Basic information for boomers

Aid: A new book aims to help readers deal with personal, financial and legal problems.

Family matters

March 19, 2000|By Doug Blackburn | Doug Blackburn,albany times union

It was only noon on a recent Friday, but Walter Burke appeared weary as he rubbed his right hand over a white beard.

The Albany, N.Y., lawyer was looking at a typically busy day. Burke had already met with a client whose spouse has Alzheimer's disease. Before that, he had taken an urgent call from another client who had been hospitalized with a mysterious back ailment. An appointment to discuss financial arrangements for a child's college tuition awaited. Later that day, he would attend a funeral for yet another client.

"We find that many people when they come to see us are upset or confused," said Burke, co-founder of the 12-year-old firm Burke Casserly & Gable, P.C. "They don't know how to approach a problem, because it isn't their area of expertise."

Burke and his partner, Timothy Casserly, are hoping they can bridge the gap many people face when dealing with personal, financial and legal problems. Along with two other colleagues, they have written an impressively practical resource book titled "Boomer Basics" ($24.95, McGraw Hill).

"This book is not an academic exercise. This is real life," Burke explained. "The experiences we deal with every day are what went into planning this book."

Their 436-page book, supplemented by a companion Web site (, would seem to have something for almost every one of the estimated 78 million baby boomers in the United States. While it features plenty of advice, "Boomer Basics" is even more valuable as a reference tool. Most entries offer Web sites for obtaining additional information, and the 28-page appendix is devoted exclusively to listing resources with Internet addresses, phone numbers and street addresses.

The book is divided into three sections: ourselves, our children and our parents. Each chapter provides in-depth information and pertinent resources from government, nonprofit and proprietary organizations.

Said Casserly, 40, who is also a certified financial planner: "Nobody wants to bring up financial planning. For many people, it's not an easy subject to approach with their aging parents. But you need to plan and save."

"This [book] is designed to help formulate what the questions are that people should be asking. Boomers by and large are very capable people," Casserly said. "Certainly they are capable of doing plenty of things themselves. That makes our job that much easier."

Burke, 53, and Casserly are half of the "Boomer Basics" writing team. The other two authors are Robert Abrams, a Long Island attorney who specializes in elder law, and Barbara Nodiff, a registered nurse and president of a health care consulting firm that provides services to nursing facilities and adult homes.

This was all new territory for Burke and Casserly. Neither attorney had previously written anything beyond a legal brief, with the exception of occasional articles for professional journals. Now their hard-cover book, released at the end of January, is in bookstores nationwide.

"Maybe one of the reasons it took us so long to complete the book is that we tried our best to make it a very basic planning book," Burke said. "The easiest thing for us as lawyers to do is to confuse people. We've tried hard to avoid doing that. Hopefully we've succeeded."

Yet neither author has any great expectations about cracking the best seller lists. If so, they aren't sharing them.

"I check the sales on Amazon all the time," Casserly mused. "We're in the top 800,000. I think one day we were even in the top 700,000."

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