Estate Planning: Not Just for the Aging

If you’ve been along for the ride from the beginning, you might remember that we did a five-episode series on Elder Law a few months back (episodes 10 to 14). When it comes to elder law, the topics are endless, and the conversations are always relevant and packed with great information that is definitely worth repeating. In this episode, we focused on Estate Planning once again. The last time we discussed Estate Planning, it was mostly from the perspective of older adults, but in this episode, we dig a little deeper and talk about why having an estate plan is something every adult of any age should be thinking about. Don’t worry, we also talked about older adults and why estate planning is important too. Episode 47 is packed with great information and worth the listen. Of course, as usual, you will find the transcript at the bottom of this page if you prefer reading it.

My Guest

My guest today is Denise Tessier, Esq. of The Tessier Law Firm. Denise has been a lawyer for over 25 years and currently, she focuses primarily on Elder Law, including estate planning, wills, and trusts, long-term care, Medicaid planning, probate, and administration of estates. Denise is a member of several local and national Elder Law and Estate Planning organizations. And notably, her firm was invited to become an affiliated member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, which is a national organization committed to providing the highest quality of estate and Medicaid planning services. Learn more about Denise by clicking the link in the links section below.

It’s Not Just For The Aging

So many people think Estate Planning simply having a will, but it is much more than that. An Estate Plan is not just creating a plan for when you pass, it also can benefit you while you’re still alive and as a plan for disability and medical emergencies. It’s a lifetime journey that begins when you turn 18 and is something that should be reviewed regularly as your life situation changes to protect not only yourself but the people you love.

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Estate Planning: It’s Not Just for the Aging

Recorded March 10, 2021


Denise Tessier, Liz Craven

Liz Craven  00:00

The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide your guide to all things senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at

Liz Craven  00:21

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Liz Craven  01:16

Welcome to the sage aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.

Liz Craven  01:53

Hello, and welcome to Episode 47 of the Sage Aging podcast. I’m so glad you’ve taken a few minutes out of your busy day to hang out with us for another great conversation. We’ll do our best to deliver you something that is really valuable to you. And that will help you to put another tool in that toolbox as it relates to aging and caregiving. Before we get started, I do want to take a minute to give our great big appreciative shout-out to Jane Hammond and Compass Mortgage. If you listen to last week’s episode, you know that Jane was here to teach us about High Equity Conversion mortgages. Well, Compass Mortgage has come on board since then to sponsor a few episodes of Sage Aging. Small podcasts like this one are not money-making ventures – quite the contrary. So I really appreciate that Compass Mortgage sees the value in what we’re doing and has stepped up to partner with me and support Sage Aging. So thank you, thank you, I really appreciate you very much.

Liz Craven  02:57

Well, today we’re going to revisit a conversation that we had way back in Episode 10. If you’ve been along for the ride from the beginning, you might remember that we did a five-episode series on Elder Law, and that was episodes 10 to 14. When it comes to elder law, the topics are endless, and the conversations are always relevant and packed with great information that is definitely worth repeating. So we’re going to focus on estate planning today. The last time we discussed estate planning, it was mostly from the perspective of older adults. So today we’re gonna dig a little deeper and yes, we are going to talk about older adults and why estate planning is important. But we’re also going to talk about why having an estate plan is something every adult of any age should be thinking about. My guest today is Denise Tessier of the Tessier law firm. Denise has been a lawyer for over 25 years and currently, she focuses primarily on Elder Law, including estate planning, wills and trusts, long-term care, Medicaid planning, probate, and administration of estates. Denise is a member of several local and national elder law and estate planning organizations. And notably, her firm was invited to become an affiliated member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, which is a national organization committed to providing the highest quality of estate and Medicaid planning services. So she knows her stuff. I think that we’ve got a good one here. Welcome to the show. Denise. Thanks so much for joining me.

Denise Tessier  04:42

Oh, thank you for having me. This is really exciting. This is my very first podcast.

Liz Craven  04:47

Oh, all right. I like it. I love getting newbies. It’s a lot of fun and we are going to have a great conversation today. And you know, I like to start each episode by studying On the stage with a quote, and today’s quote comes from Suze Orman, we’ve all heard of Suze. She says, “Estate planning is an important everlasting gift that you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn’t as hard as you might think.” And I think that is so relevant because people tend to be very intimidated by the process of putting together their estate plans and preparing for the future. And that’s really unfortunate because then people kind of approach that time of life and are very unprepared and don’t know what to do. So I’m happy to have you here today to reinforce this message. And to give some guidance on all of that.

