Ellen G. Makofsky of Makofsky and Associates was named 2018 "Lawyer of the Year" in Long Island for Elder Law.
How did you get into your practice area?
Elder law was a brand new practice area when I opened my original office in 1991. When I started, I could count on one hand the other practicing elder law attorneys in Nassau County. The idea of putting my talents to helping seniors and the disabled with their problems was very appealing to me.
Who are your typical clients?
My clients are either in the prime of life and looking to make a plan to protect their assets from the potential costs of long-term care and to make sure that they have an estate plan in place that will efficiently leave assets to heirs. Alternatively, other clients seek me out because some urgent health crisis created an immediate need for nursing home or long-term home care, and the client is terrified that he or she will lose their home and lifesavings to long-term care costs.
What is your ultimate goal in your practice?
I feel that I help clients solve their problems every day, and this is very satisfying. My ultimate goal is met on a daily basis, and this makes me a very lucky person.
Describe one of your most interesting or memorable cases.
Every case is like a puzzle; each client is unique and has a different set of issues. One case that I found memorable involved a married individual who was diagnosed with an unsuspected degenerative brain disease that would eventually leave him totally disabled. His wife was frantic that she would be unable to manage his needs and that the two of them would lose everything they had spent a lifetime accumulating for their retirement upon which they were just beginning to embark. I created a team to provide support for them, coordinating their children’s efforts and the expertise of their financial planner, and encouraged the healthy spouse to begin taking over the couple’s finances while the husband could still provide some oversight. I was able to craft advance directives for health care, powers of attorney, trusts, and wills that put a plan in place to protect their assets and provide for surrogate decision-making. Catastrophic health care issues are terrifying to family members, and I was glad to be able to ease their economic worries and help them put a plan in place to help resolve their issues.
What qualities do you possess that you find particularly relevant/necessary for practicing your area of law?
I am a good listener and try to really understand my clients’ problems and the nuances of those problems. I am a creative drafter of documents and seek to create plans that anticipate a myriad of possibilities and that work in numerous situations.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
People do not have cookie-cutter issues and clients are well-served with solutions that fit them as individuals.
What other passions/interests do you have?
I love to travel and have visited the seven continents. What interests me most about travel is meeting people from other cultures and trying to understand different perspectives around the world. I’ve learned that not everyone thinks about things as I do and that ideas that are different from my own are not necessary wrong. I’ve also learned that people around the world are more alike than different.