Ozarks Elder Law: Perfectly Protected

Posted online

Estate planning, wills and trusts, and long-term care planning aren’t always top of mind for most people and frankly, it’s not a subject many like to think about. But Lori Rook, managing partner at Ozarks Elder Law, wants to change those perceptions and erase any misconceptions people may have when it comes to end-of-life and estate planning.

Ozarks Elder Law offers a free consultation to anyone over the age of 18 so people can get an idea of what they should and shouldn’t be doing. “They may not need our services right now and that’s okay, but I want them to get in and get the right information,” said Rook.

With eight locations throughout southwest Missouri, Ozarks Elder Law has an office close to anyone in the Ozarks who is ready to plan for their future. Locations include Ozark, Bolivar, Lebanon, Joplin, Branson, Marshfield, Nixa and Springfield.

“We wanted to extend our reach into smaller communities to be more accessible to those who may not be able to get to Springfield,” said Rook. Rook said the firm was fielding calls from people in towns throughout southwest Missouri and saw there was a need that wasn’t being met. This was especially important to more elderly or homebound clients.

“We decided if we were going to be true advocates, we needed to be more accessible.”

Pre-COVID, attorneys would occasionally conduct home visits to help clients set up plans. That has changed for obvious reasons, but Rook hopes to be able to continue that service in the future. She says the firm’s locations are now open but telephone and virtual appointments are available when that makes the most sense.

Rook said that another motivation for opening satellite offices throughout the area was due to the fact that oftentimes people who are unable to get themselves to Springfield will just go without this type of planning and counseling because they don’t want to be a burden on family and friends.

Besides just being more accessible to people and communities that are in need of their services, Ozarks Elder Law is on a mission to get people to advocate for themselves and their futures at a much earlier stage in life. Rook mentioned the importance of this was driven home even more by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are having long-term care conversations earlier and earlier and that’s what we want. We want people to acknowledge that this is coming and to be educated on how to make the best decisions. If people are talking about this in their 50s, that is wonderful.”

But there is no perfect or magic age to start this type of planning. Rook wants people to think of it as a choice between pre-planning and crisis planning. “Unfortunately, many folks who come in to talk with us because they’ve just been through crisis planning with their parents. They feel it immediately when they realize their parents didn’t have a plan, and they don’t want that for their children.”

Rook acknowledges that there is no shortage of elder law attorneys but explains that Ozarks Elder Law is different. “We’re very holistic. If I’m going to call myself an advocate for an aging population, I have to have the tools available for all of their needs.”