Now that the Mayan calendar apocalypse failed to materialize, it’s time to buy a new normal calendar and to plan for the New Year.
Usual resolutions of losing weight, working out and other lofty goals are fine. But, here are some legal resolutions for the list.
Do a trust or a will and other personal documents. People of all ages should sleep well knowing they have left final directives.
A will tells the probate court how you want your possessions to go. A trust avoids probate.
Other documents including powers of attorney, living wills and health care proxies make life less stressful for loved ones should something unthinkable happen.
Contribute to your own retirement account. Different alternatives exist including 401K, SEPP IRA, Roth and others.
But if you want to reduce tax liabilities and do something for your own future this is a must in the New Year.
Insure motor vehicles. Motor vehicles are a rolling risk.
That a car “isn’t worth insuring” fails to address that you or your loved ones might be hurt, uninsured accident medical bills will bankrupt you, or that if the other guy does not have insurance, you’re unprotected.
Taking the uninsured other guy to court is a waste of time if they have no assets and little or no income to pay any judgment you might get.
Formalize business relationships. People often start a venture with little or no formalization, sometimes with friends, family and otherwise thinking that everything will shift paradigms.
When, notice I did not say if, when things go badly, the lack of an individualized operating agreement or negotiated by laws, neither of which are available in the big box or website form generators, will bring on needless and costly litigation.
Balance all accounts each month. It’s boring. But, there’s software to help. Merchants and banks do make mistakes.
Also review all credit card statements right away line by line. Ever cancel a service but the charges keep appearing? Failing to dispute on time waives your rights.
Do not pay back credit card balances out of a 401K. All 401K plans and any ERISA retirement accounts are nearly always entirely exempt from creditors in bankruptcy and otherwise.
Exemption laws offer protection against draining down life savings to pay ever growing credit company interest, fees, charges and other dubious items. Don’t even think about it.
Do not use quickie Internet and big box quickie forms. A form banged out in a distant state is doubtful to meet the legal requirements specified in the ever changing state laws where you live.
You will save money in the long run and save costly legal problems by retaining an attorney to listen to your personal needs and provide the correct documents for you.
Get a receipt for everything. Why not? Should something happen, they’re going to ask if you have one.
Happy New Year! Be safe, be well and be wise.
Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.