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As we start a new year, consider this checklist for evaluating the health of your personal legal matters.

Jan 02 2017
With the New Year upon us, it is a perfect time to gauge your personal legal health.  Considering the items in the following legal checklist and see if there are items that need some additional attention.


1. Do you have a Will? If so, have you reviewed your Will lately to be certain that its terms are current?

2. Do you have an Advanced Healthcare Directive and Medical Power of Attorney, so that your loved ones are aware and have the authority to follow your intentions with respect to medical treatment and end of life decisions?

3. Do you have a Financial Power of Attorney document which will allow your business affairs to be conducted if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated?

4. If you have minor children, does your Will indicate who is to receive custody of your children if you die? Also, does your Will control how money is to pass to your children so that they don’t foolishly waste their inheritance?

5. Have you prepaid your funeral? This is especially important if your net worth is less than $500,000, as a nursing home stay may otherwise deplete your assets leaving your funeral unpaid. If this occurs, your loved ones will be burdened with paying for your funeral.

6. Have you recently reviewed the beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies you possess?

7. Have you recently reviewed the beneficiary designations on any retirement plans you possess?

8. If a spouse is likely to enter a nursing home, have you taken appropriate steps to protect spousal assets so that they are not entirely consumed by nursing home costs?

9. Have you included a letter of instruction with your other important documents so that your loved ones can understand your affairs in the event of your death or incapacity? This letter of instruction educates your loved ones as to the identity of your current financial accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, other assets, funeral plans, etc.

10. If you have selected limited tort coverage on your auto insurance policy, strongly consider switching to full tort coverage. If you are hurt in an auto accident due to the fault of someone else, limited tort coverage could prohibit you from receiving thousands of dollars of compensation.

11. Do you have adequate levels of liability coverage on your auto and homeowners insurance policies? If you accidentally cause injury to someone else, these coverages should be high enough to fully compensate the injured person. This will protect against an injured person wanting to pursue your personal assets.

12. Do you have adequate uninsured and underinsured coverages for your automobiles? If you are injured in an auto accident through the fault of another individual, these coverages will pay you for your uninsured or underinsured losses. Many experts recommend insured to have least $100,000 available from these types of coverages. 

13. If you have worsening medical issues, and are not yet at Social Security retirement age, are you educating yourself regarding what you must demonstrate to be found eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

14. If you have a business, have you considered who will be responsible and how you wish to have that business maintained and transferred after your passing. 

With this checklist in mind, I wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year.
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Joshua Watkins

Mr. Watkins is the Managing Member at Watkins Law Firm, LLC.  His legal practice has primarily focused on working with private companies as general counsel. As general counsel his duties typically include an array of tasks such as: in-house day-to-day activities, advising the company’s board of directors on their oversight responsibilities, planning and preparing complex corporate transactions, commercial litigation, tax planning, oversight of the corporation’s compliance with federal and state regulations, legal budget management, and specialized outsourcing of legal matters to other counsel when appropriate.

When counsel to emerging start-up companies, Josh often brings critical expertise in the many types of capital formation activities, including entity and structure choices, fundraising processes, and securities compliance.

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