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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Elder Law: Elizabeth Gray

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 12, 2021

Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Elder Law: Elizabeth Gray

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 12, 2021//

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Elizabeth L. Gray
Principal Attorney
McCandlish Lillard, P.C.


Virginia Law Reader
BA State University of New York at Binghamton
Certified Elder Law Attorney, National Elder Law Foundation

What services within elder law are you best known for?

  • Special needs planning, including Special Needs Trusts (3rd-party and 1st-party SNTs); public benefits for disabled individuals, like Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI); child disability benefits; Medicaid waivers
  • Guardianships/conservatorships acting as counsel for petitioners, respondents, other parties, and acting as Guardian ad Litem for disabled adults
  • Medicaid long-term care planning, including Income/Asset Maximization Analysis (IAMA) letters and assistance in applying for benefits

Please describe a signature case or representation.

Assisting parents in obtaining guardianship for an eighteen-year-old child with special needs; preparing the estate planning documents for the parents to include a 3rd-party special needs trust for the child with special needs; assisting the parents, now serving as guardians, in applying for SSI and a Medicaid waiver; assisting father of the child with the appointment of father’s military survivor benefit annuity to a 1st-party special needs trust, preparation of the 1st-party special needs trust, together with the attorney certification; assisting parents with the rules regarding ABLE accounts.

What do you find most satisfying about law practice?

I find it satisfying when I am able to assist a client in planning ahead for his or her incapacity, long-term care, and/or death. I also love hearing from a client about where the client is from, how the client got where he/she is now, hobbies, careers, and the client’s family history. I’m very nosy and have met some incredibly interesting people over the years. For example, once when I was a Guardian ad Litem during a guardianship case I noticed a photograph on the respondent’s table of him standing by a plane with Queen Elizabeth. It turns out he flew Queen Elizabeth around during World War II in the “decoy” plane.

Describe your approach to advising clients.

I take a holistic approach to advise my clients. I want to look at the whole picture before I prepare any documents, an IAMA, or a special needs trust. I also try to assist my clients in understanding that capacity and losing capacity are on a continuum. Most often, capacity is not black or white.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

When I first started practicing law, an attorney told me to join committees/sections of the local bar association because I will meet a lot of other local attorneys. This was great advice because I wound up getting referrals from these attorneys who did not practice in the elder law area and I had referrals to give to potential clients of attorneys in other practice areas.

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