Medical, Legal and Financial Tips to Follow Before Age Fifty

MEDICAL, LEGAL AND FINANCIAL TIPS TO FOLLOW BEFORE AGE FIFTY 11/29/10

As we age, there are certain age related "milestones" that we hit without giving it much thought. However, if you want to age and be healthy, wealthy and wise, you must take certain steps to ensure that will happen. Below is a checklist of items to take care of as you age, and BEFORE YOU REACH AGE 50:

Medically, before age 50, and continuing during our active lives:

Annual physical exam

Dental exam twice a year

Skin exam every two years to check for melanoma

Tetanus shot every ten years to protect in case of puncture wounds

Blood sugar test every 2-5 years to check for diabetes

Pap tests/pelvic exam yearly

Lipids testing every 5 years

Eye exam every 2 years

Begin yearly mammograms at 40

Legally, before age 50 and beyond:

Last Will and Testament, so you and not the state decide where your assets should go at death.

But before age 50, there's another important reason to have a will, even if you don't have much of an estate. If you have kids, a will names a guardian, to raise and care for them until they're 18. This is very important.

Other documents you should have are:

Durable power of attorney for finance, so that your spouse or child can handle your finances, pay your bills, manage your investments in case you can't. And sadly, lots of people do become incapacitated at some point before they're 50.

Health power of attorney. Many people don't understand, but if you become incapacitated your spouse or child can't make health decisions for you without this document.

Living will, which basically says don't put me on life support if I'm brain dead.

These documents are for you. Before you're 50, with young kids, you should also make a power of attorney allowing care for your children in your absence. For example, if you go away for a romantic weekend, leaving the kids with grandma, and one has an accident, grandma won't be able to authorize medical care unless you've given her a power of attorney for your kids.

Financially, before age 50:

Two big issues: paying for kids' education, and starting to prepare for your retirement.

For kids' education:

See a financial advisor to learn about the rules for financial aid and how you might put yourself in a better position to maximize eligibility.

Start saving, if you can, using 529 plans and Education IRAs.

For retirement:

Make an appointment with your employer to learn about your retirement plan.

Maximize savings for retirement using your company plan (taking advantage of company matches), and IRAs/Roth IRAs.

And control debt. Don't let credit card debt and home equity lines get out of control. Talk to your financial advisor about how much debt you can have, and how to budget.

Please consult our other articles on successful aging in your 50's, 60's and 70's!

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