Elder Law Day: Summer 2020 Series

The Center for Elder Law & Justice is partnering with the Erie County Department of Senior Services to host the 20th Annual Elder Law Day—with a new twist. This year’s presentations and consultations will be held virtually, over a period of two months. This collaboration is designed to provide information on legal issues affecting older adults to assist them in making informed choices about their health, financial well-being, and long term health care needs. All presentations are from 10am-11am (with one exception, noted below). Click on the link to register on the Erie County website. Brief, free legal consultations are available to registered Elder Law Day Summer Series participants. After registering, e-mail ELD@elderjusticeny.org or call (716) 853-3087 x 267 to sign up for your time slot. The number of consultations will be limited to the first 150 people who register.


Portrait of Kelly Sarama
July 15th: “Medicaid Basics and Upcoming Changes” by Kelly Barrett Sarama, Esq. (Center for Elder Law & Justice)

This session will cover the basic eligibility requirements and coverage for Medicaid, with a focus on the Disabled, Aged, Blind eligibility category. We will also highlight recent changes enacted through the New York State budget, and particular issues to pay attention to in light of the pandemic.

portrait of Linda GrearJuly 22nd: “Basic Estate Planning and Advanced Directives,” by Linda Stravalaci Grear, Esq. (Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies, LLP)

Join Attorney Linda Stravalaci Grear for an overview of estate planning and advanced directives, including wills, health care proxies, power of attorney, supplemental needs trusts for special needs individuals, funeral arrangements, estate taxes, and Medicaid planning.


portrait of Jamie SmithJuly 29th: “The Benefits of Irrevocable and Pooled Trusts”, by Jamie Smith, Esq. (Smith Vavonese, LLP)

The purpose of this webinar is to educate older adults, caregivers and service providers on the benefits of Irrevocable Trusts and utilizing a Pooled Trust to help individuals remain in the community. Participants will learn how seniors can benefit from using both kinds of trusts, depending on their individual financial situation. The goal is for participants to come away with an understanding of Irrevocable and Pooled Trusts in order to be able to better serve clients, family members and themselves.


portrait of Sarah Duvalportrait of Kathy Kanaleyportrait of Holly TuckerAugust 5th: “Elder Abuse: What it is, and what is being done to stop this growing problem,” by Sarah Duval, Esq., Kathy Kanaley (Center for Elder Law & Justice), and Holly Tucker, Esq. (Erie County Domestic Violence Bureau)

This presentation will review the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and what to watch out for. Presenters will discuss resources, what organizations do with cases of elder abuse, and how seniors and community members can be advocates to prevent and fight exploitation. A general primer on financial exploitation will be provided, including an overview of Power of Attorney, fiduciary duty, and what different agencies can/cannot do with cases.


portrait of Sarah Duval

August 12th: "Spot That Scam: Recognizing & Reporting COVID-19 Related Scams” by Sarah Galvan, Esq. (Justice in Aging) and Sarah Duval, Esq. (Center for Elder Law & Justice)

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in scams, particularly those related to stimulus payments, fake vaccines and cures, and other similar schemes. This session will help participants recognize these scams and will share strategies for avoiding and reporting them. Presenters will also share updates on local and federal agency resources on scam prevention.

August 19th *at 12 Noon* "Kinship Care," by Sarah Hedden, Esq. (Center for Elder Law & Justice) and Hon. Kevin Carter (Erie County Family Court)

Hon. Kevin Carter, Chief Judge of Family Court for the Eighth Judicial District, and Sarah Hedden, MSW, Supervising Attorney of the Kinship Unit at the Center for Elder Law and Justice, will present on custody and visitation during these unprecedented times. This presentation will have a focus on grandparent and other kinship caregivers who are caring for children. Hon. Carter also will provide information on how the courts have adjusted and adapted to operating while complying with new state regulations regarding social distancing and other factors, while also ensuring the community have access to justice.

portrait of Lindsay HecklerAugust 26th: “Know your rights when you enter a skilled nursing facility for short-term rehabilitation (Coronavirus edition),” by Lindsay Heckler, Esq. (Center for Elder Law & Justice)

New York nursing homes are referred to by many names: skilled nursing facility, rehabilitation facility, nursing facility. Regardless of the name and the public’s perception, each is a nursing home, and each is required to provide short-term care and long-term care. The most common entry into a nursing home is from the hospital for ‘short-term rehabilitation’ after an individual suffers a fall or another medical event and has been hospitalized. Problems arise when a resident exhausts their Medicare coverage for short-term rehabilitation, otherwise does not qualify for Medicare, are not “improving”, and/or are told they need “long-term care”. In addition, many nursing home residents and their families do not necessarily realize they have rights and options. Our presentation will provide attendees information needed to fully understand their rights and options when they enter a nursing home for “short-term rehab.” Attendees will be provided the tools needed to effectively respond to nursing home staff when the resident and/or family is told: you need long-term care; Medicare will not pay because you are not improving; or you have exhausted your Medicare coverage. Attendees will receive handouts with information on these rights that will reinforce the tools they will gain to effectively respond and where to turn for assistance.

portrait of Anthony KuhnSeptember 2nd: "Veterans Benefits 101," by Anthony Kuhn, Esq. (Tully Rinckey PLLC)

This will be a general discussion primarily discussing Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected compensation. We will first discuss the process for accreditation as well as the process for being recognized as the veteran’s representative. We will then briefly discuss the process for applying for service-connected compensation. Finally, the majority of our discussion will involve procedure and strategy for appealing a service-connected compensation decision.


portrait of Kelly Gusmano

September 9th: “Asset Protection Planning for Long Term Care Expenses,” by Kelly Gusmano, (Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP)

This presentation will focus on strategies to protect assets and shift the cost of long term care expenses to Medicaid. Attendees will be walked through the process of transferring assets to the healthy spouse or executing gift and note plans when it appears that nursing home care is imminent. The goal of this presentation is to dispel fears and reassure people that there are still options for those who have done no prior planning, regardless of the five year "lookback" for asset transfers.



portrait of Sandra Lauer

September 16th: “Your Voice, Your Values - The Conversation Project at ECMC,” by Sandra Lauer and Dr. Kathleen Grimm (ECMC)

The Conversation project is a national public engagement campaign dedicated to educating the community on the importance of having advance care planning discussions and filling out advance directives. Advance care planning can help people close to you and those caring for you to know what quality of life you would want before a health crisis occurs. Having the conversation about your wishes for future care will help to make sure your end-of-life wishes are expressed and respected. This will also help the person you choose as your healthcare proxy to feel more comfortable about the decisions they make on your behalf. Participants will have access to The Conversation Project Starter kit and a pocket-sized health care proxy form. The Conversation Project hopes to give you a place to start the conversation around advanced care planning, whether you are getting ready to tell someone else what you want, or you want to help someone else get ready to share their wishes.

September 23rd: "Landlord-Tenant Law in the Year 2020” by Tatiana Robinson, Esq. (Center for Elder Law & Justice)

This presentation will cover general landlord/tenant law with an emphasis on highlighting tenant protections, featuring a section on pertinent matters relating to the coronavirus pandemic.



portrait of Robert FriedmanSeptember 30th: “Guardianship for Incapacitated Persons,” by Robert Friedman, Esq. (Friedman & Ranzenhofer PC)

Robert Friedman draws on 41 years of legal experience to explain Mental Hygiene Article 81 Guardianships for Incapacitated Persons, alternatives to guardianships, how guardianships prevent elder abuse, guardianships in Medicaid planning and more in this highly-anticipated presentation and conclusion of the Elder Law Day Summer Series.