The STEP and Elder Law Conferences – Hull on Estates Episode #86
This week on Hull and Estates, Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag discuss issues in Elder Law and their attendance at the STEP and Elder Law Conferences in Vancouver.
The STEP and Elder Law Conferences – Hull on Estates Podcast #86
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Hi and welcome to Hull on Estates. You’re listening to Episode #86 of our podcast, on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007.
Welcome to Hull on Estates, a series of podcasts for the Canadian legal community dealing with issues and insights surrounding estate planning in Canada. Hosted by the lawyers of Hull & Hull, the podcast will touch on some key considerations when planning estates and Wills. Now, here are today’s hosts.
Ian Hull: Hi Suzana.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Hi there Ian.
Ian Hull: This is Ian Hull, partner at Hull & Hull and…
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Suzana Popovic-Montag, also a partner.
Ian Hull: And we are very excited to come back to Hull on Estates. We were out in Vancouver last week at a couple of conferences. And one of the fun things that comes from these conferences, you get a little feedback from your social media efforts. And it seems like a long time ago because Hull on Estates is now at #86. But I was approached by a lawyer at one of the conferences we’re going to talk a little bit about. And she said to me, you know, I remember the first 10 Hull on Estates that you and Suzana did, because we were dealing with two topics that she was caught right in the middle of. And I looked at her and I said, oh, that’s fantastic. And she said, and now you’re in the 80’s. So I thought that was kind of neat because she has obviously followed our podcasts and blogs, but the podcasts so carefully, and its fun to get some feedbacks. Obviously, there’s at least one person out there that’s enjoying what we’re having to say.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Thank goodness for that.
Ian Hull: We don’t want to get our hopes up too high. But it’s been great and it’s been really fun. We’ve been, as I say, we had the opportunity so speak at two conferences last week in the great city of Vancouver. The first Conference was a Conference through STEP.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And that was the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners that we are both members of. And it was a really neat opportunity to speak to the practitioners out there about…we spoke about the family office and the family meeting process.
Ian Hull: And again it was fun to tie our social media stuff back in because we were…I was talking to an estate planner after the session that we held and we were going through some details about some of the ideas that we’ve experienced. And were able to say to them, look, just don’t be afraid to go look back on some old versions, but old sessions of our podcasts on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning because actually on the family meeting work, we spent probably about 20 – 25 podcasts on that, didn’t we?
Suzana Popovic-Montag: We did.
Ian Hull: And that was again in our first sort of series of them. So it’s been a lot of fun to again get some feedback on that. But that conference, the STEP session, was a remarkable group and we had some great feedback during the session about how to manage the transition by getting the family involved at a much more comprehensive and sophisticated level.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And it was great to see sort of the enthusiasm from the group there as well because I think that eventually, more and more people are going to start to realize that there is a benefit, both a cost benefit and a family benefit, to proceeding in that fashion.
Ian Hull: So then we wanted to turn to in our discussion today on Hull on Estates, was the seminars that we were at and the sessions that we attended at, at the Elder Law Conference. Now this is the Third Annual Canadian Conference on Elder Law. This conference has been really spear-headed by the National Director, Laura Watts, who has brought together, year after year, incredible groups of different kinds of practitioners. This wasn’t your average kind of Conference where you go, sit and listen. We were able to work with social workers, doctors, lawyers, financial planners, accountants, all sorts of different allied professionals throughout the Elder Law community. And we had a terrific time at the sessions. One of the first, as Laura Watts noted at the open session of the general Conference, was that on Thursday of the Conference, there was a World Study Group on Elder Law. And what Laura was able to do was bring together some of the leading international experts on the Elder Law, both from a medical and from a service and from a legal view, who talked about issues right from the financial issues, right through to simple, straightforward sort of questions and answers about fundamental aspects of how to care for and how to assist the Elder Law community.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And you know, Ian, I was sitting in the audience just thinking, what a remarkable opportunity it was to be at that Conference and what a wonderful job Laura had actually done in pulling together such an amazing group of people to speak on an issue that is really near and dear to the heart of almost everyone. And particularly in these days with our demographics and the statistics being as they are, about, you know, the aging population.
Ian Hull: And the sessions were broken down into some really, I thought was interesting, categories. And what I thought they did was, in some ways, demonstrate precisely what issues that we have to sort of keep in mind when we’re dealing with questions of the Elder Law and the aging population. We heard lots of statistics, which was fun to get a sense of what is coming down the pipe. One that stuck in my mind was the fact that our aging population in Canada is growing at approximately 11% per year.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: That’s right.
