It’s that time of year – time to start making New Year’s resolutions. And while you might be considering losing those last 10 pounds, taking up a new hobby or trying to read more, consider some legal New Year’s resolutions instead. While they might not be as fun or exciting as your other choices, these resolutions will give you priceless peace of mind and set you up for brighter years to come.
What legal resolutions should you be making? Here’s a short list.
1. Get a will (or update one).
Every single person needs a will. No matter what your age, your financial status or your life situation, you need a will and estate planning documents. Why? Because your assets, your children and your legacy deserve to be protected, and you need to save your family the hassle of dealing with a lengthy and difficult probate process. No doubt 2017 will bring you joy and health, but being prepared for the future gives you the kind of peace of mind that allows for a full life. In addition to a will, you need a living will, which allows you to make health decisions for yourself in case you were incapacitated and power of attorney, which sets up a person to handle your legal and financial affairs in case you aren’t able to.
If you already have a will, a new year is a perfect time to update it. Experts say you should update your will every three to five years, or sooner if you’ve had a major life change, such as marriage or divorce, new children or moving to a new home. A will update doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated, and it can ensure that your estate planning documents are protecting you as well as they can.
2. Get on top of debt.
Too many Americans have debt, and it creates unnecessary financial stress. From eating up your income with interest, payments and late fees to increasing the amount you pay for a car or a new line of credit through higher interest rates, tackling debt should be your number one financial priority. But how? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, consider a lawyer’s help. A good financial lawyer can help you renegotiate debt and decide what steps are best for your financial future. Don’t spend another year weighed down by debt – make 2017 the year you get on top of it and live life debt-free.
3. Create a budget and stick to it.
In addition to getting rid of debt, a budget can help you organize your finances and make sure you’re not creating more financial and legal problems in the future. Texas Legal members have access to free financial counseling through Transformance USA, a Dallas-based non-profit that helps individuals and families create financial freedom for themselves. You can’t afford not to take advantage of this free service. Transformance’s financial counselors can help you figure out ways to save money and organize your finances for a brighter financial future.
4. Protect yourself from ID theft.
Identity theft is a serious problem and growing all the time. And identity thieves are resourceful – constantly finding new ways to steal your personal information and take advantage of you financially. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself. Texas Legal members get free identity theft protection through AllClearID. AllClear will monitor your credit cards and accounts for fraudulent activity, as well as keeping an eye out for someone trying to use your name and information to get a loan, get a job or cause financial harm. They also offer a free Child Scan service, which allows you to protect the most vulnerable members of your family – your kids – from identity theft. Many people pay $20-$30 a month for services like AllClearID, so your Texas Legal plan offers serious savings to you while protecting you from sticky-fingered ID thieves.
5. Meet with a lawyer about that important legal issue.
Do you have a legal question you’ve been wondering about for awhile? Perhaps you’re getting married and wondering about a prenup. Or considering a divorce and wondering about the possible outcomes. Maybe that dispute with your neighbor is getting worse, and you’re wondering what your rights are. Most people have some legal issue they’re concerned about, whether it’s a simple legal question or a complex legal issue. Whatever it is, your legal plan is here to help. For members, we have a Legal Access Line where you can connect with a local lawyer who specializes in the area of law you need and get good advice via phone. Your plan also covers several in-person consultations with a lawyer every year, and if you think further action needs to be taken, you plan covers a long list of legal benefits so you can get that issue taken care of for next to nothing. Whatever it is, this is the year to pick up the phone and get a lawyer’s help.
A Legal Plan Can Help You Tackle Your Legal Resolutions
If you’re not already a member, consider Texas Legal as a first step towards getting your legal life in order in 2017. Texas Legal members pay a low monthly fee – from $10 to $30 a month – and get a long list of legal benefits, including free estate planning, identity theft protection, financial counseling and help with a variety of legal issues such as divorce, bankruptcy, custody, real estate, criminal law and more. Texas Legal is a non-profit, created by the state bar and the state legislature to help everyday Texans address their legal problems without paying expensive legal fees. We can help you get your legal and financial life in order, without adding the stress of legal expenses. Get Texas Legal today and set your legal New Year’s resolutions in motion!