News

The Ping-Pong Parent

Tim Lewis

A home visit from Tim Lewis.

As we age, our adult children—if we are lucky—get more involved in our lives.  But sometimes this doesn’t work well.

As elder law attorneys, our job is to assist the older adult and only involve the children if the client wants us to.  We are also careful about undue influence or exploitation.

Alec Roberson faced such a situation.  His client wrote, “My wife passed and my daughter and her husband were taking over me.  But when I met with Alec in the clinic, he listened to me and backed me against them.  He was very nice and saw my daughter was not there to help me like my other children.  She was just for herself!”

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Illustrious Alumni

E clinic alumni spring 2016 CLE (4)

Elder Law Clinic alumni met at the NCBA 20th Annual Elder and Special Needs Law Symposium in Pinehurst, NC. From left: Liz Osborne Lawrence (’11), David Inabinett (’96), Nora Ryan (’11), Professor Kate Mewhinney, David McLean (’99), Aimee Smith (’02), Jonathan Williams (’11), Jessica Bell (’05), Kathleen R. Rodberg (’12), Mark Edwards (’97), Kim Gossage (’98), Anne Harris (’97), Natalie P. Miller (’04)

Caroline Knox (’00) has become president of the Van Winkle Law Firm, which has over 35 attorneys, and offices in Asheville, Charlotte and Hendersonville.

Natalie P. Miller (’04) has been elected to serve as the 2016-17 Chair of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the N.C. Bar Association, which has about 500 members.

Liz Osborne Lawrence (’11) has opened a firm focused on elder law, estate planning and special needs planning.  Her office is in Decatur, GA.

Jasmine Pitt (’15) joined the Winston-Salem firm of Bennett & Guthrie, where one of her cases involves a challenge to a will.  She writes, “I learned in the Clinic to thoroughly document all meetings and interactions with clients to prevent disputes down the road and to support any decisions I make.  Even outside of the elder law environment, the drafting and analysis skills I developed in the Clinic have served me well.”

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Clinic co-sponsors LGBT health care rights program with Sticht Center

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On April 1, 2016, the Elder Law Clinic and the WFBMC Sticht Center on Aging co-sponsored a free film screening of Gen Silent, a documentary that explores that challenges often faced by LGBT seniors.  After the film, attendees participated in a discussion of LGBT health care issues with Prof. Kate Mewhinney and Dr. Kaycee Sink.

Students connect with alumni at NCBA Elder Law Symposium

Several of our current Elder Law Clinic students had the opportunity to attend the NCBA 20th Annual Elder and Special Needs Law Symposium in Pinehurst, NC.  They heard from skilled practitioners and national experts who presented on the most pressing issues facing seniors and special needs clients.  The students also had the opportunity to meet several Elder Law Clinic alumni who are now practicing elder law attorneys.

E clinic CLE with students (3)

From Left: Student Alec Roberson (’16)Liz Osborne Lawrence (Decatur, GA); Nora Ryan (Winston Salem, NC); Student Marcus Fields (’16); Professor Kate Mewhinney; David Inabinett (Lexington, NC); Student Brandy Davis (’16); David McLean (Greensboro, NC); Aimee Smith (Winston Salem, NC); Jonathan Williams (Durham, NC); Jessica Bell (Winston Salem, NC); Kathleen R. Rodberg (Asheville, NC); Mark Edwards (Nashville, NC); Kim Gossage (Matthews, NC); Anne Harris (Greensboro, NC); Natalie Miller (Mooresville, NC); Student Emily Morris (’16)

Interested in hiring one of our talented graduates?  Contact Professor Kate Mewhinney.

Free Film Screening at Sticht Center on April 1

gen silent movie poster

Friday, April 1, 2016Free Film Screening/Lunch & Learn

 Learn about the challenges LGBT seniors face in health care settings.  The film “Gen Silent” will be followed by an optional discussion with Kate Mewhinney, JD, and Kaycee Sink, MD.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Sticht Center Auditorium, 12:00 – 1:00 pm.

Free lunch provided for those who register in advance.

Register online at eventbrite.com, call (336) 758-5061, or email eclinic@wfu.edu.

Clinic Students Gain Experience

Kirsten Dowell, Katie Yale Barnes, Kelly Austin, John Nugent, Jeanna Revell, Crissy Dixon

The student attorneys in the Elder Law Clinic this semester dove right in.  They tackled a wide range of cases with intelligence, energy and good humor.  The students pored over complicated Medicaid regulations, sorted out IRS garnishments and consumer disputes and diplomatically assessed issues of client capacity.  They are better prepared for interviews, research and advocacy because of their clinical experience.  Here’s a peek at some of the many cases the students handled, with facts changed to protect confidentiality.

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Presentations by Managing Attorney Kate Mewhinney

Professor Mewhinney discussed LGBT cultural competency training  with staff and volunteers of long-term care facilities and community-based aging service providers.

Professor Mewhinney discussed LGBT cultural competency training with staff and volunteers of long-term care facilities and
community-based aging service providers.

  • “Ethical Issues in Guardianship,” UNC Center for Bioethics, Clinical Ethics Grand Rounds, Chapel Hill
  •  “Training in Elder Law,” Twin City Kiwanis Club, Winston Salem
  •  “NeuroLaw: A Primer for Psychiatrists,” with Stephen Kramer, M.D.; N.C. Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting
  •  “Healthy LGBTQ Aging: Strategies for Success,” Co-sponsors: Parkway United Church of Christ, Shepherd’s Center, and Adam Foundation*
  •  “A Caring Response to LGBT Clients,” with Jennifer Harriss, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman of the Area Agency on Aging, and clinic student Crissy Dixon*

rainbow grant info

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Tackling Health Care Coverage

NC graphic agingJohn Nugent helped a man who had given his money and real estate to his family a few years ago.  Problem is, he may soon need nursing home or rest home care, and the rules penalize these financial gifts.  John proposed restructuring the real estate titles to fix the problem and having the family return some funds to the man.  Then, the man could pay his children for the care they provide him, using a written contract.  This type of payment is permitted under Medicaid asset transfer rules.

Katie Yale Barnes’ client had a similar problem, due to ill-advised gifts of money a few years ago.  The woman is now in a nursing home and needs Medicaid coverage immediately.  Fortunately, her children kept records showing that much of the money went to pay for in-home care.  While this doesn’t guarantee that Medicaid will approve coverage, Katie has a good argument that the “undue hardship rules” should apply.  Otherwise, her very ill client would have no medical care!

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Taking on the Big Box Store

Sharing a laugh with John Nugent.

Sharing a laugh with John Nugent.

Kelly Austin helped a man who had bought an appliance from a big company, but couldn’t use it due to the older wiring in his home.  When he tried to return it, the company pointed to some fine print about a “no returns” policy.  Kelly’s analysis showed that this policy may not have been properly disclosed.  So, she negotiated with the company about a compromise.

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Tightening the Budget

Katie Yale Barnes in a client meeting.

Katie Yale Barnes in a client meeting.

Crissy Dixon had a client whose daughter was using the client’s funds for herself.  Crissy helped the client revoke the power of attorney and she drew up a new one.  She also contacted the daughter about recovering the money that the daughter had taken.  As in most of these cases, it was impossible to recover the money.

In the Elder Law Clinic, we take steps to avoid these situations.  One way is for students to send a letter to the agent explaining what the agent can and cannot do with our client’s assets.  This helps to protect the client and cuts down on “misunderstandings.”

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