New Year’s Questions

The turn from one year to another is a good time to reflect both personally and professionally, even from a legal perspective.  There are a number of areas for both where a little thought can make a big difference.

On a personal level, the new year is a perfect time to examine your estate planning and to make any changes that may be necessary because of the previous year’s events.  For example, if you’ve gotten married or divorced, had children (or had children reach adulthood), bought or sold a home, then now is the time to consider how those life changes should be reflected in your estate plan.  And an estate plan is more than just a will, although that is a critical component.  Now is the time to take stock of the entire picture – insurance, living will, durable power of attorney, even whether you need to change the beneficiary on a retirement plan or insurance policy (there are a number of stories of former spouses remaining the beneficiary on such plans, much to the chagrin of new spouses).  Bringing these up to date is not only a good idea in its own right, but the process can also help you get a better picture of your current financial status.  And, if you’ve never had a will or estate plan, there is no time like the present to get started!

For your business, the new year is the time to make sure you’ve crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s – does your company need to file an annual report, hold an annual meeting, or update its operating agreement?  Do you need to review your company’s policies or employee handbook?  If you have added investors or partners, you may want to draft new agreements reflecting those additions.  The new year is also a good time to examine your data retention policy and your business disaster planning.  Of course, there may be any number of other areas specific to your business which might benefit from an annual review, and what better time to do it than at the start of a new year?