First Annual Elder Law Institute
By Samantha L. Shepherd, Kansas City, MO
With over 100 lawyers from the Missouri area in participation, the first Annual Elder Law Institute held in Independence, Missouri, was a huge success. The participants engaged in the condensed day-long conference on Elder Law issues designed for the intermediate and advanced elder law attorney. The presenters included a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Certified Elder Law Attorneys, Dr. Jeff Burns of KU’s Alzheimer’s program, and nationally recognized experts in elder law.
The day started with a presentation by Reg Turnbull on Hot Medicaid Topics and recent legislative developments. Reg is a CELA from Jefferson City with the firm Turnbull and Stark. Timothy Murphy followed Reg’s presentation with a discussion of elder law issues that play out in the courtroom: Contested Guardianship and Defending Estate Recovery Claims. These two engaging presentations set the tone for a great start to the Institute.
Following a break, Lois Zerrer and Samantha Shepherd lectured on Ethical Dilemmas for the Elder Law Attorney: Who is Your Client? The elder law profession is notorious for difficult situations involving children and their parents. The presentation was designed to help elder law attorneys keep out of the malpractice arena and in good stead with the ethics rules. The next lecturer was Dr. Jeffrey Burns, the director of the University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center and the director of the Clinical and Translational Science Unit, who presented an update on Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment. This update was valuable as elder law attorneys assist more and more clients and their families address the legal and financial implications of the disease.
We concluded the morning session with a networking lunch. During the networking lunch all of the participants and the speakers were able to gather to discuss the day’s events and meet other practitioners. All in attendance would agree that building these connections within the legal community is integral in building a strong practice and developing referral networks.
After the lunch, Natalie Schneider, a certified geriatric care manager, shared her perspective on the early warning signs of dementia. Next, Bill Hammond inspired attendees with Seven Proven Strategies to Easily and Dramatically Boost Your Elder Law Practice. He discussed the difficulties of building a practice during today’s economy and offered useful hints as to how to overcome the obstacles. Lori Gregory then spoke to the attendees regarding planning issues relevant to our elderly clients with high net worth, including the current estate and gift tax issues and strategies to achieve savings.
After a brief break, Mike Weeks of St. Charles gave an engaging presentation on how VA benefits and Medicaid play a part in asset protection planning for the elderly. Much of Mr. Weeks’ presentation focused on the rarely pursued service connected benefits. William Hubbard and Julie Berkowitz then discussed complex Medicaid planning techniques, including the use of community spouse annuities. The day ended with a presentation by Christine Alsop on the increasing relevance of the Medicare Set-Aside Trust.
This institute would not have been possible without all of the support from our participants and speakers. A sincere thank you to everyone involved.
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