01/03/2013 03:42 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2013

Avoiding Legal Tangles: New Year's Resolutions for 2013

Life is difficult and stressful enough, never mind getting involved in legal tangles. Why not try to avoid legal problems in the New Year by being careful, preventative and law-abiding? I offer these simple suggestions based upon years of helping clients get out of trouble. Here we go:

1) On The Road. Don't drive and talk on the cell phone at the same time without a hands-free device. These devices are readily available and inexpensive. Who needs a ticket and the risks and headaches from a collision?

2) At Home. Don't duck any bills. If you are short this month, call the company and seek a payment plan or deferment. At least pay something, rather than nothing. Showing some good faith effort will go a long way in keeping the creditors away.

3)At Work. Don't fool around where you work. I am being kind here. Romance in the office is surely going to cause headaches. Don't mess around on email or on the web. If you must -- do it at home, but stay within the confines of the law. There's always someone watching you.

4) In General. When you shop and buy particularly big-ticket items, look closely, ask questions, and don't sign anything you have not carefully read. Also when selling online, be sure to fully disclose and do not hide anything-document with writings and photographs.

5) File Tax Returns. I am amazed at how many people get into trouble by not filing tax returns. They are also usually high earners. The penalties are severe. If you envision a problem in paying your taxes, you can always try to pay it off over time. But do not just ignore the process completely.

6) If You Get Into A Pickle. Get some quick advice. You would not do surgery on yourself, so do not think you can lawyer yourself. A legal consultation is readily available and many do not charge for an initial consultation.

Seems like obvious, easy stuff to remember. However,so many people ignore this sage advice. If you follow these simple rules, it will save you from tremendous headaches and unnecessary expense. Resolve to follow this advice in the New Year and have yourself a happy and safe New Year.