Dana M. Breslin, of Wallingford, with a law office in Brookhaven, first met Carl Clauss, also of Wallingford, at a now defunct community service program about ten years ago.
Clauss had launched a new program at Senior Community Services (SCS) a couple of years ago to assist the elderly with their financial, legal and medical assistance issues.
“Dana is my prime elder law attorney,” Clauss said. “She handles most of the legal problems they are having. I’ll talk to Dana or Linda (Anderson) and get some help with providing a source of information.
“We are very fortunate in Delaware County to have an elder law group who really are concerned about representing their constituency. If somebody is having problems with a home or taxes at their house, or I see they are having problems handling their own affairs, I call Dana.
“Questions on should someone have power of attorney can be answered. Living wills are easy, but seniors have to very careful,” Clauss said.
Breslin, who co-chairs the Delaware County Bar Association Elder Law Committee with Anderson, received her bachelor’s degree from Immaculata in 1972 and her law degree from Villanova University in 1975.
1975 was a monumental year for Breslin who was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and became actively involved in the Delaware County Bar Association (DCBA) where she continues to serve on a variety of committees.
Since 1996 Breslin has been deemed a certified elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. She is a Fellow with American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA), and a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Section of the PBA.
She chaired the PBA Elder Law Committee in 1999, was the first chair of the Elder Law Section of PBA in 2000 and continues to serve on the council of the Elder Law Section. For the last ten years, Breslin has been an active member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
According to Breslin, the DCBA has a variety of committees to address special concerns including Elder Law, Family Law and others.
“We started the Elder Law Committee eight to ten years ago so we could have training and discussions on issues concerning the elderly,” Breslin said, naming Medicare Part D as an example. “It’s a complicated government system. Attorneys can be more aware.”
Breslin is a frequent lecturer and current vice president for the Delaware County Estate Planning Council.
A faculty member at the Estate Law Institute, Breslin also serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project and Senior Community Services Inc.
“I like reaching out to seniors who need help,” Breslin said. “Some senior citizens get caught up in an economic bind and it started before the economy went sour. Some people are using their credit cards for pharmacy bills.
“Carl will call me when he’s at the center and needs an answer right away or he has a Social Security problem. I’m not the only one he calls. Carl is excellent in coordinating.”
Breslin cited other attorneys on the Delco Elder Law Committee who have assisted Clauss including co-chair Linda Anderson, Harris Resnick, Cyndi McNicholas, Jeff Lewin, Rob DeLong, Janet Lis, Dave Hennessey, Mike Defino, Ross Schmucki, Mike Friedman and Bob Gasparo, who have all helped.
Clauss has partnered with SCS, Widener University School of Law, the Elder Law Committee of Delaware County Bar Association, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania and COSA, the County Office of Services for the Aging, to offer assistance to older adults.
Both Breslin and Clauss have a special place in their hearts for the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to the problems that arise due to the lack of income.
“I wanted to focus my work on an individual basis to help seniors,” Clauss said, noting he established the program together with other resources to assist senior citizens with all their problems.
“The Widener Law Clinic and the Elder Law Committee of the Delaware County Bar Association have been very supportive of the program,” Clauss said. “Recently Professor Nick Nichols of Widener obtained funding for two fellowships this summer for two law students that have completed their second year. We have arranged for them to work with the elder law attorneys and me at the senior centers to expand our counseling program for legal, medical and financial help.”
According to Clauss, Widener is presenting a program for seniors on avoiding debt collectors.
“I like working with the elderly,” Breslin said. “When I was in law school there was not anything on elder law. Older people tend to take more time. I find them fascinating; they have more life experiences.”
Breslin sees the biggest issue facing senior citizens is how they will pay for long term care.
“Their fear is that the nursing home will take it all,” Breslin said. “The most recent problem, financial abuse of the elderly, starts with marketers who sell products like annuities, certain types of annuities, or the living trust mills to family members who are taken advantage of due to economic times.”
Right now Breslin is concerned about House Bill 1351 introduced by Dwight Evans regarding estate recovery.
“When someone 55 and older needs help at home or a nursing home, the state seeks to reimburse,” Breslin said. “HB 1351 expands to non-probate access. The bill is really detrimental especially to the surviving spouse when a house is held jointly by husband and wife. The state would have an invisible lien. There’s been a state outcry.”
Breslin continues to be at the forefront in developing continuing legal education courses for attorneys in the estate and trust areas and is the course planner for the Pennsylvania Elder Law Institute that encompasses the whole spectrum of estate and financial planning for the elderly.
It’s comforting for Clauss and Delco elderly residents to know they have someone on their side.
Dana Breslin, Esq. To read more about Dana, go to http://www.pappanoandbreslin.com or see this original story by Linda Reilly of Delaware County Press by going to: http://www.delconewsnetwork.com/articles/2009/08/07/media_town_talk/news/doc4a7b32fae379b628343628.txt