From finding a well-paying career to avoiding debt, we understand the importance of securing our financial future. After all, saving and spending smart are the cornerstones of wealth, right?

But what about the aspects of our finances that go beyond our immediate control?

The worst way to squander our wealth is through loopholes and legal battles. We’ve heard about nightmare scenarios where someone loses everything in a lawsuit or goes out of business because of some miniscule legal detail, haven’t we?

Although we assume “It’ll never happen to me,” keep in mind the millions of civil cases filed annually. You can have the seemingly “best” job and saving habits on the planet; however, your finances aren’t truly secure until you’ve locked them down from a legal standpoint.

By understanding how to legally protect your wealth now, you can ultimately avoid a headache down the road. As you build up your business and relationships (both personal and professional) in the future, keep the following tips in your back pocket.

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Understand What’s Rightfully Yours

Perhaps the most important yet tumultuous financial battles are the ones that get personal, especially when we’re dealing with family members. Losing a loved one is bad enough; however, having to contest a will or fight with loved ones over an inheritance represents a worst-case-scenario for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, it happens more often than you might be led to believe. If you’re going to be part of your family’s inheritance or simply want to ensure that you’re getting your promised share of the family business, make sure to do the following:

  • First and foremost, speak with whoever is leaving their inheritance to you: a simple conversation may clear up any potential misunderstandings about what’s rightfully yours
  • Make sure that the benefactor has spoken to a lawyer regarding their will and has clearly delegated their assets
  • Maintain positive relationships with everyone involved with the inheritance and do what you can to avoid petty squabbles

Family business can get sticky rather quickly: although conversations with benefactors aren’t always fun, they’re incredibly important to make sure everything is squared away if something goes wrong.

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Always Read the Fine Print

Understanding the fine print of any transaction should always be one of your top priorities, from something as small as using a coupon at the grocery store to securing a home loan.

For example, always read the fine print when…

  • Signing up for a credit card, as advertised interest rates will often adjust after a specific period in the fine print
  • Dealing with insurance policies, which may not cover certain expenses depending on your policy or circumstances
  • Relying on warranties, such as that of your car, which also are prone to vague language that may not cover certain repairs or wear and tear

Don’t sign everything that’s put in front of you without reading it carefully: making this a habit will inevitably save you money down the road and keep you out of legal trouble

Craft Crystal Clear Contracts

On the flip side, sometimes you need to protect yourself with some fine print.

From business partnerships to big sales, make sure that you craft clear contracts to avoid conflict from colleagues or customers. As always, it’s beneficial to have a lawyer on deck to help make sure that your contracts are on the up and up. Never rely on oral contracts or “gentleman’s agreements:” after all, the phrase “get it in writing” is commonplace for a reason.

Securing your financial future is about more than just dollars and cents. By making sure all of your legal bases are covered, you can do business with peace of mind and avoid some nasty conflicts down the road.