As we age, many things change. Family changes with births, marriages, divorces and death. Finances change as we first save for and then spend for college and/or retirement. Health changes as we grow old and begin to suffer from more complicated ailments.
The same thing happens with our legal life. There are legal steps to take and necessary legal documents you must have at various stages of your life. This article will address some of the legal issues you must face through the decades.
Before age 50, you should have a Last Will and Testament. The Will directs the disposition of your assets and provides for a guardian for your minor children. You also need a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will Declaration, so that financial and medical decisions can be made during your lifetime even if you are not competent.
In your 50's, you need to verify your beneficiaries on life insurance, retirement plans and annuities. Verify who you named as your Executor and Power of Attorney. You may have previously named parents or siblings. Now you may want to name your adult children. Start trying to pay off debt and maximize savings for retirement. Consider Long Term Care Insurance to cover nursing home costs. Join AARP-you might as well enjoy the benefits. And, of course, make sure you have your subscription to 50 Something Magazine!
In your 60's, most people will retire. Decide whether you will retire at 62 or 65 and that you have enough money. If at 62, how will you pay for medical expenses until Medicare begins at 65? Be sure to apply for Medicare timely, as well as a supplemental health insurance policy and Medicare D plan. If you miss the deadlines, you may not be able to qualify, or your premiums may be much higher. For estate tax savings and probate avoidance, you may wish to consider using a Trust Agreement. If so, be sure your Trust is funded to avoid probate.
In your 70's, it is time to make any final changes to your estate planning documents. In order to protect your assets from your child's divorce or creditors, consider adding a bloodline Trust. Consult an elder law attorney to learn the Medicaid rules for asset protection in case you must reside in a nursing home. The Medicaid eligibility rules are complex and harsh. The earlier you plan, the more options there are. You must make sure you have an updated Health Care power of Attorney and Living Will in case of incapacity. Also, be sure to discuss your health care wishes with your children. Make sure they know where your important documents are, including a list of assets and contact people.
Following these simple guidelines will allow you to enjoy your golden years with peace of mind. Plus, you will make the transition between generations less stressful. Note: this article is not all inclusive, but is merely a guideline. For more detailed legal information, please be sure to consult your attorney.