It’s January, and a great time to make your resolutions for the coming year. Why not consider making some important family law resolutions while you’re at it? We’ve provided our top 5 list to get you started!
1. Update your Will and Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Care
You should update your Will regularly, because as your life and as your assets changes, your wishes about how you would like your estate distributed will also change. If you have not updated your Will in several years, or if you know that for whatever reason your Will is out of date, you should make it a resolution to update it this year. If you do not have a Will, you should know that your Estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy on your death. For most of us that means that our Estate is shared, not equally, amongst our married spouse and children. Dying intestate can cause significant headache for your loved ones – so help them out and do your Will!
Similarly, you want to update your Powers of Attorney. It’s an important decision to choose who will manage your property and make your healthcare decisions should you loose capacity. Don’t leave the choice to fate. If you are in a common law relationship, and you want your spouse to be making these decisions it is extremely important that you execute Powers of Attorney. Otherwise, they might find themselves with no ability to make decisions on your behalf.
2. Reconcile or Update child support
If you have a Separation Agreement or court Order which provides for the payment of child support, chances are the document contains a provision requiring the payor of child support to provide his or her income information to you every year. Otherwise, the Agreement likely has a provision requiring you to reconcile child support every year.
This year you should make it a goal to request that income information. You can already request a year end pay statement if the payor’s income is only employment income, but usually reconciliation will not occur until the payor’s tax returns are prepared.
Child support varies with income and you should check and make sure the payor’s income has not increased since you signed the Separation Agreement or the court Order was made. If you let too much time go by, it becomes difficult to request the increased child support you were entitled to for years gone by.
3. Start discussing shared holiday time with the children now
If you and another person share holiday time with your child/children, you should start making plans for holiday time, including the March Break and Summer schedule now. If you cannot agree, leaving decisions to the last minute can make holidays stressful and ruin opportunities for travel.
4. Determine your children’s special or extraordinary expenses
If your Separation Agreement or court Order requires you to share special or extraordinary expenses, you should start considering what programs your children will be enrolled in this year, and what expenses they will incur. Getting agreement to share these expenses early on, and well before the expenses are incurred is a good idea. Doing this early can also help you budget for the New Year.
5. Get that Cohabitation Agreement you’ve been thinking about
If you’re living with your common law spouse and you’ve been thinking you need a cohabitation agreement, especially if you own the house you are both living in, or you have significant assets, do it. Putting off the discussion and cost will only make it more difficult in future.