For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is All About People, Not Paperwork

For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is  All About People, Not Paperwork

Jo Ann Abrams has always wanted to be an attorney. It was a goal dating back to her childhood in New York. Joining the Florida Bar in 1986, she has been practicing law in South Florida ever since, first in Broward County, and for the past 19 years in the western communities of Palm Beach County. Her practice has a focus on elder law and estate planning.

Married with four horses and six dogs, Abrams enjoys her work, and in her off hours, she spends her time taking care of her dogs, western-style riding, reading, scuba diving, traveling, working out and riding motorcycles. She has two Hondas, a Rebel 250 and a 750 Shadow, and in cooler months can be seen riding one to work.

“Basically, I do elder law, which includes estate planning, Medicaid and Medicare planning, guardianship, wills, irrevocable trusts and more,” she said.

The specific field of elder law is growing more important each year as the population continues to age. Wellington records indicate that 12 percent of the population is over age 60, consistent with the county percentage, although that figure is expected to grow with the census in 2020.

“I have been in practice for more than 33 years and have seen many situations in life. The thing that distinguishes my elder care practice is probably that I have been doing it for so long,” Abrams said.

One of the benefits for clients who work with Abrams is that she is an avid listener.

“I really believe that clients should be heard. Listening is the most important thing,” said Abrams, who remarked that when she understands their specific situation, she is ready to offer advice to clients based upon her experience.

Abrams’ experience manifests itself most strongly in the way that she listens to each client.

“I listen carefully to clients and let them fully express what they want and need,” she said.

Abrams explained that her elder care practice includes guardianship, estate planning, probate, preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and handling Medicaid and Medicaid planning.

“I will explain how to avoid probate of the estate, and I fully explain what to do with documents I prepare and make it as easy as possible for the client,” she said.

Unfortunately, the reality of elder law means that she is often working with clients in difficult situations. And in over three decades of practice, Abrams has seen a lot.

“I pretty much have seen it all — well, not everything, because things always come up,” she said. “I have many bad examples to explain to clients.”

Abrams strives to ensure that the legal documents she prepares accurately depict the wishes of the client, not a decision influenced by a relative. She said that nobody should be railroaded into decisions, and too often, elderly people are not listened to carefully enough.

Abrams spends plenty of time to make sure the client understands what the document is and what it does, and that it is indeed what the client wants. She added that her practice is a lot more about people than it is about paperwork.

While Abrams lives in the area surrounding Wellington, she takes a great interest in the community.

“I have many clients in Wellington, I shop there often and have many friends in Wellington,” she said, adding that she was involved with the best management practices for manure disposal when it came up in Wellington. “I mediated the agreement between Wellington and the South Florida Water Management District at that time so that Wellington would not be fined.”

Jo Ann Abrams’ practice is located at 11440 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 216, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information about Abrams and her elder law practice, call (561) 795-9590 or e-mail to