Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nine Days to a Lawsuit-Free Life, Day Six: Home Sweet (And Legally Sound) Home

Author: Nick
Category: Money

keep me safe from lawyers

So far, we’ve talked about lawyer-proofing your commute and your job, but the most important aspect of your life that you’ll want to protect from legal trouble is also the one prone to the most accidents: your very own home. In fact, according to the Punny Money Institute of Statistics that I just created, over 300% of all accidental deaths this year will happen in your bathroom. But with the help of this article, you could knock that figure down by at least 7%! So without further ado, let’s take a look at some simple steps you can perform to keep those lawyers off your front porch.

  • Baby-proof your home. Even if you don’t have a baby and nobody ever visits you with a baby, you should still baby-proof your premises to help keep older children and even adults safer. That means covering electrical outlets, keeping wires tidy and out of the way, placing tall furniture properly to avoid accidental collapse, and keeping the rat poison in a separate location from the candy dish.
  • Keep visitors to a minimum. No, I’m not suggesting that you lock yourself in your home or only visit other people’s homes. Just be extra cautious when welcoming a large number of guests. Know how many people can safely co-exist on your property without causing the second floor to collapse and the lawn to cave in. Don’t try to cram a 200-person wedding reception into a thousand-square-foot ranch-style house.
  • Give guests a guided tour. A quick run-through of your house will keep people from being surprised by unexpected architectural characteristics like low archways or missing stairs. Be sure to point out any safety concerns, especially those that might pose a danger to kids.
  • Regularly inspect your home. You can perform a basic inspection of your home yourself. Look for obvious signs of wear or damage, test all appliances for leaks or other malfunctions, and ensure that decks or raised balconies are sturdy. It wouldn’t hurt to have a professional do a quick evaluation of your house every so often to help identify problem areas.
  • Don’t make dangerous improvements or repairs yourself. Sure that book from the library makes a gas line installation look easy, but do yourself and the surrounding 500-foot radius a favor and hire someone qualified to do it for you. Otherwise, you could be liable for any accidents that result from your failure to follow instruction #1948 on page 239.
  • Trim your trees. I love trees, and I love seeing houses with lots of them. But even seemingly sturdy trees can fall with a single bad storm, and they might not always stay in your own yard if they do fall. A little careful trimming or removal of old, weak trees could save you and your neighbors from cleaning up a big mess later.
  • Fence yourself in. Some people absolutely hate the idea of fences, but the right one can add security, privacy, and a bit of style to your yard. You’ll especially want one if you have a pool since most states require that anyway.
  • Insure, insure, insure. Homeowners insurance can help protect you if something bad happens on your property. And as I mentioned during the automobile insurance discussion, consider extra umbrella coverage to help protect your assets from whatever your homeowners policy won’t cover.
  • You naked + window = bad. Unless you live on a 37-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere, please please please be aware of what others can see through your windows. The last thing you want is for little Timmy next door to tell his parents what he saw you and your spouse doing last night. That’s right, I’m talking to you, weird couple that lives in the apartment across the street from us.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas out there to help lawyer-proof your home and yard, so please share them here if you have them. Maybe your ideas might help keep you safe if your neighbor reads them! The seventh part of this series will look at ways you can better handle your finances to safeguard them from legal turmoil.

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