Updated: Dec. 11, 2017

Elder Law Section

The practice of elder law focuses on an array of legal issues particularly important to older people but important to many others as well. They include issues relating to retirement and estate planning, to powers of attorney, guardianship and other forms of substitute decision making, to private and public long-term care and other healthcare financing and to abuse of vulnerable individuals, among other issues.

The Elder Law Section offers opportunities for education and consultation on issues relevant to elder law practice. Occasional seminars are complemented by the Section's active list serve — an ongoing conversation among members, responding to questions and sharing insights. The Section also offers opportunities for serious exploration of systemic problems identified by members and for policy advocacy on issues relating to the administration of justice.

Annual Report
Info Sheet

See a list of Section Resources and Legal Opinions.


Who Can Join?

Any active member of the WSBA may join the Elder Law Section at any time. Inactive members and non-members of the WSBA can join as subscribers. This affords professionals in the same field the opportunity to stay current about the law related activities in their field.

What is the Cost?

There are two categories of membership. If you are a member of the WSBA, you pay the lawyer membership fee, currently $35 per year. If you are not an attorney in the state of Washington, you may join as a subscriber, at the same $35 per year rate. Subscribers receive the newsletters and notices of activities of the section, but they do not have voting status.

How Do I Join?

Join the WSBA Elder Law Section Online or contact the WSBA Service Center at 800-945-WSBA (9722) or 206-443-WSBA (9722) or e-mail questions@wsba.org

Peter Greenfield Senior Advocacy Summer Internship Scholarship

Approximately 92,000 seniors in Washington live on incomes less than $11,770 per year.

Your support of the WSBA Elder Law Section’s Peter Greenfield Senior Advocacy Summer Internship can make a difference for these seniors. Peter Greenfield worked tirelessly on behalf of low-income seniors during his career with Columbia Legal Services (CLS).

To honor Peter’s advocacy for vulnerable seniors and his active involvement in WSBA, the Elder Law Section established a summer internship at CLS and a fund with the Washington State Bar Foundation to sustain it.

The Peter Greenfield Senior Advocacy Summer Internship supports a summer internship each year, rotating students from each of Washington’s three law schools. Interns provide advocacy and research that supports the systems reform that was the hallmark of Peter Greenfield’s work, while learning the broader themes of elder law. 

Your donation supports legal advocacy for vulnerable seniors and encourages a law student consider a future in elder law. Please make a donation online or mail a donation by check, payable to:

Washington State Bar Foundation

1325 Fourth Avenue Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98101

Please note "Peter Greenfield Internship Fund "or "PGIF" on your check.

Your gift has leverage. Gonzaga, Seattle University, and the University of Washington match our contributions for a $5,000 total scholarship. To learn more about this program, check out the Section Spotlight in NW Lawyer.

Thank you for your contribution!

Elder Law Section Grant Program

The Elder Law Section is a voluntary-member group of the Washington State Bar Association. The majority of section members are legal practitioners practicing in areas of law serving the senior citizens of Washington. Areas of law may include: Medicare/Medicaid, estate planning, guardianship, and real estate. The section was founded in the early 1990s and is currently comprised of approximately 500 members.

Officers and an executive committee govern the section. Congeniality among members is marked by the frequent exchange of ideas through the section's list serve and annual meeting in addition to collaborative activities with the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

Purpose of Annual Grant Program

The practitioners of the Elder Law Section recognize the importance for all seniors to have access to legal services. While financial constraints or physical limitations may impede seniors in seeking elder law services, it is recognized that community services exist to assist them with legal issues. Therefore, the Elder Law Section has established a grant program to financially assist with the on-going operation of these community service programs.

The Annual Grant Program will resume in 2017-2018. Information about eligibility will be posted on this page. Please stay tuned.

Questions and Further Information

Please contact the Elder Law Section's Grants Chair, Meredith Childers, meredithc@nwjustice.org.

Guardianship Committee

The Section's Guardianship task force was created in 2007 to explore systemic issues affecting guardianship in Washington. It was chaired by Tacoma lawyer (and former Section chair) Eileen Peterson. The task force report, with recommendations, was considered by the Section executive committee on Aug. 18, 2009. A motion was adopted, by unanimous vote, to endorse the recommendations. The recommendations address such subjects as active judicial monitoring of ongoing guardianships, uniform systems of recording and gathering guardianship-related data, training for non-professional guardians, and state funding for the court system's guardianship-related role and for the Office of Public Guardianship. Read the Guardianship Task Force Report.

Proposed Legislation 

The Washington State Elder Law Section is working on draft legislation to amend RCW 11.88, as recommended by the Sections guardianship task force. The Section will update the link as revisions are made and new drafts are ready for dissemination. Please note that this is DRAFT legislation that has not yet been presented to the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association for consideration.

Review the proposed draft legislation

Public Guardianship Update

The Office of Public Guardianship (OPG) was created by the legislature in 2007. The legislation creating it, now codified in Chapter 2.72 RCW, was based on a bill developed by the Elder Law Section to implement recommendations of its public guardianship task force. (view the task force report). The bill was supported by the WSBA and many other organizations.  Its object was to make guardianship services available to individuals who need them and are alone (without family members or friends to serve as volunteers) and poor (without the means to pay for needed services).

The OPG is part of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). It provides services, currently on a pilot basis, by contracting with certified public guardians in six counties. The acceptance of new cases was suspended in 2009 in anticipation of, and response to, a reduction in the funding of the AOC. 

With the strong support of the Elder Law Section and many other organizations, the 2010 Legislature appropriated $274,000 in its supplemental operating budget "solely for the office of public guardianship to provide guardianship services for low-income incapacitated persons." Read about the Section's legislative effort.

The 2007 legislation required a study and two reports from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, to consider the costs and offsetting savings of the program. A first report was issued in August 2009. Read the report.

Executive Committee

ChairMegan Farr 
Chair-Elect: Karen Boxx
SecretaryPeggy Sanders 
TreasurerMatthew Parker
Immediate Past ChairKameron Kirkevold 
Young Lawyer LiaisonKatherine Hurt*
BOG LiaisonAngela Hayes*

Legislative Co-Chairs:  Karen Boxx & Vacant
Communications Co-ChairsAmy Freeman & Lisa Kremer
CLE Co-ChairsSuzanne Thomson Wininger & Karen Clark
Grants ChairMeredith Childers & Ronald St. Hilaire
Outreach Co-ChairsMiriam Ayoub & Ann LoGerfo

At-Large Trustees
Carla Calogero
Michael Longyear
Ronald St. Hilaire
Mark Vohr
Eric Watness

*Non-voting member

Please contact subcommittee member for details on their upcoming meeting dates and locations.

For general questions, please email inquiries to sections@wbsa.org. To get involved and learn more about the Elder Law Section, please contact Section Chair Megan Farr .