Denise Tessier  05:47

No, I appreciate that. And I’m a huge Suze Orman fan. She’s my muse. She is what got me interested in doing more public service-oriented work. And she’s a big fan of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys because she knows the value. But you know, I’m a big fan of her books and her messages.

Liz Craven  06:06

Well, isn’t that a great coincidence that that’s the quote I chose today? I think she’s fantastic, too. Well, before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you?

Denise Tessier  06:19

Sure. Well, as you mentioned, I’ve been a lawyer for over 25 years, I was in the corporate world doing corporate law regulatory law. And I worked primarily for insurance companies and tech companies. I was General Counsel and compliance officer for the Aspen Insurance Group worked for the Hartford Insurance Group and most recently worked for IBM. And, you know, it was a great career. But I always felt that there was something missing, no matter how hard you work for a corporation and how much you give in time, and education and travel, etc. You know, they’re really not very grateful. I’ve been laid off three times, the first time that I got laid off, I remember being in the tub with my belly pregnant over the water, thinking is my child going to be so anxious and stressed out because I’m going through this layoff and was so upset about it. The second time, you get a little bit angry, because you put in all this time and effort, and you just don’t really feel like you’re making much of a difference in the world. But then by the third time, we had a massive reorganization in IBM, and my division was sold half the company got laid off in the states in 2020, just before COVID. And you think that maybe the universe is telling you something. So it actually was I had coincidentally at the same time, a friend calling me up in a panic saying that her mother had died here in Florida. And she didn’t know what to do, because that was quite unexpected. She didn’t know if her mother-in-law had a will or any assets, they didn’t know where to start. And so I met her up in Leesburg, Florida, here in Central Florida. And in the course of a day, I got her from panicked to having a plan, because we were able to find a will go through tons of paperwork, and find all of her assets. And I was able to give her kind of a roadmap of what to do after her loved one had passed. And it changed her entire personality for the course of the day from panicky and stressed out to at least have the confidence to go forward with the day-to-day activities that she was going to need to take care of. And she could really focus on her family. And the gratitude that I felt from that work was just amazing. And she would tease me Oh, you have to you know, you should do this for a living. This is like your superpower…calming people down and giving people peace of mind. And when I got laid off from IBM, I made lemonade out of lemons and said, you know what the universe is telling me to do something. It’s such an amazing privilege to be working with families, and actually seeing them go through the process where they’re confused and stressed out, they don’t know where to start, and then having them really understand what their plan is for the future. It’s just been amazing. So took the Florida Bar Exam, studied 1000s of hours and really, this is my specialty now, so I’m very pleased to be part of the community unable to help them this way.

Liz Craven  09:21

That is really a great story. I just love that you…I love your attitude, first of all of making lemonade from lemons because of three layoffs, that’s a lot and how frustrating for you. But you found your calling, I think and it is amazing the difference that a little bit of guidance and a little bit of organized effort can make in a family’s life. And I think people really sell that short. They just don’t recognize you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think a lot of people fall into that category. They just kind of think that things are gonna fall into place and How much is there really to do when someone passes? Well, there’s a lot to do, there’s a lot to do to prepare for that there’s a lot to do to prepare for the care of a family member along the way. And those who plan have a much smoother journey than those who don’t. And I can tell you that from firsthand experience, we’ve been involved in a lot of caregiving over our time, my husband and I, my mother was not prepared, and she got cancer young, she was only 68, when she got her cancer, so she hadn’t finished all of her planning yet. On the other hand, my mother and father-in-law were very prepared. And those scenarios were starkly different. So, so different, the experience was smoother and less stressful, you know, the stress of losing a loved one is there, but the background stuff and all of the things that have to be taken care of, to remove that stress is pretty amazing. So let’s start at the beginning. I’m a definitions person love definitions. So let’s start with the basics. What is Estate Planning?

