Law Office of Paul Black - August 2019


August 2019

The Importance of Lifelong Learning LET’S ALL GO BACK TO SCHOOL

A s the advertisements and sales signs suggest, back-to-school season is upon us. Of course, for those of us who don’t have kids at home, these marketing campaigns can be little more than a warning that school buses will once again take to the streets. But this time of year, I can’t help thinking “When do we really stop being students?” Think about it — we don’t stop learning the moment we earn our degree. On the contrary, I’d argue the majority of what we learn comes from life

I never want to fall into this trap, especially when shifting economies, tax laws, and regulations can have such an impact on my clients. So, I attend conferences every year and come back with a new perspective on my practice. I am inspired to continue learning and growing because so many older people I meet are doing it. While taking swing dance lessons several years ago, I was reminded how important lifelong learning really is. One of my fellow students was an 80-year-old woman, who I first assumed

new friends. To this day, I admire her strength and confidence.

What stuck with me most after meeting this 80-year-old dancer is how often we sell ourselves short as we age. We assume our only real social activity as seniors is going to be bingo — but I’ve seen so many people do so much more than that. Across my spectrum of clients, regardless of income level, the most lucid and lively individuals share one factor — they either read, have a hobby they are passionate about, or both. “Use it or lose it” is certainly true when it comes to the mind. Learning new things and talking about what we’re learning with others helps with our neuroplasticity, literally keeping our brains in shape. So, my challenge to you this month is this: What are you going to learn? What better time to start a new hobby or a book club than the back-to-school season?

lessons outside of school. We may not have summer breaks anymore, but I don’t believe we are truly done studying. Or at least, we shouldn’t be. This is especially true of lawyers. In my profession, we joke that some attorneys have been practicing the same

must have had decades of experience under her belt. But to my surprise, when I asked her how long she’d been dancing, she said, “One month!” I was astounded and inspired by her enthusiasm even before she gave me the full story.

year for 35 years, and there’s definitely truth to it. Some just hang their shingle and simply repeat the lessons they learned in law school over and over again without adapting to the times.

You see, this woman was recently widowed. And yet, in the face of grief, she decided she wasn’t going to succumb to loneliness. She was going to get outside, learn something entirely new, and make

See you in class,

-Paul Black

Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. | 1

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