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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: An Ounce of Legal Prevention

November 28, 2007

So often we hear that to maintain good health \"an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.\" This is absolutely true with maintaining good legal health as well. While many people have the impression from television that lawyers are constantly involved in courtroom battles, the best lawyers are more often those that can prevent you from having legal disputes in the first place. That is, they provide an ounce of legal prevention to reduce the possibility that a client will get involved in a lengthy and costly dispute (the pound of cure). In this article, I will list a number of simple steps that individuals and/or businesses can take to reduce the probability of conflict and maintain good legal health.

Make a Will – Perhaps the single most important thing that individuals can do to protect their loved ones is to have a proper estate plan. Among other things, proper estate planning can assure that you choose who will be a guardian for your children, that assets will be divided according to your wishes, and that someone that you trust will make medical decisions for you if you are unable. Additionally, proper estate planning can prevent your estate from having to go through probate which is a public process and involves time, court costs and lawyer’s expenses.

Make Written Agreements/Contracts – It is unfortunate that a firm handshake no longer assures performance of an agreement. But it is a fact. While a handshake may be satisfactory for some people, why take the chance? In any agreement involving money for services or vice versa, you should have a written contract. I have seen many disputes over the years which originated because of violations or misunderstandings from an oral contract. Although oral contracts can be legal, you will resolve many ambiguities and prevent future misunderstandings if the terms and conditions of the agreement are written and signed by both sides.

Do Not Take On More Debt Than You Can Handle – Whether you are buying a home or starting a business, you should carefully analyze whether you can afford to take such a step. There is so much publicity these days about the “housing crash” and people (and creditors) taking on too much debt or taking too much risk. If you do not feel comfortable making this financial analysis, you should speak to an accountant, a lawyer or a financial consultant depending upon the issue. This small step can provide you with peace of mind and assurance that you are not taking on too much risk or debt.

Maintain an Emergency Fund – Many financial analysts suggest having a six month emergency fund. This emergency fund should cover your living expenses for six months. Realistically, many people cannot afford to do this. However, even a two or three month emergency fund can help cushion the blow of an unexpected job loss or medical issue and reduce the stress and anxiety of a temporary crisis.

Do Not Mix Business Assets With Personal Assets – This may seem like common sense to most, but I have seen many instances where people inadvertently or carelessly mix their personal funds with their business funds. If you own a business, keep your personal assets separate from the business assets. Mixing personal and business assets create many legal risks – tax, employment, and even potentially criminal violations can occur if business and personal assets are mixed.

Maintaining good legal health, like maintaining good physical health, depends upon some very simple steps to avert major problems. Legal disputes can be costly, time consuming, and stressful. Why not take some simple steps to avoid potential disputes?

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay