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“Fifty and Beyond” Is A Lively, Fact-Filled Elder Law Resource

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Non-lawyers are sometimes surprised when lawyers acknowledge that the legal system is not well-suited to some kinds of problems. That surprise will probably turn to astonishment at the suggestion of two elder law practitioners in a new book published this week:

We begin, however, with this short cautionary chapter, with a warning of the dangers of using lawyers and the law to solve family problems. Mediation and counseling promise much better results for you and for your family.
The law isn’t good at resolving family conflicts. Lawyers work best in a world of strangers, where they can snarl questions, point fingers, and stamp feet. When the dust settles, strangers pay up and go home. Scars mend or are forgotten.
Kin never walk away; kin are for the long haul.

This short excerpt from Fifty and Beyond: The Law You and Your Parents Need to Know is typical. The new book on elder law is lively, entertaining, informative, thought-provoking and filled with a surprising amount of detail about the legal issues faced by the rapidly growing community of older Americans.

Elder Law Issues is not much given to book reviews. In fact, in six years of weekly newsletters, we have never devoted an entire issue to a single book. This book, however, is truly useful and readily understandable.

Written by University of Arizona law professor Kenney Hegland and fellow Tucson elder law attorney (and friendly competitor) Allan Bogutz, Fifty and Beyond neatly avoids one of the problems so often faced in legal writing for a general audience. Although much depends on local or state laws, much is also common among different states Hegland and Bogutz have generalized where necessary, but never at the expense of useful and detailed information.

The range of topics covered is also impressive. From pension plans and Social Security, through grandparents’ visitation rights and age discrimination, and all the way to estate planning, nursing homes and the “right to die,” the authors have managed to provide details on a wide range of legal issues.

Most importantly, however, Fifty and Beyond is fun to read. The lively sense of humor never condescends or trivializes, but always contributes to understanding of the legal issue under discussion. For example, while discussing age discrimination the authors note that it is unlikely that an employer will call an older employee an “old goat” just before firing him; they then manage to work in an interesting reference to a Winston Churchill speech, and finish with: “Alas, most lawyers are historical illiterates and most employers are too cagey to call you an old goat. (This awkward construction in no way suggests that we are calling you an old goat.)”

In 34 chapters and less than 300 pages, Hegland and Bogutz have provided truly useful and understandable information. Here you can find advice on living trusts (don’t buy them from traveling salespersons—see a lawyer), nursing home admissions (don’t sign as “responsible party” for your family member’s nursing home admission), divorce (it’s usually appropriate for older couples only if one spouse wants to remarry, or if one spouse is institutionalized and the community spouse’s assets need to be protected from nursing home costs). You can learn about door-to-door sales (the three-day “cooling off” period only applies to in-home sales), the importance (and danger) of durable powers of attorney and how to make decisions for an incapacitated spouse or parent. And you can actually enjoy the process of learning about all of these issues, thanks to the lively writing, the wry sense of humor and the easy-going approach to problems of great magnitude. Fifty and Beyond, published by Carolina Academic Press, retails for $22.95 at Barnes & Noble

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.