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Keystone Elder Law: Reset for the Next Decade

New Year’s Day is a natural time to reflect upon our lives, to revise previous goals and to establish new ones.   We remember our experiences and accomplishments.   We consider our present resources.  We evaluate how to build upon the foundation of our past to prepare for what we expect to encounter in the future.   

Such reflection is not only good for individuals, but also for organizations and businesses.  Keystone Elder Law began this past year with some unexpected staff turnover.   Even an unexpected and unpleasant surprise can lead to a refocus of energy which enables a healthier outcome than might have been imagined previously.

I am grateful that, without missing a beat, our core team remained committed to providing personalized and compassionate guidance for individuals and families who face both financial and care planning challenges which arise from a loved one’s dementia, or other long-term care issues.

Helping clients to respond positively to sudden and unexpected change is what our mature and committed team does for our clients.   Perhaps that is why our team relished this year as an opportunity to “hit the reset button” to improve our system of providing services for elder care planning and crisis guidance. 

It is sobering that a person who is 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care service; and the age that such a need usually becomes evident is around 81.   Many of our clients are understandably anxious when we first meet with them.   As we reset our focus, we are committed to help our clients to recognize and build on what they might have already accomplished, rather than to scare them into spending money unnecessarily, as some attorneys seem to do.

Sometimes clients discover us when they are in the middle of a long-term care crisis which has caused a loved one to be in a hospital or nursing home.   It can be even worse when we get a desperate call about a loved one who remains at home precariously.  We coach families how to reset expectations when a loved one with dementia is personally stubborn, or that person’s spouse feels trapped by a promise that “I’ll never put you in a nursing home.”

Especially in the case of a physically active loved one with advancing dementia, the need for 24/7 observation and supervision eventually will surpass the ability of any individual caregiver.    Most families, and especially those who do not have long-term care insurance, lack the financial resources to pay for in-home care “around the clock.” 

When we encounter clients experiencing such sudden events or tragic situations, we immediately help the clients to address their understandable economic fears with an optimal strategy to reset their assets to save as much as possible.  This sometimes includes a plan to transfer assets within the family, legally and without penalty. 

The individual fact patterns of each case are unique.   Our triage process allows us to focus on what needs to be a priority.  The expression “inch by inch, life is a cinch” can ultimately feel true even for those clients who initially express fear of being overwhelmed by details and emotions.

With the valuable perspective and talents of an additional “new” attorney, Keystone Elder Law is well-positioned to enter the next decade which this year initiates.  Prior to joining our staff, attorney Patrick Cawley was a Senior Deputy Attorney General for Pennsylvania, gaining extensive experience with both the state and federal court system.  Most recently, Patrick was Counsel to the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was instrumental in the revision and creation of laws related to issues such as guardianship, advance health care directives, powers of attorney, elder abuse/financial exploitation, and digital assets in estate planning. 

Patrick is respected statewide by attorneys and judges for his ongoing contributions as the co-author of a book about the appellate practice of law.   An accomplished litigator, who for most of the last decade analyzed the legal issues and policy considerations which have shaped the development of Pennsylvania’s Probate Estates and Fiduciaries Code, Patrick recently decided to reset his career focus to the practice of elder law.  We are gratified that, after thorough research of his options, Patrick approached Keystone Elder Law.

A Central Pennsylvania native, Attorney Cawley relates to clients as “my neighbors.”  He is eager to help individuals and families plan to minimize the impact of a potential or actual care crisis. Patrick’s motivation, skill, and twenty years of experience have strengthened our team as we celebrate our tenth anniversary this coming year. 

For additional details about Attorney Cawley, as well as biographies of all of our experienced and multi-talented staff, visit .

If you are a baby boomer and are not confident that you have “your ducks in a row,” then resolve this year to attend one of our free educational sessions.   Learn how to prepare the foundation you need to be legally prepared in case of a future long-term care need.   As part of our ongoing commitment to free community education, we offer several options.

Beginning February 19th, and continuing every other Wednesday through April 1st, we will speak at the Bosler Library in Carlisle on a variety of topics.  More detailed information about those seminars, and other similar opportunities, will be available soon on our website.

Our attorneys are available to you during a free question and answer session on the third Wednesday of every month, beginning on Wednesday, January 15th at 10:00am at our conference center adjacent to our Mechanicsburg office.   

Stay tuned for additional events and opportunities as Keystone Elder Law P.C.  proudly celebrates the first decade of our practice.  Our seasoned team intends to build on our proven expertise to spring forward into a new decade of Honoring Dignity and Independence, Preserving Home and Wealth.

By Dave Nesbit, Attorney