In a world of caretakers, guardians and probate lawyers, Don Scher sees a near void.
He doesn’t see many trustworthy friends and advocates for people too old or infirmed to handle their financial and lifestyle affairs.
That’s why the Ahwatukee resident is giving up his Chandler law practice to devote himself to a new business, hiring himself out as a “personal counselor, agent, advocate and protector” for elderly people who want to protect themselves in the future and caring relatives or friends of elderly and other people who cannot take care of themselves.
The Southern California native, a father of five and grandfather of 11, has been a lawyer for 30 years, gravitating to the profession because he wanted “to protect my clients’ interests, both personally and financially, and in business matters as well.”
“I have emphasized in my practice, protection of the elderly, with particular interest in combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults,” he explained.
“My law practice involves wills, trusts, estate planning, guardianship, conservatorships, probate and trust administration, in addition to corporations, real estate, entity formation, franchise, contracts and general business matters.”
But while taking care of his widowed mother, he saw the ravages that time and dementia can exact.
Recalling how in that time spent his mother “went from an independent widow of 77 to age 92 and didn’t know who she was or where she was,” Scher said he saw “the challenges facing seniors, how they are treated by the community and how they are exploited.”
And now he’s somewhat more cynical of the odds of being scammed.
“Thirty years ago, people used to think that 10 percent of the people were dishonest honest and 90 percent were honest. Now, it’s 10 percent of the people are trustworthy and 90 percent are crooks.”
Scher said his clients “are parents and grandparents who want to protect themselves by effective estate planning” or “by anticipating the challenges in their families.”
They also include “children who find that their parents have been exploited by a family member or some third party, and want to stop the exploitation, or family members who need legal authority to care for a parent or family member, both medically and financially, or the surviving widow or widower, who is without friends or family support who wants to be sure that there is someone to step in to take care of them if they become ill or lose the capacity to make medical and/or financial decisions.”
His goal for them all: “I want to keep them out of the court system. I want their golden years to actually be golden and pleasurable.”
“That’s why I am starting this new practice,” he added. “I want to be able to act as their best friend and confidante, someone they know who is in their corner.”
As an advocate, Scher said he acts as his client’s “advisor, agent and representative, working with family members and their own CPA, attorney, insurance and financial advisor.
“I will be first and foremost protecting my clients’ from abuse and exploitation as their shield from anyone asking for money in any form,” he said, adding he also plays other roles as well.
“I will be there to resolve family disputes, to help deal with family members who have special needs, to mentor family members about how to handle wealth and about education for business and financial matters, and to educate the clients about their options to enjoy life and to facilitate that enjoyment, without regard to age, mobility or other limitation,” he said.
His background positions him well.
With a bachelor’s degree in accounting and law degrees from two universities, he has managed several businesses, developed an office complex and consulted for the state Land Department.
He is dismayed by the number of firms and solo practitioners who offer free dinners and lunches under the guise of giving advice, but then end up selling products such as life insurance.
His services just aren’t aimed at seniors.
There can be issues, for example, that parents can face in caring for a special-needs child or even a son or daughter who has become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
“My intention to do personal advocacy business,” Scher said. “I want them to know my sole purpose is to advise them, counsel them.”
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-478-3555.