Rejoice! The first day of spring is finally here. Besides tidying up your home or office, you may also want to consider some legal "spring cleaning" tasks as well.
As seasons change and time moves on, so will your legal needs -- especially when it comes to updating your important legal documents.
With that in mind, here are five legal spring cleaning tips that can potentially pay off:
- Update your estate plans. This spring might be a good time to update your will or trust -- or to finally draft those documents, if you've been putting it off. If you've recently moved, gotten married or divorced, welcomed a new child into your family, or just won the lottery, you may need to revise your will and other documents to make sure they reflect your current situation.
- Check your credit report. Are you a diligent bill payer or someone who's forgotten a couple payments? Regardless of your bill-paying habits, part of your legal spring cleaning routine should involve checking your credit report. Federal law requires three national credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report every 12 months, so why not take advantage of it? It's an especially good idea now, considering all the credit- and debit-card data that's been compromised as of late.
- Take another look at your lease. What does your lease say about getting your security deposit back? You'll want to review that, as it's one of the most common reasons for landlord-tenant disputes. Also, if you've discovered issues like a leaky faucet during your spring cleaning, check your lease to see if your landlord is responsible for fixing it.
- Learn more about hiring home-improvement contractors. Fixing up your home may be part of your spring cleaning plan, but make sure your agreement with a home improvement contractor is solid. At the most basic level, a well-drafted construction contract will clearly state when work will start and finish, the price to be paid, and the terms and conditions of payment. However, home improvement projects usually involve tinkering around essential structures of your house, so your contract should address various foreseeable risks between the parties in case there's any serious damage done.
- Talk to a tax attorney. If your personal income tax situation is complicated, or if you've received a letter or notification from the IRS that something's amiss, then an important part of your legal spring cleaning plan should be to speak with a tax attorney. An experienced tax attorney can pinpoint any potential problems and help you sift through the thousand-plus pages of IRS code to make sure you're getting all the deductions you're eligible for.
Of course these are just a few common legal issues that may need attention, and every person's situation is unique. If you're ready to spring into your legal "spring cleaning," check out FindLaw's Legal Planning homepage for more ideas that can pay off.