It’s never too late to make some new year’s resolutions. If you’re tired of resolving to lose weight, or get organized, or whatever other promises you make to yourself every year, try these legal resolutions for a change. They won’t all apply to you, but if they do, it might be time to do something about it.
– Take another look at your estate plan. If you have an outdated estate plan, get it updated as soon as possible. We’d argue that an outdated plan is worse than no plan at all. If you’ve experienced a major life change, such as divorce, marriage, or having a child, then your plan likely needs an update. If you don’t have an estate plan, it’s time to get one. A simple will, perhaps a trust, and powers of attorney are in a typical package. At the very least, properly execute a power of attorney (one for healthcare and one for finances). You can get these forms free online. You also may want to fill out a living will or advance directive (which tells doctors whether you want to be kept alive on life support). I wouldn’t recommend doing your own will or trust, but the other three documents I mentioned aren’t as complicated. If you have legal advice while filling them out, great. But make sure you don’t pay a lot because they’re fairly straight forward.
– Pay those parking tickets. These can add up and lead to worse than the fine you face now. If you accumulate too many unpaid parking tickets, your license can be suspended. If it gets this far, it’s a pain to take care of. But what’s worse is if you get caught driving on a suspended license. Even if you didn’t know your license was suspended (they notify you but that notice doesn’t always get to the right person), you’re still in the same trouble. Driving on a suspended license is a crime. Jail time isn’t likely if you have a clean record, but it’s certainly on the table. If you can’t afford to pay your parking tickets, ask about payment plans.
– Get that child support you’ve been waiting for. If you don’t have a court order, that will be your first step. Once you have that order, you can enforce it. It can be daunting, especially if the other parent is hiding, lives out of state, makes their money under the table, etc. However, these are common situations, which child support collection attorneys are familiar with. If you can’t afford to hire an attorney to get you the child support you’re owed, try going through the state. There is an agency that helps parents collect. It’s not as quick, but it’s worth a try if it’s your only option. There are no guarantees either way, unfortunately, but I hate to see people give up before trying. It’s money for your child and it may be possible to get what you’re owed, including past payments that you never received.
– Check your record. Look for lingering arrests, cases, convictions, etc. You may not be able to clear up everything, but do what you can. In some cases, you can clear up everything. It just depends on what you’ve got. There are two ways to clean up your record – you can seal it or expunge it. Expunging your record (or certain things on it) is the better option because it’s completely erased. Sealing your record is still good, because it will hide your record from the general public at least. Employers can’t see a sealed record when they do a background check, for example. Start by contacting the police department where your case originated or where you were arrested and request a copy of your record.