By Kevin Pillon, CELA
My workday starts at around 7:00 a.m. when I arrive at the office to check emails and get settled in. At around 8:30 a.m., my staff and I start meeting with prospective and current clients. The issues these clients bring to us could be anything. Some need basic estate planning documents. Others have elderly loved ones who will need long-term care in the future, and they want to start the planning process now. Some need help qualifying an older relative for Medicaid. If the prospective client brings an estate planning matter, I’ll usually meet with that client alone. If Medicaid is part of the discussion, I always involve the members of my team who specialize in helping clients qualify for these important public benefits.
On any given day, we might have three or four of these initial meetings with prospective clients, each one lasting an hour or two, and one or two meetings with current clients. On some days, we have emergency situations crop up (we call them crisis cases), and we will work those meetings into the schedule. Crisis cases happen when people who have had some sort of health crisis are unable to be discharged to the home. Most of them need rehab, assisted living, or nursing home care. Our job is to help them find that care—often very quickly—and then help them identify ways to pay for it while protecting the client’s assets to the greatest extent possible.
When we work with clients in non-crisis situations, once their planning is complete, we might not hear from them for many months. In some cases, we don’t hear from them for years—that is until there’s a health problem. Not long ago, I had a client who called and left a message. “Hey, I need a urgent call-back,” she said. “My husband is in a rehab facility, and we think he's going to die there." You just never know what kinds of issues you’ll face.
A fair amount of time each day is spent responding to issues that need immediate attention. People need to have answers right away. They can't wait a week or two or longer to make an appointment, so I set aside some time to help my clients with these issues.
No description of a typical day would be complete without mentioning my team. I owe my success to them. Paralegal Shannon Feinroth, Elder Care Coordinator Catherine Ckasy, Medicaid Specialists Holly Hacker and Dan Myers, and Veterans Benefits Specialist James Stivers are key members of my team.
Being a Life Care Planning Law Firm is a team endeavor.
Our office closes at 5 p.m., so by that time, things are winding down. I’m usually walking out of the office by 6 p.m. When I leave for the day, I almost always have energy to spare. Yes, I eat right and get exercise, but I believe that I leave energized because I feel good about the work I’m doing. Being an elder law attorney gives me a way to be of service to others. I'm not just there to take people's money and try to get rich. I’m actually helping make life better for my clients and their family members. That is our mission.
Kevin Pillon is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and founder of Life Planning Law Firm, a Life Care Planning Law Firm with offices in Sarasota and North Port, Florida.