Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

How do you prepare to support clients through difficult legal processes, such as end-of-life planning? In my experience, the best preparation is twofold. First, you have to have a strong grasp of the law and the options your clients can and should be considering. If you do not deeply understand that, then you cannot properly advise your client. You may have the surface answer to the question, but you cannot help your client dive into these deep conversations that so many areas of elder law practice require. Clients are looking to you for legal advice, but also resources, opinions, first-hand experiences, contacts, all of it. They need you to be the expert so they can feel secure in decisions they make, knowing that they had accurate information from which to do so. Second, I try to be sure to break down the content of whatever practice area I am assisting clients with into manageable pieces. Clients who come to me are often in a very emotional and stressful time of life. They are dealing with ill or deceased family members; they are sometimes thinking for the very first time about what they want at the end of their life. I have families who have diligently cared for disabled family members for their entire life and are now trying to work through who will do that for them when they pass. They are generally not in a place where they have the bandwidth to decipher a ton of legal information. If I cannot take the information and advice I give them and make it easier to digest then I am doing my clients a disservice and am only adding to their stress. What complications might arise during the estate planning process? How can these be avoided? There is a myriad of complications that could arise during the estate planning process. Things like family dynamics, conflict and distrust tend to flare during the conversations we need to have in order to put together a proper estate plan. I could fill a book with stories about estate planning gone wrong. The thing to remember, though, is that all those things that have the potential to make the estate planning process a little painful will be exacerbated if you do nothing. At least if we can get an estate plan put together there is something to End-of-Life Planning: Supporting Clients Through Challenges EXPERT INSIGHT 75 Elder law can frequently be demanding for practitioners, and often involves supporting clients during the most difficult period of their lives. However, the service that elder lawyers provide is essential, and successful estate planning can be extremely rewarding for both them and their clients. Below, elder law attorney Nikki Mitchell describes some of the challenges involved in estate planning and how she goes about supporting her clients through them. Expert Insight

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