Karen Conti, an attorney with ContiLaw, has a New Year’s Resolution that could be quite beneficial. Below is a checklist of sorts that Karen came up with in order to help listeners get their legal affairs in order.

  • 1. If you don’t have an estate plan, (will/trust), get one!   If you have one, make sure it is updated and is in a place where your loved ones can find it.  You should have a power of attorney for health care and for property decisions.   Review your pension and life insurance policies and make sure your beneficiaries are updated.  Make sure your trustee or executor is capable and willing to administer your estate when you die.  Look at your insurance policies and retirement plans.  Make sure the beneficiaries are updated and their contact information correct.  (Note, I have a list of trusted estate planning lawyers who I can recommend specifically for your situation.)
  • 2. Locate important documents and put them in a folder.  Better yet, scan them into a computer file.   The following should be among those records: estate planning documents (see above), house deeds, life insurance policies, home insurance policies, bank account records, credit card records, loan documents, leases, mortgages, student loan documents, pension records, social security cards, death certificate of spouse, military records, safety deposit box information and location of key, investments, birth certificates, divorce decrees and passports.
  • 3.  Make a list of all bills that are on autopay, including user-name and passwords. 
  • 4.  Put together a file with your medical information including names and contact information of all physicians.   Include your health insurer, group number and policy number.   List all medicines you are taking and identity of your pharmacy.  
  • 5.  Have a discussion with loved ones regarding your potential caregiving needs and end-of-life wishes.  Your loved ones should have written instructions about how you wish to be buried or cremated, religious preferences, and how it will be paid.
  • 6.  Review your credit score to make sure you have not had your identity stolen.
  • 7.  Create a full list of user-names and passwords to everything:  Social media, bank accounts, shopping sites, investments, Kindle, security systems, garage door combinations, subscriptions, etc.   Put this document in a safe place and save it on your computer with password protection.  
  • 8.   Read your divorce decree and parenting agreement to determine whether it needs to be updated and whether it is being followed.
  • 9.  Review your company’s employment handbook so you know what your rights are for holidays, vacation days, etc.   Ask to see your personnel file to make sure you know what is in it.
  • 10.  Before you buy online this year, make a point to read the warranty and guarantee information and online “terms and conditions.”
  • 11.  Review the rules about what to do during a traffic stop.
  • 12.  Consolidate your debts and/or pay them off.   Come up with a plan to pay off your debts using one of the free agencies available, a financial advisor or a loved one.  Create a budget that you can live with and create an emergency savings fund for hard times.
  • 13.  If you have unpaid taxes or unfiled tax returns, call me and I will refer you to someone to help get you filed and paid up.
  • 14.  Make a list of your personal items, especially valuables such as antiques, jewelry, and art.  Include the approximate value and preferred method of selling or gifting.
  • 15.  Create a “Home File,” which has all your house purchase documents, plot description, warranties, list of repairs made with dates and contracts. Review your mortgage documents and consider refinancing or hiring a lawyer to reduce your property taxes. 
  • 16.   Names and contact information for close friends, relatives, financial advisors, accountants, etc.
  • 17.  Talk to your spouse about his/her assets, debts, investments if you aren’t fully aware of them.
  • 18.  Preferences regarding your pets.

If you need referrals to any professional of any kind — including attorneys — please call (312-332-7800) or email Karen (WGN@AskKarenConti.Com) and she would be happy to recommend someone she trusts to handle your matters!  Happy New Year to you!