Advice from LawyerLisa: Top 8 Ways All Women Can Protect Themselves, Legally
By: Lisa Hostetler, Managing Attorney at LawyerLisa, LLC
1. Start or grow accounts in your name that you can get access to if needed, but that are good investments. Using a ROTH IRA and a savings or investment account can help you have a safety net.
2. Make sure you have updated Advance Directives. If you have not updated your health care power of attorney, living will, and financial durable power of attorney to name the people you trust to make decisions for you, you are leaving your care and finances up for a potential court battle. Outdated advance directives or lack thereof are key reasons why family or interested parties may have to resort to the probate court for legal proceedings.
3. Make sure your immediate family members have their estate planning done. Estate planning may include putting property into a trust to avoid probate, doing Medicaid planning in anticipation of the high costs of long term care for parents, setting up accounts to avoid fighting amongst siblings, planning around debt from an illness, and more. If your immediate family members have their planning done the right way, it can save a lot of time, money, and conflict for you.
4. If you are considering getting married and you have assets or plan to inherit assets, you can plan protection of your assets through the use of a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or creative estate planning without spousal knowledge.
5. Plan for your long term care needs. You need to think about how you will be cared for long after retirement. What financial and family resources do you have available to you to provide you with care your entire lifetime?
6. Always review contracts before signing them. Many contracts are negotiable or can be modified. If you are creating a contract or other legal document, get a lawyer to review it for you. Landlords who have well-crafted leases are much more likely to have a favorable court ruling if they get into a dispute with their tenants than if they have a poorly drafted lease.
7. If you are negotiating a deal where you are giving or loaning something to someone, make sure you get enough of a deposit or earnest money to offset your costs in enforcing the deal. Your agreement should provide for you to be reimbursed for your costs and fees (including attorney fees), but if the other party doesn’t have enough money, you may not get anything, even if you win. If you are holding money or an interest as security, you are much more likely to be reimbursed if the deal goes south.
8. Structure any business interest you may own in a corporation, LLC, or partnership to protect your assets. Explore ways to avoid losing your personal assets in the event of a business default or law suit.