December 20, 2016

The Season When Time Rushes Forward

The Hon. William D. Missouri

I was talking with some friends and colleagues about the acceleration of the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like the time for celebrating the children's joy comes much more quickly than it used to, and Thanksgiving now seems to be just another day. I'm sure I see things differently now partly because I have changed - but one thing is for sure, the stores mostly bypass Thanksgiving, putting out all of the Christmas things earlier and earlier. I'd like to see Thanksgiving receive a little more of the old time traditions.

This is a joyful time of year, but it’s a fast-paced one too. We can see this acceleration as we move into December, and many of us move at a faster tempo to get things done ahead of the holidays. The trick is not to get so distracted by deadlines that you miss the fun and warmth of the holidays.

But now also is an important time to pause and reflect on the year that has passed, and I believe we can look back on 2016 with appreciation for what we have accomplished. The Senior Lawyers Division switched this year to an auto-enrollment Division of the ABA. This means that all dues-paying members of the ABA are enrolled in the Division if they are 62 and over, and there are no additional fees for Division membership. (Interested ABA members who are younger than 62 can enroll for free as well.)

At the beginning of 2016 we had about 3,000 members in the Division, now we have 63,000. This year we revived the Voice of Experience e-newsletter into the monthly electronic publication you're reading now. We also expanded our travel program and added new free webinars. We expect that in 2017 the Senior Lawyers Division will be a robust and energetic group, helping its members and making a significant difference in the ABA.

December also is a time of year when many think about their end-of-year charitable giving. I'd like to offer a suggestion in that area, and remind you that you now no longer have to pay dues to be a member of the Senior Lawyers Division. For this and other reasons, I challenge all Senior Lawyers Division members to consider making a donation of at least $250 to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education, which is the ABA’s 501(c)(3) charitable arm. Donating is easy using the FJE’s online donations page. I recommend two great and worthwhile FJE funds:

This December issue of Voice of Experience is our last of the year. This month we look at the important issues surrounding long term care and assisted living. As our population ages, more and more families will be facing sometimes difficult decisions about how to manage the care of aging parents and grandparents. Fortunately, our society and our legal system are working to make it a little easier for these families.

In this issue, Richard L. Kaplan examines how family members normally step into a role of caregiver for older relatives, working for free and sometimes at considerable cost to themselves. Mr. Kaplan offers some suggestions on how laws could be changed to help these family members get reimbursed for their hard and important work.

Donna Jackson describes the working of the Special Needs Trust, a useful legal tool to help protect a person who has a physical or mental challenge; these trusts can be set up to help children or adults. Karren Pope-Onwukwe writes about how housing policy and long-term care has evolved for people with disabilities and older adults. Our country has moved away from institutionalizing people with serious disabilities, and a lot has changed because of the U.S. Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C., and the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Thank you for continuing to read the Voice of Experience e-newsletter. If you have suggestions on how we can improve the newsletter or anything else in the Division during the year ahead, please send a message to me or to our director, Matt Dominis.

Please have a great Christmas holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Respectfully with best regards,
William D. Missouri, Chair

The Hon. William D. Missouri