The Montana Estate Lawyer

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Decades of Your Life

Birth to 10

This is the time your parents teach you right from wrong, grandparents are buying you everything, parents take you everywhere. They show you off to everyone; they are carrying pictures of you in their wallets, or nowadays on their iPhones.  You get the best vacations, go on the best camping weekends, you are going to camps.  Just about everything a kid can imagine.

10 to 20

You change drastically!  Can you imagine?  Think back on the second decade of your life for just a minute.  One minute you are a gangly child of 10, the next you are in junior high, then, wait it is high school and you are the cool kid on the block.  You are getting a driver’s license, going to proms and prepping for college. 

BUT WAIT!  At 18 you are no longer a child.  You are an adult, with adult responsibilities.  Guess what!  It doesn’t matter if you are still in school.  If your parents are paying for your school or paying your bills, you are still responsible for your decisions and your actions.  This is when reality slaps you in the face.  Some get slapped very hard when a tragedy hits them.  If you are involved in some type of legal dispute or have any type of medical emergency and your parents call a legal office or a medical facility, the answer they will receive will be, “I am sorry, but little Joey is an adult and I am not allowed to answer your questions.”

For this reason alone, when you become an adult, before you leave your parents’ home and travel off to college, you need to prepare for some contingencies.  If you have an emergency and your parents need to assist you in any way, you will need certain documents prepared, i.e., a Power of Attorney; a Medical Power of Attorney; and, a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act) release at a minimum.

20 to 30

You made it to your 20s and you met the man or woman you want to marry.  You plan the wedding, get married, you’re living in a rental, saving money to buy a house.  Along comes your first kid, maybe a second and you’re buying a house. 

Those documents you did when you were 18 and living with your parents…They just don’t fit your life anymore!  You really need to update now.  Remember to change the beneficiary designation on all your documents too.  You need to think about the what ifs?  What if something happens to me?  What would happen to my wife/husband and kids?  What would happen to my house?  What happens if I have an accident and I am in a coma or can’t make a decision for myself?  Who will make that decision for me?  What happens if I come out of a coma and need additional help?  What happens if I never wake up from a coma?  Who makes those decisions?  You will need certain documents prepared, i.e. Will; a Power of Attorney; a Medical Power of Attorney; and HIPAA release; maybe a Living Will, at a minimum.   

30 to 40

Kids are getting older, you are showing them off, taking them on camping trips, great vacations ….OOPS  Honey, we are pregnant again and now we have a third baby 6 or 7 years after the last one.  Still love them all, but we are starting over again.  We need to make some changes again to our documents.  Just in case something happens! 

What happens if you decide this isn’t the person you were meant to be with and you go through the BIG “D”?  Well, you really need to make changes again to your documents. 

Unfortunately, we all live through the tragedy of losing our parents.  We hope it is much, much later in life, but if it occurs, you will discover how much those documents you have been updating all your life come in handy.  You may only lose one of them, and now you have the responsibility of checking in on the other all the time.

40 to 50

Those kids are getting older.  You are talking about a bigger house, sending the older kids to college, not to mention sending the younger one to camp, buying a boat, maybe even a cabin in the mountains.  You are saving for retirement, just like you should.  You are taking the kids on nice vacations, helping two of the kids buy their first cars and WAIT remember those major changes way back when you were becoming a young adult?  Guess what!  Now you have to think about the same things for your young adult children who may be getting ready to turn 18 soon.  And you may want to update your planning.  You may even be in the position to look at a Revocable Living Trust. 

If you got divorced you may be remarried and of course you are changing documents to reflect a blended family now.  You are even past the resentment with your ex, hopefully, and can finally have a civil conversation again. 

Still checking in on your remaining parent, maybe helping get him/her into an assisted living facility.

50 to 60

Kids are all graduating and you are thinking about when they are all gone and you are “empty nesters.”  What will that be like?  Things will change when all three of them are gone, finished with college, on their own and you can…what?  Sell the big house, move into a smaller one?  Maybe a one-level home, with no stairs, the laundry finally on the main level! 

Kids are gone and the older two have kids, girlfriends/boyfriends, and the cycle looks promising.  Time to update those documents again. 

Remaining parent needs a nursing home and it’s your responsibility to take care of him/her. 

60 to 70

Well, you are attending weddings and paying for them.  But the good news is that you are in good health, you have a new daughter-in-law/new son-in-law and the youngest is through with school and on his own finally.  You have grandkids on the way!  Guess what?  YUP!  Time to update those documents again to include the grandkids.  Retirement is here.  Now you need to think about that.

You have lost your final parent.  You are doing a probate or trust administration.  Sure are glad your parents kept up with their documents. 

What happens if you are on a trip and have a medical emergency?  You need a copy of something and it is WAY back in Montana, USA, and you are in Italy.  Well, everything is virtual these days.  You can access everything on the internet.  Thank goodness!

70 to 80

This is the “Golden Years.”  Enjoy it all!  This is the time the grandkids will love you the most.  They come to visit you all the time.  You have good health hopefully.  You are able to travel.  You still have all your “wits” about you.  You have saved all your life and have a little set aside to live comfortably.  You are in that smaller house you were smart and bought with no stairs.  The grandkids keep coming to visit, your youngest is married now with kids of his/her own now.  Time to update those documents again.

Your ex and his/her husband/wife are settled and you have a decent relationship with them so your family and theirs are able to co-exist with the kids and grandkids around the holidays.

But what happens if one of you falls ill and doesn’t have their “wits” about them?  Those document you have been religiously updating all your lives will come in handy now.  You will need them to assist you with doctors, hospitals, law firms, banks, any number of other institutions you will deal with in the name of your spouse. 

80 to 90

You are lucky to have made it this long, but your body is starting to feel the age.  You look back and wonder where the time went.  Seems like your calendar is full with doctor’s visits.  The kids have a busy life with their kids.  The grandkids are almost adults themselves.  Sure hope they are remembering what we taught them about those pesky documents many years ago!  They sure saved our bacon many times over the years. 

Remember that time in Italy when we needed the copies of our healthcare documents?  We were able to pull them right off the website.


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