As a principal at The Van Winkle Law Firm, Heather Whitaker Goldstein focuses on incapacity planning, client advocacy and litigation in a wide variety of situations where an elderly person is vulnerable to exploitation. She assists clients with drafting powers of attorney, incompetency and guardianship proceedings, will contests, trust modifications, estate-related litigation, and claims by and against individuals who are serving as executor, trustee, or agent under a power of attorney. She also assists clients with creating estate plans and planning for long-term care public benefits, and she advises executors, trustees, and guardians on the administration of estates.

From 2003 – 2012 Heather served as the Executive Director of the Asheville Jewish Community Center. Heather was part of the team that worked to establish Jewish Family Services of Western North Carolina, a now-independent nonprofit organization providing elder respite care, mental health counseling, and social work case management.

Before returning to Asheville in 1999, Heather completed a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Welton Curtis Sewell, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, and she worked for an international law firm in Washington, D.C.

She is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Middle Districts of North Carolina, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third and Fourth Districts, as well as all North Carolina state courts.

Practice Areas

Presentations & Papers

Community Presentations

  • Empowering Elders Webinar, Beacon Pointe Advisors, October 12, 2023
  • Preventing and Curing Elder Financial Exploitation
    • Investor Education Dinner, Altavista Wealth Management, October 7, 2021
    • Professionals’ Lunch-n-Learn, Community Foundation of WNC, October 23, 2019
    • Parsec Longevity Forum, Keynote Speaker, September 17, 2019
    • North Carolina Aging Professionals Association Annual Meeting, March 14, 2019
  • Charting Your Own Course: Taking Charge of Living Longer, Better Lives
    • Successful Aging Conference, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, June 2018 & June 2019
  • Planning for Incapacity
    • Osher Life Long Learning Institute, UNC Asheville, August 1, 2018
  • Everything You Wanted to Know About Living Longer, But Were Afraid to Ask
    • Dementia Education Symposium, Alzheimer’s Association, April 25, 2018
  • Legal and Financial Matters, Dementia Education
    • Alzheimer’s Association, March 20, 2018
  • Wage and Hour Law for Nonprofits
    • Duke Certificate in Nonprofit Management Program, October 13, 2015
  • Employment Law for Nonprofits
    • WNC Nonprofit Pathways Compliance Update, April 2015
  • Best Practices for Nonprofits
    • Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, August 13, 2013

Continuing Legal Education

  • Challenging the Validity of Powers of Attorney
    • NC Chapter, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, September 2022
  • Court Proceedings Involving Trusts (2022 edition updates)
    • North Carolina Estate Administration Manual, NC Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section, 2022
  • Preserving Home Ownership, Estate Planning Considerations
    • Pisgah Legal Services, May 13, 2022
  • Choosing the Right Remedy for Elder Financial Abuse
    • North Carolina Partnership to Address Adult Abuse, May 18, 2021
  • Litigating Exploitation Cases in an Elder Law Practice
    • North Carolina Chapter, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, September 2019
  • Strategies for Lawyers Facing the Elder Financial Abuse Crisis
    • Asheville Area Paralegals Association, October 30, 2020
    • Buncombe County Bar, February 7, 2020
    • Henderson County Bar, August 23, 2019
    • Land of the Sky Estate Planning Council Meeting, April 25, 2019
    • N.C. Bar Association Elder & Special Needs Law Section Meeting, February 22, 2019
  • Caveat Proceedings and Probate in Solemn Form (Co-Author with Stephen J. Grabenstein)
    • North Carolina Fiduciary Litigation Manual, N.C. Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section, 2019
  • Medicaid Lookback Period and Qualifying Asset Transfers Rule
    • National Business Institute, December 4, 2018
  • The New N.C. Uniform Power of Attorney Act
    • Henderson County Bar, October 12, 2018
    • Buncombe County Bar, February 14, 2018
  • Getting Real with E-Discovery
    • Buncombe County Bar, October 30, 2015
  • North Carolina Wage and Hour Law Update
    • Lorman Education Services, March 30, 2000

Awards & Honors

  • North Carolina Super Lawyers 2024 – Estate & Trust Litigation
  • Best Lawyers 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, & 2024 Asheville Area – Elder Law
  • 2024 Lawyer of the year, Asheville – Elder Law
  • Best Lawyers 2024 Asheville Area – Trusts & Estates
  • Outstanding Service Award, Pisgah Legal Services
  • William J. Griffith University Service Award, Duke University
  • Outstanding Service Award, Buncombe County Bar Young Lawyer Division
  • TWIN Award nominee, YWCA of Asheville, Tribute to Women of Influence
  • Senior Articles Editor, The George Washington Law Review
  • Executive Committee, The George Washington Moot Court Board
  • Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award, North Carolina Bar Association


  • The George Washington University, J.D. with honors – 1997
  • Duke University, B.A. English – 1993
  • A.C. Reynolds High School, Asheville, NC – 1989

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Elder & Special Needs Law Section
    • Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section
    • Litigation Section
  • North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys
  • Harry C. Martin Inns of Court
  • Buncombe County Elder Justice Steering Committee
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
  • Land of Sky Estate Planning Council

Community Involvement

  • Asheville’s Affiliates, Former Board Member
  • Asheville Community Theatre, Former Board Member
  • Asheville Jewish Business Forum
  • Asheville Jewish Community Center, Capital Campaign Cabinet
  • Buncombe County’s Distinguished Young Woman (Junior Miss) Scholarship Program, Former Chair
  • Congregation Beth Israel
  • Duke University, Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee
  • Ira B. Jones Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, Former Fundraising Chair
  • JCC Association Executive Seminars, Former Cohort Chair
  • Junior League of Asheville, Sustaining Member
  • Maccabi Academy of Asheville, Former Advisory Board Member
  • Morehead-Cain Foundation, Regional Selection Committee, Former Member
  • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, Former Board Member
  • Pisgah Legal Services, Development Council, Former Member
  • UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education, Former Board Member
  • UNC Asheville Center for Jewish Studies, Former Advisory Board Member
  • United Way of Asheville-Buncombe, Board Member and 2017 Campaign Chair

Outside of the office, Heather is a CrossFit Enthusiast and a Soccer Mom. She and her husband, Jeremy, spend most weekends shuttling their sons around the State of North Carolina for games. Heather also loves visiting other CrossFit gyms, although COVID-19 has forced her to get creative with at-home workouts.

  • Favorite Food: “Almond Brothers” Smoothie from Green Sage Cafe
  • Favorite Book: “Pride and Prejudice”
  • Favorite Asheville Experience: Outdoor summer Shakespeare with the Montford Park Players