“I started my law practice in 1995 as Robert W. Haley, Attorney at Law,” Haley explained. “I initially practiced in real estate law and grew my elder law and estate planning practice over time. Elder Law and Estate Planning eventually became the firm's sole focus. As a result, in 2014, I changed the firm name to The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC to better reflect the practice areas that we serve as a law firm.”
The Estate and Elder Law Center currently has offices in Bassett (3371 Fairystone Park Highway), as well as Danville (742 Main Street). The firm is also expanding its services to assist residents in the Lynchburg area.
“In addition to my thriving office in Bassett, I opened an office in Danville to better accommodate client demand and the urgent need I saw there for comprehensive estate planning and elder law expertise,” Haley said. “Since August 2015, I run an office there as well, full-time. We are now duplicating that growth, and moving forward with a new, additional office in Lynchburg to better serve those who may need assistance. Similar to how Danville began, I'll meet clients in Lynchburg "by appointment only" to start with and as the need increases, our presence there will also grow accordingly.”
The Estate and Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia provides "big picture" focus and expertise in estate planning, asset protection planning, guardianships and a growing fiduciary practice, as Mr. Haley often acts as Trustee, Agent, Conservator, Guardian or Executor for many of their clients.
“When it comes to asset protection, we help our clients in the difficult and complicated process of obtaining Medicaid eligibility for their long-term care costs at little or no spend-down,” Haley explained. “Medicaid rules and regulations are among the most complex in the nation and our firm works hard to help our clients and their loved ones protect their hard-earned lifetime's worth of savings from the ever-rising cost of long-term care.”
One of the statements that catches the eye of readers on the firm’s website (https://vaelderlaw.com/) is the phrase, “A relationship - not just a representation.” The phrase speaks to the firm’s desire to truly help their clients and gain their trust. Haley described this personal touch and how it helps set Elder Law Center apart from its competition.
“We like to tell our clients, once you engage us you have an attorney for life,” Haley said. “We want our clients to know that they can contact us for any problem they may have. Not only do we have trusted legal referral partners, through the years we have entered into many relationships with various vendors, contractors, professionals, etc. Elders are always susceptible to scams and rip-offs, so we can help them find trusted and vetted vendors for whatever their needs may be.”
For any potential client who is looking for legal assistance and representation in the areas of estate planning, guardianships, conservatorships, and crisis planning, The Estate and Elder Law Center can guide them through all the processes with professionalism and courtesy.
“We ask all our clients to fill out a pretty extensive questionnaire,” said Mal Rorrer, Legal Assistant, Community Liaison and Marketing Specialist. “This helps us focus on the details of a given situation and identify problems the client may not see. With Mr. Haley's experience and expertise, he can then have a good idea of just the solutions a client might need. We also take the time to find out what made our clients book a consult in the first place. Many times it's a specific event or circumstance that worries them. Our aim is to address that concern head-on and help ease their concerns.”
Haley has numerous certifications that illustrate his expertise, education and training such as Certified Elder Law Attorney (CEAL) by the National Elder Law Foundation. He is the only attorney to attain this distinction in southside Virginia. Haley is also a Certified Advanced Practitioner (CAP) by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, an Accredited Trust Financial Adviser (ATFA), and a Master Certified Independent Trustee by the Independent Trustee Alliance.
The various services provided by The Estate and Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC address a client’s long-term financial and estate planning needs, and how they can help clients gain peace of mind and financial security for the rest of their lives.
“If you look on our website, you'll see a section named "Life Stages,” Haley explained. “For example, the estate planning we would propose for a single client is much different than that for a married couple with minor children; and even more different for an elderly couple. Your estate planning should not be treated as static documents that you do once and forget about. They should be reviewed periodically as your needs change.”
“You may own a vacation home that requires special planning,” he added. “You might have spendthrift children, or adult-disabled children. You may also need trust planning. As you can tell, there is no cookie-cutter situation. We don't have one form document that we use for all, because each client needs a unique plan tailored to their own specific needs at the time.”
There are numerous legal situations that can arise when individuals have not taken proper steps to plan their estate, such as drafting a last will and testament. These problems often create a lot of headaches for future heirs once a person has passed away.
“Dying without a will creates many potential problems for your loved ones,” Haley said. “For one, it's more expensive to administer. Second, the laws of descent might mean your estate passes to folks you didn't want to inherit. In my experience, a lot of family conflicts have occurred due to this type of situation and lack of any planning.”
When looking at the many five-star reviews on the website, one of the common themes was how The Estate and Elder Law Center really goes out of its way to explain things to clients in understandable ways. Given the complexities of the issues the firm deals with each day, it is critical to be able to explain things to clients in a manner in which they can understand. This is another reason why Haley’s firm stands out from its competition.
“I tell every client, you will never sign any document unless you are sure of what you are signing, and you agree that it's the best plan for your situation,” Haley said. “Again, we are not selling documents. We are providing solutions to their problems, fears and worries. I can only give options and explain those options, it is the client's decision to make after they have done their due diligence. Further, our staff goes out of their way to reiterate this and help our clients throughout the drafting, review and signing process.”
Haley described the different stages of estate planning, and why young people without huge financial assets, as well as older people with significant financial holdings, can benefit from their legal services.
“As soon as you turn 18 you're an adult, and you need a simple level of estate planning in place,” he explained. “For example, if a college student has a medical emergency away from home and a parent calls to get information, they might not be able to unless they have been designated Health Care Agent. Imagine a mother's frustration, anger and worry when a doctor or nurse refuses to communicate with her about her daughter's serious condition due to HIPAA laws.”
“Remember, a large part of estate planning is planning for possible incapacity,” Haley continued. “Estate planning is far more than just a will. If nothing is in place beforehand, the parents may unexpectedly find themselves in a guardianship situation, which means court costs in the thousands, ongoing court supervision and annual accountings. Young married couples need wills if for no other reason than to name who would be guardian of their children if both parents pass away. Once again, without that being done there is definite potential for family conflict.”
To learn more about the various practice areas The Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia serves, reach out to their firm online at www.VAElderlaw.com, or call toll-free at 855-608-0177: They are here to help!
Reference: Chatham Star-Tribune (June 5, 2022) “Local law firm gives clients peace of mind”