We sat down with elder law expert Bernie Krooks, after he delivered his
“Fundamentals Program on Elder Law” at Heckerling on Jan. 14. Here’s what Bernie shared with us:
-Elder law is a booming practice. Estate planning has reached its peak in terms of growth. Why? Boomers are turning 65; the estate tax exemption is high; and fewer people have estate-planning needs.
-Finally, there’s proper attention given to elder law.
-And, as more attorneys move towards incorporating elder law, there’s a professional satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your labor.
The Universality of Elder Law
-Interestingly, although Bernie was prepared for questions after his session about the nuts and bolts of what he said, members of the audience came up to him with more personal concerns about their own elderly parents or relatives.
-It just goes to show, it’s an issue that hits home for everyone!
Trends in Family Dynamics
-There’s also a bigger issue: Parents are moving in with kids and vice versa. Kids are crunched because they lost their jobs or lost income. Parents are concerned.
-Clients face new challenges: One client recently made her house handicapped-accessible to accommodate her parent.
- When Bernie grew up, he saw families spread apart. Once children became adults, they moved out. Now, by necessity, they’re coming together and moving in with each other. This brings a host of new issues to deal with. For example, does a parent or child pay rent? Do we wait for them for dinner?
It’s Never Too Early to Plan
-For those entering the elder years, you have to be realistic.
-Everyone wants to live to 110, but not everyone does. And, if you do, you won’t have the quality of life you want. Unfortunately, people don’t want to plan. They’re of the mindset, “I’m only 65, that’s for the 80-year-olds….I’m only 80, that’s for the 90-year-olds.”
-Do it while your mind is clear. More people need to think about the issues.
-You can’t strong-arm people. You just need to say to your clients, “You can’t keep putting it off.”