Molly Briles receives the Pro Bono Publico award from the Indiana Bar Foundation

Posted on Nov, 7 2017

Molly Briles is one of southwest Indiana’s leading advocates for adults and children affected by violence and neglect. She provides direct services and leadership to ensure their safety. Molly created and administers a pro bono protective order project by recruiting attorney volunteers to handle referrals from local domestic violence shelters and setting up a system with the shelters to contact her anytime a resident or client needs legal representation at a protective order hearing. Since January 2015, Molly has logged more than 215 pro bono hours beyond what she’s done administering the protective order project. Molly will receive the award on December 10, 2017.

Representative Larry Buschon Celebrates Timothy J. Hubert as an Angels in Adoption Awardee

Posted on Aug, 31 2017

Washington, D.C. – Representative Larry Buschon will celebrate Timothy J. Hubert as a 2017 Angels in Adoption® awardee for his outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption® Program, will honor Timothy J. Hubert at an awards ceremony on September 26 and gala on September 27 in Washington, D.C.

Timothy J. Hubert is being honored for his work in the adoption arena, as it supports his belief in the importance of family. Mr. Hubert is a partner in the law firm of Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders, LLP and is a Fellow of the American Academy Adoption Attorneys.  Over his legal career, which began in 1979, a significant part of his work has been focused on adoptions.  By his estimation, between one-third and one-half of his practice is adoption work.  Although he has done all types of adoption over the years, he has recently concentrated his work in completing Foster Parent adoptions of abandoned, abused and neglected children in and around southwestern Indiana.  Little brings more satisfaction than helping a family create a permanent, loving space for a child who has never known such a situation in his or her entire lifetime.  Mr. Hubert was also pleased to have been able to settle and finalize the adoptions of six orphans from Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake there.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 120 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption®Program.

“The Angels in Adoption® Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,600 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”

In addition to the more than 120 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption® honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoption® honoree is the Minnesota Vikings. Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Shonda Rhimes, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad AH, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.

CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe and loving homes through adoption.

CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption.

The Angels in Adoption® Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit

Pat Shoulders Receives ICLEF’s Highest Honor

Posted on Aug, 22 2017

Attorney Patrick A. Shoulders has received the “Excellence in Continuing Legal Education” award from the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum.  The Evansville native received the award for his years of “active participation and work to enhance the quality and professionalism of continuing legal education in the State of Indiana.”

Accepting the award, Shoulders remarked that “it is an honor to share ideas and practices with other lawyers in an effort to improve the delivery of justice to the citizens of our state.” – Pat Shoulders Receives ICLEF’s Highest Honor

Patrick Shoulders named Senior Fellow of Litigation Counsel of America

Posted on Aug, 3 2017

ZSWS attorney Patrick A. Shoulders, of the law firm Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders, has been named a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). Shoulders is a past President of the Evansville Bar Association, past Chair of the Indiana Bar’s Litigation Section, and long-time Co-Chair of the Indiana Trial Advocacy Skills College. He has also been elected to membership in the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

The Litigation Counsel of America is a trial lawyer honorary society composed of less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Fellowship in the LCA is highly selective and by invitation only. Fellows are selected based upon excellence and accomplishment in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and superior ethical reputation. Senior Fellow status in the society is reserved for advanced commitment to and support of the LCA Diversity Law Institute and Trial Law Institute.

What is “Medicaid planning”?

Posted on Aug, 2 2017

As part of my law practice, I frequently advise clients on long-term care planning concerns, including with respect to “Medicaid planning” concerns for elderly and disabled Hoosiers. What is “Medicaid planning” in this context?

When a client or a client’s family member either (1) has to enter or already has entered a nursing home in Indiana because of disabilities or age-related infirmity, or (2) is likely to enter a nursing home in Indiana within a few years, determining how to pay for the ongoing cost of that care usually becomes a paramount concern. In those situations, I frequently provide advice and plans to clients as to how to lawfully preserve assets and income while concurrently arranging for payment of the ongoing nursing home expense. Typically, these wealth-saving plans are accomplished by interacting with rules and regulations for the Indiana Medicaid program, in order to get Indiana Medicaid to pay some or all of the nursing home expense. Accordingly, this part of my law practice is usually referred to as “Medicaid planning.”

In my practice, I find that many of my clients have common misconceptions about how long-term care expense is paid. In most scenarios, the cost of nursing home expense for an elderly or disabled Hoosier will be paid in one of the following three (3) ways: (1) privately, with the assets and income of the elderly or disabled Hoosier or his or her immediate family; (2) through benefits paid under a long-term care insurance policy purchased in advance of need; or, (3) through the Indiana Medicaid program. Of these three (3) methods, payment via the Indiana Medicaid program is by far the most common; most Hoosiers in this situation do not have long-term care insurance in place, and many cannot continuously afford to privately pay a nursing home approximately $6,000 to $8,000 per month. Further, it is important to know and remember that Medicare (which is a different government program than Medicaid, even though they share a similar name) does not generally pay for long-term care provided at a nursing home; instead, Medicare typically only pays for long-term care at a nursing home if the patient requires skilled services or rehabilitative care, and then only for a maximum of 100 days (with the usual payment period being much shorter).

Medicaid planning typically has two modes: crisis and non-crisis. In crisis mode, the elderly or disabled Hoosier typically has already entered the nursing home or is about to enter, and he or she (and his or her immediate family) frequently has immediate concerns and needs regarding what assets and income can be lawfully saved while still qualifying to have Indiana Medicaid pay the nursing home bill. In non-crisis mode, the elderly or disabled Hoosier is generally not already so elderly or disabled that nursing home care is a certainty; however, he or she has reached an age where the need for nursing home care is a realistic possibility at some point within perhaps a few years.

When in crisis planning mode, the financial tests and rules set forth in the Indiana Medicaid laws appear, at first glance, to generally require the elderly or disabled Hoosier to spend most of his or her assets and income on the nursing home expense before Indiana Medicaid will help pay. Usually, the easiest thing (but sometimes the costliest thing) for the family to do in this situation is to spend the elderly or disabled Hoosier’s assets and income down to virtually nothing, in an effort to get him or her in a position where he or she will finally qualify to have Indiana Medicaid pay the nursing home expense. However, this is frequently where Medicaid planning and a knowledgeable attorney can make a significant difference. A knowledgeable attorney familiar with the Indiana Medicaid laws knows that lawful options typically exist under the Indiana Medicaid rules in a crisis-planning situation whereby certain amounts of income and assets can frequently be preserved in one fashion or another while still getting the elderly or disabled Hoosier promptly qualified for Indiana Medicaid to pay some or all of the nursing home expense. Particularly when the elderly or disabled Hoosier is married and his or her spouse will continue living at home, significant planning opportunities frequently exist in a crisis-planning situation.

When in non-crisis planning mode, the financial tests and rules set forth in the Indiana Medicaid laws once again make it appear, at first glance, that little can be done to help preserve a Hoosier’s assets and income should nursing home expense be incurred at some point in the future. However, once again, this is frequently where Medicaid planning and a knowledgeable attorney can make a significant difference. A knowledgeable attorney familiar with the Indiana Medicaid rules knows that, in many situations, a host of planning opportunities is routinely available to help that Hoosier and his or her family preserve and/or transfer assets and income in a lawful, Medicaid-friendly way. In some instances, this will involve the use of certain gifting strategies and certain kinds of irrevocable trusts.

For more information on this topic, please contact the author, John Collins, by phone at 812.424.7575 or by e-mail at