In this time of new beginnings, as the New Year unfolds, many of us are implementing our New Year’s resolutions, or at least thinking about it. You look forward to a fresh new start, thinking about all of the things you want to accomplish in 2014, the places you want to go, and the relationships you want to improve, the ways you can make your life better, richer and fuller.
A lawyer can help you do that. Really? Aren’t lawyers for when things go wrong in your life? Don’t you just need a lawyer to clean up messes and solve problems?
Many people only see a lawyer when they are going through a difficult time in their lives like a divorce or some other dispute. But, much of the work that lawyers do focuses on positive events in people’s lives, assisting in the planning process that will make their lives better, smoother, richer and fuller.
How do lawyers do this? By formalizing agreements – putting down on paper the thoughts that have been floating around your head for months or years. It is in that vein that I mention the prenuptial agreement. You may be thinking, “How dare this lawyer, in the month of February – the season of Valentine’s Day and cupid and love – mention something as anti-love as a prenup”??!! Because the prenup is a planning tool.
The common view of a prenup is that it is for couples who don’t trust each other, or trust that their marriage will last. The truth is a prenuptial agreement can actually ensure that a marriage lasts. Big issues surface in a marriage around money and assets. Couples who sit down together and iron out the details about how they will handle their finances in the marriage before they walk down the aisle can prevent years of frustration and fighting about money matters. Committing all of that to paper in a prenuptial agreement solidifies a pattern of honest and open communication about money and can create healthy, lasting marriages.
Now a word on wills and trusts. . . At this point you may be thinking, “Is this guy just trying to depress me? Why do I want to think about death? This article is supposed to be about new beginnings!” True, a will or trust is your planning tool for how to distribute your property and handle other matters after you die. Without a will or trust, your intentions may not be honored and your family may not be adequately taken care of; all scary stuff. If you have a will or trust, those nagging thoughts in the back of your head disappear, and you can live your life to the fullest knowing that your affairs are in order and your family will always be cared for.
So, in this season of new beginnings, I encourage you to take steps to make life better, richer and fuller, which may just involve some legal planning.