We don’t want to think about bad things that can happen to us — but they’re part of life. Even if you live a perfect, full, healthy life, it’s nicer to leave your family with fond memories than the bother of legal procedures when they want to be honoring your life and remembering you.
Hello, I’m Joe Girard.
I’m a Los Angeles, California native — and I know the value of working for a better life. Of learning, earning, of security, and of planning for the future.
There isn’t a year since I was 13 that I haven’t worked. First, I helped support my family by working in a hospital kitchen near our Boyle Heights home. Later I was a blue-collar laborer at Farmer John’s hog slaughter factory.
While attending Law School at night and working to support my wife and children, I worked for the US Department of Veterans Affairs as a Rating Board Examiner. I was the Legal Member — along with a Medical Doctor and a Lay Person — of a three-person Board of Review ruling on claims for Special Pension Aid and Attendance claims, and service-connected disabilities.
I’ve been a lawyer here in Los Angeles California since 1971. Working in litigation for various law firms, I always enjoyed helping my clients but… faced with the issues of my own aging parents in 1985, I found my true passion and started focusing on elder law.
When faced with the desire and need to best help my aging parents, I wished we’d had a plan in place. We weren’t prepared. Having to do all the paperwork and court stuff, trying to recall what our parents said throughout their lives, trying to blindly carry out their unwritten or unvoiced wishes. There was so much we’d never talked about.
Navigating the confusing systems and hearing the common advice that wasn’t always actually good for the elderly, I realized the great social and legal needs that existed. I knew I needed to help others in the same situation.
If you’re reading this, you know enough to be looking into planning for the inevitable and uncertain future — or you’ve been told you should but you’re not quite sold on making a plan.
Dealing with lawyers or finding a lawyer isn’t fun. In fact, it can feel scary. Dealing with issues of growing older and becoming incapacitated is about as much fun, so I work to make this all as easy as possible for my clients.
I hope this website will help you to know us and learn the issues of concern. Next, I hope you’ll take us up on our invitation to meet us.
When you come to us as a prospective client, Walter and I will talk with you about your family and your hopes. This is an important conversation and we will encourage you to be candid.
Ask yourself these questions to see if Walter and I are a good fit for you:
- When you ask us a question, are we addressing it to your understanding?
- Do you trust our communication and knowledge enough to create a plan that will run as smoothly as possible under the most difficult situations?
After meeting with you and evaluating your situation, we will advise you whether we can help you and if it is appropriate for us to represent you. If so, we will give you a cost quote for either a fixed fee estate plan that includes a description of the work to be performed, an hourly rate if the scope of your requirements cannot be ascertained from the situation you describe, or a contingency arrangement if it is appropriate for your case.
So, with that, I invite you to learn here and to call our office or use our form to set up a free initial consultation/visit. We’ve long been doing meetings by phone and online as well as in person, so we’re happy to meet with and work with you however you’d like.
Our Favorite Elder Law accomplishments
In 2018, an elderly client was refused his Medi-Cal benefit. We got it instated.
+ + +
A client could only remember her inheritance was “on an island somewhere.” With only that to go on, we found it! Despite her deafness and confusion, we got all 6 figures of her funds released for her!
+ + +
We don’t love litigation but sometimes it is the only way: Our deceased client’s son, Trustee of the Family Trust, was taken advantage of by an unscrupulous contractor and transferred the family home to him. We returned the house to the Trust, stopping that contractor’s sale to a 3rd party. Plus, the jury found the contractor so reprehensible that it awarded the Trust punitive damages of over $20 million. One of the Trust’s beneficiaries is disabled with Special Needs, so we feel extra good about restoring the family home. Read about this important court win and our win of the appeal.
Whether you’re already a senior, are just starting your adult life, or are anywhere in the middle, we can help you plan for whatever may come your way in your future. If you or someone you love and wish to protect resides in California…
- We can help plan for your children and future generations or leave the legacy of your choice — and avoid probate with careful Estate Planning.
- We can help you qualify for Medi-Cal while preserving your home and assets.
- We can help you plan for future care of your parents — and resolve family conflicts involving your parents’ assets.
- We can possibly help your family member to be paid to be your caregiver so you can remain at home longer.
- We can help you avoid or control involuntary conservatorship (guardianship).
- We can help you provide for a special needs loved one without jeopardizing his/her benefits.
- We can plan for the just-in-case moment you may become incapacitated.
- We can handle Trust Admin or Probate Administration for you.
- We can defend against financial elder abuse or other elder-issue litigation. Better, you shouldn’t face such abuse if you plan well!
People of all ages need Elder Law
If you don’t have a plan in place:
- What will happen to your home and possessions if you don’t have a plan — in writing?
- What will happen to you when you’re faced with a medical need or when you can’t live alone any longer if you don’t have a plan — in writing?
- What will happen to your dependent children if you don’t have a plan — in writing?
These are some of the issues that Elder Law addresses for Californians.
Something everyone needs! Protect your wishes!
Accidents are a part of life. Story after story reminds us that it crucial we be prepared. Remember Terri Schiavo’s 15 year struggle? We might lose our capacity this very day. There’s that kind of urgency to do this.
If you don’t commit your medical and quality of life wishes in a legally acceptable document, the friend or family member who knows your true wishes may not be able to help you. This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
We hope incapacity never happens to you but if it does, preparation puts you in charge of your own life and estate. We encourage you to read through our Incapacity Planning pages and contact us to get your wishes into the required legal documents.
Estate Planning & Medi-Cal Planning
Whether you’re already wealthy, are working on increasing your wealth, or are just getting by, you want to be sure your home, retirement fund and other investments are protected. Our planning enables you to preserve your assets.
Our planning can also include financial and asset management. Walt, my business associate and fellow counselor, and I have helped clients grow and manage their funds helping enable them to become great contributors to whatever they care most about. For example, a Los Angeles couple who are clients recently bequeathed an Endowed Scholarship at USC. We love being able to help that happen.
But I didn’t become a lawyer to help only the wealthy. If you’re a homeowner, you need to plan your estate.
Estate planning can be as simple as making sure your home stays in your family, or that your grandchildren receive the money you’ve saved for their college education or their first home.
In California, Medi-Cal planning is an integral part of planning your estate. Medi-Cal planning has been one of LA Elder Law’s primary focuses for many years. Without such planning, you can be well taken care of, but after you’re gone, the state can take everything you thought you’d leave your surviving loved one(s). Please don’t let this take your heirs by surprise.
Chances are, if you have an attorney for other aspects of your life, he or she will advise you to turn to another attorney who specializes in this area because it’s so critical and specific. I’d be happy to work with you on this area of your life, fully respecting your relationship with your primary lawyer.
What papers should a Californian have?
What decisions do you need to make?
How do you declare these things and make sure they’ll hold up after you can’t speak for yourself?
These are some of the things we can help with.
A unique offer: A cost-effective Maintenance Plan to keep your Estate Plan up to date
Once you’ve set up your estate plan to define, ensure, and protect your wishes, it’s easiest to keep it up to date by having a regularly scheduled review. Our Maintenance Plan costs far less than hiring an attorney every few years to do a review. And the cost of not having an up-to-date plan can be far more!
Learn more on our Estate Planning Maintenance Plan page.