I’m writing this column from my hotel room outside Boston where I’ve just moved my oldest daughter Gabi out of her Brandeis University dormitory room, as her spring semester just ended. I’ve worked my tail off, helping her pack up her clothes, books, bedding, and school supplies which will be stored over the summer until she returns here next fall.
Being on a college campus brings back a lot of memories. Except I don’t remember my back hurting as much when I did all of this for myself several decades ago as a college student!
Everyone tells you that your kids grow up quickly and to enjoy them while they’re young. It seems like yesterday I was bouncing Gabi on my knee. I turn around and she’s halfway done with her undergraduate education, completing her sophomore year already. She won’t be home this summer either; instead she scored an internship in New York City.
My middle daughter Courtney starts at the University of Florida this August as well. This fall looks challenging, getting everyone where they’re supposed to be at the same time.
As an estate-planning attorney, I’m always dealing with my clients’ inter-generational planning issues. The older I get, the more I realize how quickly life goes by. In years past, for example, I shook my head when a client would hand me their will that named guardians for their children, when those children are now over forty years old. The wills sat in a safety deposit box for years and years, gathering dust, becoming irrelevant.
How did they let their documents get so out of date? But now I realize that twenty or thirty years go by in an instant.
It’s still important to keep your legal documents up to date. This not only includes your will or revocable living trust, but also important ancillary documents such as your durable power of attorney, health care surrogate and living will. The Florida durable power of attorney statute was amended three years ago, for example. If you are a Florida resident and haven’t updated it in the last few years, it’s probably time to do so.
The same holds true with your will and revocable living trust. The trust and tax laws have changed dramatically in the last few years. Likewise, if your legal documents were drafted in another state, but you are now a Florida resident, it’s probably time to review those documents as well.
Your health care surrogate names someone to make health care decisions for you in case you aren’t able to do so yourself. Are the individuals that you have named in that document still the ones that you wish to make these decisions? Is their contact information that is listed on the document still accurate?
How about your living will? This is the document where you indicate whether you want life-prolonging heroics to continue even if two doctors agree (and your health care surrogate agrees) that there is no medical probability of recovering and that the life prolonging procedures are only artificially prolonging the process of dying. Do you want to remain comatose in a hospital bed hooked up to the machines as long as it takes for you to expire? If you are a Florida resident, is that document drafted with Florida law in mind?
Each state’s laws are different from one another, so it is vital that your legal documents are drafted in compliance with the law of the state of your primary residence. It doesn’t matter if you spend half the year in Massachusetts – so long as your primary residence is Florida then you should have Florida documents.
On the way up here, I boarded a JetBlue flight from our airport in Fort Myers to Boston. The entire plane was filled with our seasonal residents flocking “nahth” as the New Englanders say, for the summer. They all seemed to have enjoyed our nice weather over the winter, escaping one of the most brutal winters that Boston has seen in its history.
But you would never know that the winter was so terrible here. The dogwoods and juneberry trees are sporting their beautiful spring white flowers while the crape myrtle, royal empress trees sprout stunning burgundy or pink flowers depending upon the variety. Plum leafed crabapple trees, bright golden shower trees and hot pink azalea bushes add even more color to the landscape. All this can be enjoyed walking the Brandeis campus. Driving around Boston has also been a real treat – it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Soon I’ll be returning on a flight home to Fort Myers, where I’ll look at my daughters’ empty bedrooms and wonder how all the time went by so quickly.
©2015 Craig R. Hersch