Trustees do not need to be financial whizzes to carry out their job. They just need to be trustworthy and be able to delegate tasks. This is an important message for your clients, especially elder clients seeking estate planning and elder law planning. Your clients need to hear about the critical importance of naming the proper people as a trustee, agent for a health care power of attorney, and agent for a financial power of attorney, etc. They need to choose people who only have their best interests at heart, and have a good head on their shoulders.
Consider the case of 91-year-old Mickey Rooney, publically battling against elder abuse, based on personal experience. He is participating in conservatorship proceedings, as he feels his stepson and his stepson’s wife, have been abusing him financially, verbally, and emotionally. The allegations involve Rooney being denied medications and food, and being banned from leaving his home. The situation ultimately culminated in Rooney having a restraining order issued against his stepson and his stepson’s wife last year, and seeking appointment of an attorney to be the permanent conservator of his estate.
Your clients need to know that their health and welfare are foremost, and that they need someone who will respect their wishes and dignity, putting their needs first. There are approximately 2.1 million senior Americans who are victims of neglect or abuse, and those are just the cases that are reported. According to the American Psychological Association, for every “reported” case, there are five cases no one ever hears about.
It is our job to make a difference in the lives of our elder clients; clients who need the law on their side and need their interests and assets protected. By encouraging our clients to name people who have their best interests at heart, we are doing our clients a great service.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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