Age Milestones – When Should You Start Protecting Yourself?

In this episode, Lisa and John discuss all things pertaining to decisions and actions that should be taken from the age of 18 up! – part 1

Episode Transcript
John
Welcome back to Aging Insight, everybody. This is your host, John Ross here live in the studio with Lisa Shoalmire. We are your best resource for learning about how to navigate through your life from a couple of experts in the field, isn't that right Lisa? 


Lisa
Yeah. Well, I'm practicing everyday.


John
That's right. But we're elder law attorneys. We specialize in the needs of people as they get older because we know that if you want to avoid a nursing home, if you wanna avoid becoming a burden on your friends and family, and if you want to protect and preserve your assets, you can do those things if you have the right knowledge and a path to get there.


Lisa
Right. So, Aging Insight, all about dropping some knowledge on those, who...


John
Who might want to hear it.


Lisa
That's right.


John
And even if it's not something that necessarily applies to you, I've had lots of folks who have come in and they've said that they got a valuable piece of advice from somebody else who got that piece of advice from us.

Lisa
Hey. I'll take it! 


John
But whether it's you that's benefiting or somebody else, I bet there's somebody out there that needs this information, and if you're listening, you can give it to 'em. You can be our message out on the streets.


Lisa
Okay, my geekitude is about to show when I say, that's like the transitive property of information flow. How's that? [chuckle]

John
Yeah, no, you're a nerd. But that's okay. That's alright.


Lisa
Alright. Well, we're here today because we're here on Saturdays, and John, I think this has been kind of a recent streak for us to both be here on the Saturday.


John
Yeah. Well, there's no Texas High soccer season is going strong, but luckily, most of the games are on Tuesdays and Fridays, like last night, where the Texas High girls' soccer team beat Sulphur Springs one to nothin'. Sulphur Springs was the, I think, seventh ranked school in the district in Texas.


Lisa
Okay
John
And they got knocked off their little throne.


Lisa
And of course... Well, we could turn this into the Tiger sports channel, but I know on Tuesday, Texas High girls played Greenville, and I think that was a...


John
It was just a...


Lisa
It almost was a basketball score by the time it was over. [chuckle]


John
Yeah. No, Texas High girls kinda beat up on them, but that's alright.


Lisa
Good idea. We'll take it. But anyway, so we're both here this Saturday, and we certainly enjoy being here with you, and our sponsors make sure that this happens. The equipment and the radio time and all that it takes to be with you on a Saturday, nothing's free John regardless of what some of our politicians say, so...


John
Or wannabe presidential candidates.


Lisa
Yes. So we appreciate our sponsors who make sure that we can be on the air, and that includes Texarkana Funeral Home, Advantage Senior Care, Edgewood Manor, and the Barnette Agency, Dierksen Memorial Hospice, Cranfill and Associates, Riverview Behavioral Health, Cowhorn Creek Estates, Curt Green & Company, Guaranty Bank and Asset Management, St. Michael's Hospital, the Retreat at Kenwood, Heritage Plaza, and Reunion Plaza with their new Twin City Rehab, Red River Federal Credit Union, and our new sponsor...

John
Carter Insurance.


Lisa
Carter Insurance. So, thanks so much, guys, and to all those folks, if you're with one of those organizations and you're listening to us today, thank you. [chuckle]


John
That's right. And if you see these folks out in the community, if you like the show, be sure and tell them. If you're out there, for example, I guess, was it last weekend that they had the Mardi Gras parade while we were here? 

Lisa
Yes. Yes, it was.


John
And I noticed that Dierksen had an award-winning float.


Lisa
Yes, I believe they had a Scott Joplin kinda themed...


John
Yeah, so if you see these folks out there, if you like the show, be sure and let them know that you're a fan and that you're out there listening. Well, how about I say happy birthday. Now, it's not my birthday, it's not Lisa's birthday, but I bet surely it's somebody's birthday.


Lisa
It's somebody's birthday.


John
It's somebody's birthday.


Lisa
My Facebook tells me it's one of my friends' birthdays everyday.


John
Just about everyday. And then maybe there's somebody out there that's having a birthday, and I say happy birthday because that's today's topic, is birthdays.


Lisa
Yeah. So we're gonna talk about some important age milestones and the different things that you need to think about at those different ages. John, how often is it that people come in and they ask, "Well, how old do you have to be to be a client of you, Lisa, or of an elder law firm?" and there's no magic age but there are some things to think about at different ages. And so we thought we'd kinda go through some of those today.


