Protecting Digital Assets – Savings Passwords as Part of Estate Planning

A recent case involving the parents of a teen who committed suicide illustrates an evolving consideration in estate planning: the need for parents and executors and other such individuals to get passwords for the accounts their children and others have. The case involving the parents of the teen who committed suicide shows how difficult accessing even children’s accounts can be without having the passwords. In this case Facebook refused to provide their child’s password to the parent and refused also to provide them with access to their son’s account. Facebook cited privacy laws and its own user agreement to support its position.

The consequences of not giving anyone access to your on-line accounts could be wreck even more havoc in the case of say a husband who does the family’s banking on-line but hasn’t told anyone his screen name or passwords. If something happened to the husband the wife may have some or great difficulty getting access to the on-line account. Consequently she wouldn’t know what bills were being paid automatically versus manually, which would add even more stress to an already tragic situation.

The lesson is that while we value our privacy we should provide our user name and passwords to a few trusted individuals and authorize them to access your accounts if something happened to you.

JC Cancelleri
Email JC
Phone: 804-475-8869

 

 

 

Contractor Disputes. Suggestions to reduce stress during a renovation or remodeling project.

Two cases amplify the importance of having a detailed contract that defines expectations in terms of the work to be done and the cost of the project. In one case a homeowner hired a friend and then relied on verbal exchanges to frame the terms and expectations of the work to be done. Now there’s a suit because the homeowner and contractor don’t agree on the work done nor on what the work cost. The homeowner could have avoided the suit by using a contract to describe the work to be done and the money to be paid. The homeowner should have also not used a friend as such can complicate matters and ruin friendships when things don’t work out.

In the second case there was a contract, but again the homeowner hired a friend. In this case like the first one a suit has been filed because the homeowner and contractor disagree about the work done and the cost of what was done. It’s likely this suit could also have been avoided by having a more detailed contract and by more closely monitoring the work being done.

If you’re considering a home improvement project you should get three written estimates of the work to be done. Also get references. And before you sign the contract ensure the contractor is licensed and bonded and experienced with the work to be done. You should also check with the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to see if the contractor has ever been fined or had his/her license suspended. While taking these steps won’t ensure everything will go perfectly they should reduce the likelihood that you’ll wind up in court arguing over what was to be done and how much it was going to cost.

JC Cancelleri
Email JC
Phone: 804-475-8869

 

Servant versus Seagull Management and Leadership

The beginning of a new year is a great time to review your leadership structure and philosophy. Last year leadership guru Ken Blanchard spoke to a packed house at the Jefferson Hotel. I was fortunate enough to attend. During his remarks Blanchard contrasted seagull leadership to servant leadership. Ken noted that seagull managers crap on people, lead from the hip and are more focused mostly on themselves.

Servant leaders on the other hand lead from the heart. Blanchard noted that servant leadership has two parts: 1) Vision and direction and 2) Implementation.

The first part, vision asks where are we going and what are we doing. Blanchard noted that Southwest Airlines, one of the most profitable airlines, had a culture that valued getting things done, while having a servant’s heart and a fun loving attitude. The second part of being a servant leader focuses on implementation.

What type of leader do you think you are, seagull or servant? More importantly what type of leader would you employees and colleagues say you are? Go ahead ask them. The results may surprise you.

JC Cancelleri, Torus Law – where we help clients Build, Dream, Plan and Protect their goals, their vision and their business. For more information about how we can help you become a better servant leader call me at 804-548-4810.

Something Greater Than Yourself

Jim Collins the leadership guru, has been studying what makes businesses great for more than 25 years. As for what makes a great leader, Collins is quoted as saying, “The great leaders I’ve studied are all people whose energy and drive are directed outward. It’s not about themselves. It’s about something greater than themselves.”

What might Collins’ observations about “leader and business greatness” say to you and your company? In other words what is it at your company that is bigger than yourself? Is it some dream or passion or goal you have that serves as the reason you’re in business?

At Torus Law we are committed to helping business owners Dream, Build, Plan and Protect their visions, helping them translate their ideas into realities. We do that initially by helping business owners properly structure their business and then help them define that structure through business and asset planning.

For more information about how we can help structure your business for success contact me.

Torus Law, PLC
JC Cancelleri

Email JC
Phone: 804-548-4810

If they work, (without your approval) must you pay?

Last month I wrote about how mis-classifying employees as independent contractors can result in a company’s being sued and having to pay $$$ in back wages and fines.

Today I’m writing about a related subject that can also blind side a company resulting in paying back wages and fines and penalties.

I’m referring to the issue of not paying employees for the overtime they work, which would be a violation of the fair labor standards act (FLSA).

A business should have a policy that describes what its overtime policy is. The following is an example of such a policy provided by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“Although we appreciate that you made yourself available to work overtime, please understand that working unapproved overtime may have significant budget implications and consequently violates company policy. Despite our prior discussions instructing you not to work overtime without your supervisor’s prior approval, you have again worked unauthorized overtime, which will be paid to you at the time-and-one-half premium rate. However, please understand that failure to obtain appropriate advance approval in the future may result in further disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

You should review your overtime policy with each employee ensuring they understand that working overtime without obtaining prior approval is a serious matter. While the employee may get paid for working the overtime, even if it wasn’t approved, the employee should also know that it could also get them fired.

If you would like help with creating an overtime policy contact me.

Torus Law, PLC
JC Cancelleri

Email JC
Phone: 804-548-4810

House underwater? Here are some options.

Thousands if not millions of Americans have homes that are underwater, meaning they owe more than the house is worth. If refinancing is not an option and if continuing to make the mortgage payment is increasingly difficult to where foreclosure may be a reality, here are some options.

First if your bank is threatening to foreclose visit www.virginiaforeclosureprevention.com. There you will find resources related to foreclosures.

If you are facing a foreclosure and you want to keep your house you generally have two options:

1) Working with your lender to modify your loan.
2) Filing a chapter bankruptcy petition.

If you are facing a foreclosure and you do not want to keep your house you generally have three options:

1) Walk away from the house, which may result in deficiency judgement that could have tax consequences.
2) Sell your house through a short sale
3) Get the lender to accept a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
4) File a chapter 13 or 7 bankruptcy.

If you’re facing a foreclosure or anticipate getting to that point in the near future, you’re likely dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety. Don’t try to sort out your options on your own. While you may be reluctant to get help because you’re embarrassed don’t let that keep from understanding what your options are. As they say knowledge is power. If you would like to learn more about your options contact me. We’re here to serve you and to help you get back on your feet.

Torus Law, PLC
JC Cancelleri

Email JC
Phone: 804-548-4810