Longwood Florida Attorneys
Ripples In The Pond

Ripples In The Pond

One of the most emotionally challenging jobs of an estate lawyer is working with terminally ill clients who need to complete or revise their estate plans. Each time I leave a visit with such a client, I find myself visualizing dropping a pebble into a clear pond, causing ripples that seem to go on and on increasingly gentle before fading away out. This visualization helps calm me and reminds me what an impact that each of us has on one another. Though the client and I do not always have a great deal of time to spend with each other, we seem always to come to a point in the discussion where the client verbalizes his or her hopes in leaving the world a better place for having lived. The client shares memories of how he or she believes to have touched and improved lives of others.

By the time most terminally ill clients contact me, they have made peace with their imminent death and are, for the most part, just worried about their loved ones, as they know that after the pain ends for the client, it will continue for those left behind. We discuss the client’s wishes with respect to disposition of their body and their possessions. And we talk about ways that I might be able to help their loved ones follow their directives as simply and peacefully as possible.

My clients who know death is imminent often mention that they wish they had visited a particular place, seen a popular play, or participated in other enjoyable activities with a loved one. They wish they had time to make more memories with others. Through the years, I tell my senior clients that good memories are truly the greatest blessing that they may leave their loved ones. In my faith, we have a saying, “may your memories of (the deceased) be a blessing to you.”

Those who know death is imminent want most to be recognized for a legacy of good deeds, and to be assured that their significant other will be financially stable without them. They want to feel that their ripples in the water have made an impact on the world. The reality is that virtually all of our clients have sufficient assets to both enjoy their last years of life and be generous to others both before and after death.

Thus, I confess, that I am troubled when healthy elderly clients seem to decide that their own interests, wishes, and dreams are no longer worth pursuing. Instead of truly enjoying their final years exploring new interests or favorite activities, many seem to feel they need to make a last-ditch effort to financially assist their adult children Giving away everything prematurely robs the elderly of a chance to finish their “bucket list” or perhaps to live their last years in the way they want for a vain hope that a child or children will take care of them until death. I urge seniors to plan appropriately, but many fail to seek the advice of an attorney before deeding over real estate, financial accounts, and other assets only to later realize that their child or children simply were incapable of caring for their parent the way the parent hoped.

I hope each day that I have done something to make at least one person’s life better. I hope that I have given seniors (I fall into that category myself) inspiration that as a senior we can still have fun, enjoy life, encourage grown children without becoming a crutch to them, and leave a legacy of loving memories of a life well lived. I am immensely grateful for those who have chosen me to assist them with their dying wishes. Each one of them made a lasting ripple in my pool.

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