About LA Elder Law’s Caring Legal Experts


LA Elder Law provides seniors and their families with quality legal support and a network of providers to fill their many needs.

Elder Law specialists, Joe and Walt in their Marina del Rey meeting room.

Joe and Walt in their Marina del Rey, California meeting room.

How?
Through estate planning, conservatorships, Medi-Cal planning, special needs planning and more. And, if needed, through litigation to rectify elder issues such as property loss, injury, elder abuse, and such.

Our elder law team has helped over 4,000 people to save their homes and assets from loss due to the overwhelming expenses of hospital and nursing home care, to plan their estates in such a way that their beneficiaries receive their assets economically, and to help those who have money or services coming to them from health, life or auto insurance policies to claim and actually receive what is truly and rightfully theirs.

We represent our clients with a two-fold approach.

First, we work hand-in-hand with our clients in order to fully understand their personal situation, desires, and expectations so we can provide them with the proper strategy to meet their financial and legal needs. Secondly, our legal team and support network put this strategy into play. 

We are proud of the good-hearted, honest, caring professionals that work with us for your benefit.

We go above and beyond to provide more to you, and to communities throughout California, than what you would normally receive or expect from a law firm.

  • We provide free seminars to the community.
  • We provide an ongoing continuing education program for lawyers to help them better serve the elder community with which they work.
  • We reach out, create partnerships and educate community leaders, service providers and professionals that we find to be the best, most experienced, wisest, hard-working, good-hearted, honest, and caring.
  • We coach and nurture college interns — for over 20 years. Many have gone on to become lawyers themselves.

Joseph C. Girard, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Co-Founder and CEO LA Elder Law

Joseph C. Girard, J.D — LA Elder Law Founder & CEO

Joseph C. Girard, J.D., has been practicing law in California for 44 years. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, the California Association for Nursing Home Reform, and the Culver-Marina Bar Association. Joe has a passion for community building and works to create and improve services for the elderly in the Los Angeles area.

“I know what it is to work:
Growing up in Los Angeles, from age 13 to 16, under exemptions for Federal railroad workers, I helped support my family by working split shift kitchen and table service summer and vacations at a hospital near my Boyle Heights home.

Later, while in school I was a blue collar journeyman laborer at Farmer John’s hog slaughter factory. There hasn’t been a year since I was 13, that I have not worked. I was the child of hard-working parents and I am the parent of a hard-working child. So, I understand that if you have worked hard all of your life to build security for yourself and your loved ones, you want to ensure your security will remain intact if you are in any way incapacitated.” ~Joe

Prior to joining a law practice, Joe had some other insightful experience. While achieving his law degree and for a while afterward, he was a Rating Board Examiner for the US Department of Veterans Affairs. As the Legal member of a three-person Board of Review team, along with one Medical Doctor and one Lay Person, he ruled on claims for Special Pension Aid, Attendance claims, and service-connected disabilities.

Joe attended Santa Clara University and then Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. After admittance to the Bar of California in 1971, Joe worked in litigation for various law firms.

In the ’80s as Joe’s parents grew older, he, his wife and his sister needed to look into taking care of them. That’s when Joe realized the issues of aging that we all have to deal with if we’re lucky enough to age or have loved parents age. He has focused on elder law ever since then.

If you are in need of Elder Law services, whether it’s estate planning, Medi-Cal planning, financial help, physical elder abuse defense, an insurance or legal battle, or if you need help with any of the myriad legal or financial needs that come at you (or your parents) with the onset of old age, you have have come to the right place.


Walter C. Whitaker, J.D., M.B.A. Asset Protection Counselor

Walter C. Whitaker, J.D., M.B.A.
Asset Protection Counselor for LA Elder Law

Walter C. Whitaker, J.D., M.B.A.
Co-Founder LA Elder Law
Asset Protection Counselor

Walter C. Whitaker, J.D., M.B.A., started in this business young and now has over fifty years of experience in estate and financial planning.

Walt has served thousands of clients and has been retained by two major financial services companies to establish their financial planning departments.

Walt’s teaching

Walter has educated many consumers and professionals through numerous classes, seminars, and workshops for those who practice or live in California.

For over ten years, Walter has been teaching Estate Planning for Financial Planners at UCLA.
This course, Estate Planning at UCLA Extension, is applicable for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit for California attorneys, this course is designed to aid accountants, trust officers, attorneys, life insurance underwriters, and financial planners in solving estate planning problems. Topics include tax objectives, wills and living trusts, the unlimited marital deduction, saving the “second tax,” holding title to property, lifetime gifts and trusts, life insurance and annuities, employee benefit plans, business interests, and post-death problems. Recent tax law changes also are covered.


On Feb 2, 2017 Walter received this nice letter:

Complimentary letter from student to Walter

 

Other courses Walter has taught in California include:

  • Caring and Planning Finances for the Older Adult, also at UCLA Extension in Los Angeles
  • Real Estate Law at Santa Monica College — for 4 years, 1975-1978

Condra Griffin, Office Manager and Notary for LA Elder Law

Condra Griffin, Office Manager and Notary

Condra Griffin Office Manager

Condra Griffin joined us full-time in 2016 after working with us for several years. She has taken over many of the day-to-day office management as Ann has switched to working part time for us.

It is Contra you will likely meet with when it’s time for notarized signatures. And of course, you’ll be working with her on other things as well.

It is Condra who will be visiting you or the people involved in your plans as she comes to homes, nursing homes, hospitals and any other place required to bring documents that need signing.


Ann Smeltzer, M.F.A.,
Business Director, now part time

Ann C. Smeltzer, Business Director

Ann C. Smeltzer, Business Director at LA Elder Law

For 15 years Ann’s friendly face was the face of the office both for prospective clients and clients of many years who learned to comfortably call Ann for information about their matters. Ann has now switched to working for us part time.

As a notary, she cheerfully visited our clients and their related parties.

She oversees all aspects of accounting and daily operations.

Her background in psychology and business assists in balancing both the personal needs of our clients and the legal issues at hand.


Our Interns/Clerks

We have enjoyed having some great interns who stay with us for up to five years as they transition to law school and become lawyers.

Law intern, Natalia Jacobo

Law intern, Natalia Jacobo

Natalia Jacobo

Natalia is a pre-law student at LMU who already has experience in the legal field and is active in her school with various law-related activities.

It’s a pleasure to walk in and see Natalia there welcoming us.

Shiny Chu

Shiny is a junior at UCLA with interest in the law and is taking the LSAT this fall.

 

Past Interns/Clerks

  • Shira Diamant, now busy attending Law School.
  • Laura Vaughn, now in  Law School.
  • Katie Bruck, now in  Law School.
  • Jade Tamyo