Why You Need Legal Insurance

Is It Time for a Legal Checkup?

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Your annual trek to the doctor's office is a vital part of your health care routine. It helps you get your questions answered about health issues in your life and helps your doctor catch any problems before they become serious. Many employers now include physical exams as a component of their wellness programs because they have seen that they reduce overall health care costs (for employers and employees) and improve productivity.

Like a medical preventative care visit, a "legal checkup" can save you time, stress and money by providing you with professional advice from an attorney about your legal risks.

Ask yourself these 10 questions to see if it might be time to pay an attorney a visit.

Are you...

1. Getting married?

You'll most likely want to update your beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, life insurance policies and bank accounts to make your spouse the primary beneficiary. You'll also need to consider if you want to change any of your title ownerships, such as a home, so that they are jointly owned. And you will want to create or update your estate plans.

2. Getting divorced?

In addition to the legal assistance you will need to settle the divorce, you will also need to revisit your estate plans and beneficiary designations to make sure that you do not have assets going to your ex-spouse. The divorce may also impact any instructions you have in your estate plans for guardianship of minor children.

3. Adding to your family through births or adoptions of children/grandchildren?

While everyone needs an estate plan, having an up-to-date plan becomes even more important when you have children. You need to clearly identify who the guardians would be of your children if something should happen to you. An attorney can also help you discuss any legal issues regarding maternity and paternity leave policies at your place of employment.

4. Moving to a new state?

Property laws, taxes and estate rules vary from state to state. If you are planning a move, be sure you meet with an attorney in your new state to walk you through how changes in laws could affect your existing plans and assets.

5. Caring for an elderly family member?

You will want to make sure your aging loved one has important legal documents in place, such as durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney. If you are your loved one's agent, you may want guidance on your role and how to protect their rights.

6. Caring for a family member with special needs?

You will want to discuss with an attorney potential guardianship issues. An attorney can also walk you through whether a special needs trust is right for your situation.

7. Sending your teenagers into the real world?

Whether they are moving out, getting a job or heading off to college, this next chapter of their lives could introduce some legal and financial issues for them — and for you. Talk to your attorney about any potential issues with co-signing leases or dealing with credit issues. Keep in mind that once your children are 18, you need written consent from them (in the form of waivers and privacy releases) to obtain certain medical information about them.

8. Preparing for retirement?

In addition to meeting with your financial planners, you will also want to talk to an attorney to make sure all the paperwork for your retirement accounts is in order from an estate planning perspective.

9. Buying or selling a house?

In a perfect world, buying or selling a house would be easy. But to be prepared for whatever pops up during the process, meet with an attorney well-versed in your state's real estate laws to discuss the process.

10. Taking to the open roads?

Whether you have a lead foot or you are worried about your teen texting and driving, there are serious legal issues that can go hand-in-hand with driving. Talk to your attorney about your state's laws and how to find out whether those few speeding tickets you've received are putting your license at risk.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should make an appointment to meet with an attorney for a checkup.