January 28-3, 2015

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Get legal and financial affairs in order

Depending on where you live, what you own, and how many potential heirs you have, you may not need a will. But, says attorney Paul Feldman, “It’s always better to have a will.”

Most peoples’ lives have at least one complicating factor that makes a will advisable, if not crucial. More than one child, more than one marriage, even contentious cousins – all can result in long, drawn-out and costly legal battles.

And, he says, despite all that you may have heard about how important it is to avoid probate, in Pennsylvania that is really not an issue. Although in some other states, such as Florida and California, the probate process is both expensive and complex, in Pennsylvania it is fairly straightforward.

Photo of attorney Paul Feldman by Linda L. Riley

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Beat winter blues

Shorter days and cold temperatures often contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes called “the winter blues.”

This is a type of mild depression that usually occurs during cold months when there is less daylight. The condition is characterized by feeling sad, moody or tired. One in five Americans experiences SAD and 75% are women, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

It is important to distinguish between the winter blues and clinical depression. The term "depression" is often used generically to describe feeling sad, unhappy, stressed, fatigued or unwell. But this characterization can be misleading. While feelings associated with the blues can be unsettling, they are often temporary and mild.

Depression is a serious condition with symptoms that linger, occurring nearly every day for at least two weeks. Depression causes a level of distress or impairment that interferes with work, self-care and social activities. If you think you might have depression, it is best to see a medical professional to discuss treatment.

Feeling blue?
There is a scientific basis for SAD, which has to do with a decrease in sunlight during the winter. Sunlight enters the brain through the eyes, stimulating the production of a neurotransmitter, serotonin, that supports nerve cell functioning and mood, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Less light results in lower serotonin levels. Darkness prompts the production of melatonin, which promotes sleep. The combination of lower serotonin and increased melatonin levels often results in SAD.

Following are some tips that may be helpful in fighting the winter blues.

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Resources to help you find a lawyer

The Philadelphia Bar Association has a free lawyer referral service, and your initial consultation with the lawyer to whom you are referred costs $35 for half an hour. You can get a referral either by phone at 215-238-6333, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; or on the website www.philadelphiabarlawyers.com. Either way, you explain what kind of legal assistance you’re looking for, and you will receive a referral to someone who specializes in that area of the law.

Another resource is the PA SeniorLAW Helpline at 1-877-727-7529 (hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. through 2 p.m.). This is a free and confidential telephone legal service operated by SeniorLAW Center that provides legal advice, counseling, information, and referrals for any Pennsylvania senior age 60 and older, regardless of income.  

For low-income Philadelphia seniors, the following three organizations provide free legal services of the sorts listed below.

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