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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

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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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

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