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Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC News

January 2016, Issue 66

 "January is here, with eyes that keenly glow, 

A frost-mailed warrior

Striding a shadowy steed of snow."

-Edgar Fawcett



Mark your calendars! Attorney Kate Coyle will speak on Legal and Financial Issues for Alzheimer ’s disease and Dementia on January 7, 2016 at the Post Falls American Legion, Post 143, 1138 Poleline Avenue, Post Falls. For more information, call (208) 666-2996!

Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC will be closed on Monday, January 18, 2016 for Martin Luther King, Jr. / Human Rights Day.

Check out Wytychak ElderLaw, PLLC on Facebook! “Like” us to stay informed and hear about events in the senior community. Search for Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC.

Share our page with your friends and family so they can also take advantage of the informative articles and information!


                            WHAT IS A CELA, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?


In 2015, attorney Katherine Coyle at Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC became a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). Becoming a CELA is a very rigorous process that Kate worked toward for several years.

Elder law is defined by the National Elder Law Foundation (the certifying organization) as the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision-making, legal capacity, disposition and administration of estates, and the implementation of these decisions concerning such matters, giving due consideration to applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise. A CELA is considered an expert in Elder Law.

In order to become a CELA, an applicant must have practiced law for at least five years. Specifically, the attorney has to have shown “substantial involvement” in Elder Law, proving the amount of time devoted to Elder Law issues, such as health and personal care planning, pre-mortem legal planning, fiduciary representation, legal capacity counseling, public benefits advice, special needs counseling, insurance, residence rights advocacy, housing counseling, employment and retirement advice, counseling with regard to age or disability discrimination, litigation and administrative advocacy, and other senior-related legal areas.  

Additionally, the applicant must prove that he or she participated in at least forty-five hours of continuing legal education in Elder-Law related courses.  The applicant is also subject to a peer review by his or her colleagues, and must provide at least five attorney references.

Finally, the applicant sits for a day-long essay examination which is proctored twice per year.  The CELA examination is notoriously difficult, with recent pass rates as low as 14 to 33 percent.

Currently, only six attorneys practicing in Idaho are certified as CELAs.  Three are in Boise, one is in Twin Falls, and two are in Coeur d’ Alene.  The two CELAs in Coeur d’ Alene are Michael Wytychak, III and Kate Coyle, both of Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC (although as many of you may know, Michael Wytychak III is in the process of retiring from the practice of law). 

In order to maintain her status as a CELA, Kate will have to continue to show substantial involvement in Elder Law, and must take additional Continuing Education Credits in Elder Law each year, on top of her requirements for the Idaho State Bar Association.

What does having a Certified Elder Law Attorney mean for you?  According to, the CELA certification has frequently been referred to as "the gold standard" for elder law and special needs practitioners. This reflects the hard work and proof required before an attorney can proudly proclaim that he or she holds the valued designation.  There are only a little more than 400 CELAs in the country, so not every community has even one person who has been certified. Having a CELA as your attorney for these very complicated issues relating to planning for end of life is your surest method of independently confirming that she (or he) is more than just qualified. After all, you and your family deserve the best legal representation available. 


“Have a happy new year and a wonderful 2016”

-The Staff at Wytychak Elder Law











April 2015, Issue 57


We are excited to announce that last month, Mike Wytychak III, the founder and owner of Wytychak Elder Law for over thirty years, sold the firm to his long-time associate, Kate Coyle. Many of you know Kate, as she has been the primary attorney at the firm for the last year. Mike will remain with the firm in the role of “Of Counsel.” Thank you for your continued support!

Wytychak Elder Law Office in December 2014


Don’t miss the 15th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Masquerade Gala! The event will be on April 11, 2015 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. There will be a silent auction, entertainment, elegant dinner, and live auction. Tickets are $100 per person. For more information, contact Terry at (509) 473-3390.

Know the 10 Signs- Early Detection Matters- a workshop presented by the Alzheimer’s Association will take place on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 from 10 am to noon at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’ Alene. This presentation is free and open to the public. Contact the Kroc Center to register!

An all-day dementia education presentation will be presented on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 from 9 am to 4:30 pm at the Inn at Guardian Angel Homes in Post Falls, Idaho. The program is free and open to the public, and a complementary lunch is provided. Advance registration is requested. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association at (208) 666-2996 for registration and questions.

Check out Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC on Facebook! “Like” us to stay informed and hear about events in the senior community. Search for Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC. Share our page with your friends and family so they can also take advantage of the informative articles and information!

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop


In the past several years, Guardianships and Conservatorships have become much more common than in years past. This is likely due to a number of reasons. Demographics in our area certainly show an aging population, which is a reason for the upswing, however institutions and facilities are

more commonly requiring Guardianships and Conservatorships before recognizing the authority of a friend or family member to assist a person with his or her care and finances. Put these factors together, and the need for Guardianships and Conservatorships is very high in North Idaho. While many people have heard the terms thrown around, I find that there are a lot of questions concerning Guardianships and Conservatorships in Idaho. In this article, I’ll address some of the more common questions that I get.

