The Elder Law, Disability Planning and Bioethics Group
The Elder Law, Disability Planning and Bioethics Group has established a significant relationship with the Senior Lawyers Division (SLD) to enhance the practice of elder law. As a formal relationship, the RPTE Section has agreed to joint publications with the SLD on books about elder law issues. The Section now has an appointed liaison to the SLD so that information on the activities of the Section and the SLD can be shared more readily, including joint sponsorship of a CLE concerning current issues on living wills at this year’s ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto.
In support of U.S. active duty military members and veterans, the Group initiated an ABA endorsement of legislation before the Congress to change the military’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) law so that military and retiree members who have family with special needs could access SBP benefits without losing other governmental benefits to which they might be entitled. Under current law, such disabled individuals had to accept their SBP benefits or their other benefits but were unable to access both programs. Also in support of military members, the Group acted as the Section’s representative to a new initiative within the ABA in setting up an ABA Veterans Benefits Coordinating Committee. This Committee is designed to enable the ABA to assist in efforts around the country where issues related to military benefits are present, including the issues of homeless veterans, and the establishment of veterans courts within the various state and local court systems. These specialty courts have had a positive impact on veterans who find themselves involved in state criminal court issues by providing volunteer assistance from attorneys who served in the military and understand the special needs and issues of veterans.
Members of the Group have been busy in both the publishing and continuing legal education areas as well. Catherine Seal, Co-Chair of the Surrogate Decision Making Committee, presented a paper on the role of undue influence in financial abuse of the elderly at the 2010 Aging in America Conference, as well as presenting on the ethical issues surrounding the representation of clients with diminished capacity at the Colorado Bar Association Trust and Estate Section’s annual retreat. Kris Knaplund, Co-Chair of the Bioethics Committee, presented at the 2010 RPTE Spring Symposia on the subject of reproductive law, and published a number of articles, including several on the subjects of the impact of estate tax on charitable requests and on gender inequities in the new uniform probate code.
Members of the Group joined forces to propose multiple CLE programs for the upcoming 2011 RPTE Spring Symposia, with an emphasis on Baby Boomers and the Law. Group members will present five separate presentations at the Spring Symposia, including programs on bioethical issues, dealing with clients with capacity issues, the use of allied professionals in dealing with seniors, dealing with contested guardianship, and the ethical issues of representing clients with diminished capacity.
The Group looks forward to an even more dynamic year in 2011. To learn more about the Group, visit their homepage, or contact the Group Chair, Michael A. Kirtland (firstname.lastname@example.org).