Denise Tessier  11:15

So many people think of estate planning the same as having a will because they both distribute your assets in a particular way that is in the way that you would like to have it done rather than what the state would say, or the government. But really, Estate Planning is a much broader term. And an includes not only creating a will or a trust, or creating a plan for when you pass, it also can benefit you while you’re still alive and plan for disability and medical emergencies. And it’s really not just a one-time effort where you know, it’s for older people, they write a will and then they’re done. It’s really, as you say, a lifetime journey is to look at your situation and plan for the future. And not only protect yourself but protect your loved one. So it’s a holistic endeavor.

Liz Craven  12:03

I love that you describe it that way.

Denise Tessier  12:07

Yeah, it’s definitely something that you would have in place all through your life, not just in the older stages. So for example, you know, just starting out, even when you’re in college, or when you’re a young adult, just starting to earn your first dollar, maybe you don’t have any assets. But certainly, you need to have healthcare directives in place. And Suze Orman’s a very big fan of healthcare directives. But you know, you want to make sure that you name somebody that can speak for you if you’re in an accident. And for college kids, particularly that live apart from their families, or young adults that have moved to follow a job. Who do doctors call if they’re in an accident, they might not be married yet. So having those different documents in place is super important. And a lot of younger people don’t think about it, but it can make the difference of life and death. If treatment needs to be provided, then certainly, while you’re building your career, you might start having money. And you might not want it to go to your brothers and sisters, maybe you have a friend or a partner, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you want to be able to share some of your assets with. So, you know, people will start to think about wills. But where it really kicks in is when you get married or have a long-term partner and you want to make sure that they’re protected. If you have assets together, perhaps you’re starting to build the home together. And that’s a good milestone and starting the practice. But then, you know, if you wait, okay, well, you know, I can see maybe a lot of younger people think that an accident will never happen to them. But certainly, when you have children, that’s another major stepping stone because you need to appoint a guardian for your children, if anything happens to you and or your spouse, who would have the physical custody of that child? And how would they prepare provided for because minor children cannot own money themselves, you have to name a trustee or a guardian to be able to manage their affairs, even if you have life insurance. And you don’t want to leave that up to the courts, because you don’t want your family fighting a moat who has those children. You know, you’ve got a lot of love for children and in a family, but it’s not always, you know, the person that’s the most obvious that might be able to take them because maybe they have their own children or there’s other issues. So you need to make sure that you really address that. And certainly, as you get older, you know, you might be in that sandwich generation where you’ve got both children and you’re caregiving for adults and estate planning becomes important than not for financial reasons for yourself. Perhaps maybe you don’t need to worry so much about a willing giving out your assets. But think about how much time and effort and support that you might be giving your aging parents. If you’re the one that’s going to their house and making their meals and cleaning their house and you’re incapacitated or in the hospital or something happens to you know, Will those parents have the resources to be able to replace those services? Do you need to provide them some money because maybe they haven’t planned to finish Gently, or maybe they need to help them with their own planning to get those resources in place. So it becomes more and more important. And then obviously, as you are older, you do have an accumulated wealth. And here, wealth is not just your financial wealth, but it’s your store of memories and shared experiences and other types of things that you want to pass down. And it becomes more important for you to be able to decide and take control of where you want your assets to go. And how you want to be cared for in your final stages of life, as well as in-depth. So you can see it’s really a change in focus through the years, but it’s certainly something that should always come back to and review once a year as much as your finances and your health care benefits. You really need to look a little bit longer term and say, Where am I? Who’s relying on me? And what do I want for my own future that’s not protected right now?

Liz Craven  15:55

Wow, that is a great overview. I think that a lot of people who hear this are going to be thinking, Oh, my goodness, I’m way behind the eight ball. And I often also tell people, you know, as you have kids going away to college, that’s when you start and people are typically quite surprised when I tell them that. I think that we feel invincible when we’re younger, don’t we? We think everything’s gonna fall just right into place. And we’re really not.

Denise Tessier  16:24

Oh, absolutely. It’s important to plan not only for the children but for yourself because your children are still relying on you when they’re away in school. And, you know, we always know somebody, if I say Close your eyes and think of somebody that is past too young, or that has been in an accident or has been diagnosed with an illness. You know, somebody always comes to mind, but it’s always somebody else, you know, you never think of yourself as being in that situation, even with COVID. And people being really afraid with COVID people are thinking, Well, you know, what would happen to me, they don’t think it all through, well, maybe you’ll be in the hospital for a month or two and get better. But what happens during that time. So there’s a wide range of options, and sometimes you just need a little push to get started.

