Stephanie was formerly an occupational therapist who did a lot of advocacy work for seniors. The power of attorney document is designed to speak for you when you’re no longer able to speak for yourself; it is intended to memorialize your wishes and empower you.
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And happy Saturday everyone. It’s Answers for Elder’s radio and we hope everyone is having a great day today. Our first guest is a brand new guest that we have not had here before on the radio show, but it is a wonderful lady that I have had the privilege of getting to know over the last week or so and her name is Stephanie Haslam and she is actually an attorney with a very unique background with compassionate legal care in North Gate. Is that correct, Stephanie? That’s correct. Welcome to the program. Thank you, says an. It’s a pleasure to be here. You know, I want to talk first before we get into our topic, which I think is really important, I want to talk a little bit about your background. You shared with me that you used to be an occupational therapist and of course, we’ve had a lot of talk about the wonderful work that occupational therapists do, but you kind of took a unique kind of side turn and you went into law. How did that happen? I found myself doing a lot of advocacy work as an occupational therapist. MM. I worked for almost twenty years in the areas of elder law or elder occupational theory right working in home health and in skilled nursing facilities, and a lot of people were finding that they needed to have wheelchairs or have continued care services and were being denied services or denied equipment, and I found I was in charge of writing those letters of to write the letters to request the services be provided, and I found I was pretty good and it enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the efficacy work and I got results. You know, and there’s that word that I love, it’s becoming that advocate for seniors that is so powerful and you really made that happen in a big way and it really tells about your heart and what you do for a living. Tell me a little bit about the types of law that you practice and what your specialty is for seniors. Well, first of all, I’d like to clarify I’m in the legal field where you’re not permitted to say we have a specialty. That’s true. My focus of my law practice is elder law and estate planning. I focus in the areas of wills, and powers of attorney guardianships. If powers of attorney aren’t available, to the person, asset preservation and Medicaid planning. Wow, and we look at the whole family, not just the individual doing the documents right, so we’re a unique kind of law practice. Wow, that’s really cool and I know you’ve you speak so highly of the team that works with you and just really a lot of tells. Says a lot about you. Know who you are and what you do and working with the entire family. That is such a really, really important thing because oftentimes, I know with my parents’ generation, which they are from the greatest generation, they don’t like to talk about their money, they don’t like to talk about their wills, anything that’s uncomfortable topics, their final wishes, planning, anything like that. So having somebody like you that can help facilitate those conversations can be so important and I’m sure you found that. Is that? Is that true? It’s very important to afford to communicate what your wishes are for them to be followed, and so I have had those conversations with seniors who are very private in their affairs, and I do have an individual conversation with the clients before the family and encourage them to be in communication with our family members about what their wishes are and how they want them to be carried out, and that is the greatest guarantee of them being carried out. Sure there are many times in our elder law list, serve on, you know, email list, serve that we find someone looking for the will of so and so that has been so well well preserved and well hidden that no one ever finds it. They know one’s been done, but then if you can’t find it, it doesn’t do any good. Well, so communication is so important, you know, it is really important and it’s sad that in many families today there isn’t a lot of communication, and I know that. You know for the families that I work with and different things like that, there’s all kinds of misconceptions, there’s you know, everybody processes things differently and, as you know, let’s say mom is the matriarch of the family and all of a sudden starts to lose her faculty. It kind of shakes up the whole foundation of everybody’s reaction and I know that that’s a key issue. It can be, and so my role oftentimes is not just as an attorney that law and also a counselor at law. So offering services to help the family find what the loved one still is able to do and find strengths and what they’re able to do, and to gather around and help support their loved one in what their abilities still are and to preserve the abilities through documentation, through doing the will, through doing powers of attorney, and to preserve their wishes through those documents, right, that’s so important, and to educate the family members on how to carry them out. And you know, we’re are real topic today, obviously, is we want to talk about the power of attorney because it is such a huge issue a lot of I can imagine that a lot of seniors say, well, if I have a power of attorney, it’s like giving up control. It’s like all of a sudden you’re not you don’t have, you know, a say anymore in your future. And Really, Stephanie, I’m sure that’s not really the case, is it? The intention of the power of attorney is actually to preserve your wishes. When you cannot speak for yourself, the design of the document is to put into words and memorialize your wishes, specifically what your wishes are, and the power of attorney are the words in the document. So