Archive for Asset Protection

Power of Attorney in Estate Planning: Why It Matters

handd holding a pen and signing paperwork

What is Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is a powerful tool that can impact the lives of yourself, friends, and family long after the principal is deceased. “Power of attorney over a person, who is known as the principal, is most often utilized when the individual handing over power has concerns about their ability to make legal decisions for themselves,” says the Attorney Referral Service by the San Francisco bar association, which can help potential agents (or those who possess power of attorney) claim power of attorney in California.

The power of attorney is not only useful in legal or financial situations involving a deceased person’s estate. Any time you need someone to act in legal matters on your behalf, you can bestow upon them power of attorney to handle your affairs.

You can assign power of attorney for the duration of a short business deal or after a specific future event comes to pass. Some people assign power of attorney for matters of convenience in business, but it is most often used in wills to designate an agent in case of debilitation or death on the part of the principal.

For Your Parents

Having a conversation with your parents about their deaths is not easy business. However, it is a necessary evil we must all eventually go through, and it is better to get it out of the way when your parents are still of sound mind and body.

Encouraging your parents to draft a will or estate plan is in their best interests as well as yours. This becomes especially prudent if you or your parents have a lot of siblings. Estate planning is a great way to ensure that your parent’s friends and loved ones will not be distracted by petty disagreements or confusion after the principal’s death and can focus on mourning properly.

Sit down with your siblings, parents, and any other interested parties to hash out who should be preemptively assigned power of attorney.

For Yourself and Your Children

If one of your children or a third party contests your will after death, your family could be in for a drawn out and painful process. The contestation of a will can lead to more than hurt feelings between loved ones: your last wishes may not be met.

To avoid sowing conflict between family members, you can preemptively assign power of attorney. This itself may lead to hurt feelings, if one child or sibling feels as though they would better serve as the executor of your estate. But it is better to hurt feelings now, when you are alive, than to subject your mourning loved ones later to even more grief and heartache.

Take a hard look at your children, siblings, and spouse. Who has the best understanding of your desires for your assets post-mortem? What does the divestment of your state look like to you? It is important not only to choose someone who has a thorough knowledge of your value system, but also who is fair and balanced in their treatment of others. You want an agent who can navigate strong feelings and who will not take things too personally when things inevitably get heated in the divestment process.

How to Choose an Agent

The nature of being an agent with power of attorney necessitates an even keeled and fair judgment. When choosing an agent for yourself, you should look for someone who has a thorough understanding of what you would like done with your assets after death or debilitation. You want to take care that your agent is committed to the full realization of your wishes after your demise.

If you believe you are a good fit to be an agent for a principal, make your intentions known during the estate planning process. Demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the principal’s values and communicate how you would handle any disputes which may arise between family or friends during the execution of the estate.

Choosing an agent to receive power of attorney goes beyond planning for one’s death. If you have health issues or would just like to prepare for any worst-case scenario imaginable, consider a durable power of attorney over a general power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will retain legal standing in the case of your incapacitation, whereas a general power of attorney’s purview ends the moment you become incapacitated.

If you get sick or are otherwise injured and need someone to act on your behalf, it is prudent to assign a durable power of attorney to a trusted individual.

Avoiding the Fines: Are You Compliant with These 8 PCI DSS Rules?


When you run a business that accepts card payments, you?re almost definitely going to be covered by PCI DSS requirements. PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards and to put it simply, these are the legal requirements you have to fulfil when processing card transactions.

These requirements are created to protect you and your customers from card fraud. Take a look through our list to be sure you?re following the mall. Failure to do so can leave you open to a lawsuit and uncovered by insurance if fraud does occur.

1. Maintain a Firewall

A firewall must be used to prevent unauthorised access to your systems from outside of your network. The firewall should be properly enabled and updated so it only allows what you want to pass through it.

2. Use of Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Programs

Anti-virus and anti-malware seem like obvious things to have, yet there are still people and businesses who use inadequate coverage. It?s best to go with the most reputable brands, regardless of cost. The programs should be configured to work with your systems in the best way too, and of course they should be updated regularly. Remember to actually use these programs and scan regularly too.

3. Change All Default Settings

Never keep default accounts or passwords on your system.Change or delete every one of these before setting up your network. Some programs may come with default settings which can be exploited, be wary of this and set up all software thoroughly.

4. Use of Secure Digital Storage

Any data which is stored must be done so in a secure manner.This means even if you are taking credit card payments over the phone instead of online, you can?t just jot the details down on a notepad. Everything should be inputted through your system, which should use various forms of hashing and encryption to store it all securely.

5. Maintaining a Secure, Updated System

Your entire network should also be updated regularly. Any software which isn?t updated with the latest patches could be vulnerable as an entry point for attackers. Stay safe and stay up to date.

