By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Business name: Law Office of Carolyn R. Spring
Address: 1900 West Park Drive, Westborough
Owner: Carolyn R. Spring, attorney
What areas of law do you specialize in?
“My specialties are estate planning for all ages, elder law and probate. Estate planning is wills and trusts, and elder law deals with issues that particularly affect people age 70 or older, who are concerned with asset protection and planning for their later years if health issues arise,” said Carolyn Spring, a Westborough attorney.
“Since this area of law is highly specialized and changeable, it’s important that someone with those concerns consult an attorney who’s a member of NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) so the advice they get is up-to-date.”
What legal documents do people need?
“At a minimum, everyone needs a will, a power of attorney and a health proxy. If you’re older, you need those documents so your children don’t have to go into court to get permission to deal with your finances or assist with your medical care.
“There’s nothing worse than dying without a will, no trust, no power of attorney. It’s a mess. Most people don’t realize that a power of attorney is just as important as a will because it names someone to manage your finances if you cannot do so.
“If you have young children, you need to name a guardian in your will. If you don’t have a will, the court will decide on the guardian. You also have to have some type of trust because minor children can’t manage their own money.
“Regarding the probate of an estate, a few years ago the probate process was revised when Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Probate Code. The cost increased and the number of forms to file is continually increasing.
“You need to consult an attorney who specializes in estate planning, wills and trusts. Don’t try to do it yourself. The documents you take off the internet are usually missing something.”
What’s the best way for older people to start planning?
“When you hit 65 or 70, you really need to take a look at your documents, maybe earlier depending on factors such as a family history of Alzheimer’s or your own health history.
“When meeting with an older client, I like to do a family conference, if appropriate, so the adult children know what’s going on with their parents, though the parents are the client, not the children. If some of the children don’t live nearby, we’ve done Skype or conference calls on speaker, so they can participate.
“Some of my clients are not as mobile, so I can meet with them in their homes during the day.”
What’s your background?
“I’ve been an attorney over 30 years and have specialized in estate planning over 25 years and in elder law over 20. I have an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and graduated from Boston College Law School in 1983. And I have a degree in certified financial planning as well.
“I offer an initial consultation free of charge. I currently conduct legal clinics at the Westborough and Grafton senior centers as well.
“I went into this specialty because my mom was widowed at a young age, and she had no clue about anything. There’s such a need, especially for women, to be able to talk to someone who will explain things in a manner they can understand. I feel like I’m helping people.”