Reviewing the final details with Brad Fleming.

Reviewing the final details with Brad Fleming.

Living alone at age 98 is rare.  And it is risky.  A gentleman with no close family was doing so when his doctor reported him to the public agency that investigates neglected elders.  Adult Protective Services (APS) filed a court case to have the man declared incompetent.  Matt Freeze handled the case as the court-appointed guardian ad litem.  His client was adamant about staying in the apartment he had lived in for 37 years.  He had been getting only a couple hours of help each day, but this was ending.  For several weeks, Matt collaborated with APS to set up a new support system.  Ultimately, the client’s limitations made this impossible, so Matt recommended a guardian be appointed.  The court agreed.

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Recently, the State Bar found a nursing facility to have violated the “unauthorized practice of law” statute.  The facility had advised a resident’s relative to get a power of attorney (POA) and had provided a form to her.  The State Bar determined that the facility social worker had supervised the execution of the document and their employee had notarized it.  These employees were not licensed attorneys.

The resident had had a severe stroke, and was the subject of an incompetency (guardianship) proceeding when the POA was signed.  Soon after it was signed, a court adjudicated her incompetent, and her guardian revoked the POA.  The guardian ad litem, Professor Kate Mewhinney, filed a complaint about the nursing home’s actions with the State Bar.

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  • Presented a webinar sponsored by the N.C. Dispute Resolution Commission on “How Can N.C.’s Mediation Programs Address the Needs of an Aging Population?”
  • Will participate in “Advancing Legal and Medical Collaboration in Advance Care Planning,” an invitation-only conference in Washington, D.C.  Sponsors are the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and the U. of California at San Francisco Med. Ctr., with support from the Hartford Foundation and the Borchard Foundation on Law and Aging.
  • Serves on the county’s Elder Abuse Task Force which includes law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s office, and the Department of Social Services.

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Mark your calendars for an innovative look at the future of aging.  This two-day free program takes place on the Wake Forest University campus and will bring in speakers from many disciplines.  On the subject of law, we are excited that Charlie Sabatino will come from Washington, D.C.  He directs the Commission on Law and Aging of the American Bar Association.  Kristina Syrigos - Web

Save the Date:

Aging Re-imagined on May 3-4, 2018


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John McCool confers with Professor Mewhinney.

John McCool confers with Professor Mewhinney.

Amanda Perez was appointed to represent someone who had been declared incompetent several years ago, but who felt he was now able to manage his affairs.  The gentleman has some mental health issues, but he has managed to go to college (in his 60s), live in his own house, and get regular mental health treatment.  Amanda gathered medical records, interviewed witnesses, and did a home visit.  Her recommendation that her client be “restored to capacity” was accepted by the court.

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  • Brandy Nickoloff reflected on her experience: “This Clinic course opened my eyes to the complexity of aging people and their problems. I feel that I became much more skilled at handling the difficult dynamics of a client’s life and family.”
  • Jasmine Gregory (shown above) said: “I am better prepared to help my parents and grandparents as they age.”
  • Samer Roshdy most enjoyed getting to know each of the clients he worked with on a personal level. He remarked, “I also liked giving a talk on legal issues, at Green Street Methodist Church. The audience asked great questions and seemed to appreciate the information I provided.”
  • Amanda Perez observed, “Each client and their families are different. Some may have great support systems, while others may have nothing to help them as they age. And it’s not like the Clinic is just ‘old people law’ like so many people think. It’s more than just wills. They don’t just have elder issues. They have life issues that we all face.”
  • John McCool writes: “I now feel way more comfortable talking to my clients about tough issues, like death and dying,” he said. “Before, I would beat around the bush. Being upfront on tough issues is important and plays a role in planning for end-of-life care.”

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Monica Berry (‘17) writes, I am the newest associate at Ingersoll & Hicks in Winston-Salem. Since starting here I have already drafted several estate plans and am starting on a guardianship.

Tim Lewis (‘16) is now an attorney for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  He writes: The laws here are somewhat different than N.C.  The Cherokee Code does not incorporate N.C. elder protections.  So, I have been working with a few agencies on the tribe (Adult Protective Services, Public Health and Human Services, and nursing homes) to come up with solutions to prevent the abuse and exploitation of elders.

Julia Gravely (‘12) writes from Reston, VA:  My practice area centers on estate planning and administration for clients from northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.  We handle a variety of elder law cases, working with care managers to assist elderly clients and their families with issues ranging from estate and incapacity planning to more logistical transition issues as clients navigate the challenges of aging.

DM and AK




David McLean (‘99) of Greensboro and Angela Kreinbrink (‘06) of High Point, returned for Career Week to discuss elder law practice.




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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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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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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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