6. Restriction of Access to Data

Access to the sensitive data you hold should be restricted and given only when truly needed. Using a system which logs access and uses identifiers to see who accessed the data is a great way to spot unauthorised usage. Only allowing access when the account in question needs it is also a great idea.

7. Restricting Physical Access to Devices

Online security is one thing, but you still need to think about offline too. It?s no good if somebody can just walk into your server room and swipe your raw data to try and figure out at home. Keep your data servers in a physically safe location, under lock and key where access is restricted.

8. Security Testing

Regular testing can alert you to vulnerabilities in your system before they become a serious problem. Take advantage of this and test often. Use qualified personnel and be sure to have a good network administrator around to spot weaknesses.

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your Assets

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your Assets

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your AssetsEveryone knows you need to plan for your financial future. This means having some type of retirement savings. Most people also know that you should have a will. But, what not all people realize?is that you should also consider setting up an estate.

You might be thinking, “Oh I don?t have a lot of assets or?a bank account with millions of?dollars, so I don?t need an estate.” But that thinking may be wrong.

Now admittedly, not everyone needs an estate. Sometimes a will is just fine. But, an estate can be a better?way to plan for the distribution of assets than a will or living will. Here are some reasons why an estate may be a better option.


When someone passes away and there is a will, it goes to probate. Probate is the public hearing by a judge to determine if the will is the latest and most up-to-date document for distribution of assets. This is all fine and dandy until someone contests it.

In some families this can get dirty. As it is public information, anyone can look it up and contest the will. Putting your will into an estate avoids probate and allows for less contention of the will and final testament.

Setting Up Power of Attorney

Everyone should have a power of attorney, no matter what. By creating a power of attorney with your estate, the person you designate is able to follow your last wishes to every detail. It can also help smooth things over with family members. But you should still have a discussion about such matters when you are still alive.

Makes Passing Down Assets Easier

Setting up an estate can help avoid some of the estate tax and inheritance tax that many states have in place. This means more of the assets you own will be able to be passed down to others instead of being subject to as many taxes. As mentioned, an estate also makes information about who is getting what private and offers less cause for discord among family members.

This privacy can also be valuable if you want to donate assets to charity or other institutions. If you are passing down?assets to minors, an estate will ensure that the money is managed correctly until they can manage it by themselves.

Protects Beneficiaries

Estates are great for protecting the beneficiaries who get your assets. As stated above, an estate helps protects minors who may?be receiving money. Sometimes this is set up in a trust. By creating an estate plan you designate who will be the trustee of the minor’s inheritance until they are old enough to manage it.

An estate can also help protect an adult from their own misfortune or possible mishandling from other family members. For example, if you wanted to give assets?to your granddaughter, but not her husband, an estate can help you can set it up in the best interest of?your granddaughter where her husband can’t access the assets.

Any plan of action for the future is a good start. A great plan is having an estate and making sure that minor children are taken care of should you pass unexpectedly, as well as ensuring that your last wishes are carried out. Having an estate plan makes things less questionable and can give your loved ones peace of mind, knowing they don?t have to worry about these things.


Do you have an estate plan? What are you plans for protecting and passing on assets?


Photo courtesy of: Ashish_Choudhary

How to Avoid Phishing Schemes


How to Avoid Phishing SchemesDid you know that you can go phishing with your email?

Yes, I spelled that right, phishing.

I don?t mean fishing by printing out your emails and then putting them on a hook and throwing it into the lake to see what sticks. I?m talking about phishing, a method where hackers try to get you to give up your personal information such as your credit card numbers, social security number or passwords to financial accounts.

Phishing schemes seem to be the popular method for hackers these days. These schemes may come in form of fraudulent websites and emails that look legitimate when they aren?t.

The emails may appear to come from the IRS or another trusted site saying if you don?t enter your account info you?ll lose x, y and z.

Although they sound legitimate, you should never enter your information, especially if it?s a pop-up window. If you are questioning wether or not an email you received is legitimate, it’s best to be cautious. Here are some other ways to avoid phishing?scams.

Beware of Unknown Senders and Generic Messages

Don?t open any email you don?t know who the sender is. If you don?t know the name or domain?don?t open that email.

Another warning sign is if the email is generic, saying dear sir/madame, and asking for your name, address, phone number, credit card, etc. It?s a phishing scam. Don?t enter your information. Delete it, block it and report it.

Not only will it make you think you know them, by opening it you could be opening your computer up to malicious software or viruses. If you don?t know them, block the sender and delete the message.

Federal Agencies and Banks Don’t Email You

Most federal and state agencies won’t?email you or call you. If the IRS wants to get a hold of you, they will send a letter for you to call them.

The same goes for fake bank emails. Your bank won?t ever ask for personal information over email. If you think an email might be from your bank, call them first and ask.

You should never give personal information in your emails to anyone. It?s really a standard?practice.