John
Yeah. It is kinda funny because oftentimes people will ask me, they will say, they ask it in a lot of different contexts, they'll say, "How old do you have to be to see an elder law attorney?" But they'll also ask things like, "When should I start planning for incapacity?" or "When should I... "


Lisa
When should I start thinking about asset protection? 


John
Yeah, when should I start thinking about asset protection? And these sort of things. And so we're gonna line it out as best we can. And there's obviously no right or wrong answers in a lot of these things, but there are with some of them.


Lisa
Yes. Well, okay John, I'm gonna start off. And I bet the first age that I'm gonna throw out there is going to be a bit surprising to our listeners of a show called Aging Insight, but the first age that I'm gonna throw out that important things need to happen is age 18.


John
Yeah. You turn 18, you're an adult.


Lisa
You're an adult now. You may be on your mama or your daddy's or your grandma's payroll.


John
Yes.
Lisa
You might be a full-time student. You might be working at the mall and struggling to figure out your place in life. You might not have a lot of assets or income but you are a legally grown person at age 18. And even though if your mama or your daddy still pays your bills or you're still on their insurance, health insurance, you're still on their car insurance, maybe they still pay your cell phone, but you are an adult.


John
Yep
Lisa
And all of those people you deal with and all of those people, your insurance and your doctors and your school, all of those people expect to deal with you, the adult who is now age 18.


John
That's right. And like any other adult, if they can't talk to you, they don't wanna talk to anybody else without some sort of authorization. We've seen this in lots of different cases where, for example, the child is up in Fayetteville or down in College Station, they've gone off to college.


Lisa
Or off in Baton Rouge.


John
Or off in Baton Rouge. Except, I guess not anymore because...


Lisa
Yeah. They're going broke over there.


John
The governor's gonna close all the colleges or something. I don't know. Anyway, but the kid goes down. They're in that freshman year of college. Freshmen in college are kinda stupid. They do something stupid that ends up landing them maybe in a hospital.


Lisa
Or a clinic or they're just...


John
Or a clinic or something. And all of a sudden, the parents would like to get some information. Maybe they want a copy of the hospital report to give to their insurance because the kid's still on their insurance, right? 

Lisa
Right.
John
They pay for it.


Lisa
And they just wanna call and maybe they wanna ask that... A lot of times colleges now have those clinics on campus and your kid has called you and complained about their awful sore throat and you wanna check and see if they got a strep test. And of course, you ask your child who is an adult and you ask, "Well did they test for strep?" And the child has no idea. [chuckle]


John
I don't know. I don't know. [chuckle]


Lisa
And so you wanna call and ask those questions and nobody's gonna talk to you. And my favorite answer, John... I've had parents call our office in frustration because they're dealing with exactly this situation and they've tried to communicate with a medical provider that is treating their adult child and the medical provider refuses to talk to them because they do not have the proper HIPAA authorizations. And John, what does that parent typically say back to that medical provider's office? 


John
"Well, if you wanna get paid, then you'll tell me."


Lisa
That's right. [chuckle] And that's never been successful.


John
Never. That is never a successful argument. You might as well stop.


Lisa
Yeah
John
And yeah. So that I guess kinda brings up the point which is... And these are the situations that we see a lot of this happen, luckily, are typically very modest. However, just this week, Lisa and I had the unfortunate experience to go and try to do some planning for a very young person.


Lisa
Yeah. She was in her 20s and had a catastrophic medical event. Bad things happen to young people too. Strokes, aneurysms, those type of things that can leave them debilitated.


John
Car wrecks, accidents, all kinds of stuff.


Lisa
And of course, this young lady in her 20s had not signed the powers of attorney for business, for healthcare, for anything because of course, who thinks of that when you're in your 20s? But she's had this event and so her family is now scrambling to get things done.


John
Right. And luckily in their case, they have gotten lucky because the child has come around and although can't speak and can barely move, can understand.


Lisa
Can understand and express an opinion through sign language and through squeezing your arm and through blinking the eyes.


John
Yeah. But when we have the... With the person that was out horse riding with a friend at 19 and got bucked off and got hit on the head, and the issues that you have to address with that person are really no different than the issues you have to address with a 85-year-old stroke victim who has lost brain function.


Lisa
Okay.
John
Now, all of that to say, there are four things that absolutely everybody should have in place starting on their 18th birthday.


Lisa
Yes.
John
And those are...


