Your Estate Planning Shouldn’t End When You Write Your Will

You’ve taken care of all your estate planning and have a health care proxy, power of attorney, and executor of your estate. Bravo! However, your estate planning really shouldn’t end when you write your will.

Consider this: what if the unspeakable happens and you are incapacitated or die. Does your health care proxy know how you want to be cared for? Do you want to be kept on life support, and if so, under what circumstances should life support be continued or terminated? Does your power of attorney know where you keep your important papers? Does your executor know where to find your will and, if you have any, trust documents?

Organize these important papers in one place or create a master list of where they are located. Let your key people and family members know where to find them.

If you have papers in a safe deposit box, your power of attorney will need to know where to find a key. You could staple your spare key to the master list you created to make it very easy to retrieve.

Another useful document to create and to give to a trusted friend or family member is a list of people to be notified in case of your death, with their phone numbers, and how you know them.  Update this list annually. Include friends, business associates, contacts at organizations you belong to where other members would want to know (and attend your funeral). If there is one person who can notify the group, all the better—make a note of that. That’s where it’s important to write down how you know each person. For example, you might have several contacts listed for the PTO or Rotary Club, but in each case, you can designate one person who can notify the other members.

Also list people who do regular work for you such as your house cleaner since your death might affect their scheduled work. Doctors and other medical providers will also need to be notified, especially if you have any upcoming appointments that will need to be cancelled.

The other important aspect of estate planning is to plan for your social media. Do you want your accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram taken down? Who will monitor those sites? In your digital world, how are you keeping track of your passwords? Would your trusted someone know how to access all your accounts including your email?

We live in a very complex world and all the planning you do now will make your executor/personal representative’s job much easier and smoother to facilitate.

Photo: Pixabay

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Get a Grip on Your Passwords with Password Managers

Do you use the same password over and over because it’s too difficult to remember multiple passwords? If you do, then all you need is one website to be hacked to put your information at risk, and you would need to change your password everywhere.

Or … are your passwords scribbled on a piece of paper, tucked in a drawer—where you don’t have access if you’re away. You could lose the password information if you spill coffee on the paper, or your dog chews it, or you simply misplace the paper. It is also a risk that someone with access to your house can find that paper.

Solution? A password manager. This is an app that can generate secure passwords, store them, and fill them in automatically on websites. Since the passwords are stored on the password manager websites (using encryption for security), they are available everywhere. You log into your password manager with a master password, and from there you have access to all your passwords. You can also upload images of your driver’s license, health insurance cards, passport, and other important papers that you might want to have available from your phone, in a secure way.

Some products let you share passwords with a family member. They vary in price (some are free) and features.

The most popular password managers are 1Pass, LastPass, Bitwarden, and Dashlane.

Here are some reviews to help you decide which password manager suits you best. Keep in mind that *any* one is better than that wrinkled paper in your drawer.

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News Flash: You Don’t Have to Work 24/7

News Flash: You Don’t Have to Work 24/7

With Labor Day and the annual frenzy of returning to school and work approaching, let’s talk about finally striving to achieve a reasonable work/life balance.

Many of us fall into the trap of working all the time, thanks to tools and technology that make this possible, especially for those who work from home. While it can be satisfying to accomplish a lot, it can also be detrimental to our mental health. We all need down time, fun time, and family and friend time. How can we achieve that if we are being constantly sucked back into our work life in our off time? So… How can we start to carve out some time for ourselves?

Begin by setting limits on yourself. Shut off the computer at 5:00 or your COB (Close of Business) time. At the very least do not allow yourself to feel obligated to check work emails after that. One trick is to use different email addresses and/or different mail clients to ensure personal and work emails are separated. Someone I know has different emails for friends, shopping sites, and work, and she does not have her work email set up on her cell phone. Instead, she uses Outlook for work and the Outlook app on her phone so that she can still get the emails and not miss anything important. However, since those emails aren’t coming to her regular inbox, they aren’t commanding her attention when she’s at the beach or dining out with friends. They’re available when she goes looking for them, but not “in her face” when she’s off the clock.

Inform colleagues and co-workers of the hours you are not available. Just because people can text and email at all hours of the day, it does not mean you HAVE to respond the moment you receive something. A word of caution, though: it goes both ways. Don’t break your own rule by texting and emailing a brilliant idea on your off hours. If you do craft that sure-fire, million-dollar idea and feel you must get it down on paper while in a creative way, write the email or text, scheduling it to be sent during your defined work hours.

Finally, be careful not to over-promise. I don’t know why it is, but there must be something in the air either 2 hours before the end of the workday, or more frequently, the latter part of a Friday afternoon. At those times, doesn’t it seem like people have gotten their second winds, awakening with the best, last minute requests and expect results by the next business day? Don’t fall into the trap of promising that the work will be completed by the next day. Unless you can complete the task by the end of your current workday, you know darn well that you will now feel compelled to work on it well into that evening, or God forbid, over the weekend. Work hard against that compulsion. As my sister tells her graduate students at a top-notch university: “Unless you are the president of a Fortune 500 company or a surgeon performing a life-saving operation, it is simply not necessary.” No one could reasonably expect that!

