February 2006 "10 Tips To Be Prepared"
PLANNING FOR WEALTH & SECURITY
By attorneys Jennifer & Jeff Hawkins
10 TIPS TO BE PREPARED
People often forget to keep their important papers in order. Disorganization can rob you of the chance to react quickly to some important circumstances. Also, disorganization can cause serious errors to occur in the settlement of your affairs later.
Here are 10 tips to consider in your management of important papers:
1. If you buy land, be sure to get and keep a copy of your deed (the document that transfers real estate ownership) after it is recorded (all deeds should be recorded in the Recorder's office of the county where the real estate is located) so that your copy will bear the County Recorder's stamp showing the date, time and location of the deed's recordation.
2. If you sell a piece of your land, be sure to get and keep a recorded copy (bearing the Recorder's stamp) of your deed to your buyer after it is recorded so your attorney can figure out what you still own.
3. If you sign a lease for gas or natural resources, be sure to get and keep a recorded copy (bearing the Recorder's stamp) of your lease documents after they are recorded so we can identify what restrictions the lease may impose on you later.
4. Make sure that you and your spouse are fully informed of all of your financial and legal affairs so that your spouse is not left bewildered after your death.
5. Make sure that your primary and secondary people that you intend to manage your affairs after your death understand your financial and legal affairs before your death so that they will know their responsibilities and be prepared to fulfill them.
6. Review your estate plan with a qualified estate planning attorney at least once every three years to ensure that your plan is up to date.
7. If you want to change your estate plan, do it now - while you still have the ability to change it.
8. Keep all of your important papers in a well-organized place and inform your attorney, accountant and future legal representatives (often your spouse or children) of the documents' location.
9. Have a qualified estate planning attorney make a will if you own assets in your individual name.
10. Have a qualified estate planning attorney make a power of attorney for you if you have a spouse, children or others that you can trust to manage your affairs if you become disabled.
These tips will not solve all of your family's future problems, but they can avoid some big headaches.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. ALWAYS CONSULT AN ATTORNEY DIRECTLY BEFORE RELYING UPON THIS ARTICLE OR CHANGING AN ESTATE PLAN.
© 2006 by HAWKINS LAW PC, Estate, Trust & Business Attorneys. All rights reserved. Published with permission. Previous editions of this column are archived on the Internet at www.hawkinslaw.com. The authors may be contacted toll-free at 866-429-5529.