If you have elder law questions or need assistance with estate planning, contact Charlotte-Anne Alexander with Colombo Kitchin Attorneys at 252-321-2020.  

Elder law attorneys routinely help families with the many legal and logistical entanglements when loved ones lose the ability to manage their own financial affairs or otherwise need to hand over responsibilities. Too often, we elder law attorneys work with families when there is a crisis, for instance, when someone is admitted to a hospital or when caring for a loved one has become overwhelming and finances are in jeopardy.  While many people are hesitant to consider that, one day, they might not be able to manage their own financial needs, the failure to make plans can be financially devastating and incredibly stressful for loved ones, minimizing some helpful options.  Estate planning should be a basic, smart part of everyone’s plan for their future. Working with an experienced elder law attorney to create legally correct documents that reflect your personal wishes not only gives you peace of mind but can be a tremendous help to the loved ones who must manage your financial affairs when and if you cannot.  The following Wall Street Journal article nicely illustrates, in real-life terms, why families need to have clear communication about finances and work with their attorneys to ensure that all necessary legal documents are completed before there is a crisis.  As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.


As an elder law attorney, I help clients manage their specific legal needs. But, we also discuss the “big picture,” to put in place a sensible plan that anticipates future events and helps ease the effects of the aging process on the older adult and their families. Naturally, much of this planning involves legal solutions, but there are practical elements to my advice, as well.  For instance, I work with a lot of clients who are “downsizing.” I also help families administer estates after a person has died.  In each situation, it can be a tremendous source of stress and disagreement to divide the tangible personal property, such as furniture, collectibles, jewelry, photos, tools and so forth. Sometimes, Items we love and treasure may not hold the same special place in the hearts—or homes—of our loved ones.

I encourage clients to live with loved and sentimental items as long as they wish and not be pressured to give away these items until they are ready to do so. However, if an individual is ready to give items to a loved one or donate items to charity, that may be a wise idea. Planning ahead can save older adults and their families the stress of a rapid, unexpected downsize (whether to a smaller home or to some sort of long term care facility) or minimize the task of distributing items from an estate once a loved one dies. And whereas our treasured belongings may mean a great deal to us, they be worth far less, financially, than we realize.  For an interesting story on this topic, I encourage you to read the following from the Public Broadcasting System’s NewsHour program.