Ian Hull: And if anybody is to service an industry or, in our case, work with and assist that industry, they’re projecting 11% growth every year, it’s a phenomenal process to even stay up with the growth and to meaningfully service and work with the changes that are happening.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And just to put that, sort of, in perspective, within 10 years’ time, by 2017, they say that 1 in 5 Canadians are going to be senior citizens. That’s like 20% of our population. And it’s just staggering when you think about it in that perspective.
Ian Hull: So the sessions that we…we were pleased to speak at one of the sessions that we were dealing with. And we were in, sort of, a two-part group with just sort of focusing on Powers of Attorney litigation and practice. Nina Kohn and Linda Whitten spoke. Now, Nina’s a Professor at Syracuse Law School and Linda Whitten is at the…she’s a Professor of Law in the school of Valparaiso, I’m saying it wrong probably, university school of law in the US. Linda, though, was very involved with the ACTEC, which is American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, in developing what is essentially a pro forma version of their Power of Attorney. So, the American perspective was terrific to get into, to look at how Power of Attorney litigation is unfolding. But the second part that you and I were involved with, when we spoke in the afternoon, was just trying to put an overlay of the practical impacts of the Power of Attorney litigation.
We focused on the fact that, in our experience and much of our discussions was…it was an hour and a half session…but it was a great interaction, terrific questions. One of the things that, Suzana, I know you made the point was, is that this kind of litigation is tremendously hard on the parties.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: It really is and it was interesting, the group that we were speaking with, agreed. And they also shared some of their experiences and we had a group of police officers who were actually in our session. And it was sort of a great opportunity to hear their perspective on dealing with these issues and the abuse of elders, or those situations.
Ian Hull: Yeah, and you mentioned the police officers. It was interesting because they raise the point that…I obviously…you always learn something at these conferences every five minutes it seems. And one of the things at…we had some great officers, some from the Hamilton area and the Milton area and Toronto. And they reminded us that they’re now a much more sophisticated resource available. They are available…they have specialty divisions within each of the regions where they’re dealing with elder abuse. And elder abuse was, I would say, one of the dominant themes of the Conference. It was sort of, how are we going to deal with elder abuse (a); and (b), what are some of the reform, or some of the legal steps that are being considered to help create situations that make it easier to deal with elder abuse? And the police officer example was perfect, there’s a situation where society has now developed and decided to put resources into this to the point where we have specialty officers out there that are trained to deal with situations where an elder might be financially abused, or obviously physically abused.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And one of the things that I found most telling really from our discussions and from being at that Conference, is the fact that sometimes we forget, when we’re in our own daily practices, that these situations arise no matter what class of individuals are out there, no matter how much wealth is involved. You can have people with a lot of money dealing with attorney issues, Power of Attorney abuses and you can have people with relatively limited resources dealing with the same kinds of situations. And it’s just a matter of, you know, a scale really. It’s the same old issues, just in different contexts. And they have to be dealt with differently because of that.
Ian Hull: I think it was interesting, as we start to want to wind up our discussion on this today, is the “who” that the Conference brought out. And the opening session on the Friday morning was the Minister of Justice, which was phenomenal.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: It was just…he was a wonderful, wonderful speaker.
Ian Hull: And he really has his heart and soul into this issue. And you could tell it, just by the way he conducted his remarks. That’s followed up by, the next morning, the remarks of Chief Justice McLaughlin. And then, followed with a great dinner for all the participants, with Michael Valpy, the senior writer from The Globe and Mail. I just thought it was a testament to the importance of the issue, that they were able to…the organizers, Laura in particular…were able to bring out those kinds of heavy hitters to a Conference of this nature. So, the thing that I think is a great take-away from the Conference was that we are now, as a country, focusing on Elder Law at a level that is both exciting but also so, so important to a very, very important aspect of our practice and important part of our community.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And I highly recommend the Conference to anyone who’s interested in these issues. It’s just an amazing opportunity to be at it, to learn from it and to take away from it whatever you possibly can.
Ian Hull: And we’ll hopefully be there in 2008.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Thanks very much, Ian.
Ian Hull: Thanks Suzana.
This has been Hull on Estates with the lawyers of Hull & Hull. The podcast you have been listening to has been provided as an information service. It is a summary of current legal issues in estates and estate planning. It is not legal advice and you are reminded to always talk with a legal professional regarding your specific circumstances.
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