Job Title: Paralegal
Type of Company: Now I work with an attorney who offers estate planning, elder law, kids protection plans, and probate/guardianships. We are a relationship-based firm rather than a transactional firm. You will hear from us in the future. We don't just deliver documents.
Education: AA in Paralegal Studies
Previous Experience: My previous work experience isn't really related to my current job. I previously worked in the IT field and Property & Casualty Insurance. Now I work with an attorney who offers estate planning, elder law, kids protection plans, and probate/guardianships.
Job Tasks: I am the Client Solutions Director of our firm. I do the drafting of all the legal documents. This means I create the initial trusts, will, power of attorney, health care proxy, guardianship documents, and Medicaid applications. I will attempt to describe each document to the client, however this is not meant to be perceived in any way as legal advice.
Trusts and Wills are documents that control the distribution of your assets/belongings and to make your wishes regarding distribution, funeral arrangements, guardians for your children, etc.known.
Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxies are documents appointing others to act on your behalf when cannot. You create them to be effective immediately or only when you become incapacitated.
Guardianship documents express who you want to take care of your children, both physically and/or financially, if you cannot. There are emergency guardianships and Permanent Guardianships. You would use an emergency guardianship when you are not able to care for your children on a temporary basis. Permanent Guardianships must go through the court for a judge to approve them.
Medicaid/MassHealth applications are done for people who need long-term nursing home care and do not have the means to pay for it themselves.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the interaction with the clients and knowing that we are helping the clients and their families. I also love the small firm I work in. For me, it is much better than a larger firm environment.
The worst part is dealing with feuding family members during the probate process. That is why estate planning is so important.
1. If you can, take a paralegal certificate or associates degree program. The education will give you a jump start in finding a position.
2. You need to have a solid grammar background and like attention to detail. If not, this is not the field for you.
3. As a paralegal, never, never, never, NEVER give legal advice. Leave that to the attorney.
Additional Thoughts: It took me a long time to discover what type of a career would make me happy. As I stated before, I love the client interaction. In larger firms, you usually become good at only one thing. In smaller firms, you usually wear many hats. Decide what would work best for you when applying for positions. Remember, although you work for the attorney directly, the work you are doing is in support of the client. Always keep a high level of customer service and focus and you will succeed.
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