Author: main_advocate

Stress Management

Halloween is over and the holiday season is here. Family will be visiting, preparing decadent holiday meals will begin and stressful holiday shopping will come along.  Let us help ease some of the stress that you will no doubt experience. You may not be able to avoid the stress that comes with the holiday season, but you should be better prepared to control it and hopefully ease a little of it.

We all know stress is a part of life.  You cannot avoid it.  But you can try to avoid the situations that cause the stress, and you can learn how to control the stress and your response to it.

The first step is to know your own coping strategies.  What are productive ways that you cope with a stressful situation?  Let’s highlight those coping strategies and make the best of them.  A ‘Stress Journal’ may help.  You can record stressful events, your initial response to the event and stress, and how you coped with the situation.  Once you know what is causing your stress, try making changes in your life that will help you avoid stressful situations.  Here are a few ideas that may help.

  1. Manage your time

Time management is a way to find the time for more of the things you want and need to do. It helps to prioritize – which things are urgent and which can wait.  Managing your time can make life easier, less stressful and more meaningful.

  1. Look at your lifestyle

The choices you make affect your stress level.  On its own your lifestyle may not cause stress, but it can prevent your body from recovering from it.  Some tips:

  • Find balance between personal, work & family needs. Look at how you spend your time. Maybe there are things you don’t need to do. It’s harder during the holidays, but if you start practicing now, it will become easier.
  • Have a sense of purpose in life. Find meaningful connections through family, friends, jobs and even volunteer work.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body recovers from stress while you are sleeping.
  • Adopt healthy habits. Eat a healthy diet, limit the amount of alcohol you drink, don’t smoke and try to get some exercise. Even a short walk around your neighborhood is good for you.
  1. Get Support

The support of family and friends and even your community has a big impact on how you experience stress.  It can be hard to ask for help, but asking for help does not make you weak.  Look for support from:

Family and Friends

Coworkers or people you know through hobbies

A professional counselor

People you know from church or temple

Support groups are very helpful when dealing with a special situation

  1. Change your thinking

Stressful events can make you feel bad about yourself.   You may begin to focus only on the bad and not the good.  Negative thinking can trigger your body’s stress response, causing fear, insecurity, depression and anxiety.  It also can affect your feelings of self-worth.

Dealing with these negative thoughts can help reduce stress.  There are a couple techniques to look into, or you can seek help from a counselor.

  • Positive thinking helps you cope with a problem by changing the way you think. How you think affects how you feel.
  • Problem solving helps you identify all aspects of a stressful event. Find things you may be able to change, and deal with things you can’t change.
  • Assertive communication helps you express how you feel in a thoughtful, tactful way. Not being able to talk about your needs and concerns creates stress and can make negative feelings worse
  1. Hugs

Lastly, hug your spouse, your significant other, your parents, your children, friends, anyone.  Hugs release chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.  Try it.

Celebrities Update Their Estate Plans Too

I’m sure everyone knows who Britney Spears is.  She is a famous pop star, has a Vegas Residency that rakes in millions of dollars?  Sound familiar??

Ms. Spears had an estate plan prepared for her a long time ago.  She probably has managers and attorneys who drafted legal docs before she ever got married or had kids.  It was recently in the news that she is making changes.  Her Will and other docs were written a while ago and now need a tune-up.  She has two boys, who will soon be teenagers.

Previously, Ms. Spear’s estate plan stated that when she passes her children would inherit everything.  That’s pretty standard in estate planning documents.

The issue with a Will or estate docs that were drafted a long time ago is that they can become outdated.  In the case of Ms. Spears her documents were drafted and didn’t include any distribution stipulations for a child’s inheritance, should she have any.  Now she has two sons, Sean and Jayden, who would inherit her entire fortune.  Ms. Spears net worth is around 200 million dollars.  Its not the wisest decision to open the vault to 18-year-olds all at once.

