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SERVING THE COMMUNITY

Jonathan Hermes evaluates a special needs trust.

Jonathan Hermes evaluates a special needs trust.

The Wake Forest motto Pro Humanitate means “For Humanity.”  In the Elder Law Clinic, the students are certainly doing their part to help others.

Jonathan Hermes had a client whose daughter has complex medical problems and is eligible for Medicaid.  Inheriting money would cause the daughter to lose this important benefit. Jonathan looked into the Corporation of Guardianship, a non-profit agency that provides care coordination for persons with disabilities. The client decided to leave assets to her daughter in a special needs trust. The agency will manage the funds to supplement the daughter’s care, keeping her eligible for Medicaid.

In April, we partnered with two non-profit groups:  Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care and AARP NC.  We sponsored a program in which people talked about concerns they had about long-term care options.

Megan Dyer gave a presentation at the State Employee Credit Union’s Family House about common legal issues of older people.  The SECU House offers low-cost hotel-style housing for patients and their families, while they are getting care at local hospitals.

In February, Nathan Young spoke about powers of attorney and guardianship to a large group of providers of aging services.  The program was hosted by the Shepherd’s Center of Winston-Salem.  Attendees wrote, “Nathan, we were all impressed at your poise and knowledge!”

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Elder Law Clinic co-sponsored free community ‘Conversation with Friends’ regarding improving long-term residential care

Elizabeth Bernard, a former Elder Law Clinic student, answers questions for a client in long-term care.

Elizabeth Bernard, a former Elder Law Clinic student, answers questions for a client in long-term care.

North Carolina’s leading advocacy organization for advancing the quality of life for long-term care residents, Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care, is held a community “Conversation with Friends” to invite participants to share concerns and lend a voice to the call for improvements. This free event, co-sponsored by the Elder Law Clinic and AARP,  took place on April 24, 2018, at Hope Presbyterian Church, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Aging Re-Imagined 2018

Aging Re-Imagined
Congratulations on the Aging Re-Imagined 2018 Symposium held May 3 & 4 at Wake Forest University.  More than 260 people attended to hear Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, and Professor Israel Doron of the University of Haifa.

Charles Sabatino, Kate Mewhinney and Israel Doron

Charles Sabatino, Kate Mewhinney and Israel Doron

Check it out here:  https://agingre-imagined.events.wfu.edu/2018symposium/

Elder Law Clinic Awarded 2018 Nonprofit Voter Engagement Grant

Press Release 2-18-18

 

The Elder Law Clinic has been awarded a 2018 voter engagement grant as part of North Carolina’s Nonprofit Voter Engagement Program. The program is hosted by a statewide voting rights organization, Democracy North Carolina, and its national partner, Nonprofit VOTE.

In addition to a $1,000 Nonprofit Voter Engagement grant, the Elder Law Clinic will receive a civic engagement package that includes training for the clinic’s law students to conduct non-partisan voter engagement activities, access to the latest voter educational materials and resources and ongoing support from Democracy North Carolina’s staff and partners.

The clinic’s managing attorney, Professor Kate Mewhinney, stated, “With this grant, our law students will learn more about that most fundamental legal right — the right to vote. They will also come to understand the barriers that low-income people face which hinder full participation in our voting process. In a society that is aging like ours is, it is important that we choose legislators who are responsive to the needs of older adults.”

As a community service program of the Wake Forest University School of Law that provides free legal services to people age 60 and older, the Elder Law Clinic will use its grant to provide voter registration opportunities to older adults, as will as information about absentee voting and voting opportunities for disabled North Carolinians.

“Nonprofits like the Elder Law Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law are trusted messengers with deep roots in North Carolina’s most marginalized voting communities. This makes them uniquely positioned to play an important role in increasing voter access,” said Democracy North Carolina’s Cheryl Ellis, who administers the organization’s Nonprofit Voter Engagement Program. “We are excited that the Elder Law Clinic will be on the front lines of engaging the communities it serves in voting during this year’s important justice elections.”

The Elder Law Clinic has been providing free legal assistance to older adults since 1991. Clients must be from Forsyth County or neighboring counties, and age 60 or older. There are income guidelines to be eligible. The clinic students work under the supervision of an attorney. To learn more or to apply for the free services of the Elder Law Clinic, call 1-336-758-5061.

Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase civic participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and remove systemic barriers to voting and serving in elected office.

Nonprofit VOTE partners with America’s nonprofits to help the people they serve participate and vote. The organization is the largest source of nonpartisan resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

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FALL 2017 ELDER LAW CLINIC STUDENTS
Amanda Perez, Brad Fleming, Matt Freeze, John McCool,

Samer Roshdy, Brandy Nickoloff, Kristina Syrigos and Jasmine Gregory

Clients come to our Clinic with both legal issues and emotional needs.  One client is worried about her grown child who needs more help than his siblings.  Other clients come with spouses who are becoming frail or forgetful.  They are overwhelmed by complicated health care systems and by drastic changes in family dynamics.  Many are challenged by their lack of financial resources, though they are rich in community, religious, and family support.

Opening up and listening to clients isn’t a skill we teach in traditional doctrinal classes, where fundamental legal principles are the focus.  In this Clinic, students get to practice listening and empathizing.  They learn to integrate these “people skills” with the traditional tools of lawyering — such as gathering the facts, researching the law, and drafting documents.  Students find they do better and more satisfying work when they are open to hearing their clients’ goals and concerns.

The unpredictability and human side of law practice challenges and teaches us.  Here are a few of our cases and our students’ reflections on their experiences.  Some stories are changed for confidentiality reasons.

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OUR MEDICAL PARTNERS

Mark Corbett, M.D. (center), medical director for Kate B. Reynolds Hospice, met with students Matt Freeze (left) and Samer Roshdy (right).

Mark Corbett, M.D. (center), medical director for Kate B. Reynolds Hospice, met with students Matt Freeze (left) and Samer Roshdy (right).

Medical issues are often the trigger for legal needs.  A person gets sick and realizes she needs a will.  Folks may need to appoint a financial surrogate or figure out how to pay for long term care.  Fortunately, law students in the Elder Law Clinic get to learn directly from medical providers, such as the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home and our University Medical Center’s J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation.

Jasmine Gregory shadowed geriatrician Jo Cleveland, M.D. as she and a multi-disciplinary team saw patients in the Memory Assessment Clinic.  The team spent extensive time interviewing both the patients and their family members.  Jasmine observed:  “The doctors and counselors were inspiring.  I learned a lot about bedside manner and about hearing out and supporting the caregivers.”

Dr. Callahan

Kate Callahan, M.D., M.S., was a guest speaker on mental capacity issues in aging.  She is the Program Director of the Clinical Fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Learn more about the Medical Center’s services for older patients at the  J. Paul Sticht Center at www.wakehealth.edu/agingresearch/ or call 336-713-8250.

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Samer Roshdy and Dr. Caitlin Jones confer before a court hearing.

Samer Roshdy and Dr. Caitlin Jones confer before a court hearing.

 

The Elder Law Clinic invites physicians and other healthcare providers to observe competency hearings the law students are handling.

 

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DEAR DEAN SUZANNE REYNOLDS

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PARENTING A PARENT

Brad Fleming’s client is a nurse who is busy with work and teenagers. Her mother had been living in Georgia but had to be moved here due to dementia. Now, Brad’s client is patching together care at her home for her mother. When her mother can no longer live there safely, how can she pay for her mother to be somewhere safe and secure?

Brad explained that the mother’s savings will make her ineligible for help paying for care in a secure memory-care unit. She could pay $3,500/month for this care and deplete her savings that way. Brad suggested instead a written “family care agreement.” This way, the daughter could be paid for the care she is providing her mother. Then, when the mother needs 24/7 care, she will be eligible for government coverage.

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TACKLING TAXES

TaxesKristina Syrigos’s client had her home foreclosed on a few years ago.  She didn’t realize that her unpaid mortgage would appear as “income” to the IRS.  Now, the State of North Carolina is getting part of the client’s Social Security income each month, to recover state income taxes.  Kristina researched the laws on taxes and on the protection of Social Security income.  The case is working its way through the IRS and then the state tax system.  We hope to show that the tax debt can be reduced or eliminated under current legal rules.

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