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VERSATILE AND CARING

Spring 2017 Group Photo - web

 

Spring 2017 Elder Law Clinic

From left:  Sarah Wesley Wheaton, Nan Hu, Noah Garrett, David Swenton,
Allie Vandivier, Monica Berry, Elliott Harry, Dani Liebman and Malcolm Boyd.

  • Noah Garrett did a great job.  He was kind, considerate and all things to make a wonderful lawyer.  Thank you all very much.”
  • David Swenton explained things so I could understand them.  He put me at ease.”
  • Dani Liebman was well-informed and knew what she was talking about.  She was also a very nice person and quite professional.”
  • “I found Elliott Harry to be very helpful.  He explained everything to me and was truly concerned with my problem.”
  • Sarah Wesley Wheaton was genuinely concerned about my family and did a good job in court on my sister’s guardianship case.”
  • “I especially appreciated Allie Vandivier’s honesty and her willingness to listen.”
  • Malcolm Boyd was polite and provided excellent service.  I was pleased.”
  • Nan Hu was friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful.  I felt that she found the best solution for me.  I never felt hurried or pushed.  I am so thankful for what God has done for me.”

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WHAT I’LL REMEMBER

David Swenton explains legal options.

David Swenton explains legal options.

  • Two of my clients stand out. Each came into the Elder Law Clinic with creditor issues – they had more bills than their fixed incomes allowed them to pay. Each client entered our interview room with fear of what would happen to them and their property if their accounts went into default. How amazing it was to give them an explanation of our state’s protections and how their property would be safe if they got sued. One client even began to cry when I told her of these protections and how she could use them. This is truly why I wanted to become a lawyer: to help people when they are at their most anxious or most fearful for their future.
    David Swenton
  •  The most important skills I improved upon and the ones I hoped to improve upon during my time in Clinic, were meeting and interviewing clients, oral advocacy and general public speaking.  I met and interviewed at least five clients within a three-month period.  I gained confidence and became more efficient.  I knew better which questions to ask and how to speak with clients so that they felt comfortable discussing their needs with me.  Finally, handling a court hearing and giving a community program helped me learn to prepare and present complicated information in a way that was appropriate to the different audiences.
    Allie Vandivier

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SAVING A HOME

HouseElliott Harry’s client was tricked into signing his home over to a nephew.  A few months later, the man’s son found out and brought his father to the Elder Law Clinic.  Elliott did some investigation and research into how we could challenge the gift deed.  Once the Clinic got involved, the nephew agreed to deed our client’s home back to him.

Besides getting his home back, the man is now able to get Medicaid coverage again.  Giving the home away had caused him to be denied coverage, due to strict “asset transfer rules.”

Ben Limehouse (‘14) prepared the deed, pro bono, for our client to get his home back.  Limehouse practices elder law and estate planning with Liipfert Law.

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STAND UP FOR THE LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAM

Legal Aid GraphicThe President wants to cut all funds for the Legal Services program, which helps low-income people and seniors get legal assistance.  Let’s speak up to stop this!  Go to DefendLegalAid.org.

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HEALTH CARE ADVOCACY

Dr. Edward Shaw and Dani Liebman confer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

                      Dr. Edward Shaw and Dani Liebman                             confer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Dani Liebman’s client received help at home, due to significant disabilities.  The woman, age 70, had received Medicaid home health benefits for almost a year.  She then realized a retirement account from her first job might actually make her ineligible for Medicaid.  Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is only available for people with limited assets.  Dani recommended a “voluntary repayment agreement” so that the woman could continue getting assistance at home.

Sarah Wesley Wheaton’s client had multiple health problems.  She had been getting Medicare home health benefits, which allowed her to stay out of a facility.  Suddenly, she got a notice that her benefits were going to end, with no explanation.  Sarah Wesley helped her appeal this.  The appeal was successful and the client is again receiving benefits.

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STUDENTS IN THE COMMUNITY

As part of our community outreach efforts, Sarah Wesley Wheaton gave a talk to the seniors group of a local church.  Allie Vandivier spoke with a group of tenants in a senior citizens apartment complex.