Lisa
Those are, you need a durable power of attorney so that someone, a parent whomever can handle business matters and banking matters for you if you cannot deal with them yourself. Also, we need a healthcare power of attorney where a parent or someone can make healthcare decisions and give health consents for treatment for you if you cannot do that yourself. Also, we need a HIPAA authorization, which is where the medical providers can share medical information with whomever you've named. And John, a couple things, you said four and I might... One of those would be a living will, perhaps, if an 18-year-old wants to think about if they ever are in a car accident.


John
Well, I think whether the living will, just for reference, is the one that says "Whether or not you wanna be kept on life support if you're brain dead." Now, oftentimes people think about the living will as something they want if they don't want to be kept on life support. But it doesn't have to be, it can be either way.


Lisa
Right. It could be that you want certain supports and treatments but you decline, if you're in that situation, other supports and treatments.


John
But that's a decision that they should make. So those four things. Regardless of who they are, regardless of their circumstances.


Lisa
That's right.


John
I think those four things apply to everybody.


Lisa
To absolutely everybody. And if you happen to have a college student, also in your family who is over 18 and you get those four documents done, a fifth document you might wanna consider that student signing is a FERPA form or a Federal Education Records Privacy Act release form, FERPA, because these students go off to Fayetteville or College Station or Austin and they come home for break and they tell you that, "Oh, yeah, things are going great." But you don't see a report card. And if you wanna call the school's registrar's office and ask, they're gonna tell you that the student is an adult and they are not authorized to share educational records with you and...

John
And don't bother telling them, but you pay the bills.


Lisa
Right. Now, I've had this discussion with other families and it's funny because most parents say, "Well, they don't show me the report card, I don't write the tuition check." And I get that, but some students are a little crafty about this. So if you like you might want to ask your adult student to sign a FERPA form so that you can have direct access.


John
Yeah. And even if it's not a situation where the kid is just unruly and argumentative, but if they are hurt or something like that and you want copies of their records, you're gonna need that FERPA release.


Lisa
Yeah. Okay. Well John, that covers everybody at their 18th birthday and beyond. And really, it just covers everybody from 18 to a 100.


John
Yeah, 18 to 118.

Lisa
But when we come back, we're gonna take our break, but when we come back, we got lots of other ages that we wanna talk about and I bet there are some things you've never heard of that we'll be talking about. So stick with us.

John
Welcome back to Aging Insight, everybody. This is John Ross and here with Lisa Shoalmire. You know Lisa, you and I were shopping one day and you picked up some item, the store clerk was standing there next to us, and the item that you picked up, you were just looking at it, you weren't actually contemplating buying it, but it was like a purse or something and it was like, I don't know, $10,000 or something. This is some Dallas story.

Lisa
Oh, yeah. We were window gawking.


John
We were window gawking, yeah. But you picked it up and looked at the price tag and I said, "Well, hey, you've got a birthday coming up." And the clerk just got all excited.


Lisa
Right.
John
He was like, "Oh, is it almost your birthday? How exciting!" And Lisa was like, "Yeah, it's in like eight months." And he was like, "But you said it was coming up?" And I said, "It is, isn't it?"


Lisa
Yes
John
We know with any luck, we all have a birthday coming up because it's certainly better than the alternative.

Lisa
Well, as I recall, we left a very sad clerk at the store because there was no way I would ever purchase such a thing.

John
Yeah. Now, if you're looking to protect and preserve your assets for retirement, which we as well as you care about even for ourselves, buying that kind of stuff ain't the way to do it.


Lisa
Right.
John
But that's not the point of today's topic. Today's topic we're talking about ages and birthdays and those magical birthdays out there. Now, we talked about 18 and 18 is a hard and fast rule because at 18 you are an adult, period. That's what happens. People are often surprised by this, like for example, people that have adult or have disabled children. Maybe you have a child with Down Syndrome or you have a child that has some other developmental disability, those people oftentimes don't realize that that child is an adult at 18.


Lisa
That's right. Legally an adult.


John
And they don't realize it, they end up having to go and become their court-appointed guardian, but they're like "But I'm the parent, who else is gonna take care of them?"


Lisa
Right. And this child clearly has developmental issues and does not have full legal capacities, but under the law you do at age 18 no matter what.


John
Yeah. So that's a pretty hard and fast rule as far as an age. And we're gonna talk about several other hard and fast rules, but I got more of a soft rule. A soft age here before we get to some of those others, and that is 30.


Lisa
Thirty. So, go ahead John.


