Why I Am An Estate Planner
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I’m Judy Gooch and I’ve started this blog so that I can share some interesting stories I’ve witnessed and heard over the years – from my law practice, my clients, my family and my friends – as well as what I hope will be helpful and interesting information about topics relating to changes in the law. I look forward to regularly updating this blog and I encourage you to share your thoughts, as well.
Going back a few years, I went to law school with aspirations of providing legal services to the poor. However, upon graduation, and feeling the obligations that go along with single parenthood, I knew I had to change my focus from idealist to capitalist in order to pay the bills. I went back to school for a Master’s in taxation, and I then began my legal career as a corporate tax and estate planning attorney for several large and national/international law firms in the Denver area.
It wasn’t until my mother had a stroke and required long-term care that I became interested in the issues faced by our aging loved ones. Since then, I’ve witnessed the decline and loss of other older family members and friends. I knew how to organize their assets and establish powers of attorney for such time that they became incapacitated or experienced dementia, but elder law required a different set of skills from what’s required to represent a corporation.
As I became more and more involved with older people, I felt I had found my calling. I knew that what was missing from my life was actually the one thing I was seeking when I went to law school in the first place: to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Helping people solve their problems became much more rewarding than the corporate transactions with which I’d been involved over the previous 15 years. Three years ago, I left a large firm and opened my own practice, devoted to the areas of law I enjoy best: estate planning, elder law, small business transactions and tax resolution, each of which involve helping real people with real problems.
It’s pretty hard to become professionally involved with families that are experiencing problems that you’ve personally faced, and to not put yourself in their shoes. I am reminded of the old Indian saying that you can never understand a person until you’ve walked in their moccasins. Well, I can honestly say that I understand my client’s issues and more often than not, I have experienced them – or something similar – myself.
For instance, I know dreadful it is to hear that a parent or loved one has a terrible illness, or suffers from a form of dementia that will only worsen with time. I’ve experienced the conundrum of how to pay nursing home expenses after a loved one’s assets have been depleted by medical and nursing home bills, and I’ve helped a friend whose father was being financially defrauded by an unscrupulous caregiver. I’ve worked to mediate family disputes regarding financial settlements, and other matters. As a baby boomer, I will be facing these issues and I want the satisfaction of knowing right now how they will be handled – and by whom. By preparing now, I am taking an active role in my life, and that feels good.
This is not to say that I’ve given up an area of the law that I love – taxation. Instead, I’ve shifted my focus from the practice of corporate tax to representing individuals and small businesses before the IRS. When you receive a notice from the IRS, the first response of some people can be panic. Others feel that they can deal with the IRS on their own. But, there are many occasions when having effective representation can mean all the difference in the world, such as help with having a tax levy from a bank lifted or payroll garnishments ended.
The focus of my practice is to listen carefully to each client’s problems, identify their goals and carry out a plan to achieve those goals, as if they were my own. I look forward to hearing from you.