The State of “Us” (the Heroes)

A Message from Elville and Associates’ Managing Principal and Lead Attorney Stephen R. Elville

Surely our times are challenging. History teaches us that during the punishing winter of 1776, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, The Crisis, intended to bolster the willpower and determination of George Washington’s soldiers, many of whom were ready to quit, changed the course of the Revolutionary War. Some historians assert that the meaning behind Paine’s famous work was to encourage the ordinary men comprising Washington’s army not to give up, even during very difficult times. Some of my favorite excerpts include: “Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short.”

“The mind soon grows through them (challenges), and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered.” 

“Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.” 

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” and …

“This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude, we have the prospect of a glorious issue.” 

Although I’ve taken liberties with Paine’s words, written and set in a different time but not a different place (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), they help to clarify so much that’s been on my mind (and probably yours) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 political cycle, the current state of strife and division in our country, and the recent January 6, 2021 crisis at the U.S. Capitol. Regardless of our beliefs and convictions, our differences, our interests, and our backgrounds, our unprecedented times are calling us to meet the challenges. And we are – you are. As I reflect on the life battlefield that has been the last 12 months, I am amazed at what I see in my mind’s eye, what I have observed and witnessed first-hand. I see you, our clients and client families, resilient and strong amidst so much tragic loss; so much economic devastation; so much fear; so much deprivation; so much change in your daily lives and routine; so much isolation; and so much uncertainty. This is not to deny reality – that individually and collectively we’ve spent the lion’s share of the past several months in our figurative personal and economic bunkers wondering when we can emerge back to life. When will grandparents be able to see their grandchildren in person again? When will businesses be able to fully reopen their doors? When will jobs lost be restored? When will shattered lives be healed? And yet you, our clients, are answering the call to change. You are being attentive to the things you can control, such as your estate planning. You are listening, reading, and learning. You are contacting us and updating your estate planning, elder care planning, and special needs planning documents. You are attending our virtual events – our webinars, workshops, and Client Care Programs events in record numbers. You are asking questions and keeping up with your personal and family legal continuing education. Furthermore, I see you working collaboratively with your financial and tax advisors, and creating your own collaborative advisory team; and I see you overseeing that team to ensure it is working together in furtherance of the accomplishment of your goals and the protection of your loved ones. I also see you taking great care in the selection of your fiduciaries, and using memorandums of intent and letters of wishes to expand the knowledge and understanding of your trustees, personal representatives, and agents, and to set forth your goals, values, advice, and directions. You are doing your due diligence!! You are exercising your rights to determine your own estate planning destiny, and to write the story of your own life for the generations. Truly, you are not only the narrator of the story, you are the protagonist. You are a hero (the hero). I hope you will accept this from me, someone who has had the privilege of working on thousands of estate, elder care, and special needs plans. You have not quit, despite great hardships and obstacles. I salute you, all. As many reasons as there have been for updating and maintaining your planning documents over the years, and especially during the past year (i.e. COVID-19 related changes; asset alignment; advisory team issues; changes in Maryland law; changes in the tax laws; and more), there are likely more to come as the health crisis continues, the Maryland Legislature considers its legislative agenda for 2021, and the Biden Administration introduces its new policy agenda over the coming months. Therefore, you will need to stay connected, diligent, and flexible in the months ahead, knowing that you can count on Elville and Associates to keep you abreast of the planning issues you need to know. Due to the sometimes slow-rolling nature of the forces at work, I will not spend time here speculating about the potential changes to come in 2021-2022 since we have been closely watching and addressing many of those issues over the past eight to 12 months, and our Client Care Program members, as well as those who frequently attend our webinars, are well-educated as to the broad spectrum of potential tax changes being proposed, both before and after the Georgia runoff elections. But is it crucial to mention that only the automatic, habitual, and repetitive nature of our Client Care Program, and the commitment it entails on the part of clients and Elville and Associates, can ensure the success of your estate planning (your estate, elder-related, or special needs, or business-related plan) (please see my article on in our website’s Blog section titled The Philosophy of a Client Care Program – Intentionalism). Elville and Associates is the only law firm in Maryland, along with our Of Counsel attorney, Gary Greenwald, P.C., to have an accredited Client Care Program (CCP) by the Client Care Academy in Boston. Along these lines, let me take this opportunity to invite you to join Elville and Associates’ CCP. If you have questions or would like to join the CCP, please contact Jeff Stauffer at jeff@elvilleassociates.com, or visit www.elvilleassociates.com. At our March 6th CCP event, and in all subsequent CCP events for 2021, we will discuss, study, provide analysis, and recommend action items relating to the critical planning and health-related issues ahead. Having discussed our collective challenges and how you have bravely and successfully dealt with them and continue to do so, I am sincerely grateful to know you and honored to have you as part of the Elville and Associates family of clients. Since our founding in June, 2010, Elville and Associates has endeavored to be Maryland’s top-tier estate planning, elder law, and special needs planning law firm, known for leading edge legal-technical solutions delivered with our signature client education, collaboration with professional advisors, and compassion for and attention to all of our clients and their individual needs. Our commitment to you is that neither the challenges of 2020, nor any future challenges we are certain to face, will detract from that mission and purpose. In conclusion, I encourage you to continue to take heart, and to continue to focus on those things you can control. Paraphrasing the above now in my own words, “may our minds grow through (these) challenges, and acquire firmer habits than before.” And “may we smile in trouble, gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” Warm regards and best wishes, Stephen R. Elville, J.D., L.LM. Stephen R. Elville works with individuals and families to provide a unique attorney-client experience and peace of mind through a proactive and collaborative approach based on leading edge legal-technical knowledge. Mr. Elville has extensive experience in working with clients involved in crisis situations and brings a unique and personalized approach to pre-crisis planning. Mr. Elville routinely handles client matters in elder law, estate planning, special needs planning, tax planning, guardianship, asset protection, estate and trust administration, and fiduciary representation, and more. Mr. Elville may be reached at steve@elvilleassociates.com, or 443-393-7696 x108