Several years ago, my parents were planning an overseas trip to Israel. A month or so prior to their anticipated departure, my dad mentioned in passing that my parents needed to update their Wills; having not done so in 20 years. I imagined that, in the back of their minds, the fear of an accident while abroad triggered this discussion.
Bearing in mind that I am a nationally recognized expert in elder law, a practice area that encompasses estate planning, I offered my services free of charge. I would like to take a moment to clearly state that, at this time, I am not trying to sound braggadocious. I would also like to state, however, that I acknowledge my propensity to be so.
All that aside, I figured I was being helpful and would take at least one worry away. “Dad, tell me how you’d like to distribute your estate. I’ll prepare new documents for you.”. A simple reply, “OK”, followed.
A few weeks went by, I forgot about the conversation until I was talking with my dad again and asked when he was going to get me what I needed to prepare new Wills. “Oh. I hired an attorney here to do it for us.” So here we are, my dad opted to pay an attorney to do what I would have done for free (and much better…at least in my own mind).
At first, I was annoyed. But then I realized – they’re the parents, I’m the kid. I’m the kid who failed Algebra, twice. I’m the kid who backed into a parked car, I’m the kid who, at the age of 14, claimed I was “holding them for a friend” when my mom discovered cigarettes in my sock drawer. I was the dumb kid.
I encounter this situation frequently with our elder care clients and their adult children. The children are now in the role of managing finances and personal choices such as taking away car keys or moving out of the home. All that, coupled with the overall loss of independence that aging brings, can strain any relationship.
Our elder care law practice is more than just law. It’s people and families. It’s emotions and personalities. Our personal and professional experiences provide perspective and serve as a reminder that we provide more than legal advice. We help our clients and their families navigate one of the most difficult, complex, and emotionally fraught events they may ever come across. Bringing our personal experiences into our work only adds to our ability to do so.