Linda Strohschein’s elder care story is like that of many attorneys who head up Life Care Planning Law Firms. Her first exposure to the elder care world happened at home.
For Linda, the elderly relative who needed care was her grandfather. Diagnosed with throat cancer, the man spent his last years in a facility and Linda was one of the family members recruited to help with his care. “I was on the rotation to visit with him, so I was at the facility on a pretty regular basis,” Linda remembers. “During one conversation, my mom and my aunt were discussing what my grandfather’s will meant and they were looking at me to answer their questions because I was in law school. I didn’t know the answers then, but I can certainly answer those questions now.”
After law school, Linda established an estate planning practice, handling cases like guardianships, probate litigation, and estate administration. Like many attorneys who find their way to Life Care Planning after many years of practice, Linda began to sense that the problems her clients were facing involved more than just estate planning.
For Linda, the turning point came in 2006 after she had been working as an estate planning attorney for more than a decade. An elderly man had just passed away and the man’s adult daughter called Linda after discovering that her mother had dementia. “The man was doing such a good job taking care of his wife that the kids didn’t realize how sick their mom was,” Linda remembers. “Now that dad was gone, the children were scrambling to figure out what to do.”
Linda’s estate planning toolbox was enough to get the family through the crisis. She was able to help get the woman placed in a facility and manage the estate administration process. About six months later, the adult daughter called. “She asked me, ‘What happens when mom runs out of money? How do we pay for her care after that?’” recalls Linda, whose practice until that point hadn’t included much elder law. “I told her I didn’t know, but that I would find a way to help.”
After attending conferences and learning as much as she could about elder law, Linda was able to guide them. That was thirteen years ago. “The money in that woman’s pooled trust ran out about a year ago,” says Linda. “All those years, this woman has been able to have a little more than the $30 per month that Medicaid allows. It was very satisfying to be able to help this family take good care of their mother.”
During the process, Linda discovered Life Care Planning and realized that this philosophical approach to elder law provided a total solution for families. In 2009, she hired her first elder care coordinator. Today, Strohschein Law Group has 21 employees and maintains two offices in the Chicago metropolitan area.
One of the most rewarding parts of Linda’s work is being able to help clients solve problems that they would have no idea how to solve on her own. “Our clients are dealing with some of the most difficult situations life can throw at you,” she explains. “They end up in my office because they don’t know what to do. It’s so gratifying when a family member looks at me and says, ‘Now I get it. Now I understand what we need to do next.’ They're so incredibly grateful and it’s an honor to help them.”