Case Studies

Four Pillars Law Firm Happy Sad EggsFour Pillars Law Firm can help both those who prepare well in advance of any actual needs as well as those who do not plan but suddenly find themselves in crisis.  And although we pride ourselves on making sure that every  client’s story has the happiest ending possible, a few will tell you that when they first came to us, their family situations were less than ideal.  Read the tales of these two adult children and see why, to paraphrase the last line of A Tale of Two Cities,  “Advanced planning is a far, far better thing….”


Fortunately, My Parent Planned Ahead

As someone who has spent 32 years working in the medical field, I’ve seen time and again how life can change in an instant and how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure….

I was blessed with wonderful parents who were married for 63 years.  Years ago, they wrote a standard will.  After my Mom passed away in 2011, my Dad, an active, independent 80-year-old in relatively good physical and mental health, decided he wanted to revisit his own documents.  He knew that with a standard will, all of his assets could go into probate in the courts.  It was important to him to keep our family’s asset distribution private and fair for all remaining family members if something should happen to him.

Dad’s financial planner recommended Kelly Shovelin of Four Pillars Law Firm.  Working with both my father and me, she offered solutions like an irrevocable trust to help protect Dad’s assets if he ever needs a nursing home and ensure our family avoids probate court during the eventual execution of his will.  Like many modern families, ours is a bit complicated due to divorces and other issues.  The trust dictates the exact terms of asset distribution and precisely for whom said assets are intended.

As the adult child residing nearest my father and the person named as his executor, this lifts a tremendous burden from me.  The documents that are now in place clearly state my father’s wishes and exactly how his estate should be distributed, meaning no bias on behalf of the executor and leaving less room for debate.   Everything is clear, transparent and final.   In other words, by planning in advance, Dad isn’t just protecting “the money”, he’s also protecting the relationships between his children.  We will be able to avoid the hurt feelings and family bickering I’ve seen all too often when loved ones pass away.

Did it cost a little bit more for Dad to revisit all of this paperwork and make changes?  Yes, but now he feels more settled and he can sleep at night.   I’m also relieved knowing all bases are covered, and if something does go wrong, I know exactly what to do.  I won’t have the headaches and the heartbreak of having to sort out such important matters during times of stress or grief.

As someone who has spent 32 years working in the medical field, I’ve seen time and again how life can change in an instant and how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  I am grateful to my father for his foresight, and grateful to Four Pillars Law Firm for creating a thoughtful, solid plan that will protect him and all of us for years to come.


My Parents Were Unprepared for a Health Crisis (But Fortunately, Four Pillars Was There to Help)

In September of 2011, I dropped by my parents’ house for a quick overnight visit to discover a scary situation…

While visiting my parents in October of 2011 my Dad seemed forgetful, but I didn’t think much of it. When I visited again a month later, he had gotten much worse – his short term memory was gone, and he kept asking the same questions over and over, as if we’d never answered. Soon after that visit, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

My brother and I took turns making the two-hour trip to my parents’ home on a weekly basis to help our Mom out. We quickly realized, however, that Dad needed ‘round the clock attention, and once-a-week visits weren’t enough, so we worked on finding outside help and offering emotional support.

Over the next few months, Dad’s condition worsened.  We were maxed out financially, paying people to assist in the home five days a week, but it still wasn’t enough.   Aside from moving back home, we were unable to do more.   It was painful to watch our mother’s own decline as she attempted to provide an unsustainable level of care for our father.

About a year later, we rented a beach house near my parents’ home and planned a big family Thanksgiving, hoping it would cheer our Mom up.  We intended for this time to be a refuge for her, but it turned out to be a time of reckoning for us.  We realized Mom was so beaten down, she was one step away from a nursing home herself.

The following Monday my brother and I made the decision that Mom couldn’t.  We found a skilled nursing facility with an open bed, paid the required $5000 advance for a month of care, and checked him into the facility.  At this point, we could only afford two months of care.  We were denied government assistance from Medicaid because my parents owned property.  We were out of options, up against a ticking clock, and afraid of what the future held.

Desperate, we contacted an acquaintance who works as a financial planner in Greensboro. He recommended Four Pillars Law Firm, and it was the best advice we could have received.

Kelly Shovelin rescued our family; I don’t know a better way to put it.  She is highly skilled and a pleasure to work with, and I truly believe she is the reason our Mom still has quality time left to spend with us.

While there isn’t a cure for Dad’s condition, he now has the care he needs, and the family can rest easy knowing that both our parents’ needs will be met. While there’s no way to emotionally prepare for these kinds of situations, the right planning makes a tremendous difference in one’s ability to endure. My only regret is that we didn’t contact Four Pillars sooner, but I won’t make that mistake again. My wife and I will soon be working with Four Pillars to put our own long-term planning in place.

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