Checklists: Aids in the Major Affairs of Life

Klein is an attorney and president of The Times Valley and Ventura County editions. Brown is professor of law emeritus at USC and chairman of the board for the National Center for Preventive Law

Lawyers use checklists all the time in the preparation of their cases and to consult with clients. But clients can use checklists, too.

It's not a bad idea to prepare one whenever you sit down with your lawyer to make sure that all your questions will be answered.

Another useful checklist is one that sets forth issues and questions you should be concerned about as you approach significant events or milestones in your life.

Here, today, and for the next few weeks in our columns, we'd like to share with you some checklists that have been prepared by a committee of the state bar.

The checklists, which originally appeared in the Preventive Law Reporter, include both legal and general, non-legal information about some of life's happy and not-so-happy events.


* We must arrange for blood test, marriage license.

* If one of us makes a last name change we should notify credit card companies, charge accounts, banks and other financial institutions, other organizations where we have investments, insurance companies, Social Security Administration, employers.

* We should review the beneficiaries listed in our wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts, annuities, pension plans.

* We should review the funds and possessions that now become our community property (things we own together), separate property (things we own apart from one another).

* We should determine the best way (separately or together) to sign income tax returns (for tax savings), leases (in terms of liability).


* We can plan for the child's future by revising our wills, reconsidering the ways we hold title to bank accounts and other assets, naming a guardian in case the child is orphaned.

* To claim the child as a dependent for federal income tax purposes we should: call the nearest Internal Revenue Service office to confirm that the child needs a Social Security card; call the nearest Social Security office for application information.

* To obtain a Social Security card for the child, we need a copy of the baby's birth certificate; recently dated identification for the child--such as an inoculation record.

In the next few weeks, we'll share the checklists for: "I'm Turning 18," "I'm Buying a Home" and "I Plan to Divorce."

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