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  • Alisa Avruch

Don't you wish there was an Adulting class?

Why is it that we learned all the stuff we don't need and don't remember, while the rules of Real Life we are left to figure out on our own?




Do you sometimes feel like you’re really just a kid dressed up in grown-up clothing? Like, everyone around you seems to know what to do, but you’re still figuring it out?


Did you ever wonder why we spent 12-16 years of our lives learning stuff that we don’t remember and never need to use, but we never got educated about the Real Life stuff we deal with every day?


Today I’m going to depart from my usual relationship advice, and share some of my Rules of Adulthood - aka, the legal and financial steps every couple should take to protect themselves and their families… yet hardly anyone does.


Some of these items are difficult to think about; no one wants to contemplate the possibility of harm coming to herself or her spouse. Do them anyway.


You might think you are young and it’s unlikely that anything will happen any time soon. Do them anyway.


Some of them take time, or money, or brain space (or all 3!) that we feel we can’t spare. Do them anyway.


This list may seem so overwhelming to you that you file it away in your “to do someday” agenda (otherwise known as the “circular file” that you keep next to your desk…). Instead, why not make yourself a plan to tackle one every month or 2?


Are you ready for Adulting? Ready or not, here it comes!

  1. Passports

Who? Every member of the family

Why? A Jew. In galus. Has. A passport. Any questions?

How:

  • Get information HERE.

  • Adult renewals can generally be done by mail.

  • New adults and all children passports must be done in person. Make an appointment HERE.

  1. A Will

Who? You and your husband

Why? If a person dies without a will, the courts determine who gets your assets, AND, most importantly, who will become guardian of your children. They do not necessarily take into account your relatives, religion, culture, or keeping siblings together.

How:

  • Consult a lawyer. This is a legal document, you want to make sure it is done right.

  • If you have minor children, set a time with your spouse to discuss possible guardians. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable discussion - but look at the bright side, you don’t plan to actually use it! Make sure to ask your candidates if they are willing, and have a secondary guardian just in case.

  • Halachic will: The halacha limits the ability of a wife or daughters to inherit the husband/father’s estate. Consult your own posek regarding how to make sure your will conforms to the halacha

  1. Halachic Living Will / Medical Directive

Who? Everyone 18 and older

Why? If you are incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions for yourself, medical professionals may pressure your family to make decisions that are against halacha - or, at times, even make those decisions without your family’s consent.

How? Click HERE to download a form.

  1. Life insurance

Who? You and your husband

Why? Consider the financial impact of the loss of one spouse. Take into account lost income AND the cost of replacement childcare.

How? Find an insurance broker. There are plenty of frum ones.

  1. Power of Attorney

Who? You and your husband

Why? In case one spouse is incapacitated, the other spouse will need to have the ability to access and control assets that may be in the name of the other spouse, or, in some cases, assets that are jointly owned (bank accounts, car, house, etc.). You can also add an outside party.

How? Consult a lawyer

  1. Apartment renters’ insurance

Who? Anyone who does not own their home

Why? Homeowners insurance is mandatory and includes the value of your home AND its contents. If you live in a rented home and do not have insurance, your possessions are not protected. (I personally know 2 families who did not have insurance and lost all their possessions in a fire.)

How? An insurance broker

  1. Investing for your retirement

Who? You and your husband

Why? Social Security is unlikely to stay in its current form for much longer, and even if it’s available to you, it may not provide enough for your basic expenses. Yes, you can’t afford to invest - but can you afford not to?

How? Time is your friend. The earlier you start investing, the more your small contributions will grow exponentially. (See THIS INVESTMENT CHART - and better late than never!). Contribute something (even 1% of your paycheck) through your employer’s 401K or 403b plan, or ask a financial consultant about an IRA.


What's next?

Sit down with your husband and map out some dates on THIS HANDY PLANNER. Let me know how it goes - I'd love to hear!



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