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Financial Answer Center

Major Life Events

Introduction

Most of us live our lives day by day or week by week, working, paying the bills, and taking some time off to relax. However, we are likely to encounter one or more major life events that introduce big changes and require a great deal of thought, research, and decision making.

One of these is having a new baby. This joyful event brings with it many responsibilities and requires you to make decisions about your employer's benefit plans, whether or when to go back to work, how to fill out your tax return—as well as decisions for the longer term, such as how to pay for college and how to distribute your estate if you should die.

Another major life event for many people is divorce, which is very common in the United States today. This typically begins with a legal separation and involves complex and difficult decisions about how to divide the family property and how best to provide for children. If you remarry, you may need to revisit and adjust many of these decisions.

A third major life event is caring for elderly loved ones—most commonly, one or both parents, but also grandparents, aunts or uncles or even close friends. There is much that you can do to make a loved one's last years comfortable and secure, getting them assistance in continuing to live at home, finding other living situations when this is no longer possible, making sure they have access to adequate healthcare, and making choices in their best interests if they become incapacitated or terminally ill.

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