By Tim Kelly
In business and in government, being there is half the battle.
That was the message of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, who certainly was there Thursday for the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Conference at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City.
Guadagno, whose lively keynote speech highlighted the 12th annual event, told the 250 attendees “the main thing is to be accessible.”
Backing up her words with action, Guadagno publicly stated her personal cell phone number and invited the business leaders in attendance to call her any time, day or night.
Her words fit nicely for the event’s theme of “Women’s Empowerment and Engagement.”
“If you are having trouble getting through to a state department or need help cutting red tape, reach out and I’ll do whatever I can. Any department – except EZ Pass,” she said, drawing laughter in a reference to the multi-state agency, which the Cape May County Bridge Commission is planning to install at its spans’ toll stations this summer.
Giving out her cell number to a Cape May County audience is nothing new for the Lt. Governor, who said she announced it last year to 6,000 volunteer firefighters at their annual convention in Wildwood, resulting in “one offer of marriage,” she said to more laughs. But the point was made. Government representatives and business leaders should be on the scene and available.
“You shouldn’t be doing this job if you don’t want to be there to help people,” she said.
Guadagno’s talk was a highlight of an agenda filled with networking, informative talks and a panel discussion.
Dianna Deignan, M.D., of Cape Regional Physician Associates kicked things off with a time-management message on “Balancing Professional, Personal and Community Life.” Maggie Warner of Morey’s Piers and Beachfron Water Parks moderated a discussion panel on “Creating a Culture of Volunteerism.” The panel included Barbara Jones, of ServPro of Cape May and Cumberland Counties; Aimee Schultz of JASM Consulting; and Veronica “Ronnie” Town of Atlantic City Electric Company.
Ocean City’s own M. Susan Sheppard, Esq., Cape May County Surrogate Judge, delivered a fascinating talk on “Will Preparation for Any Age.”
Sheppard stated it was never too early for attendees to draw up their will, because the document provides individuals with peace of mind and control of their wishes for the distribution of assets to their loved ones. Without a will, Sheppard said, her office is called on to make the distribution which typically goes first to the spouse and then to the children. In the case of second and third marriages and step children “things get a little bit more complicated,” she said, which is reason enough to have the document executed.
Wills are not complicated, she said. “I have stopped using the example that it can be drawn up on a napkin, because we actually got a will on a napkin once,” she said. For a will to be legal, all it needs is to be signed, witnessed by two people and notarized, she said. She cautioned that the original will should be stored in a safe place and not written on. “I have no idea of knowing if something crossed out or added to a will was actually done by (the person whose will it is),” Sheppard said. She recommended having the will drawn up by an attorney as part of her “trifecta” of documents needed for settlement of one’s final affairs. The others include power of attorney, a document naming a representative to make financial decisions in the event a person is incapacitated, and a living will, which stipulates which measures may be taken to prolong a person’s life in the event he or she cannot state those wishes.
In the event a will does need to be changed, a codicil document may easily make those alterations and avoid marking up the original, she said. Sheppard recommended that wills be revikewed periodically, because situations change of the years. An inheritance or stipulation drawn up to protect a child will in all likelihood not be needed when the child is fully grown, Sheppard said.
Sheppard said despite a staff of just four people, her office serves more than 3,000 residents annually.
“You don’t need an appointment, just come in and we’ll have you out in 20 minutes in most cases,” Sheppard said. Additionally, she said her staff prides itself in “respectful bedside manner at a stressful time in peoples’ lives.”
Other presenters at the event were Andy Zinsmeister, of Dale Carnegie Training on “Networking to Make Connections;” and “Empowerment Through Engagement” by Anne Maiese of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.”