Jeanne M. Hepler
I've been an attorney for over 30 years. For most of my career I was engaged in a general practice, doing real estate, personal injury, appeals, and routine legal matters. I spent twelve years representing children as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem in cases such as foster care proceedings and custody disputes.
I also acted as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem for incapacitated adults, who were often older folks suffering from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. When I got into this kind of work I began to receive a lot of requests to help people become a guardian for their loved one.
As I continued to work with more clients who faced issues related to aging, I began to realize that many of them were in desperate need of financial advice when their loved one entered a nursing home. I saw people who were in the clutches of Medicaid "spend-down," who were draining their life savings to pay for nursing home care and were often forced to sell the family home to pay the costs. I wanted to help them protect their assets, but I didn't know how.
So I set myself to the task of learning Medicaid planning. Medicaid planning is the term used when an attorney employs different strategies to allow Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, while at the same time protecting the client's assets. This is an area of law about which most lawyers know very little.
I've since attended many hours of training in numerous seminars throughout Virginia and across the country, joined professional organizations such as ElderCounsel, the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and I've worked closely with other experienced elder law attorneys to help clients protect assets.
In other words, I've acquired the expertise necessary to help my clients keep from going broke in a nursing home, and I've made that the focus of my practice. I help my clients ensure that their loved one is well cared for, while protecting the family assets in the process.
As part of that journey, and in the course of assisting clients with Medicaid planning over the years, I've learned a lot about the issues that families typically face when a loved one becomes incapacitated. I have been privileged to help families navigate the difficult decisions that are presented in such situations, and I am grateful to have found work that is meaningful, worthwhile, and beneficial to others.
More about Ms. Hepler
Ms. Hepler is the founder of Legal Solutions for Seniors. She received her law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the managing partner of the law firm Collins & Hepler, PLC in Covington, Virginia, where her practice is focused primarily on estate planning, elder law, Veterans’ benefits, and Medicaid planning.
Ms. Hepler is a member of the Virginia State Bar and is a certified Guardian ad Litem for children and adults in the twenty-fifth judicial district. She is a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and ElderCounsel.