Eight Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Legal Trouble

Don’t roll the dice.  Take these steps now to avoid costly legal problems.

•    Do you know when your driver’s license will expire?  Pull it out of your wallet right now and put a reminder on your calendar four weeks before the expiration date.

•    Make sure each vehicle has a current copy of your insurance card and registration papers.  If you have a Health Care Directive, put a copy of that in your glove box too.

•    Do you share custody of your children with a former spouse or partner?  Take a moment to make sure you each have the best contact information for each other and update school, day care and medical records accordingly.

•    If protective orders exist, make sure schools and day care providers have a copy and understand the restrictions.

•    Review your estate plan.  This includes durable power of attorney documents, health care directives, wills and trusts.  Check the beneficiary designations on accounts and insurance policies to make sure they coincide with your other documents.  Seek legal advice before making any changes.

•    If you have children transitioning to adulthood, it’s time to consider health care directives and power of attorney documents for them as well.

•    If you are contemplating a marriage, sit down with your financial planner or tax advisor and review your financial picture.  Find out the potential consequences of merging your financial lives and what options are available.  Pre-nuptial agreements are useful tools for avoiding unintended consequences in the event of divorce or death.

•    Did your decree of divorce divide a retirement plan?  Make sure you have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order signed by the court and approved by the plan administrator.