I have been practicing law for almost twenty years.  Over the years my position on allowing family members to be appointed Conservator, Trustee or even Executor has changed.  In many instances, the family member serves and all is well.  However, as trusts and estates become more complicated, it is vital to seek an independent fiduciary.

This case is out of Utah.  A gentleman received a settlement that was placed in a Special Needs Trust. His daughter is accused of embezzling over $100,000.00!!! While instances of outright theft might be rare, I have seen numerous instances where investments were mismanaged, improper bills were paid and funds not protected.

So when you are thinking of who you want to be your Agent, Trustee or Executor, think long and hard before you appoint a family member.  In many instances, an independent fiduciary is the way to go! 

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On Thursday, July 30, 2015,  Managing Attorney Robert W. Haley and staff of The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC held a Ribbon Cutting and Open House to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new Danville office location on 742 Main Street.  

 The ribbon cutting and refreshments followed brief remarks from Danville Council Member, John B. Gilstrap and Danville Chamber President, Laurie Moran, and Mr. Haley. Clients, associates and friends both new and old were on hand for this event. Our thanks go out to all who attended!

Robert W. Haley with The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC is pleased to announce the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the new Danville office on 742 Main Street on Thursday, July 30, 2015 from 11:30am to 1:30pm. A ribbon cutting and refreshments will follow brief remarks from Council Member, John B. Gilstrap and Danville Chamber President, Laurie Moran. 

The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC specializes in Estate Planning, Guardianships, Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection. One of the few Certified Elder Law Attorneys in Virginia, and the only Certified Elder Law Attorney in Southside. Managing Attorney, Robert W. Haley is also included on the Super Lawyers List, a nomination from his peers as well as being a Certified Advanced Practitioner (CAP), one of only 82 with this level of expertise in the nation! Along with the firm’s staff, their focus is on providing you with the best possible legal representation. 

For more information on available services, please visit www.VAElderLaw.com or call 855-503-5337

It can be difficult to see your parent or relative age. At one time, he could do anything. Now, it seems as though age has gotten the best of him. If you’ve seen changes in your loved one due to age, he may need extra help at home. The following are some of the most common signs of someone who is in need of a nurse or senior caregiver.

In the last year I have heard of two terribly heart breaking cases where folks seemed to be trying to accomplish asset protection but the results were horrible.

In the first case, a person deeded their property to a child but the drafting attorney did not ensure the elder retained a "life estate" in the property. The title to the property passed to the child and later the started eviction proceedings against the parent!!

The second case was a client who thought she had retained a co-ownership interest with another person.  Well, when we researched it, she had really deeded the entire property away, she owned no interest in it at all!

Property is probably the largest investment most of us will ever make.  Never sign a deed unless you know exactly how title will be held after its recorded! 

As you all know we are moving our Danville office to 742 Main Street, just up from the Post Office.  We had set an appointment with Verizon for this afternoon to activate the phone lines and internet in the new building.  Everything regarding the move has been planned around this Verizon appointment; new phone system, computer hook up, the moving of furniture, closing our office for two days to move,  everything!   

Today at 2:00 pm we received an email that the appointment was cancelled.  No reason stated, just cancelled.  Cricket then began a series of phone calls that just ended a few minutes ago.  Here is a summary of Verizon Customer No Service:

1.  "We don't know why it was cancelled."

2.  "We couldn't possibly have a technician come out until Wednesday of next week."

3.  "If you want it done quicker, we understand if you want to go to another carrier."

4.  "We can't turn the call forwarding back on at your current office, there is a disconnect order in effect."

This is the exact opposite of the service we seek to provide to our clients and their families!  So if you call the Danville office and cannot get thorough, please call the Bassett office at 276 629 5381.


Medicaid Myth #4: I will have to use my income to pay for my spouse's care in a nursing home. 

In Virginia, all income in the name of the community spouse is protected for his/her use. In addition, the healthy spouse may be entitled to even some of their spouse's income if needed for their support. The spousal allowance can be more than $2,900.00 a month depending on the healthy spouse's support/maintenance costs.

If you know of anyone who is in or going in the nursing home, please tell them to call us or as a Certified Elder Law Attorney as soon as possible. 

One of the services we offer our LifeCare clients is Social Security planning.  Seldom does claiming your Social Security at age 62 make sense.  Yet, there are times when claiming before full retirement makes sense.

 This article from U.S. News and World Report is a good summary.  If you have a question on Social Security or want information on how to be a LifeCare Client, give us a call.


Covering the costs of long-term care can be confusing.  Many people have no idea they can become eligible for Medicaid!   It is important to know the facts since there are many misconceptions about the program

 3) My spouse will become impoverished or we will have to get divorced for me to qualify.

While all assets held by either spouse are considered available for Medicaid purposes, Medicaid does offer protections for spouses (as well as dependent or disabled children, who remain in the community). Spouses are entitled to retain as much as ½ of the couple's assets up to a capped amount (approximately $119,000.00). In addition, spouses may continue to live in the couple's home. In some cases, an experienced elder law attorneys may be able to advise couples on ways to protect even more resources.

What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney ELA), and Why Does it Matter

Robert W. Haley is one of only 15 attorneys in Virginia who have achieved the status of certified elder law attorney (CELA). He is the only CELA west of Richmond practicing in Southside Virginia.  But what does that certification mean.  Certifications are a dime a dozen aren't they? 

It’s true that many senior certifications are pretty much meaningless. They may signify nothing more than that the advisor took a marketing course and paid a fee to become "certified". The risk that consumers may be mislead into believing that the advisor has some special knowledge or ability is not insubstantial. A provision in the recently enacted Wall Street  Reform Law and Consumer Protection Act orders the Comptroller General to conduct a study of "the possible risk posed to investors and other consumers by individuals who otherwise use titles, designations, or marketing materials in a misleading way in connection with the delivery of financial advice." (Section 919C(b)(4)).  

Covering the costs of long-term care can be confusing.  Many people have no idea they can become eligible for Medicaid!   It is important to know the facts since there are many misconceptions about the program.

2) I can only "spend down" my assets on medical and nursing home bills.

In fact, attorneys specializing in elder law can often give valuable advice on purchasing non-countable assets which can benefit you or your spouse, for instance, pre-paying for burial arrangements and making home repairs. In addition, you may be able to make certain transfers to family members. 

If you or a friend or loved one needs long-term care coverage, we can screen their assets to see if they can become eligible for coverage.  Call for an appointment today!