EP12: Legal Remedies for Long-Term Mental Health Planning with Debra Rahmin Silberstein, Esq, PhD

Updated: Jan 19


Episode 12 of our Mental Horizons Podcast is with Attorney Debra Rahmin Silberstein, Partner at Burns & Levinson LLP in Boston. In this episode, Virgil and Debra discuss Legal Remedies for Long-Term Mental Health Planning.


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Attorney Silberstein specializes in trusts and estates, tax-related matters and elder law planning. Debra has extensive experience working with families where mental health planning is a priority and uses creative techniques to assist clients in reaching their goals. Debra is a graduate of Syracuse University where she earned a B.A. in Economics and obtained her J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law in 1984. Debra then obtained a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University in August 2009.

Debra has over twenty-five years of legal experience and is an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and was the 2018 recipient of the Powley Elder Law Award. Today she is going to be talking with us about legal remedies for families coping with long term mental health issues. She is going to speak about alternatives to guardianship as well as other topics. This is part 2 of two podcasts focused on legal remedies in mental health. If you want to learn more about legal remedies that can be used during crises, please listen to Part 1 with Lisa Cukier.

Debra will be telling us more about how to integrate into long term mental health planning the use of a durable power of attorney’s, health care proxies, psychiatric advanced directives and discretionary trusts with incentives.

Three main talking points

1. A brief overview of what guardianship is and who the people are who seek this legal intervention. Virgil and Debra also discuss some of the challenges and limitations of guardianship.

2. What alternatives to guardianship exist and in most instances are preferable?

Alternatives such as DPOA’s (or durable powers of attorney), healthcare proxies and incentivized trusts. We will also discuss the importance of using a team approach when accessing any of these legal remedies.

3. PAD’s or psychiatric advanced directives. What they are, why everyone with a mental health issue needs one, and how they are written.

Virgil and Debra also talk more about Durable Powers of Attorney (DPAs) and Health Crae Proxies (HCPs). These are critical tools, and aside from steps we one take to minimize “revocation” in a crisis, families should know who should serve in these roles, and how to use a team approach (or committees), family members and social workers etc. in long-term planning decision making.

#podcast #legalremedies

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Disclaimer: As therapeutic consultants, we advise, advocate, recommend, facilitate and empower, but we do not treat mental illness or addiction. We are not licensed mental health professionals, but will often refer you to professionals and programs for treatment. (Note: We have no financial relationship with any of these professionals or programs.)  Any consultation we give is for educational, informational and motivational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional psychiatric, psychological, programmatic, legal or financial advice you may need for yourself or your family member. 

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