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Kristin L. Burrows, JD

Kristin, L. Burrows

By the time Kristin L. Burrows was a third-year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law, she knew exactly what kind of legal career she wanted. The previous summer, she’d participated in the school’s Elder Law Clinic—and the experience convinced her that she wanted to devote her professional career to assisting seniors.

“I met with actual clients who qualified for the clinic by being low-income or low-asset and did actual legal work — preparing documents and advising them under the supervision of the attorney/professor,” she recalls. “I just really enjoyed it. So from the moment I left law school, I knew what I wanted to do.”

After receiving her juris doctoratein 2005, Kristin joined a small firm in Greenville, N.C., where her practice focused on elder law and estate planning. Her husband was in medical school at the time, and after he completed his studies and received a residency at Duke University Hospital in Durham in 2010, she accompanied him and joined TrustCounsel in Chapel Hill.

With TrustCounsel, Kristin has continued to provide estate planning services to clients, but her focus on elder law has become even stronger because she enjoys its breadth, drawing from many areas of the law and requiring a holistic approach that she finds challenging and stimulating.

Many of her clients need assistance with drafting and updating wills and creating powers of attorney. She also does a lot of Medicaid and Veterans Benefits planning, which she points out is often times “crisis planning” for someone who is in a hospital, whose next residence will be a nursing home, and who needs help in planning how to preserve whatever assets they can.

“I also do quite a bit of advance planning, so people who are concerned about these long-term care costs, and worried about protecting their spouse if they go into a nursing home, and getting benefits, don’t need to worry so much right now,” she says.

Oftentimes, her older clients are unable to travel, so Kristin has adopted a “house call” policy to meet them in their homes.

“A lot of times in these cases, I’m going to the assisted living facility or the nursing home because those are often the people who have difficulty getting out,” she says. “I really think it’s necessary if you’re practicing in this area of law; you have to meet with the clients because sometimes they just can’t come to you.”

One of the personal benefits of a practice devoted to serving the needs of older people, she says, is “the warm feeling you get from helping them.”

“So many people are grateful that you’re able to help them. It provides clients great peace of mind, particularly when I’m working with elderly couples where one spouse is going into a facility and another spouse is staying at home. There’s so much stress in that situation. When I’m able to tell them there are some options to protect more money for the spouse who’s at home, it relieves at least one of their burdens.”

Kristin is very active in professional elder law organizations. She is currently serving on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Elder Law Section Council. She’s also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), is a board member of the North Carolina chapter of NAELA, and is a member of ElderCounsel. Locally, she is a member of CHADER (Chapel Hill and Durham Eldercare Resources) and AWARE (A Wake Association of Resources for the Elderly). AWARE is a small group of professionals in the senior healthcare industry that provides free non-sales presentations to the public to educate seniors and caregivers about the types of services that are available in their community.

When she’s not practicing elder law, Kristin loves spending time with her boys – her husband, Brian, and her two young sons, Jackson and Alex, who keep her very busy outside the office.

PRACTICE AREAS: Elder Law; Estate Planning; Advanced Directives – Powers of Attorney and Living Wills; Veterans Benefits; Medicaid Eligibility; Medicaid Estate Recovery; Long-Term Care Planning; Disability Planning; Guardianship Law; Special Needs Trusts; Trusts and Estates Law; Probate Law.

BAR ADMISSIONS: North Carolina (2006).

Education: Dickinson College (B.A., 2002); Wake Forest University School of Law (J.D., December 2005).

QUALIFICATIONS: Accredited to represent Veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

PUBLICATIONS: “Physician Immunity in Honoring a Patient’s Advance Directive,” Passages, Vol. 1, No. 2, September 2008 (Newsletter Article); “Legal Update: Recent Changes to North Carolina’s End-of-Life Care Planning Statutes,” Passages, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 2008 (Newsletter Article); “A New Era in End of Life Planning,” Legal Aid’s Train the Trainers Workshop, April 2008 (PowerPoint Presentation, follow link and click “New Advance Directives Statutes”).

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ACTIVITIES: North Carolina Bar Association (Member: Elder Law Section; Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section; Young Lawyers Division); North Carolina State Bar; National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; WealthCounsel; ElderCounsel; AWARE (A Wake Association of Resources for the Elderly); CHADER (Chapel Hill and Durham Eldercare Resources).