Recently, an article in the New York Times caught my attention because it mentioned the Arch Diner in Brooklyn, a neighborhood place that I was familiar with from my childhood. I was happy to see it was still in business, but then the story took a depressing turn. It told of an elderly widow who was lonely and often had lunch at the diner. She befriended a waitress there, who ended up stealing from the widow over the years, forging checks and opening credit cards in the widow’s name. The deception was only discovered after the widow’s son received a certified letter from the bank alerting him that it was going to foreclose on his mother’s home because she hadn’t been paying the fees on a reverse mortgage. Due to the theft, the widow ended up losing her home of 46 years.
Unfortunately, financial abuse is just one of the problems faced by the elder population. And, estate-planning attorneys are often the first line of defense when questionable activity occurs and can make recommendations to ensure that clients hold onto their assets and live comfortably. Our Committee Report this month gives guidance on issues such as helping clients age at home by making them aware of the technology to make this possible, long-term care for unmarried elder clients and undue influence. And, for those interested in expanding into the practice of elder law, “Health or Wealth?” p. 34, by Brian Andrew Tully, gives an overview of the growth and business of that area.
Finally, we’ve all heard stories about the future of the estate-planning profession and wonder whether newly minted attorneys are choosing to go into the field. We’ve found at least five attorneys who’ve been practicing less than 10 years and are already making inroads in the profession. They’ve become part of a new Advisory Board Committee called “New Practitioners” and will help us to identify topics and provide content for those who are relatively new to the industry. You can read more about them in “T&E Welcomes New Practitioners Committee Members,” p. 12.