Mar 16, 2009
We find that clients rely upon us for more than traditional legal advice. We help clients and families put together the “aging puzzle” with its many ill-fitting pieces of frail health, caregiving needs, survivor care concerns, financial decisions, residential options, family relationships, insufficient assets, substitute decision-makers, cumbersome probate, end-of-life decisions, and more. In fact, the legal advice we provide may be the least complicated piece of the client’s aging puzzle.
Due to the nature of our typical elder law representation, it is particularly important that we spend time educating our clients and their families to understand the attorney-client relationship. We have a duty to represent our client. Our client is usually the senior. Many times the client’s adult children have an agenda which conflicts with that of the senior. We strive to mediate those conflicts and seek our client’s best interests.
By contrast, when clients get information from other sources, whether it is the government, a care facility, their banker, or even another family member, the person giving the answers may be well-meaning, but it is not their job to put the senior-client’s interests first. In fact, most advisors must put their employer’s (or their own) interests first. The elder law attorney is the filtering advocate for the frail senior. Our code of legal responsibility demands that we place our client’s interests first.
We must do what we are called to do as holistic professionals. The scope of our legal services is defined by the client’s overall circumstances. We work at the juncture of estate planning, disability, Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits, financial planning, health care, family dynamics, tax law, and medicine. We must collaborate with a network of other capable professionals. We seek to make our elder law practice “transformational” rather than “transactional.” We must do more than legal task fulfillment such as resolving a dispute, drafting a document, or closing a real estate deal. As elder law attorneys, we empower lives for the better in a way which will impact whole families for years to come. We believe that we are providing important services our clients cannot get elsewhere.
We strive to be trustworthy guides along the Elder Care Journey©. As we look into the eyes of the aged and the infirm, we see our future selves reflected back to us. We give to our clients the same compassion, comfort, and care that we hope someone will offer to us when it comes our turn to go.
*** This blog was originally written by my friend, elder law attorney Dennis Toman, CELA, of Greensboro, North Carolina. His website is www.elderlawfirm.com.
“We would be lost without Law Elder Law! We walked in their doors over a year ago feeling lost and confused. With a father/father-in-law suffering from Alzheimer’s, we were overwhelmed by the Medicaid process, selling his home, protecting the assets he worked for his entire life, and finding him a memory-care facility that we could trust as his new home.
Law Elder Law helped with all of it! From the minute we walked out of our first meeting, we knew we (and he) were in good hands. We could not have possibly navigated all that had to be done without their expertise.”
A.M., Client of Law Hesselbaum and Law Elder Law