Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY

Q: What’s so hard about estate planning that I need an attorney?

A:  First off, congratulations– the New Year is a great time to get things done! You probably have an idea of what goes into estate planning, but the actual task can be daunting –and most people are not sure where to start. We pay people to cut our hair, mow our lawns and fix our air conditioner. Why not consult an elder law attorney for the best advice ever? Estate plans are not just “wills” and they are not cookie cutter. Everyone has different issues that need to be put on paper and elder law attorneys know the ins and outs of the law. What if you have a disabled child and require a special needs trust?  What if you are in a blended family? Recently divorced? The variations are endless. And elder law attorneys can help you with all of them.

So how do you shop for an attorney? Consider attending free community seminars, where you can size up the right fit.  At One Senior Place, elder law attorneys conduct multiple monthly seminars on topics related to Medicaid application, tax strategies, estate planning, VA benefits and more. Watching them in action and getting answers on the spot will help you identify the professional you can trust to write up your estate plan.

Once you find the attorney, put together a plan to complete your advance directives. This includes a Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions, durable power of attorney, trusts (if needed), and a pre-need guardian. The collection of documents can shield your family from difficult decisions down the road and avoid unintended consequences. Completing them now will help you assert control over the type of medical care you wish to receive when you are near death. Make sure to choose someone as your proxy and discuss your wishes. This does not have to be one of your children — you can ask a good friend or other relative you trust.

It can be hard to think about these decisions, but everyone over the age of 18 should really have advance directives! Life can throw us a curveball at any time. Don’t let the doctor or hospital make your health care decisions. If you have more questions (and I hope you do), join us on January 18 for Estate Planning 101 at our Brevard County Location, a seminar that looks at the process from start to finish. RSVP online at or call 321-751-6771 to reserve your spot and get your ducks in a row. Happy New Year!

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place in Viera.