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Tips for Every Homeowner Part 2

This is the second half of our September 2019 newsletter that focuses on home ownership.  We have tips that every homeowner should know. If you are thinking of buying a home or already own a home these tips will help you navigate the costs and concerns of life’s biggest purchase.
  1. Consider a home warranty. If you didn’t negotiate one at closing, buy one. Many policies cover problems with appliances, heating or cooling systems and even interior plumbing.
  2. Do not expect a major tax refund. Many people believe they will get a significant tax refund the year they buy a house. This is not always the case. Especially if you purchase your home in the second half of the year, you will only have a partial year’s worth of deductions. You can write off property taxes and mortgage interest but not the mortgage principal payment.
  3. Maintain the exterior. Appearance matters, it helps maintain property values. Learn water rules. In many cities homeowners can be fined for watering their lawn on the wrong day. Ask sellers about landscapers. Find out who takes care of the yard, you may need to hire someone, or get the contact information for the current landscaper or gardener.
  4. Prepare for the worst. Make sure you are prepared for potential hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or brush fire.
  5. Know your renewals. If your house has an annual termite inspection, or an alarm system contract, know when to renew. Most companies will not notify you of a renewal date.
  6. Think security. An alarm system may save money on insurance premiums.
  7. Take photos and/or a video of each room. You can use the video or photographs when making insurance claims.
  8. Finally, expect expenses to be more expensive than you thought. We can guarantee this one!

 

Tips for Every Homeowner Part 1

Our newsletter for September 2019 will focus on home ownership.  We have tips that every homeowner should know. If you are thinking of buying a home or already own a home these tips will help you navigate the costs and concerns of life’s biggest purchase.
  1. Get to know your home’s systems. When you buy your home, have someone, maybe the seller, introduce you to all the features.  You want to know how they work, you want a copy of the owner’s manual, and the name and phone number of a REPAIR PERSON. You want this information before something breaks on a weekend.  Be sure you know where to find the water shut off and the electrical box.
  2. Always have your locks RE-KEYED after you buy a house.
  3. Stay updated on schools in your district. If you have children and plan to send them to school instead of home schooling them, knowing the public and private schools in your area is important.
  4. Understand your homeowner’s insurance coverage. It might be a good idea to review it with your agent.
  5. Ask your home inspector these questions: what do I need to prepare and protect the home from nature’s elements (freezing weather, heat wave etc.)? How do I properly maintain drainage and moisture around the home to prevent foundation and mold issues? How often do you need to service the HVAC system to keep it functioning properly? Also ask, what items the inspector would repair or replace if he were buying the home?
  6. Familiarize yourself with neighborhood rules. Do you need approval from an HOA to paint your house a different color? Are there restrictions on fence heights? Any rules on vehicles, i.e. campers, RVs, boat trailers being parked at a property? Are there restrictions on pets, sizes and breeds?
  7. Do not touch your retirement savings. Do not put yourself in a situation where you have to dip into your retirement to buy, maintain or improve your house. Keep an emergency fund that covers 3-6 months of expenses to avoid feeling the need to dip into retirement savings.
  8. Review and reevaluate personal documents. Major life changes, such as buying a house or having a child, are good reasons to review your life insurance and estate planning documents. Trusts and Wills should be evaluated and if you don’t have one, it is a good time to see an Attorney about getting one.
Give our office a call with any questions. We are happy to help!  818.887.9401

Con Artists Look for People Who Have Been Scammed Before

Precautions to Help You Avoid Becoming a Victim

Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about you, your family, your employees, your colleagues or any other internal information.  If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
  • Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
  • Do not send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security (for more information, see Protecting Your Privacy,).
  • Pay attention to the URL of a website.  Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly.  Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information.  Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic (for more information, see Understanding Firewalls, Understanding Anti-Virus Software, and Reducing Spam.
  • Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.
  • Employees should take steps to monitor their personally identifiable information and report any suspected instances of identity theft to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or go to www.ic3.gov.
  • Additional information about preventative steps is available by consulting the Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.consumer.gov/idtheft. The FTC also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with the commission using the contact information below.
IDENTITY THEFT CLEARINGHOUSE
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW
WASHINGTON, DC 20580
HTTPS://WWW.IDENTITYTHEFT.GOV/
1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
TDD: 1-202-326-2502

Con Artists Look for People Who Have Been Scammed Before

For con artists the best list to get is the list of people who have already been taken.  Financial criminals go to great lengths to hunt down and size-up their prey.   They will buy the lists of people who attended investment seminars; they mail postcards and then spam investors with emails and phone calls.  For the con artists nothing can top the “sucker list.”

