The Legal Checkup Blog

Sending Your Child Off To College? Take Note!

Posted by Judith Flynn on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 @ 08:08 AM

As the summer winds down, parents and their teens are crowding stores like Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond for comforters, scatter rugs, microwaves, and other items to make the cramped living quarters of a dorm room feel like home.  Students feel excitement and anticipation for the new chapter that is about to unfold, with more independence and autonomy over their day to day lives.  For parents, move-in day typically brings mixed emotions.  It is the day we hoped for and the day we dread all at once.  Many parents think back to their own college experiences and the realization that it is not all about the books, and can only hope that their children exercise good judgment and make smart decisions. 

Parents know that many things can go wrong, and while we hope there are no serious issues, we need to send our children off to college prepared.  Independence sounds great until a student realizes his or her bank account is negative or, worse, ends up in an emergeny room. 

Make sure your child is truly prepared for college.  If your child is 18 or older, he or she should execute a Health Care Proxy (appointing a surrogate decision maker) with a HIPAA Release (release under health privacy law that allows medical providers to speak with you or another designated person in an emergency) and a Durable Power of Attorney to provide you or someone else with the authority to deal with their college or other entities for financial and contractual issues.  (Believe it or not, while the tuition bill is sent to your attention, the school staff will not even speak to you about the account without express authorization from your child.)

These documents are not expensive and do not require a lengthy appointment.  It would be far more expensive and inconvenient to respond to a child's emergency without these important documents in place.  They can typically be drafted after a brief phone consultation, and will be reviewed for accuracy when the child comes in to sign them. 

For more information, call us today at 781-681-6638.


Tags: Estate Planning, disability planning, family, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, parents


Posted by Judith Flynn on Sun, Oct 07, 2012 @ 21:10 PM

     Yesterday was such a crisp fall day - a perfect day for a long bike ride.  I set off from my Hingham home, and made my way through Cohasset, Scituate, and Hull.  This course is my favorite as it combines some of the most breathtaking views with the challenges of the road (both the traffic and the hills!).  The ocean views along Jerusalem Road, Cohasset Harbor, and Gunrock Beach always make me forget how hard I'm working.

     The hues of the changing leaves along the way were not yet at peak, but breathtaking nonetheless.  There is one large field along the road from Scituate to Cohasset where I had to stop to take in the beauty of a doe and her two fawns.  They were probably only 20 feet away from the street, which was quite exciting to me as the only other times I have seen deer up close is when they have darted in front of my car!  The fawns were too busy eating to notice, but the doe never took her eyes off me.  She was beautiful and magestic, but she stared me down as if to let me know that those were her "children" and I had better not try to harm them.  The doe was like any other mother - guiding and protecting her young.

     A little farther into my ride I came to a series of long and challenging hills.  Just as I was huffing and puffing and pedaling as hard as I could, I felt someone's hand touch the right side of my back.  I was startled and quickly turned my head around to see who it was.

     There was nobody there.  But, how could that be?  The pressure of the hand on my back was unmistakable...  My mind raced as I tried to explain this to myself.  Could it have been a falling leaf?  A branch?  Did I imagine it? 

     No.  A couple of miles and much self-debate later, I knew in my heart that it was a sign; it was my mother.  Now, you may or may not believe in signs from those who have passed before us, but I am a firm believer.  This is, after all, not the first time that I have had a sign from my parents.  This is, however, definitely the most distinct.  The feeling of that hand on my shoulder, helping me over the hill, was just too distinct to ignore.  Even though my mother has passed, I know that she is still with me, guiding and protecting me like the doe with her fawns.

     So tell me, what is your sign?  Have you had such an experience with a sign from a loved one who has passed?  Please share your experience!

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Tags: Legal Check Up, family, loved ones, priorities, parents

RED CARPET PREMIERE of guardianship training video ...

Posted by Judith Flynn on Tue, Nov 01, 2011 @ 17:11 PM

Sign up now for the annual dinner meeting of the Massachusetts Guardianship Association (MGA), featuring the “RED CARPET PREMIERE” of the new training video for family guardians and conservators.

