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    How is Your Legal Health?


      Staying in shape means more than physical well-being. Your legal health is also very important. If you keep legally fit, you can avoid problems that could be very costly in terms of your time and money. Here are a tips on how to get legally healthy and stop problems before they start.
      It you want to stay legally healthy you should take special care with documents by:

      • reading them carefully before you sign
      • asking for an explanation of anything you don’t understand
      • keeping copies
      • putting all important agreements or contracts in writing
      • using certified mail for important documents so you can prove that you sent them
      • keeping documents like wills and trusts up-to-date by reviewing them after a marriage, certified domestic partnership, divorce, birth or death

      You should use a bank safe deposit box to store documents that you rarely use such as:

      • automobile ownership certificate
      • birth certificate
      • divorce (dissolution) papers
      • grant deed and policy of title insurance
      • life insurance policy
      • marriage license
      • naturalization papers
      • passport
      • will and trusts

      You should keep for at least six years such papers as:

      • agreements, loan papers and similar documents
      • bank statements and cancelled checks
      • copies of income tax returns (bad debt or worthless securities deductions – 7
      • years)
      • insurance policies, including auto, homeowners and public liability
      • real estate tax bills

      In case of theft or fire, you should keep in a safe place a list of personal property, including:

      • descriptions of the property
      • identification numbers
      • receipts
      • photos

      You should get and keep receipts for:

      • rent payments, if you pay in cash
      • most purchases or payments

      Your legal health will also will improve if you:

      • make a will once you are 18-years-old
      • make and keep notes on important conversations, especially if you talk about money, agreements or property
      • pay attention to any legal notices or demands you receive
      • get help for problems instead of ignoring them

      Fred Abramson is a New York based attorney specializing in business law and litigation. In addition to advising small busi­ness own­ers, he has suc­cess­fully rep­re­sented a range of New York com­pa­nies, from non-profits to exec­u­tive search firms. You can find him on Twitter: @fredabramson, or check out his website and blog.
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