Liz Craven  17:11

That’s true, very true. So now we’ve established that this is important, everybody should be thinking about this. So tell us about what is involved in an estate plan, what type of documents are in an estate plan that people need to think about.

Denise Tessier  17:29

So an estate plan, when it’s properly done, is really a dialogue between your attorney and you about your family situation, your goals, your objectives, or where you want things distributed, but also what you want for your own healthcare, and your long term care planning. And, you know, once you go through that discussion, each family may have different considerations that are important to them. So what we hear from clients is six major things that are most important to them. One would be to save taxes because taxes are always a concern, you don’t want to give the government any more money than you have to avoiding probate, particularly here in Florida, where probate is very expensive and very time consuming can be a factor because that will save effort for the family. other families are more concerned about the long-term care because they’ve had family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s or long-term illness and are very concerned about going to nursing homes. So want to make sure that they appropriately plan. We also have folks that are concerned about children and perhaps their children getting divorced, and they don’t want their child husband to take away all their family money if they pass. So there can be things that can be done with estate planning that will protect against divorce, they can protect children from getting too much money all at once and spending it on drugs or alcohol or something kind of foolish. You know, there’s different things that can be done, that families are concerned about. And then lastly, as I mentioned, families are concerned about putting together a legacy of memories and shared experiences and making sure that things are passed down. And a will or a trust can sometimes help that. But a holistic estate planning will also help families think through whether or not they’d like to put together a journal of memories or a video or audio. And so there’s a lot of different concerns. Once that discussion is had there’s tools in the toolbox that are kind of assembled to make a comprehensive plan and that would include your powers of attorney for financial decisions, those health care proxies, and the health care directive, living well that would explain to doctors what you want done if you’re in a coma, and then your traditional will would distribute your assets. And a trust is sort of your superpower document that allows you to give your families extra protection against the situations that I mentioned with divorce or maybe you know their special needs in the family. So that’s all assembled, it’s not really something that you can just pull up on the internet and say, I need a will, I’m going to get it on the internet. And that’s that, you know, you really need to have an expert help you with that. Because you don’t know what you don’t know, as you said,

Liz Craven  20:13

I’m so glad that you brought that point up because I was thinking that as you were speaking, so many people think that they can just go online and you see kits all over the place, go to Amazon, go anywhere, and you’re gonna see a kit that you can order and just fill in the blanks. Tell us why that is not a good idea.

Denise Tessier  20:34

Oh, first of all, a lot of those kits are based on sort of generic estate planning law. But each state is very different in the way that they have the default legal system set up for what we call intestate succession, where you die without a will. So they don’t always adequately respond to each state’s situation. Also, a lot of times, they only cover the distribution of personal property or obvious assets. And they don’t go through the entire list of things that you might have that are on the list. So for example, what do you do with 401ks ? What do you do with an inheritance that you’re getting? And they certainly don’t address specialized situations where, for example, you might want to set up a trust for a minor child and enable them to use that money for their education only. So it’s very limited and control. In some cases, it can be better than nothing, but if not done, right, it ends up just being a useless document because you still have to go through probate. And that document may or may not be validated. Also here in Florida, you have to have documents notarized and witnessed by two witnesses in order for will to be valid. So a lot of folks that pull things up on the internet don’t realize that don’t have a properly executed and it cannot be enforced. So you’re back to the default state system,

Liz Craven  21:58

Which is not a place you want to be. That’s just a lot more stress.

