Legal Spring Cleaning

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Spring is finally here! At this time of year in Wisconsin, many people’s minds turn to organizing, cleaning closets, home repairs, gardening and planning outdoor activities. What about your legal-related chores though? This is a great time to take inventory of your important paperwork and make a plan for any adjustments you may need to make for the coming year. Ask yourself a few questions to assist in your spring cleaning.

Who’s Your Beneficiary?

When was the last time you looked at your beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts and life insurance? I recently looked my beneficiary information for my 401k and realized that I had not updated it since I got married – 10 years ago! When I discovered that I still had my parents listed as my beneficiaries, I was able to very easily and quickly update the information online. I also double checked my life insurance policies to ensure that everything was correct. I instantly felt like I had checked a big task off my spring cleaning to do list.

Is Your Estate Plan Current?

If you created your estate plan 5, 10 or 20 years ago, a lot has probably changed in your life. Look at my example of discovering I hadn’t changed my beneficiaries in 10 years. When I look at my life 10 years ago, I can see that things are completely different. Back then I wasn’t married yet, I didn’t have kids yet and my father was still alive. My will from 10 years ago didn’t cover much of my life as it is today. Do yourself a favor and make updating your estate plan a priority. Meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that your wishes match your life as it is today.

Is Your Insurance Coverage Appropriate?

There are no hard and fast rules or guidelines to figure out how much insurance coverage is enough. We all hope we neverneed it, and many people never will. Paying the lowest premium may end up causing hardships to you or your family if an accident happens. Although your insurance policy may look like a novel, filled with complex language, it’s important to know what your coverage means. If you can’t make heads or tales of your insurance information, talk to your insurance agent, financial advisor, attorney – or all of the above!

Do You Know Where to Find Your Important Paperwork?

Are you a piler, not a filer? Create a system to make sure you are keeping track of your most important documents. Experiment with different types of storage containers, desk organizers, file cabinets or even a safe. Figure out what works best for your filing personality. If you keep minimal paper copies, create a digital filing system on your computer and make sure you have some sort of backup.

About the Author

Meghan Petters has been with Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C. for over 15 years. She spent the majority of her time as a family law paralegal but has also been managing the firm’s social media platforms for many years. Prior to joining the firm, Meghan had a background in communications. She currently serves as the firm’s Social Media and Marketing Coordinator.