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule for which only you can be the judge. That said, to achieve the goal of establishing a better work/life balance, it is incumbent upon you to set the boundaries and to stick to them. Doing so can ultimately lead to a happier life.

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Three Tips to Organize Your Kitchen Utensils

Three Tips to Organize Your Kitchen Utensils

We all have that kitchen drawer: the one with whisks, can openers, vegetable peelers, and dental floss. (Dental floss? Yes, for slicing soft cheese like goat cheese.) Is your kitchen drawer a jumble? A place where you need to go on an expedition? Do you ask, “I know it’s here somewhere, but … where?”

Here are three tips to organize your kitchen utensils:

  1. Sort your utensils by their function. Place utensils by categories such as: cutting (knives), opening (rubber grips, openers, nut crackers), sealing (lid covers), mixing (mixing spoons, whisks), and chopping/mincing. The categories depend on what you have and how many of each; you might combine similar categories (opening and closing) depending on your drawer space.
  2. Buy drawer organizers. They come in different styles and materials, and they are relatively inexpensive. They are a great investment that reap long term benefits. One can choose from materials such as bamboo, plastic, or acrylic. The drawer organizer can be expandable to fit your drawer, or you can customize with either spring loaded drawer dividers or individual trays to fill your space.
  3. Hang them up. What about items that don’t fit any category because of size (spatulas) or uniqueness (cherry pitters)? If used frequently, hang them inside a cabinet door or other convenient spot. Unless you use them often (at least once a week), then consider putting them in a Rubbermaid container in a cabinet — labeled, of course—and leave yourself a note in the drawer as to where you put them so that you’re not right back in the same position of searching, searching, and searching some more.

Your kitchen drawers do not have to be a tangled mess that requires a map to locate that one utensil you are looking for. Just heed these simple measures above to avoid that and get to the real reason you’re in the kitchen to begin with: to prepare tasty treats for family and friends!

Photo: Pixabay

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Lost, Found, and Then … Never to Be Lost Again

Lost, Found, and Then … Never to Be Lost Again

Have you ever misplaced something, often a precious item or something you are on a deadline to retrieve, only to finally find it, thanking your lucky stars? Did you keep on looking for it once located? Of course not! You stopped, likely relieved beyond measure, swearing this would ‘never’ happen to you again, right?

When I work with clients, in similar situations, they will often ask me “Where should I put this?” I ask them, “Where would you first expect to look for it?” Indeed, there are natural spots for items to be stored such as pots and pans in your kitchen. Then there are other items that you store that are not so obvious such as sheets. One can store sheets in a linen closet or in the bedroom in which they are used. There can, in essence, be multiple places to store items, which often proves to be the source of confusion when attempting to locate them.

That said, the next time you go searching for something—an article of clothing, a tool, a piece of paper, a file on your computer—make a mental note of the first place you frantically began your mining. When you finally find what you are looking for and finish using it, store it in that first place you looked, because that’s where it belongs to your way of thinking. Or at least it will be the first location you will look the next time. If you do so, you won’t have to waste time searching all those other places because now it is where you naturally would go to retrieve it.

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Your Handy-Dandy All-in-One-Place Binder

Your Handy-Dandy All-in-One-Place Binder

If you have ever been to a real estate open house, you may have noticed most have a binder on the kitchen table with notes about the house. The binder may contain information about where the water shut-off can be found, appliance manuals/instructions, and recommended providers of home services. This item serves as your handy-dandy all-in-one-place binder.

Why not make a such a binder now, even when your house is not on the market? It’ll be a handy reference for you, family members, house guests, and house sitters.

You can include information that might not be appropriate for a real estate open house (names and contact information of neighbors). The binder may also include a household maintenance schedule to ensure you are maintaining the upkeep on your home.

I have a client who has such a binder. It was invaluable when she hired a house manager. When she was traveling, the house manager was able to pull out the binder and see whom to call when she needed a plumber. She also knew how my client liked her home maintained and what time of the year certain tasks needed to be done.

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Don’t Be a Jane or John Doe

Don’t Be a Jane or John Doe

Imagine this scenario: You are unconscious or unable to communicate because of an accident or medical event. Would first-responders or ER staff know whom to call?

What if you have kids to pick up from school or day care? Or pets home alone? Do you have a backup plan?

In this scenario, you don’t want to be a Jane or John Doe.