Denise Tessier  22:02

Absolutely. And one of the things that’s very stressful about probate in Florida, people say, Oh, why it’s so bad. The goal of probate is twofold. If you do not have a will, it’ll set in place the intestate succession scheme and dictate where your money goes. If you do have a will, it will validate the will make sure that it’s you know, legitimate, and can be enforced. But it also is the process where property is transferred. So if you have a house that you want to sell, or you want to give it to your kids, it changes the title of the property so that the kids can sell your house. If you have any bank accounts, it’ll also change the title of bank accounts. There’s a lot of things that probate does. But it’s very expensive in Florida unless you have an estate with all of your assets less than $75,000, which is really nothing nowadays for most people, you have to go through probate, you have to have a probate attorney. And there’s a statutory schedule of fees that that attorney can charge. So if you have, for example, a house and maybe you’ve got a bank account that you’ve accumulated over the years, some investments, say totally $500,000, according to the statutory schedule, you pay a minimum of $3,000, just on the first 100,000. And then it’s 3% of everything over that. So if you add out 3000 plus $12,000, you’re looking at $15,000 of probate costs. Plus the time that it takes to clear probate can be quite long, especially in times like now where you know, everything’s being done by zoom and not in person, it is extending the times the courts are taking. So you know, if you have kids that are relying on selling your house, and when you pass, they can’t do that, and if it’s all held up in the court system, so that’s something that you know, estate planning attorneys really work with, and a lot of people might be in a position to have a trust, if they’re in that situation. If you have a trust, anything that’s in the trust will not go through probate. So it’s one of the benefits here in Florida, particularly that people are looking at more and more different for every state as well. So if you’ve moved down from a different state to Florida, could have a totally different scheme. You need to redo your paperwork when you move.

Liz Craven  24:18

That’s another really great point. We do have a lot of people who move here from other places, and frankly, we have people who move to other places from here. So it’s a good idea then for when you make a move of any kind, you should be visiting with an elder law attorney in your new location.

Denise Tessier  24:39

Absolutely, you just want to make sure that what you have is still valid in many cases the will can be carried over or the trust can be carried over there try to be designed as flexible, but situations change. You know even the tax laws right now. Most people do not have to pay estate tax because the exemption on the federal level was updated in the last couple of years to be over $11 million. And most people are like, I don’t have $11 million, I don’t need to be worried about taxes. But that’s only in place until 2025. That can change anytime it’s gonna go down to 5 million at least. But of course, you know, the government’s going to be needing to pay for all the COVID payments, they may decide that they’re going to get their money back is to lower that estate tax exemption to maybe back to where it was a few years ago to a million dollars. And honestly, when people are over 70, many of them if they’ve worked their life and had a pension and had maybe a 401k. It’s not that difficult for your house and all your assets to get over that threshold. So it’s helpful to talk to an attorney when you move.

Liz Craven  25:45

Oh, my gosh, there’s just so much to think about as it relates to planning for the future. And a lot of people are caught unaware. And like you said, I like you bringing up the point that things can change so often. And that’s why it’s important to have our professional, we wouldn’t think that we could diagnose our own illnesses, or provide treatment plans for those. There are a lot of areas in your life where you really should just seek the advice of a professional. So as we are seeking the advice of a professional, what are some things that one should look for when they’re looking for the right attorney?

Denise Tessier  26:26

Well, particularly with estate planning, you want to have somebody that specializes in wills, trusts and estate planning, because the laws do change frequently. And it’s just an incredible amount of time and effort to keep up with those laws. They also the estate planning attorney community, we all talk we’re part of the same organization. So we have a question we can’t answer. There’s always somebody that we can call and pick up the phone, which is really super helpful. But it’s it is an expertise. And just as a little side story, I mean, I learned this myself firsthand, because my father was very organized and a planner and wanted to get his estate plan done when he was diagnosed with cancer, went to his friend who was a real estate attorney and had done his divorce. And he ended up drafting a provision where my dad and my mom had divorced and my dad got kind of half the house, he allowed my mother to have a life estate and said that when she either remarried or passed away his share, the house would go to his five children, three were from his current marriage and two were from a prior marriage. So my stepsisters were a bit older. And, of course, my mother never did get remarried, but she’s been living with her boyfriend for 10 years. And so my sisters, my house sisters, sued us and probate court on the will and wanted a forced sale of the house so that they could get their share of the money for the house. And the provisions were drafted very vaguely, and at the end of the day, we settled with them. And you know, we kind of worked it out. But it did cause a lot of family bad will, and the time and effort that we didn’t have to go through, because that’s something that like an estate planning attorney would have taken care of, and that scenario, so you know, kind of hit home when that happens, you know, so that’s the first thing that you’d want to look for the second thing you want to look for somebody just that you’re comfortable with because state planning is a conversation, it’s a long term dialogue, you’re going to be wanting to change your plan over the years as your family situation changes, or your health situation changes. And you want to make sure it’s somebody that you can talk to. So if you ever feel intimidated, somebody doesn’t call you back, you know, they don’t give you the attentive service that you had originally expected. Find somebody else, I’m very pleased to say at least in my area in Florida, all the estate planning attorneys here are very nice, very collaborative, they are not bullies, they’re all have personal experiences is where they’ve gotten into estate planning and are generally very empathetic. So you shouldn’t ever be afraid to reach out to somebody, and they can help you have those tough conversations with your kids or your parents about money and finances, and why they’ve chosen certain distributions. Perhaps that might not be you know, with kids are expecting. So that’s very, very important. And lastly, the third thing I would just know is, you know, don’t base your decision on price. Most of the attorneys will try to charge something the same because there’s a base amount of work that goes into these documents, but it’s not really the cost of the documents is what you’re paying for. I mean, nowadays, everybody’s got computer software that’s pretty specialized and can print something out. But it’s really that time and attention and that thoroughness of the discussion that’s important. So, you know, take your time and choosing somebody and go with whoever you’re comfortable with, even if it’s a little bit more expensive. I mean, you’re not gonna have all your dinners at McDonald’s, you know, and there’s a reason why. Sometimes you really want something that’s nutritious than Haiku.

