A Visit From Our “Founder”
Law Elder Law, LLP, is a law firm focused on the issues of estate planning, long-term disability planning, veterans benefits, and Medicaid assistance. Our eighteen staff members are attorneys, paralegals, and other support personnel. But oddly enough, our firm did not begin with a lawyer. Rather, our firm began with a phone call from a woman named Luise May. Nine years ago, Luise May called me with panic in her voice, “Rick, Bob has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. What are we going to do? Am I going to lose my home? Are we going to lose everything?” At the time, I was a tax and real estate attorney; I didn’t have an answer for Luise. But Luise and her husband Bob had been friends for years, and I wanted to help her. “Luise,” I said, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I promise I will find out.” The problem was, I didn’t know where to start looking for answers. I wanted to make sure Luise and Bob wouldn’t lose their home, but I had never even heard of the term “elder law.” Fortunately, I discovered a capable attorney right in my home community who was doing work in what he called the Elder Law Center. I called him and told him Luise’s story, then asked if this Elder Law Center could help people in their situation. His answer was immediate; “Yes Rick, bring them on over.” We explained that Bob had recently been diagnosed as having some type of dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s. Steve (the capable attorney) reassured my friends that he would work to make sure they would keep their home and control of their assets. He was not able to prevent them from having substantial costs related to long-term care, but they would not lose everything, as they feared. After the first meeting, I was stunned at the transformation in Bob and Luise. They were exuberant. They were reassured that they would not lose their home, and in addition they had found a capable counselor to walk along beside them, serving as a guide as they moved further and further into the valley of shadow and darkness. As I observed the legal work being done for my friends, I knew that this was the type of law that I wanted to be doing. Three years later, I made the decision to become an elder law attorney, so that I could help more “Bob and Luise” couples. Bob and Luise eventually moved to Georgia to live near their daughter who is a nurse practitioner. Bob has been able to live at home for more years than they initially thought possible, and it is only during the last six months that Bob finally needed to move to a long-term care facility. Bob and Luise remain close and valued friends. Last week, it was our privilege to host Luise in our office. She had come to attend the wedding of my youngest daughter, Catherine. She was kind enough to come and share her experiences as a caregiver for a husband with Alzheimer’s. And we want to share her experiences with you, our readers. Come back next week to read her story here on our blog.