by preserving in words what you want for when you can no longer speak for yourself, you’re actually empowering yourself. And by putting into words and pointing who you wish to do the documents, or, my misspoke, who you wish to carry out your wishes right what the scope of their authority is, you’re empowering yourself, whereas the alternative is to not do anything at all. And if it ever comes to a point where you can’t make wish, your decisions known or your wishes known, then it’s by default and you don’t have a choice about who does it and the court sometimes has to get involved and that can be really difficult for a family and very difficult on your autonomy. I can, I can, really can understand that for sure, and we are talking to Stephanie Haslam from Compassionate Legal Care here in Seattle, and Stephanie is an attorney that does a lot of elder law and a estate planning law it that’s your main focus of practice. I’m assuming you do other types of law to primarily estate planning guardianships when people have not been able to do that state plan in a timely manner. Well, we help families work to preserve assets if they need to plan ahead for disabilities down the road. And I’d also work with families of all ages and do their estate plans. You know, younger families as right, right, which is really important. So, Stephanie with let’s go back to the power of attorney for a minute and you know what age did somebody think about having that power of attorney drafted up? What? What is kind of the indicators that that needs to happen? When you’re eighteen, so when you no longer have a legal decision maker your parent, is a good at a good idea to have your power of attorney put in place. In the event there’s an accident and you’re temporarily or permanently incapacitated, who would you want to make your decisions for you? And so I advise anybody over the age of eighteen to have a power of attorney. That’s powerful. Yeah, there’s a misconception that if you’re married, that you’re spouse can automatically make decisions for you, and there are some limited decisions a spouse can make for you, but then you reach a wall often times. If yeah, I remember when we had our will drafted up. There was a real specific of you know what we gate. We gave each other full authority to act on each other’s behalf and there was all this stuff listed that we had to sign to get. I remember that. And so, yeah, and so, if you have a joint bank account, you may be able to act on each other’s behalf. But if you own a piece of real estate together, sure, and something happens to one of the spouses, you, the other spouse may not have the authority to sell the property without a power of attorney. So it’s very important to get the documents done ahead of time, you know, before you can anticipate a need. Sure, kind of like having an insurance policy. So the power of attorney basically is a document that gives somebody the right to follow through on your wishes. And how is the best way? I mean, I suppose everybody’s different, but how do you make the best choice? What do you believe is the best choice for an individual to select? Well, there are several, many powers you can give authority for. In my office there are two main types of powers of attorney. I’ll have a client do. One is for healthcare decisions and that includes decisions regarding medication, treatment, who provides the care. And also, inside the power of attorney we do the living will or the advanced right end-of-life instructions. So you want to ensure that your decision maker is going to be comfortable making the end of life into you know, decisions for you, or making the decisions for medical for medications for you, for pain medication, for example. So if you have, for example, you have children that are making decisions for you, is the child you’re choosing as your first agent comfortable making medical decisions? Right? They squeamish? Right, right. And then the another major document is a the financial power of attorney. Is the person that you’re naming is your first choice for agent, are they good with money and you want to set the person up for success. So it may be that one of your children is really, really good at the medical decisions and very devoted and willing to go to doctor’s appointments, but maybe they’re not good at money and it’s not that they’re a bad person, they’re just not good at that job. Right. And then you have another child. It’s very practical and good with numbers, but are doesn’t really understand the medical realm. So is choosing the right person for the right job. That totally makes sense, obviously for you. Making sure that those are spelled out appropriately so that when you’re sitting, when somebody sitting down, then having that conversation with a family of this is why these individuals were chosen because I think, I think one of the things within every family there’s a lot of variables that go on. I know for me, my mother, she chose somebody pretty much that wouldn’t say no to her anything she wanted to do, which I understand POW our attorney, is about following through on their wishes. On the other hand, my mom had dementia, so she wasn’t making very smart decisions, and so she and I and the initial stages of course, we’re really almost combative. So it’s good to understand a little bit about, you know, finding that happy medium that I got to learn. So that was important, I’m sure, right and knowing you know, at what point are you having to take over decisionmaking an or are you just supporting decision? Make sure that makes sense. So, Stephanie, how do we reach you? While I can be reached at my website at www compassionate legal care dotcom. I’m are we also have a phone number at two thousand and six, five to five, six nine, one nine. Wait and when you stay on for another segment with us, I’d be delighted good will be right back
Originally published November 03, 2022