A “sucker list” is a list of people who have already been scammed.  Attempts have been made to get the list of people who were scammed by Jordan Belfort, the felon depicted in the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”  Con artists also have targeted victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.  In 2010, a Nigerian website claimed to have found $1.3 billion of Madoff’s assets and would distribute it back to the victims if they supplied their claim numbers from the legal filing and copies of recent account statements.

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Legal DIY Sites Are No Match for a Professional

Websites like LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer cost much less than going to a real lawyer. These websites can help you create your Will, Power of Attorney and other valuable legal documents. But are they really worth it?

Consumer Reports evaluated these three website services and came up with some interesting results. Using the online worksheets and downloads they created a Will, a car Bill of Sale for a seller, a Home Lease for a small landlord and a Promissory Note. After consulting three Law Professors from Texas Tech, Hofstra and Yale to review the process and resulting documents, here is what they found.

“Using any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple – say, you want to leave your entire estate to your spouse – none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs. And in some cases, the other documents aren’t specific enough or contain language that could lead to an ‘unintended result’…

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Welcoming Love, But Not Marriage at an Older Age

In this newsletter we discuss older couples who have lost a spouse and are now faced with the dilemma of getting remarried or just living with their new partner. Many of our clients are getting older and may have lost a spouse. After finding companionship with a new person, they face the question of whether to remarry. Several factors affect those choices and we want to discuss them to bring them to light.

Over the past decade a pattern has emerged. Americans are beginning to retreat from marriage. While people of all ages are living together unmarried, the growth is fastest among the older segment. In 2010, 2.8 million people age 50 and over cohabitated, up from 1.2 million in 2000, according to the US Census Bureau. There are many reasons why this number has more than doubled in 10 years.

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10 Signs That Your Aging Loved One Needs Help part 2

What if a loved one was in need of help as they aged?  Do you think you would be able to recognize the signs?  Here are 5 signs to look for that could mean your elderly relative needs help at home.

  1. Lack of Hygiene and Cleanliness

 A sign to look for with seniors who may need help is repeatedly wearing the same clothes.  This goes beyond wearing a favorite sweatshirt.  The clothes may be stained or worn out from constant wear.  It could be that doing laundry or bathing have become increasingly difficult and a physical challenge.  If a family member has already fallen in the bath or shower, they could have a fear of it happening again.  Paying attention to these habits could help prevent something worse from happening.
  1. Signs of Burned Food, Pots and Pans or Stove Tops

 Signs of burned food or burned kitchen items could mean your loved one is forgetting things.  They forget something was cooking or forgot to turn off the stove after cooking.  These signs of short-term memory loss should not be ignored.  The potential of a fire puts the loved one, as well as their surroundings, at greater risk for harm.

Continue reading “10 Signs That Your Aging Loved One Needs Help part 2”

10 Signs That Your Aging Loved One Needs Help part 1

What if a loved one was in need of help as they aged?  Do you think you would be able to recognize the signs?  Here are 5 signs to look for that could mean your elderly relative needs help at home.

  1. Recent Falls

 Did you know that 1 in 3 adults age 65 or older falls each year.  Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to live independently.  Staying active and exercising can help minimize the risk of falls.  Recent falls can be a sign of deteriorating health, which would be a sign that your elderly loved one needs assistance.
  1. Forgetting Medication and Appointments

The more medication an older adult takes, the more likely they are to forget a dose, or over medicate.   In 2000 the average number of prescriptions an elderly adult took was 28.5. In  2010 the average number of prescriptions per elderly person grew to 38.5, an increase of 10 prescriptions.   Whether your loved one uses a pill box to keep track of medication, it is important to pay attention to pills that are still in the box or that haven’t been touched for days.  The consequences of forgetting these meds include disease progression or complications, increased physicians’ visits or even hospitalization.

Continue reading “10 Signs That Your Aging Loved One Needs Help part 1”