Elder Law: An India-US Comparison, Ethics, and Practice Management
Professor: Katharine N. Bernstein
Spring 2018
Course Description and Potential Topics

The need for Elder Law attorneys has increased exponentially in the US in the last ten years with the population explosion of the baby boomers. India is also experiencing this change, as its elderly population increases. This course examines the difference between Elder Law in the US and India and what India can learn from the evolution of Elder Law in the US. Topics covered include a general overview of what Elder Law is, differences in Power of Attorney and Guardianship usage; differences in Wills and Probate, and differences in long term care planning.

I will also discuss the unique ethics and practice management challenges that Elder Law presents. Topics covered will include identification of the client, conflicts between parents and children and blended families (families with second marriages), clients with diminished capacity, and the role of senior care professionals.

I want to use a series of chosen readings/handouts/hypos to give the class a chance to exchange ideas and keep up with changing law.

I would like assignments to consist of a reading on a specific topic, a hypothetical client situation, and possibly drafting assignments. I really want the class to provide students with critical thinking skills that they will need for their practice.

Writing assignments: These assignments will be discussed in more detail in class.
25% - Estate Planning Document Drafting TBD
25% - Letters advising a client/attorney-in-fact: Hypothetical Scenario TBD.
30% - Final Exam- Written Exam will be timed and consist of hypothetical scenarios in which you will advise a client, attorney-in-fact, or partner. Questions will be similar to hypothetical scenarios we will go over in call.

Class Participation:
20% of your grade will be based on class participation. The hypotheticals assigned will be part of the class discussion. As such it will be important for students to actively participate in class. Since the class is so large, I will probably break it up into groups and have the students discuss the hypotheticals in the small groups before going over them with the whole class. I would also like to do mock client interviews, and counseling on the problems raised in the hypotheticals.

Proposed Topics (Order TBD)
1. Introductory Session- Course Overview
      a. Overview of Elder Law: Estate Planning, Probate, Guardianship and Long Term Care Planning.
      b. Relevance of Elder Law in India today
          i. Increase in Need of Aging Population
          ii. Changing Family Structure
      c. Ethics of Elder Law
      b. Practical Skills for Attorneys
2. Role of Industry Professionals- Panel Discussion
      a. Attorneys, Doctors, Social Works, Geriatric Care Managers.
      b. What is the relevance of Elder Law and Elder Care in society (US and India) today?
      c. How has the field changed in the last ten years?
3. Elder Law Ethics
      a. Who is the Client?
          i. What is your duty as an attorney to your client?
          ii. Who is paying your bill?
      b. Capacity
          i. Assessing Capacity
          ii. Representing Clients with Diminished Capacity and Recognizing Under Influence
      c. Confidentiality
      d. Families in Conflict-
          i. Parents and Children
          ii. Children of Prior Marriages
4. Power of Attorney and Guardianship- Comparison
      a. Principal, Attorney-in-Fact, Powers
      b. Least Restrictive Method
      c. Guardianship
          i. When is a guardianship necessary?
          ii. Ethical Issues
              1. Who can you represent?
5. Wills and Probate- Comparison
      a. Testator, Executor, Issue, and Assets.
      b. What is Probate?
          i. Avoiding Probate
6. Long Term Care Planning Comparison
      a. Government Benefits
          i. Medicaid
          ii. Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens Act 2007.

Katharine N. Bernstein is an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Wells College and her law degree from Seattle University. Her practice focuses on Elder Law in the context of utilizing Estate Planning, Veterans Benefits and Medicaid planning to assist clients in preparing for and affording the cost of care in assisted living communities and nursing homes. Katharine is licensed to practice law in Washington State and New York State and is a Veterans Administration Accredited Attorney. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association Elder Law Section, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Elder Counsel.

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