A few things you can do to guarantee that you are you is to carry a piece of paper with your name on it and emergency contact info in your pocket, even when you aren’t carrying a wallet (say out for a walk or run). I recently received a wrist wallet that allows me to carry my cell phone, key, credit card, and a note card with my name and emergency contact. I feel safe knowing I have the bare necessities with me without having to carry a purse. Most women’s clothing does not have pockets, yet we still need to carry important items.

You should also designate a family member or friend to be your kids’ and/or pets’ emergency person. Make sure they know what they need to know (what school your kids go to, where you hide the spare key, and where you stash the dog food).

Think through what someone would need to do for you until you are able to return home. Please let them know they are your go-to person, prepare written instructions for them, and keep those instructions where they can easily be found, such as on your refrigerator.

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Murder Miss Eleni S

If you are like most people, admit it now: you have a file folder/drawer/bin called, “Miscellaneous”. Heck, you may also have a folder on your computer with the same name.

Murder “Miss Eleni S”. Get rid of it. Now. It is dangerous… so much so that you need to kill it.

Why? Because it’s too easy to dump everything into MISCELLANEOUS because, well, MISCELLANEOUS covers anything and everything. It Is akin to not putting things away. Find some common way to categorize the information or objects and sort them into those said categories.

When I start working with a client on paper management and we are sorting paper to go into a file, inevitably, the first name that comes to them is “Miscellaneous” when trying to decide on the name of a folder to which they can assign no earthly name. I say, “No, let’s talk about what the paper is and where you would likely look to find it.”

Your reward is that when you go to find the item or paper, you will have a specific place to zero in on, not a landfill to wade through.

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Exert Control Over Your Chaotic Work Schedule

Exert Control Over Your Chaotic Work Schedule

Do you find yourself feeling disorganized at work? Would you like exert control over your chaotic work schedule?

To begin, you may want to organize your work projects. Depending on how many projects or clients you manage, different tools are available, at different price points, ranging from free to hundreds of dollars a month.

Some types of apps to consider:

CRM software: project and sales tracking (track anything with a pipeline)

Time trackers: track the time you work on client projects

Schedulers: to schedule your own time or book appointments

Please note: this list of suggestions is just that. Please do you own due diligence and research to determine what is best for you and your work situation. I am not endorsing any of these suggestions.

Some popular CRMS (the paid ones typically have a free trial period):

Excel –

Zoho –

Really Simple Systems –

Apptivo –

Less Annoying CRM –

Time Management – Check out these sites for a list of various time management apps:

Scheduling apps – Look for recommendations at these sites:

I am sure there are plenty more offerings to be found. Ask colleagues if they are using productivity tools and which ones they would recommend. Asking those that work in your industry is a great place to start as they are dealing with similar obstacles and challenges. Having the tools you need may help reduce the chaos in your work.

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I Know it’s Here Somewhere: How to Organize your Computer Files

I Know it’s Here Somewhere:  How to Organize your Computer Files

Are you one of those people who has every file on your computer’s desktop? And are they by chance all unhelpfully named “document1,” “document2,” “document3”? More to the point, when you go to find it, you think, “I know it’s here somewhere?” Well then, read on to learn how to organize your computer files.

Naming your file for future access is key, and the easiest way to do so is either when creating or downloading a file.

If your files need to be renamed:

On a Mac, click on the file name until it is highlighted. (Don’t double click right away or it will open the file.) Then type in the new name and press enter.

In Windows, right click on the file name, select Rename, type in the new name, and press enter.

To create and name folders.

On a Mac, be in the Finder, and then in the window, or folder, you want the new folder to reside. Go up to the menu bar and click on File and drag your cursor to New Folder. A folder will appear and be called, Untitled folder. Click once and the words will be highlighted. Now type in the folder name and press enter.

In Windows, right click inside the folder or desktop where you want the new folder to be. Choose Folder. A new folder will appear, enter the name and press enter.

Folders can be nested inside one another. This is where it becomes crucial to name your files and folders to represent exactly what they entail and to follow the naming convention you adopt.

For example, in your Documents folder, you may have a folder called House. In that folder you may have a Home Repairs folder, which contains documents of saved invoices and downloaded maintenance manuals. Naming each of the invoices and manuals according to what they represent will allow you to locate that document when you need it the most … and without panicking.

Still can’t find what you need? Here is how to search on a Mac (Spotlight) and Windows (search feature on taskbar)

            On a Mac, to use Spotlight, which is available on any screen, look for a magnifying icon located in the top right-hand corner, and type in the file name to search on your computer. Spotlight can also search the web.

                        You can also search for a file by using the search box in your Mac’s Finder to search for a file either within that folder, or your entire computer.

            In Windows, via the taskbar, in the search bar located on the left side of your taskbar, next to the Windows button, type in the name of the file or document you are searching for. When the search results appear, click on the file or document that matches your search name.

To simplify both your professional and personal life, the importance of naming a file cannot be overstated. You may want to devise a naming convention to keep files and folder names consistent, and therefore, easier to find.

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