Four Legal Resolutions For The New Year

Four Legal Resolutions For The New Year

It’s time to take care of those things that have been languishing at the bottom of your to-do list. Or maybe you’ve forgotten about those parking tickets, or decided it isn’t worth fighting for back child support. If any of these applies to you, resolve to take care of it this year. Even the most daunting tasks are made easier by taking the first step...

1. Pay those parking tickets. If you accumulate too many, the state can suspend your license. If you get caught driving on a suspended license, even if you didn’t know that your license was suspended, you’ll be in an even worse situation. Driving on a suspended license is a crime, and you can even face jail time. The same is true for unpaid red-light tickets. Also, keep track of tickets you have contested by mail, and even those that you believe you have paid. You may never hear from the state about it, so it’s up to you to make sure things get resolved. You can check the status of parking tickets online. If you can’t afford to pay your fines, ask about payment plans.

2. Get your estate plan in order. If you don’t have one, get one. For many people, it’s fairly straightforward and an experienced attorney can make the process rather painless. You just have to take the first step. The main arguments for having an estate plan include avoiding probate, giving your assets and property to the people of your choice, setting up guardians for your children, and putting money in trust for them. If you already have an estate plan, it might be a good idea to look it over and make updates if things have changed. It’s not necessary to look at your estate plan every year, but if you’ve gotten married or divorced, or had a child (or additional children), you might need to revise your plan. Powers of attorney are important documents to have, as well. .

3. Clear up your record. If you’ve ever been arrested, convicted, put on probation or supervision, spent time in jail, etc., it’s most likely on your record. You can’t erase everything. Some things can at least be “sealed,” which hides them from the general public (such as employers doing background checks). Other things, such as most felonies and DUIs, cannot be erased or sealed. Whether your record can be cleared depends on several factors, including other things that might be on your record. It’s a confusing set of rules, but worth looking into. If you need help, have an experienced attorney advise you. There are defense attorneys who handle sealing and expungement on a regular basis.

4. Get the child support you’re owed. Some people -- probably many people -- never get the child support they are owed. I especially hate to hear about those who have given up because it’s too daunting, or because the other parent gets paid in cash and they assume they won’t get anything, or because the other parent moved out of state and can’t be reached. There is a state agency that can help you for free (although it will likely take longer), and there are private attorneys who can help you collect what you’re owed. If you don’t have a court order, then you’ll need to get one and then start collecting support payments from there. Once you have that court order for child support, you can attempt to collect past-due payments at any time; there is no deadline.

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