Ethical Issues in Elder Law and Special Needs Planning
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Using a series of hypotheticals, a panel of elder law attorneys and a noted ethicist discuss how to confront the ethical issues that arise in the everyday practice of elder law and special needs planning.
Sarah D. McShea
Sarah Diane McShea has practiced in the “law of lawyering” field in New York since
1980. Her private practice is devoted to advising lawyers, law firms, government
agencies and corporate law departments on a wide variety of legal ethics and
professional practice issues. She represents lawyers in disciplinary matters, litigates
sanctions and disqualification motions, provides risk management and advisory ethics
opinions, consults on partnership disputes, advises lawyers and clients on billing and fee
issues, represents bar applicants and serves as an expert witness on professional
responsibility issues. McShea is a member of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA
Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct and a Trustee of the New York State Lawyer
Assistance Trust. She is Chair of the NYSBA Law Practice Continuity Committee, Co-
Chair of the NYSBA Professional Discipline Committee, and a member of the NYSBA
Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct, which has proposed major revisions to
the New York Code of Professional Responsibility. McShea is a past President of the
Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. She writes regularly on legal ethics
issues and lectures frequently on professional practice issues. McShea taught
professional responsibility as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Law
(1989-1992), St. John’s University School of Law (1999), and Brooklyn Law School
(2001-2007). She served as Deputy Chief Counsel and staff counsel to the
Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department (1980-1989)
and Chief of the Public Corruption Bureau, Kings County District Attorney’s Office (1990-
1993). She is a graduate of Yale College (1975) and Boston University School of Law
Elizabeth Valentin is an attorney with the law firm of Littman Krooks LLP. Ms. Valentin’s
practice focuses on elder law, Medicaid planning, special needs planning,
guardianships, asset protection planning, real estate, trust and estate administration,
and estate planning.
Elizabeth received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and
her Juris Doctor degree from the City University of New York School of Law.
Ms. Valentin is admitted to practice in both New York and New Jersey. She is a member of the New York
State Bar Association (NYSBA), the Elder Law and Trusts & Estates Sections of the NYSBA, the New York
County Lawyer’s Association and Dominican Bar Association. Ms. Valentin is currently serving on the
Executive Committee of the Elder Law Section of the NYSBA as Co-Chair of the Client and Consumer Issues
Committee, Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee and as a District Delegate.
Elizabeth is a frequent presenter to consumer and professional groups as well as advocacy organizations
addressing the legal, financial and other related issues which affect our senior population.
Ms. Valentin speaks fluent Spanish.
Elizabeth is also a freelance photographer. She founded the not-for-profit organization Ojitos, which teaches
photography to inner city children who are survivors of domestic violence.
Bernard A. Krooks
Bernard A. Krooks is a founding partner of the law firm Littman Krooks LLP and Chair
of its Elder Law and Special Needs Department. Mr. Krooks is a nationally-recognized
expert in all aspects of elder law and special needs planning. He has been accredited by
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to present and prosecute claims for veterans’
Mr. Krooks is immediate-past President of the Special Needs Alliance, a national,
invitation-only, not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting families with special
needs planning. Mr. Krooks is past President of the National Academy of Elder Law
Attorneys (NAELA), a Fellow of NAELA, past Chair of the NAELA Tax Section and
past Editor-in-Chief of the NAELA News. In addition, he is certified as an Elder Law
Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. He is a founding member and past
President of the New York Chapter of NAELA. In 2008, he received the Chapter’s
Outstanding Achievement Award for his lifelong work on behalf of seniors and those
Mr. Krooks is past Chair of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar
Association (NYSBA) and past Editor-in-Chief of the Elder Law Attorney, the newsletter
of the NYSBA Elder Law Section. Mr. Krooks is a member of the Trusts and Estates
Law Section and Tax Section of the NYSBA. In addition, he is a former member of the
NYSBA House of Delegates and he served on the NYSBA special committee on Multi-
Disciplinary Practice. Mr. Krooks co-authors (1) a chapter in the NYSBA publication
Guardianship Practice in New York State entitled “Creative Advocacy in Guardianship
Settings: Medicaid and Estate Planning, Including Transfer of Assets, Supplemental
Needs Trusts & Protection of Disabled Family Members.”; and (2) the NYSBA
publication Elder Law and Will Drafting. He serves on the Editorial Boards of
Exceptional Parent Magazine, Trusts & Estates Magazine, and Leimberg Information
Mr. Krooks, a sought-after expert on elder law, special needs planning and estate
planning matters, has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times,
Newsweek, Forbes, Investment News, Financial Times, Money Magazine, Smart Money,
Worth Magazine, Kiplinger’s, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Wealth Manager, CBS
Marketwatch.com, Lawyer’s Weekly USA, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, The Journal of
Financial Planning, The New York Law Journal, The Daily News, New York Post and
Newsday, among others. He has testified before the United States House of
Representatives and the New York City Council on long-term care issues. He also has
appeared on Good Morning America Now, National Public Radio, CNN, PBS, NBC, and
CBS evening news, as well as numerous cable television and radio shows.
Mr. Krooks is President of the Westchester Estate Planning Council, a member or the
Advisory Board of the National Association of Estate Planning Councils, and a member
of the New York City and Hudson Valley Estate Planning Councils. Mr. Krooks recently
received his AEP accreditation from the National Association of Estate Planners &
Councils He also is a member of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section and
Tax Section of the American Bar Association; a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court
of the United States, and a member of the American Institute of CPAs. Mr. Krooks also is
a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and serves on
its Elder Law Committee. He is an Adjunct Professor at NYU Center for Finance, Law &
Taxation and is a member of the NYU Institute on Federal Taxation Advisory Board.
Mr. Krooks has served on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association
Westchester/Putnam Chapter and the Bioethics Advisory Committee of New York
Hospital. He is a member of the board of directors of Westchester ARC, a member of the
Blythedale Children’s Hospital Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, a member
of the Trusts & Estates Group of the Lawyer’s Division of the UJA-Federation of New
York, and a member of the legal advisory committee of the Evelyn Frank Legal
Resources Program of Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. He is listed in the Best
Lawyers in America, Who’s Who in America, The New York Area’s Best Lawyers, New
York Magazine and New York Times, and the Top 25 Westchester, New York Super
Mr. Krooks is married and has four children. He is an AYSO certified soccer coach and
an NYSCA certified baseball coach.
Ira K. Miller Esq.
1. Graduated SUNY Plattsburgh with a B.S. in 1975.
2. Received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1979.
3. Founding Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association and
acted as same for 1993 and 1994.
4. Vice Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association 1995, 1996
5. Executive Board of the New York State Elder Law Section from 1993 through 2010.
6. Secretary of New York State Elder Law Section elected January 2000.
7. Vice Chair of New York State Elder Law Section elected January 2001 & 2002.
8. Published articles in the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Attorney.
9. Published articles in One on One Newsletter of the General Practice Section of the
New York State Bar.
10. He has lectured frequently for the New York State Elder Law Section and the
Brooklyn Bar Association.
11. He was the Chairperson and a speaker at New York Bar CLE Basics of Elder Law.
12. He was the Chairperson at the New York State Bar Association Elder Law’s Advance
Institute for 2000, 2001 and 2002.
13. He was the Chairperson of 2002 Summer Meeting of the Elder Law Section of New
York State Bar, Toronto, Canada.
14. Mentor Attorney for New York Law School 2005.2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and
15. Conservator, Committee and Guardian for over 100 incapacitated persons in his
career including numerous pro- bono actions.
16. He was a speaker at the Practical Skills program of the New York State Bar, May