Community Health Series: Talk on estate planning sends everyone home with information

Linda Eliovson, elder law attorney in Fairfield, started her talk about trusts, estates and conservatorships at The Greens at Cannondale Wednesday, Oct. 30, by asking everyone in the audience, “What are you here for?”

One by one, the responses were: “How to avoid probate court,” “How to write a living will,” “How to appoint a conservator” — all topics concerning inheritance and financial security.

Ms. Eliovson’s talk was the second in The Greens’ Fall 2013 Community Health Series, and it was clear this was going to be a refreshing way to learn about these complex matters. Ms. Eliovson’s first point was that the subject has two different elements: You as a person and your estate. They affect each other, but they are different. Separating them makes the entire subject more understandable.”

For example, as a person, your concerns are a living will, a health care proxy, a health care representative or agent, probate court and conservator of person, ending up with an executor so that your cemetery plot and funeral represent your wishes and you are in control. Staying in control is most important.

An estate has different elements: durable power of attorney, attorney-in-fact (while you’re alive) probate court and conservator of estate (when you’re dead.) Also, there should be an executor to be responsible for your testamentary will, and a trustee if you choose to create a trust.

The choice of the people who will be responsible for all these aspects is crucial. It is essential to select an agent who has the skill to handle finances or personal medical care and who is familiar with what your wishes would be, she said. This can be family members or trusted non-related individuals.

The goal of everything you do should be to assure that you are the one in control and your wishes are followed.

You stay in control when you have trustworthy, informed support. Ms. Eliovson exhibited knowledge and experience in all phases of law, finance and taxation. Her expertise was evident and she was chock full of information. She was likable, accessible and witty, and had an excellent approach to a subject that involved lots of end-of-life material.

She answered all the questions that followed with sincerity and full attention. There was no need, for instance, to be so afraid of probate court. Medicare and Medicaid are areas that need to be understood.    There is simply a great deal to delve into. Despite the enormity of the task, everyone left the session with something they didn’t know before. The effect was positive, simply realizing that the mysteries of estate and financial planning for the future can be solved. Being in control doesn’t mean do-it-yourself, but it does mean making intelligent choices of who will represent you.

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Community Health Series will present Moving With Ease — the Emotional and Physical Aspects of Relocation with Patty Gabal RN of “Changing Places”at The Greens at Cannondale, 435 Danbury Road.

RSVP: 203-761-1191.