Stetson University
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LL.M. in Elder Law - Course Descriptions

Elder Law LL.M. Required Courses

Aging and the Law (3 credits)
Long-Term Care Planning (3 credits)
Estate and Gift Tax and Estate Planning (3 credits)
Ethics in the Practice of Elder Law (3 credits)
Guardianship and Alternatives (3 credits)
Retirement Planning (3 credits)
Select Topics in Elder Law (1 credit) (on-campus course for students entering in fall 2009)

Elder Law LL.M. Elective Courses (students select two to four)

Tax for Elder Law Attorneys (3 credits)
Disability Law (3 credits)
Government and Private Health Benefits (3 credits)
Issues in Elder Law Advocacy (3 credits)
Law, Aging and Mental Health (3 credits)
Veterans' Benefits (3 credits)

Course Descriptions

AGING AND THE LAW
This course examines various issues in elder law, including the psychology and physiology of aging. Topics include autonomy, surrogate decision-making, elder abuse, ethics, aging in place, and planning for long-term care, ageism, discrimination, the criminal justice system, and interdisciplinary approaches to client representation.

DISABILITY LAW
This course will cover the foundations of Special Needs and Disability Law: the issues, laws and regulations concerning individuals with disabilities, including access, employment, education, services and benefits, civil rights, discrimination, Social Security Disability, and the hearings and appeals process. (Note: Long-Term Care Planning is required, but with approval of the Director of the LL.M. in Elder law, Disability Law may be substituted.)

ESTATE AND GIFT TAX PLANNING FOR THE ELDER LAW CLIENT
This course examines the federal transfer tax system, and its effects on various estate planning arrangements, including joint tenancies, reserved life estates, durable powers of attorney, various types of trusts (including special needs trusts) and contractual arrangements for the transfer of wealth.  Although the course will examine the basic planning and gifting concepts used for estates of all sizes, the focus will be on the gift and estate planning and tax provisions for the typical elder law client.

ETHICS IN THE PRACTICE OF ELDER LAW
This course reviews the ethical issues frequently presented to an attorney representing people who are older or disabled through an examination of the Model Rules and comments, Restatements, and other authorities. Issues covered include "who is the client?", loyalty, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, clients with diminished capacity, former clients, prospective clients, joint representation, and the lawyer's role as counselor.

GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE HEALTH BENEFITS
This course examines the various benefits plans provided by private and governmental health plans, including Medicare and Medicaid programs, managed care plans, regulation and access, policy issues and recent developments.

GUARDIANSHIPS & ALTERNATIVES
This course examines the causes of incapacity, behaviors of those with dementia, aphasia, etc., alternatives to guardianship for property and health care decisions (durable power of attorney, property management tactics as alternatives, advance directives), capacity assessments, the process of declaring a person incapacitated, selection and appointment of a guardian, administration, closing of a guardianship, and mediation.

INTRODUCTION TO ELDER LAW
This course is for those LLM students who have limited or no experience in Elder Law and is a condition of admission.  This introductory course is a survey of all of the unique areas of elder law.  The emphasis is on introducing the student to the issues and vocabulary of elder law.  Subjects include Guardianship, Government Benefits; Estate Planning and Ethics.  

LAW, AGING AND MENTAL HEALTH
This course examines the issues, laws and programs concerning clients with mental health issues. Discussions will cover the various legal procedures and the alternatives for planning and working with clients and their families.

LONG-TERM CARE PLANNING
This course examines the issues concerning long term care, including planning for long-term care, services, paying for care, including long-term care insurance, provisions of services including in-home and institutional care and the policies concerning long term care.

RETIREMENT PLANNING
This course examines institutional forms of retirement planning, including family and community support, employer-sponsored pension plans, and personal savings in the form of tangible and intangible assets. The course also looks at the federal income tax consequences of pension plan distributions, spousal rights and benefits under employer-sponsored pension plans, employer and third-party service provider fiduciary duties and fiduciary liability issues, and estate planning strategies related to retirement savings.

RETIREMENT PLANNING
This three-day in person course is in conjuction with the Annual Special Needs Trusts conferecnce.  Students attend two days of the confernece and a third day on campus, covering issues that are currectly being discussed and debated in the elder law profession as a whole. 

TAX FOR ELDER LAW ATTORNEYS
This course will include an overview of basic fundamental tax principles necessary for practice in a variety of other legal fields - individual tax planning, family law, estate planning, real property taxation, and business planning - with a special emphasis on tax provisions and principles particularly relevant to elderly clients. Topics will include the definition of gross income, with emphasis on exclusions for social security recipients, the taxation of health care, with emphasis on tax incentives for health savings and deductions/credits for extraordinary health care expenses, the definition of the "family" for tax purposes as that definition relates to elderly taxpayers who provide support for adult children and grandchildren, tuition and higher education benefits, with emphasis on lifetime learning credits and costs associated with second careers and payment of grandchildren expenses, retirement savings, the exclusion of gain from the sale of principal residence, taxation of annuities and life insurance, and planning for post-death events (e.g., bequests, devises, and inheritances). Overall, the course will survey tax provisions with special relevance to elder law. Students will be allowed to suggest specific topics relevant to their own elder law practice (if any). Evaluation will be based on a final exam and completion of three practical problems presented at the one third, two third and final third portion of the course. 

VETERANS' BENEFITS
This course examines the issues that arise for veterans regarding the application, grant, and denial of benefits within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The course will cover the various programs and benefits available, eligibility for programs and services, and the hearings and appeals process.

Please note: Course descriptions are intended to be only a general summary of course content.

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