The Elder Law team at Van Winkle is unlike any other in Western North Carolina.
In addition to being President of the Van Winkle Law Firm, Caroline Knox
is also a Board Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). She is one of 20
elder law attorneys in North Carolina to hold this distinction. She has
assembled a multi-disciplinary team combining legal, social work and geriatric
case management that is unique in Western North Carolina.
As an elder law attorney, Knox works in a variety of areas for older adults:
she prepares for incapacity planning through use of powers of attorney
and other advance directives, and prepares for a streamlined transfer
of assets at death through Wills, Trusts and beneficiary designations.
In addition, Knox and her team assist in in planning for the emotional
and financial needs of families who have a loved one facing an end-of-life
transition, disability or change in personal health status.
Easing the emotional and financial strain
“It’s horrifying to see that happen to someone you love,”
says James Grodnik about his wife Mary and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Michael McCall had a similar situation with his wife Dorene. Both men were
retired and felt like they had planned adequately for their later years
in life, only to find that nursing home placement for their wives presented
financial and emotional challenges that could wipe out that planning in
a matter of months.
A great relief
As clients leave their consultation with Caroline and her team, they feel
a sense of relief. They can focus on their loved one and know Caroline’s
team can find the proper in home care or placement, secure the family
finances and prepare the necessary legal documents and benefits applications
to ensure a smooth transition. The clients are able to leave the complications
of long term care financing and placement at Caroline’s door, so
that they can care for their loved one, themselves and their families
as they navigate some of life’s most difficult transitions.
Providing a lifeline
“Nursing homes locally cost at least $8,000 per month,” notes
Knox, “which is enough to impoverish anyone.”
Both Mr. Grodnik and Mr. McCall had to place their spouses in a nursing
home or assisted living facility. Both knew that unless they had help,
they could not continue on financially, much less care for their spouses
emotionally. The Van Winkle Elder Law team helped facilitate placement
for Mrs. McCall in the facility which would provide the right level of
care to meet her needs and allow her to receive financial assistance.
When her care needs changed, the team was there to find her next home.
Knox and her team helped by structuring estate plans and assets so that
the husbands in this case were able to get help from Medicaid. This allowed
both men to focus on spending quality time with their wives. For both,
it also ensures that they will have some financial resources to carry
them through whatever health challenges they may have in the future.
“It’s been a real lifeline for me,” said Grodnik, “because
my life would have been far different.”
When there is No Family
Caroline often serves as the surrogate family for clients who have no one
to help them manage their health care and financial arrangements as they
age. She and her team provide case management which includes being the
emergency contact, scheduling and accompanying clients to their medical
appointments, arranging in home or facility care, paying bills, filing
tax returns, and downsizing, including sale of real estate and tangible
personal property. She and her team routinely manage trusts, public benefits
and health care decisions for the disabled adult children of her clients,
and for older folks who don’t have anyone else to help. It is possible
to find a bank or a trust company to manage the finances, but very unusual
to have a care team which can provide holistic services to combine the
financial, personal, health care and crisis management often needed in