A Humbling Call To Action: Dementia, Estate Planning, and a Better Life

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning

The following is an article from the March 2019 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at www.carolinafep.com/library/newsletters/ or subscribe for free at www.carolinafep.com/newsletter.cfm

"So What Is It You Really Sell?"

“What is it you really sell?” is a question my mentor asks me from time to time. In a place and time where so much can be purchased instantly online, in a metro area that hosts hundreds of law firms, how do we justify our existence? What are we about? What is it that we uniquely offer people? 

It would be easy to say we provide documents. And, really, that’s what most of the continuing legal education (CLEs) available to lawyers is about: how to be a better lawyer. I’m not going to shy away from this: I am a highly skilled lawyer. I hire highly skilled lawyers. And I believe our plans and processes are more thorough than any other firm or attorney I’ve seen. 

Frankly, any lawyer who doesn’t think that about their firm probably shouldn’t be doing what they're doing. 

So, back to the question, what are we about, really? 

From Day One, I set out to do things “a certain way” in our firm, but I hadn’t had to explain it until my mentor asked. I was left without the words to explain the joy I’ve always brought to what I do. Dan and I argued about the answer to this question for weeks on end. At one point, we had a 42-word paragraph describing what we do. Finally, we arrived at a simple answer for what we seek to provide: a better life. 

I was reminded of how we struggled for that answer last month when we were in a hotel ballroom in Orlando, Florida for the first ever summit of the National Alliance of Attorneys for Alzheimer’s Planning (N3AP). N3AP was founded to help attorneys identify ways to help people affected by this devastating disease. And if I had to describe the summit in one word it would be this: humbling

Humbling because on the first day, a presenter asked everyone to stand who had lost a close friend or relative to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy body or any other form of dementia. Every single person in the room stood up. 

Humbling because we were reminded of how far the impact of dementia reaches beyond the person who was diagnosed: the toll of caregiving shortens the life expectancy of the caregiver by several months on average. 

Humbling because we realized that there is more we can do to help. 

To further our mission of helping people live better lives, we are doubling down on our commitment to help those affected by Alzheimer’s and all cognitive impairment disorders. 

Already, we have been investing in training our team on how best to provide compassionate care and counsel to clients who have recently received a terminal diagnosis, as well as their caregivers and family members. 

We are also continuing to develop new planning techniques, questions to ask, and provisions to include in clients’ plans. For example, if you’re a caregiver and something happens to you, how can we ensure continuity of care for the person you’re responsible for? 

And we are continuing to develop new connections in our community, because legal planning is only one piece of the puzzle. We feel we are in a unique position to help coordinate a team of providers for our client families. 

Over the coming months, we will share additional details of our plan with you. In the meantime, please tell us your ideas for how we can help you and your family. Send us an email.  Call us at 919-443-3035. 

Helping people live better lives isn’t just a slogan to us. It is our purpose. 

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