John
And now this comes from a wise judge who was discussing over a career of seeing countless people, both through private law practice and also through the judiciary system, people coming in in family law cases, people coming in in criminal cases, a whole wide range of the population and over all of that time and based on all of that time, all of that experience, this judge had come to a conclusion. And that conclusion was that everybody under 30 is an idiot.


Lisa
Well, I'm sure our Aging Insight listeners that are under 30 are turning the radio off right now.


John
But I guess what his point was is that there seems to be somewhere right around age 30 that oftentimes before then you're likely to make a few errors in your ways. You may make a decision or two that's not the best decision.


Lisa
Okay, phone bank, we do not need phone calls on that first marriage.


John
Yeah, we don't wanna hear about all that. But somewhere also around age 30, you often see people... This is where they've gotten into their career, maybe they're starting a family time frame, things are settling down, and real adulthood is kicking in.


Lisa
Well, and just on a side comment, John, that's pretty sad because 50, 60 years ago real adulthood set in at 20.

John
Right.
Lisa
But now, I guess 30 is the new 20.


John
We've got a caller calling in, but we've only got one minute left, and so there's no way we can catch the caller.

Lisa
So, hopefully after our news break.


John
Yeah, hopefully they can call back. But the reason I do mention this before we go to the news break though is that... Keep this number in mind because oftentimes as I'm talking to people who... I met some very nice folks yesterday, and they're in their late 60s, they're hitting that retirement age. They're trying to do some estate planning and they're thinking about leaving their assets to their children, who are adults. Their children are closer to my age as opposed to, you know. But I mention, "Well, what happens if one of your kids dies and it goes to their kids? Your grandchildren?" Things like that. And then all of a sudden, that is like that it never dawned on them. So, you wanna know when you're thinking about leaving assets behind to take into account when does somebody get to decide how they spend what you left behind? 


Lisa
Yeah. And there's no legal magic to the age of 30.


John
Yeah, but 30's a decent one. Anyway, stick around, we'll be right back.


Lisa
Well, welcome back, everyone to Aging Insight. I'm Lisa Shoalmire. We're here, live in the studio, with John Ross. And today, we're talking about birthdays. Or things to think about at some different ages that maybe it's just kind of a different way to think about things, John.


John
Yeah, so we started out at 18, we jumped to 30, and now we're onto some kinda hard and fast ones.


Lisa
Yeah, so, one thing. A lot happens between 18 and 30, and 18 and... But one number that is also something to be contemplative of is 50.


John
Sure.
Lisa
The big 5-0. And you know John, when we turn 50 besides all the fun party favors that you can get...


John
The black and silver ones? 


Lisa
Yes. It's always a good fun time. But at 50, you can actually start looking into that retirement plan that hopefully you're already putting something into. If you work at one of the plants, they've got 401k plans, they've got...

John
Yeah, that's right.


Lisa
Or maybe you've set up your own IRA through a financial advisor, or anything. But age 50, you need to check in with your plan administrator, or your HR person, or your financial administrator because the law says that you may be able to make some, what we call, catch up. And I don't mean like the condiment. I mean... [laughter] But catch-up contributions to those plans. Because John, when we're young, and we start a job, and we first get involved in a 401k or something, we're not smart.


John
No, this goes back to that, "Starting the job before you're 30." Maybe you're not making all these great decisions, and for the first time, you got a little bit of money in your pocket, you're thinking, "Well, why in the world should I put that in my IRA when I can go out and have me a good time?"


Lisa
Or a big car, or something like that. A lot of times, we don't invest as much as we could early in our 401k, but we start thinking about it more at 50.


John
Alright. Well, it looks like we've got a caller on the line. Let's see. Caller, you're on Aging Insight, are you there? 


Caller-1
Yeah, you're talking about some magic ages here. If you think back to the Old Testament of the Bible. The judge was talking about somebody, the people under 30 years old are stupid. If you look at the guys that were chosen to carry the Ark of the Covenant, they had to be at least 30 years old. Of course, you didn't want somebody too old. So, those ages 30 to 50, those were sort of the ideal ages.


John
Yeah. Well, I think that's probably right.


Lisa
Yeah, they weren't gonna be horsing around with such an important piece of property there.


John
Yeah, not likely, maybe get distracted.


Caller-1
Yeah, they were able bodied plus they had some maturity about 'em. And so, it just goes all the way back thousands of years, people knew that somebody 18 or 19 years old didn't have a whole lot of wisdom.


John
Well, for some reason, I guess that little piece of Bible trivia has slipped past me. But I am going to steal it because that's a fantastic...


Lisa
You're stealing the Bible trivia, that's great.


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