Liz Craven  30:01

I love that analogy. I’m gonna have to use that sometime. I like that. So what are some red flags that people should be aware of?

Denise Tessier  30:11

I would say that if you see something that’s too cheap, like advertised, and like the coffee talk magazine, or in a flyer, there’s probably a reason why it’s cheap, you’re probably only getting a will without much discussion, you might not be getting with that a whole package with those key Life Care documents, the powers of attorney that you might need and the health care proxies that are constantly updated. And what I would note with a lot of this, particularly in Florida, and it’s I’m not slamming my other colleagues, but a lot of the estate planning attorneys, if they are selling a cheap plan, it’s because they were working on a volume model, just trying to get as many people as they can through their office. And they know that if you have a will, and they’re not discussing a trust with you as one of your options, that you’re going to go through probate because wills have to be probated in Florida for estates over $75,000. And they’re thinking, Well, you know, take this as a loss leader, give somebody a cheap Well, I’ll get their probate when they pass. And, you know, it’s just a different business model. There’s nothing wrong with it. But you have to know that maybe they aren’t going to give you your full options in that case, because they’re thinking down the road. It’s, you know, I gave you some of those figures what probate costs here in Florida. And that might be their focus.

Liz Craven  31:30

Right? I would have never thought of that. Thank you for sharing that. Are there areas or places that people can go to check the specific certifications of their attorney? For instance, there are elder law attorneys that are specifically certified for that and other specialties, I would think, how does one investigate that when they’re shopping for an attorney?

Denise Tessier  31:57

Most attorneys will have on their website, what organizations that they’re a member of the big ones are the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys or NAELA Also, the Florida Bar Association is a public site that provides a lot of free consumer information. And you can look up an attorney’s profile and verify that they’re licensed with the Florida Bar, right on that site. Other organizations like my affiliate, the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys will have an attorney profile that will give their background and the American Academy has a minimum requirement for continuing legal education in addition to the state education. So it’s a great way of finding some resources, not only in Florida but across all of the 50 states. So if I need a question answered in Texas, I can call up one of my Academy attorneys. So those are all great ways of checking certifications. In Florida. There’s also a special certification for elder law attorneys where you have to practiced in over five years. And there’s a lot of people that are working on that. But that’s quite a specialty that a lot of our Medicaid colleagues end up getting.

Liz Craven  33:06

Great. And I’ll make sure I link all of those in the show notes. And in the blog post for Episode 47. You’ll find the blog post at and of course, you’ll find the show notes at your favorite podcast app. So anyone listening, who’s interested in any of that, I will make sure to provide links for you. So that brings us to the next question. Do you have favorite resources or pieces that people can use to dig a little bit deeper and do their homework on estate planning?

Denise Tessier  33:39

Absolutely, our firm is going to be very focused on education and community service. And our website is being updated right now to include a number of things including monthly seminars, we do seminars by zoom now, that covers the basics of wills and trusts, and particularly Florida estate planning, but it applies in other states as well. We’ll have education such as newsletters and blogs, and many of our academy attorneys have regular newsletters that come out every two to four weeks. So that’s one resource. But certainly, other estate planning attorneys will have different takes on things too. So in your local area, you may find that people, you know focus on, for example, Medicaid planning, and they’ll have a lot of Medicaid planning articles on their website. So I find those really useful myself. And I’m always on my colleagues, websites to see what learnings they have is everybody has a slightly different focus for their practice. And we all are very collaborative and help each other with us.

