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The legal system, with its myriad of regulations, laws and specific quirks, can sometimes seem like a pretty confusing field (we took on some of that last week in our post about bankruptcy). Still, it is ultimately there to help us as citizens–to safeguard and protect us, our loved ones, our property, and more. As we grow older and take on more responsibilities, we tend to learn more about the ways in which the legal system is there for us, and it’s a great opportunity to cover our bases through some basic legal planning.

Even when we’re young, we ought not to be carefree about the law. Issues that affect people at this stage include renting regulations and credit laws, student loans and other early financial issues, learning to navigate our early jobs and, of course, the rules that govern safe driving. Being aware of these is an early step in the legal planning process. As we move more firmly out of our youth and into the workforce, employment law becomes a major venue in which we deal with legal issues on a regular basis. Everything from pay to discrimination to work accidents fall under this umbrella. Stay up on these issues and you’ll keep yourself in the clear from a legal standpoint.

As you might guess, however, our involvement with the law doesn’t stop when we’re young and single. Married life and the responsibility of growing a family constitute a huge field of legal issues as we move into middle age. Everything from insurance to education and parenting to real estate has a whole bevy of legal components to draw from, and it’s important to know about them. The same goes for consumer issues, banking and identity protection, laws governing bankruptcy and more. In the happiest cases divorce doesn’t enter the picture, but of course it may; there’s plenty in the way of state and local laws to deal with in that case, up to and including custody and child support.

After many years in the workforce, a well-earned retirement can prove an excellent respite and great way to live out our lives in an exciting way. Of course there are legal components–retirement plans, social security, and more–to consider. Even the very last years of life contain potential legal concerns like provisions governing nursing homes and other aspects of elder law; and of course, there is the issue of providing for your loved ones once you are gone, through planning related to estate administration, living wills, and more.

If this seems like a dizzying array of legal issues to navigate–relax; after all, we take these on whether we know it or not, throughout our lives, and usually one-by-one, not all at once. A little bit of planning can take the strain off the times we might find ourselves struggling to stay above it all. Attorneys are there to help, as well; they should always be sought out when their expertise would be beneficial. This way, you’re free to live out a happy and peaceable life knowing that you’ve planned your way through the difficult spots.