Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 12, 2021
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 12, 2021//
Amy Estes McCullough
The Law Office of Amy E. McCullough, PLC
B.A. University of Virginia
J.D. Washington and Lee University School of Law
What services within elder law are you best known for?
I have served as a guardian ad litem for incapacitated adults since the early 2000s, so most folks initially got to know me for my work on adult guardianships and conservatorships. However, I have since expanded my practice into estate planning and administration, as well as long-term care planning and special needs planning.
Please describe a signature case or representation.
This is a tough one since my client base is so varied. However, I do tend to represent a lot of clients who come in initially because their family members did not create an estate plan and now, in a crisis situation, there is a need for assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, and often long-term care planning as well. Many of these same clients later return to my office to discuss estate planning for themselves because they want to plan ahead for any type of crisis situation that may arise.
What do you find most satisfying about law practice?
Often, when clients first come to me, they express feelings of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start when considering issues of long-term care, access to services for the elderly and disabled, estate planning, and so on. I appreciate being able to get to know my clients a little bit better and help them find solutions that best suit their needs. When my clients have told me that what I do gives them the space to enjoy more quality time with their family members, I find that very satisfying.
Describe your approach to advising clients.
When I meet with new clients, after I’ve gathered some introductory information from them, I try to just sit back and listen. If I’m going to give my clients advice they will actually find useful, I need to know as much about them and their situation as possible, so it doesn’t make sense for me to do much talking until we’ve really gone over the things that matter most to my clients. Sometimes my clients may have an immediate issue that needs to be fixed, but I try also to look at the larger picture so that we can come up with ideas that will help them improve their situation over the longer term.
What is the best career advice you’ve received?
I had a mentor in college who would often say, “It’s not what you do first, but what you do next that shows what you’re made of.” What he meant by that is that everyone makes mistakes at some point. However, the manner in which we react will often end up being remembered far more than the initial error.
What developments or changes in elder law do you expect to see in the coming year?
As the number of older adults increases, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to better meet their needs. I’m not sure if it will necessarily happen in the coming year, but I do hope to see some improvements in how the elderly and disabled are able to access home and community-based care. I’ve also been hearing more about moves to implement minimum staffing ratios in skilled nursing facilities, which could certainly help to improve the quality of care for residents in those settings.