December 6, 2011 at 5 pm

Newbridge on the Charles

6000 Great Meadow Road

Dedham, MA  02026

The video was produced by Northnode, Inc. in collaboration with the MGA and the Office of the Chief Justice of the Probate Court, Paula M. Carey.  The video, "Stepping In When Help Is Needed," was made possible through funds provided by the MGA and a generous grant from the Office of the Attorney General, Martha Coakley.  If you are a family guardian or conservator or a professional who deals with people who need guardians or serve as guardians, we welcome you to this premiere. Spread the word - all are welcome, but RSVP is required as outlined below.

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Seating is limited -- registration is required no later than November 28th:  call the MGA at 617-350-6500 or e-mail 


Tags: elder law, Legal Check Up, Estate Planning, disability planning, Community Care, family, loved ones, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Last Will & Testament, parents

The Silence is Deafening: Set the priorities that matter.

Posted by Judith Flynn on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 @ 22:10 PM

Those of you whom I have had the pleasure of meeting are probably aware that I lost both of my parents recently, just six months apart.  While my mother’s health had declined over the years, with at least annual hospitalizations for pneumonia and related issues, her death was sudden and unexpected.

nanny and pa

After my mother’s burial, my four sisters and I developed a schedule to take care of my father.  He was 83 and still living independently in his home, but we knew he would not eat a decent meal unless it was put in front of him.  So, we alternated days to bring him dinner and spend some quality time.  Similar to the best-selling book by Mitch Albom, I had the pleasure of Tuesdays with Danny.

My parents were married 59 years, and their type of devotion was the type that you just do not see these days.  My time with Dad was spent mostly listening because he was simply broken-hearted after the loss of my mother.  He was always known for his gift of gab, and he insisted that we make eye contact the entire time he was speaking.  Dad was the subject of many family jokes about his incessant chatter, but the stories he told were truly a gift.

During our time together after my Mom’s death, Dad told us again and again of his childhood, his days in the Navy, and his wonderful life with my mother.  His dad died when he was very young, before the days of Social Security.  There was not enough food for his mother to make him a lunch when he was going to school.  He had such great respect for his mother and told us repeatedly that despite her hardships, she was always smiling and never said a bad word about any body or any thing.

He was 16 when he graduated from high school and immediately enlisted in the Navy.  He ate four bananas as he walked to the weigh in, and he just barely made the minimum weight.  While his four years at sea consisted of long days and hard work, he appreciated the three square meals a day and the opportunity to see the world.

There were so many stories he shared of his Navy days, but my favorite – and the one that most symbolizes my father’s character - was of his first day on land after being at sea for many months.  The first thing my father did was go to a Western Union office and wire home most of his pay to his mother.  In fact, we found that telegram when we were cleaning out his house – “Dear Mom. Stop.  I’m doing swell. Stop.  I hope you are too. Stop.  Tell the family I miss them. Stop.  All My Love, Danny.  Stop” That telegram is now my most treasured possession.

After returning home from the Navy, my father met my mother at a picnic.  She fibbed about her age so he would date her, and the rest is history.  Long before the days of women’s liberation, my father so appreciated all that my mother did to raise their five children and maintain the home – the cooking, the cleaning, the ironing, etc.  They were true equal partners in all that they did.

As my Elder Law column is usually a place where I urge you to get your estate planning documents in place and consider long-term care planning strategies to protect your assets for your future security, you may be wondering why I am sharing these personal details with you.  All I can say is that I am compelled to tell each and every one of you to appreciate the opportunity you have to spend time with your loved ones today, and don’t take for granted that there will be a tomorrow.  We are all too busy these days with many different responsibilities competing for our attention, and we need to set the priorities that matter.

We were blessed to have so much time with my parents.  It was through their stories that we learned of the people and circumstances that shaped two people with values, character, and integrity second to none.  But, I would give any thing for one more day … one more story.  If this column inspires even one of you to appreciate your loved ones more today, then it has served its purpose.

(Note:  This is a reprint of my favorite column)

Tags: elder law, Legal Check Up, family, loved ones, priorities, parents, Navy