Avoid Pop-Up Screens

Don?t click on pop-up screens.?Your web browser has a pop-up blocker for a reason. If you trust the website you are on, you can choose to allow the pop-ups,?but if you are not familiar with the website, then it’s best to avoid pop-up screens. If they do pop-up, don?t click on it other than to close it.

Use Search Engines to Your Advantage

If you are unsure if the pop-up, email, or website you are seeing is legitimate, do a quick Internet search. There are a lot of websites that report fraud, phishing or suspicious sites, and if the site in question shows up there then delete it from your email right away. You can do the same thing with phone numbers too to see if where they are coming from and if other people have reported them as a scam.

A lot of this is common sense. Just like with other types of scams, if it looks, smells or feels suspicious don?t open or click anywhere on it!

A strong anti-virus on your computer will also help in deciding if something is suspicious. If you click on it and your anti-virus pops up saying it?s suspicious, then don?t go to the site.

Common sense is your friend on the internet so you can avoid phishing scams.


Have you ever fallen for a phishing scam? How else can these scams be avoided?


Photo courtesy of: TheDigitalWay

Are You Prepared for a Financial Disaster?

Financial Disaster

Financial DisasterThe following post is a contribution from my blogging friend over Financial Debauchery, a money blog that focuses on comprehensive financial planning and strategies for a brighter future. If you would like to contribute to Wise Dollar, please contact us.

You wouldn?t jump out of an airplane without a parachute. You probably also wouldn?t drive down the expressway without your seat belt.

Yet, every day, millions of people do exactly the opposite when it comes to how they handle their money. They go about their day completely wide open to any financial disaster that could overtake them at any given time.

Some claim they don?t have the time to worry about it. Some just simply don?t care. Others just don?t know where to look or how to get started.

In this post we?re going to highlight some of the larger areas of financial protection you should definitely cover so that you?re prepared for the worst of disasters.

Income for the Family After You?re Gone

What if the worst happened? What if there was suddenly no one around to help support or take care of the family?

One thing that many people are completely unprepared for (or even unaware of) is the protection of having life insurance. If you were to die tomorrow, your loved ones would be faced with a major financial burden. They?d first have to figure out how to pay for all your funeral expenses. Then they?d have to cope with the loss of your income. And believe me ? Social Security and your employer?s life insurance policy are not going to cut it.

One of the cheapest and best things you can do is to get a term life insurance policy that is 10-12 times your annual income. If you have any questions about whether or not you?d qualify for one, don?t worry. Some providers even offer guaranteed term life insurance policies that will protect you no matter what. By getting yourself some kind of policy, you will be ensuring your loved ones that if a tragedy should happen you?ll be all set for at least a decade or better.

What If You Could No Longer Work?

Death isn?t the only thing that can become a huge financial disaster. There are many people who get hurt and become temporarily disabled for some period of time. When that happens, usually you can?t work anymore. And that means no income.

To protect your family from this, check into a good disability insurance policy. Though they are generally more costly than what you would expect from a life insurance policy, you can shop around to find some decent prices. Plus they can be well worth the money should you ever need to redeem one.

What About a Financial Disaster Now?

There are a lot of things that may not be tragedies but they can certainly drain your finances faster than you can blink. In 2013 I had more than $6,000 in random car repairs to pay for. That?s outrageous!

Unfortunately it doesn?t end there. Basements flood, roofs need repairs, medical emergencies pop up, and we occasionally lose our jobs!

To protect ourselves and keep your finances from going into high-interest debt, it?s recommended that you have at least 3-6 months of your normal income set aside in emergency funds. That will give you the money you need to take care of whatever you have to for at least a few months until you can find a new job and temporarily relieve the pain until we can get back on our feet.

Planning Ahead for the Future

Though most of us know that you should be saving for retirement, not many people really understand that this is a form of financial protection as just as important as any of the other points above.

Saving for retirement protects us by providing income at an age when we are no longer able to earn it ourselves. During your working years you save a little bit every month by putting it into an investment account where it grows tax-deferred. That?s a huge advantage over stuffing the money under your mattress because it allows your nest egg to grow faster than inflation and much, much larger since you?re not paying taxes until you need the money for retirement.

The good news: Saving doesn?t have to be complicated. In fact even following the simplest recommended retirement directions from personal finance advisors could still lead you to savings up and over one million dollars.

A good rule of thumb for saving for retirement is to build up your nest egg approximately 20-25 times bigger than your current income. That will ensure that you can withdraw around 4% from the fund every year for the next 30 years with an extremely low likelihood that you will run out of money.

It All Starts With You

Remember that no one is looking out for your family except you. Not the government, not your work, not your friends. It?s all up to you. Make it a priority to take as much time as you need to look into each of these areas and do what you need to make sure you are protected against the next financial disaster.


What are you doing to prepare for a possible financial disaster? What is one thing you think we too commonly overlook when it comes to being financially prepared?



Photo courtesy of:?JSellger2