Sarah Wesley Wheaton explains the benefits of legal planning.

Sarah Wesley Wheaton explains the benefits of legal planning.

Dani Liebman addressed a caregiver support group at the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  She reviewed common legal issues that arise for people with dementia or other cognitive impairments.  The monthly support group is one of several initiatives founded by Edward Shaw, M.D., M.A. and led by Cathy Wilson, LCSW.

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LONDON SUMMER PROGRAM

 

LondonClinical Professor Kate Mewhinney is teaching in London.  Her “Comparative Law and Aging” course touches on countries’ policies on pensions, health care, competency, crime and fraud, caregiver rights and more.  Students in the program will visit the U.K. Court of Protection and meet with aging rights activists.  Internationally-known expert Professor Israel Doron will visit from the University of Haifa, for a class on guardianship law.

The second course is “The History of the Common Law,”examining how our legal system evolved.  The group will visit Parliament and the Inns of Court. They will also see the Magna Carta and travel to Cambridge and Oxford for lectures by renowned professors.  The students in the course are from Wake Forest University and three other law schools.

For information about the law school’s foreign programs, see studyabroad.law.wfu.edu.

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LEARNING FROM MEDICAL PARTNERS

A nurse is interviewed by Nan Hu.

A nurse is interviewed by Nan Hu.

Working with families facing illness and dementia takes sensitivity and a diplomatic approach. Our students learn from the best. Malcolm Boyd shadowed our medical colleagues in the Geriatrics Consultation Clinic at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. In particular, Drs. Kate Callahan and Rebecca Omlar demonstrated how to assess mental capacity and convey difficult news with empathy and clarity. They administered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) screening test to a patient and talked to patients’ adult children about how to handle progressive dementia. Malcolm writes, “I thought Dr. Callahan was exceptional!”

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LOVE + $ + DRAMA = GUARDIANSHIP

Every clinic student handled a guardianship hearing in court.  They reviewed medical records, interviewed witnesses and went to people’s homes, hospital rooms and nursing facilities.  One family was in such conflict that the police had been called to a nursing facility.  In one case, Elliott Harry sided with the county agency, Adult Protective Services.  He told the court that his client, a brain-injured man, could no longer safely make his own decisions.

Elliott Harry explains a document provision.

Elliott Harry explains a document provision.

Nan Hu investigated the case of a man who had suffered a severe stroke and clearly needed a guardian to make decisions for him. Nevertheless, right before the court hearing, the nursing facility gave his relatives a power of attorney for him to sign. You might wonder whether this is proper! The court decided it was not and appointed the Public Guardian to manage the man’s assets. The clinic filed a complaint with the State Bar, asking it to determine if the facility committed unauthorized practice of law by recommending and providing the power of attorney.

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ALUMNI NEWS

Crissy Dixon (’16) has joined the local firm of Craige Jenkins Liipfert & Walker, LLP as an associate attorney for the tax, trust administration and estate planning practice area.  Two of the partners in the firm were also students in the Elder Law Clinic:
Susan Ryan (’05) in the litigation section and Aimee Smith (’02), in the elder law and estate planning section.

Congratulations to Jen Garrity (‘95) and Kim Gossage (‘98) whose firm was selected by the N.C. Bar Association to receive the 2017 Pro Bono Award for small and medium law firms.  The NCBA explains:

For the last five years, Garrity & Gossage has provided pro bono estate planning services and training for events
organized by Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, including Wills for Seniors and Wills for Schools. Our firm
has provided pro bono estate planning services for Habitat for Humanity’s new homeowners, for Jewish Family
Services’ clients and for other Charlotte non-profits. We don’t have to ask our attorneys to do pro bono service.
They find the opportunities and bring them to us because serving our neighbors is so important to all of us.

Former clinic student Lisa Roach (’17) helped create a non-profit called Dying Right North Carolina.   Her group worked with state legislators to craft a bill entitled the “End of Life Option Act.”  House Bill 789 would allow mentally capable adults who are terminally and incurably ill to receive physician-prescribed medical-aid-in-dying drugs.  For more about this, see http://go.wfu.edu/6ty.

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