Monday, September 26, 2011

Family Dynamics in Elder Law

This topic raises what can be the most difficult aspect of working in the elder law area, and can be summarized in two words: "family dynamics." 

Elder law planning is not a cut-and-dried area – there are no one-size fits all solutions.  In the process of gathering information from the client in the initial meeting, it is very important to develop a sense for the client and his or her family.  Who does the client trust?  Who does the client think is good with money?  Which of the client's relatives can make tough health care decisions for the client?  In some cases, the answer will always be one and the same person, but definitely not always.  It is important for the lawyer to work hard to elicit the client's wishes, and to be sure that decisions in this area are not being unduly influenced by one relative or another.

One way to be sure that the right individuals will be chosen for agent/executor/trustee is to explain each of those roles to the client.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another FAQ: What is Probate, Anyway?

Many people we meet are unfamiliar with the ins-and-outs of probate, and often ask us to clarify a number of questions.

Very simply, probate is the process by which a person's assets change hands at their death. If a person dies and his or her will says that all assets are to go to the children, the children cannot take possession of those assets until the will and other papers have been filed with the probate court, and the probate court has given its approval. The whole process usually takes at least six months, and often more.