If you are either at risk of being convicted of criminal wrongdoing or have already been sentenced to a term of incarceration, you may be wondering how best to protect your interests – and your loved ones – if/when you spend time in jail.
What will happen to everything that you own? What will happen to your mortgage/lease and/or your car loan? Will you need to address these challenges proactively, or will your life just essentially be put on pause until you are released from jail?
Your financial obligations will continue
Your bills and expenses will not be put on pause just because you have been arrested or convicted. Your rent or mortgage payments will remain due, as will your car loan, exactly as before. You’ll still have to pay off your credit card bills, pay taxes and tend to child support obligations, unless your term of incarceration is so lengthy that an exception to this rule applies to your situation.
As a result, it’s important to have someone who can handle these affairs for you. Some people use a power of attorney to give an agent the legal right to act on their behalf. Others set up automatic electronic payments. Still others simply entrust a family member with this task, such as allowing a spouse to handle their affairs.
Without an official legal agreement in place, someone else may not be able to take care of everything for you while you are in jail. For instance, you may want your brother to take money out of your bank account and pay your mortgage, preventing a foreclosure, but that doesn’t mean that the bank is going to give them access to your account. If you don’t take steps to facilitate this access, your lender could foreclose even though you have enough money to pay.
As a result, people who don’t consider their financial obligations often end up losing their possessions while they’re in jail. This is one of the reasons why being convicted can result in massive ramifications, even if you know you didn’t do anything wrong and you will eventually be released.
Creating a plan in advance
It’s crucial to have a plan in place to take care of these expenses so that you don’t lose everything you own, forcing you to restart your life when you are finally released. Be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take to protect your interests while you’re in jail. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.