Lessons learned about estate planning from an elder law attorneyWhen my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, we found ourselves really thinking about the future. Our family had to think about everything from long-term care to my father’s estate. It was a lot. But it gave our family a perspective many of our clients have. In one form or another, the unknown is something people grapple with every day. They find themselves thinking about the future and their family and what comes next — but they aren’t always sure what needs to be done.

So, they come to us, as many of you have in the past. I’ve been working in estate planning and elder law for almost 30 years now, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some of these lessons were instilled by my father and mother, and some I learned simply working one-on-one with clients and their families.

One of the biggest lessons, of course, is treating people how you want to be treated. It’s a simple lesson, but it’s often taken for granted. Everyone who walks through our door is a member of the family. I never wanted my law firm to be another one of those stuffy law offices, and a lot of that comes down to how you treat people. We’re all on the same level.

And I say we’re all on the same level because estate planning, elder law, and veterans benefits come with plenty of jargon and fine print that isn’t always easy to understand. No one likes to read through legalese or pages of IRS codes. We do that so you don’t have to, and then we translate it to something everyone can understand. That way, you know exactly what is going on and you don’t have to rely on guesswork and hope you get it right.

I’m a big believer in education. When a new client, or even a longtime client, comes in with questions, I want to sit down with them and make sure every single one of their questions is answered. Education is powerful; it allows you to make better decisions about your future and the future of your family and heirs.

We all want the best for our families after we’re gone. We want to know they are set up for success. Another lesson I’ve learned along the way is being able to understand family dynamics. Every member of a family may have different opinions on what “should” happen with the estate. I quickly learned how to manage all of these points of view.

Sometimes it can be like putting together a puzzle, but it’s a puzzle that is always worth putting together. Planning for the future makes a difference. This became even more apparent when my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We had to take steps to plan and create the opportunity to sit down and talk about it as a family. And we were better for it.

So many people aren’t given this kind of opportunity. When a family member has a stroke, heart attack, or is involved in a car accident with no plan in place, the family can be left with no idea what to do next. They may also soon find themselves trying to navigate a legal maze with seemingly no way out.

I don’t want anyone to be in that position. There is always a way out. Planning and working with an estate professional gives you what you need to navigate the maze. You know which corners to turn and paths to follow so you can get to the end unscathed. Estate planning isn’t the easiest thing to talk about or plan, but it can save you and your family a lot of trouble and a lot of money later on.

I’ll be tackling various estate planning topics in the months ahead, so keep an eye out for more editions of this newsletter. We’ll also have a little fun along the way! I hope you and your family are having a great summer, and we’ll talk again soon!

–Glenn Matecun

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