for example, up to $ 150,000 in equity is exempted from legal action.[1] Texas and Florida offer unlimited coverage for equity at home.[2] Once you have reached the equity ceiling of the protected property in your state of residence, you may want to consider maintaining a mortgage loan for the mortgage. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit will not be interested in your debt-only assets.
  • Qualified retirement accounts. Funds held in ERISA-eligible retirement accounts, such as defined benefit plans or 401 (k) plans, are generally exempt from prosecution, so it is often logical to maximize your annual contributions to these accounts. Not only do you benefit from asset protection, but you will also benefit from tax-efficient savings, helping you to increase your capital. Unskilled pension plans, such as deferred compensation plans, may also have a role to play in helping you achieve your wealth management goals. Unskilled plans offer some protection against lawsuits, as well as unique benefits for highly paid business owners and employees.
  • Deferred annuities. A deferred pension represents the money you set aside today to create future income, usually for retirement. If you have not yet started making distributions of your deferred annuity, the value of your annuity contract is generally exempt from prosecution. In addition to providing asset protection, annuities can help supplement other sources of income in retirement, such as social security or withdrawals from your IRA or 401 (k) accounts.
  • Cash value of life insurance schemes. Once you have held a life insurance policy for more than two years, the cash value of the policy is generally protected from lawsuits in most states. In addition, the cash value of the policy can often be accessed through withdrawals and tax-free loans at retirement, which can be particularly attractive if tax rates increase in the future. In addition, insurance policies can also be a useful way to transfer wealth to future generations.

2. Myths Aren’t Facts

There are often lots of misunderstandings on asset protection, especially between doctors and other health professionals about strategies that offer true peace of mind. Don’t follow someone’s thoughts or what they think is involved or you should do. The best thing to do is seek a professional’s guidance and opinion to help you make the right decision.

3. Explore Advanced Strategies

If you are just starting your career, the first level of protection (investing in assets that are automatically exempt from prosecution) may be all you need right now. As you go further in your career and your personal equity continues to grow, you may want to consider exploring some advanced strategies for asset protection, including the creation of trusts, companies, and LLCs. In addition, you may consider establishing these entities in different jurisdictions, making it more difficult for people to place liens on your personal property. Take note that “protective” trusts, corporations and LLC(s) can be expensive to generate and maintain, so you should explore all options with your team of trusted advisors before pursuing asset protection solutions.

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4. Create an Air-Tight plan

The most effective asset protection strategies start with sound financial planning.[3] If a judge or court determines that you’re trying to “conceal” assets to creditors, they can remove the exempt status of those assets. For example, if you buy an important life insurance policy shortly before bankruptcy, a court can determine that any assets involved in “last-minute” transactions are still being litigated. The best protection for your assets is to show that you have legitimate reasons for structuring your assets with many other benefits in the way that makes the most sense to you and your family in the long run. In a court of law, your intention is the key. Your intention to set up accounts cannot be to avoid situations of liability. Instead, your intention should be associated with responsible and ethical financial planning, (planning a comfortable retirement or the smooth transfer of your estate to your heirs).

The approaches mentioned here are simply “conversation starters” to have with your wealth manager, lawyer and tax professional. Each physician has unique needs and goals, so your personal asset management and asset protection plan will need to be tailored to your specific situation. In addition, asset protection laws may vary considerably among states. The key to creating an effective asset protection plan starts now before you need it. By creating a team of trusted professionals, discussing your goals and reviewing your plan on a regular interval, you can generate a wealth management plan that can fully covered you from unforeseen circumstances – a plan that helps you feel more confident about your financial future.

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Featured photo credit: WonHo Sung via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Arizona State Senate Issue Brief: Arizona’s Homestead Exemption
[2] Robinson, Tigue, Sponcil & Associates: Protecting Your Assets from Malpractice and Negligence Suits
[3] Public Deposits: 6 Characteristics of a Sound Financial Plan

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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