Kevin’s Peace of Mind
www.kevintharpe.com (770) 503-1022
How I Found My Calling The Journey to Becoming an Elder Law Attorney
O nce the weather grows colder, I find myself reflecting on beginnings — the beginning of the year, the beginning of my elder law practice, the beginning of relationships, and the beginning of everything. As I pour over memories from when I started practicing law to where I am today, I can’t help but wish I could travel back in time and visit Kevin Tharpe 30 years ago. The year 1988 was an important year for me as it contained several life milestones. I had just graduated law school with plans to become a tax lawyer — I even had a job lined up with the IRS. But then, I had a conversation that changed everything. My grandfather had suffered a terrible stroke early in the year. He had prior health issues but always seemed to recover. With his stroke, the recovery was far different. Because he had to relearn basic functions like walking and talking, he had to move into a nursing home for his rehabilitation. I remember one day right after my law school graduation when I was having a conversation with my mom, my grandmother, and the nursing home director. The director explained to us that although Medicare only covered a three-month stay at the facility, my grandfather needed more time to finish his rehabilitation, and we would need to pay close to $5,500 out-of-pocket (nowadays, it’s closer to $10,000). We knew that my grandparents couldn’t afford to pay the expenses, and we knew that my grandfather couldn’t go home because my grandmother was in the early stages of dementia. “My grandmother, feeling completely lost, turned to me, the only lawyer in the family, and asked, ‘Am I going to lose my house?’”
3. Choose the type of legal document that brings these first two principles together: a revocable trust. A fact of life is that everyone is going to pass away, leaving behind assets, but it’s important to make sure that you have your wishes in a legal document so that your assets are distributed in the ways that you want. A trust is the only type of legal document that lets you do that while you are living — but I will talk about that in more detail in next month’s edition, so stay tuned! I truly believe that elder law is my ministry, and God put me in this position so I can help as many families as I can. As the new year comes upon us, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with desire to give thanks to God, my grandparents and my family for guiding me toward the ministry that I have today. There aren’t many people in the world who can say, without a doubt, that they are fulfilling their calling. Over these last three decades, I’ve discovered that there is something special in doing exactly what you were called to do.
My grandmother, feeling completely lost, turned to me, the only lawyer in the family, and asked, “Am I going to lose my house?” After all the education I received in law school and after all the training preparing for the state bar exam, I didn’t know the answer to her question. And that really bothered me. I immediately started researching. I read books and went to seminars and conferences, and in my quest, I realized there were few attorneys specializing in elder law, which meant there weren’t many people who were dedicated to helping people like my grandparents. I knew then that it was my calling to help as many of those people as I could. Fast forward 30 years into the future, and that’s exactly what I do each and every day.
I’ve learned somuch about elder law over the years, but my three most important principles are:
1. Type of asset determines protection.
2. Title of asset determines ongoing
protection — don’t change title to give up ownership.
-J. Kevin Tharpe
www.kevintharpe.com | 1
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