SAN DIEGO – JUNE 12, 2018 – According to a 2017 survey from Caring.com, only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. People come up with a variety of reasons not to plan or state their wishes in a legal form – yet it basically comes down to people not wanting to think about their death or having potentially uncomfortable conversations with loved ones. However, a new nonprofit collaborative, the San Diego Planning Partnership, aims to change this perception and help adults create stability for their future.
Established earlier this year, the San Diego Planning Partnership will assist older adults with estate planning as they age to help them maintain independence, as well as helping to legally grant authority to someone to make medical decisions for them should they become incapacitated. The nonprofit collaborative is led by Yvonne Amrine, a local estate and elder law planning attorney and founder of Amrine Law, which specializes in helping families plan well through estate plans and special needs trusts. However, Amrine did not start out to become an attorney from the get-go. In 2005, she transitioned from her career in marketing to becoming an attorney after she was hit with a double blow in 2003: her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and she became her primary caregiver, and then her 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. She discovered there was no clear roadmap to help families through the confusing process of caring and making decisions for disabled loved ones.
Inspired by this journey, she enrolled at the California Western School of Law in San Diego to earn her law degree. She tried to keep an open mind and consider all areas of law. However, after her first year, she began volunteering at the conservatorship clinic run by the Legal Aid Society of San Diego at the probate courthouse. She and her fellow volunteers began to see a pattern. Many of the people coming to the clinic were the adult children of seniors who found they had no authority to protect their parent or manage their bank or investment accounts without a power of attorney. If the parent had no capacity to sign a power of attorney, then the adult children were forced to petition for conservatorship of the estate, a process which could cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 and take months to get in place. These adult children seeking assistance to care for their parents now faced this additional legal hurdle causing lifelong court oversight of private family matters and additional emotional stress in many cases. However, if an estate plan was in place, much of the distress may have been avoided altogether.
After obtaining her law degree and opening her own estate planning practice in 2011, she continued to see the same issues among her firm’s clients. “Regardless of economic resources, rich or poor, people just need access to knowledge so they have the confidence to create an action plan and secure the future they want,” says Amrine. She then assembled a trusted community of experts from nonprofit and professional organizations – those who often help seniors in need and provide resources to caregivers of older adults who cannot care for themselves.
The members of the San Diego Planning Partnership, which include organizations such as St. Paul’s Senior Services, The Salvation Army of San Diego, and KPBS, are committed to hosting two-day workshops at no charge, where attendees receive unbiased information and learn the language of estate and long-term care planning. Attendees will be presented with options for managing, preserving, and ultimately distributing an individual’s assets. End of life and incapacity decisions will also be discussed. Their goal is to increase the number of San Diego County adults that have their documents and future plans in order, lessening the need for court intervention when families are in the midst of a caregiving crisis.
“There’s a prevailing myth you have to possess many valuable assets to create a plan–nothing could be further from the truth,” says Amrine. “With or without assets, decisions cannot be made without a costly court proceeding. Even many well-off older adults neglect to put a plan in place. The decisions you make today, or don’t make, can affect your ability to pay for long term care and create stability for yourself and your family.”
The San Diego Planning Partnership workshops are not just for people who don’t have an estate plan in place. It’s also a good opportunity for older adults to get a “check up,” and help ensure that the current plan still makes sense. The workshops are also especially helpful for family members who provide care for older adults too. “More people are living longer, getting remarried, and blending families,” says Amrine. “Don’t wait for a crisis. With the right information, planning for the future is less stressful.”
The San Diego Planning Partnership’s free two-day workshops are held at different locations in San Diego County, hosted by the organization’s nonprofit partners, including KPBS, St. Paul’s Senior Services, and Salvation Army of San Diego. The schedule is currently as follows:
- Wednesday, August 15 and Thursday, August 16 – 9 a.m. to 12 noon; KPBS, 5200 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182
- Wednesday, September 12 and Thursday, September 13 – 9 a.m. to 12 noon; Salvation Army Oceanside Corps, 3935 Lake Blvd., Oceanside, CA 92056
- Wednesday, Oct. 10 and Thursday, Oct. 11 – 9 a.m. to 12 noon; St. Paul’s Plaza, Mathes Center, 1420 E. Palomar St., Chula Vista, CA 91913
Participants must pre-register as space is limited. Workshop schedule is subject to change. Visit the San Diego Planning Partnership website at sd-pp.org or call (760) 500-1902 or more details and to RSVP in advance.
About San Diego Planning Partnership
The San Diego Planning Partnership is a nonprofit collaboration whose members are committed to help remove the mystery of estate planning and long-term care options for all older adults, regardless of economic resources. The collaboration provides no-cost workshops to educate the community on topics affecting their future, such as estate planning, in a non-threatening, no solicitation classroom environment. The two-day workshops are free to attend and led by professional volunteers and representatives of trusted nonprofits and community organizations. Participants will understand their options and get the tools to take control of their future. To learn more or to RSVP for the next workshop, visit sd-pp.org.