Liz Craven  34:44

Well, I think that that’s a great segue for you too…you’ve already kind of told us a little bit about your firm, but would you like to tell us anything more about your firm specifically.

Denise Tessier  34:57

One of the things that I think is really important that you Meet with an attorney that you feel comfortable with, as I noted, but also that you don’t feel pressured into getting a particular plan because of the way the law firm may focus their own practice. So there are a lot of firms that might focus on just wills because they’re the easiest, etc. So my firm will go through your family situation and look at, you know, what are the particular options? We don’t provide a recommendation and say, You should have this we don’t say, you know, based on all of the information, this is what you absolutely need to do. We want the families to make the decision based on their own circumstances and their own desires and their own budget. And after every initial consultation, we’ll say, okay, we want to know, one thing, is it going to be a yes, we’re going to continue working together? Or will it be a no, because you’re not ready right now? And no, is okay, you know, we don’t want to ever put any kind of pressure on folks to feel that they have to do something immediately. Even though obviously, our motto is take charge and life transitions. We want people to feel confident and comfortable, and the plan that they have and know that it’s well explained before they make that final signing.

Liz Craven  36:16

And where can people connect with you?

Denise Tessier  36:19

I am available in Polk County, Florida, I can be found on Google, but my email is As I noted, my website is being updated so that I’ll have interactive links for our upcoming seminars, both live and by zoom. And we’ll be out and about in the community, you’ll see us on a lot of advertisements and things going forward as we provide continuing education to private groups and the general public over time.

Liz Craven  36:50

Fantastic. I will provide links to everything for you, your social media, your website, when it’s ready, and for people to connect with you that will all be included in the blog post and show notes as well. And I think that we ought to get on Instagram and do some lives once in a while. I think that would be some good conversations. So we’ll talk more about that. So think about that, y’all. If you’re not following me on Instagram, please do. I often will engage with my guests a little bit further on social media and would love to connect with you there, it’s a great opportunity for you to also send some feedback our way. And let us know if we’re hitting the mark for you. What more do you want to learn about? What topics would you like for us to cover? And what guests would you like for us to invite to the show? So I hope you’ll jump over to social media and connect with us there. So the last question, my favorite question of the episode, do you have some sage advice that you’d like to leave with our listeners?

Denise Tessier  37:54

Well, I put it all in my firm’s motto. It’s really take charge of life transitions. I mean, in this time of COVID. I mean, everybody is a little bit afraid. But to be fair, everybody is always a little bit afraid, because something could always happen to them. So you know, the best way to get over that and is to really quell that fear. And to give yourself peace of mind, as they say, is to make sure that you have a plan and to be proactive. So, you know, you can control your future and really make sure that you know, your loved ones are left in a situation where they’re remembering you and the good times, not all the mess that you left behind. Thank you.

Liz Craven  38:34

That is great advice. Denise, thank you so much for joining me today. This was terrific. I learned a lot. And I know that everybody listening learned a lot too. So I appreciate you taking your time.

Denise Tessier  38:47

Oh, thank you for having me. And I agree with Instagram has been great. We’ll be sending out news alerts ourselves and be able to share some stories and some case examples of you know what’s happened to other people and it just gets you thinking. So it’s a great tool for doing that.

Liz Craven  39:02

Very good. I look forward to doing that with you. We’ll definitely get that set up. Well, thank all of you for listening. Did you learn something new today? I sure hope so. I did. And if you did, I’d like to challenge you to share the sage aging podcast with someone else who might benefit from what we’re delivering. If you’re enjoying Sage aging, let’s get social. Look for our daily posts on Instagram and Facebook. And if you’re on Clubhouse, keep an eye out for Instagram and Facebook feeds and I’ll post when we’ll be hosting rooms and Clubhouse we do that on a regular basis. would love for you to join me there. If you’re not sure what club houses check it out. You can shoot me a message and I’ll explain but basically live one to one conversation in a group setting online. A lot of fun and a lot of information flowing through that application. Did you know that you can get the sage aging podcast sent straight to your inbox. It’s super easy to do simply go to say, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. And then you can enter your email address there to subscribe. Thanks again for listening friends. Check back with us next week for a new episode and we’ll talk real soon.

Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.