What is the difference between Guardianship and Conservatorship? A guardianship is a procedure whereby a person is appointed by the court to make decisions for another person regarding their physical care and custody. This includes arranging a person’s living situation, ensuring their health and safety, and making sure the person is not victimized. A conservatorship is a procedure in which a person is appointed by the court to manage the financial affairs of a person (such as real estate, bank accounts, etc...).

When would a person need a guardian or a conservator? Guardianship and conservatorship is often necessary when a person is incapacitated to the point where they can no longer handle finances, are forgetful and/ or confused, and needs assistance making reasonable health and financial decisions. Incapacity is determined by a physician. Many times, if a person has previously signed Powers of Attorney for Health and/ or Finances or a Trust, a Guardianship and/ or Conservatorship is not necessary, however there are instances in which although the documents were signed, a Guardianship and Conservatorship may still be necessary to protect the incapacitated person.

How is Guardianship and Conservatorship obtained? A person can apply with the court for guardianship, conservatorship, or both for a spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Upon application, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the incapacitated person, a social worker (visitor), and a physician to review the case, meet with interested parties, and report to the court. Once the reports are completed, a hearing is held regarding two issues: is guardianship and/ or conservatorship necessary, and is the person who has applied the best person for the job? Co-guardians and co- conservators and alternates can also be appointed. The whole process generally takes two to three months to complete. If necessary, a temporary guardian and conservator can be appointed in the interim to handle emergencies.

What does the applicant need to do to be appointed Guardian or Conservator? In recent years, the process to become guardian or conservator has become much more vigorous. An applicant must take a court-required training online prior to being appointed. Also, the applicant must submit to a background check. Once appointed, the guardian and conservator must file reports with the court concerning the status of the incapacitated person.

How long does Guardianship and/ or Conservatorship last? In most cases, guardianship and conservatorship lasts until the protected person passes away. However, in some cases, if the health of the person has improved and the incapacity has ceased, the court can terminate a guardianship and conservatorship with evidence that it is no longer necessary.

Does the Guardian and/ or Conservator have individual liability for the person’s debts? No, a guardian or conservator is not liable for the protected person’s debts. The protected person’s own assets should be utilized to pay for his or her care and other expenses. However, if a Conservator intentionally misuses the funds of the person, he or she would be subject to fines and civil or criminal penalties.

Although every case is different, the information above consists of questions that I see come up in nearly every case. If you have more specific questions, feel free to contact the office for a brochure that goes into further detail.

Contact Us

Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC PO Box 1888
Coeur d’ Alene, ID 83816 208-765-3595



March 2015, Issue 56


On Wednesday, March 4, 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association is having an all-day seminar on Understanding and Normalizing Dementia Caregiving. It will be located at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, 6910 South Ben Burr Road, Spokane, WA. It will be from 10 to 3. The cost is $15.00 per person which includes lunch.

On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association will present Living with Alzheimer’s for Early Stage Caregivers from 9 to 3 at the Village at Orchard Place (formerly Heritage Place). Reservations are required, please call 666-2996.

The Post Falls Senior Center presents the GOLD RUSH 2015 on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 5 to 10 pm at the Greyhound Park and Event Center! There will be a silent auction, dinner, dancing, raffles, and music from the Rhythm Dawgs. Tickets are $25 per person available from the Post Falls Senior Center or the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce.

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW for the 15th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Masquerade Gala! The event will be on April 11, 2015 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. There will be both a silent auction and live auction, entertainment, and an elegant dinner. Tickets are $100 per person. For more information, contact Terry at (509) 473-3390.

Check out Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC on Facebook! “Like” us to stay informed and hear about events in the senior community. Search for Wytychak Elder Law, PLLC. Share our page with your friends and family so they can also take advantage of the informative articles and information!

“The moment where you doubt you can fly, you cease for ever being able to do it.”

– Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie



I hear it all the time. “Do I really need a Will?” “Won’t my kids be able to take care of things?” “Can’t I just tell the bank what I want?” The truth is, a handshake and a smile used to be enough for doctors, hospitals, banks, etc... to allow someone to be able to speak on another’s behalf or manage another’s property and accounts. However, times have changed. Increasingly, institutions are requiring that certain documents be in effect before speaking to anyone other than the client/ patient, regardless of their relationship. I have put together a guide of the different types of documents that exist in Idaho, and why, yes, you do need to have an estate plan in place to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled in the event of illness or death 

Powers of Attorney for Health Care- This document nominates someone (called an Attorney in Fact) to make health care and living situation decisions if you cannot make or communicate your own decisions. It also includes a document called the “Living Will” which directs how you want to be treated in an end of life situation. You can separately fill out a POST (Physician’s Orders on Scope of Treatment) form with your physician, which is comparable to a do not resuscitate order.

Powers of Attorney for Finances- This document nominates someone (called an Attorney in Fact) to make financial, business, and monetary decisions for you. These can be effective immediately or only effective when a doctor says that you can no longer make reasonable decisions regarding your finances.

Will- Anyone over the age of 18 can make a will. If you are worried about where your property will go when you pass away, a will can resolve doubt for you and your beneficiaries. Wills allow you to: choose friends and relatives you want your property to go to, make charitable bequests, choose a trusted and responsible person to be your personal representative, name a guardian

for minor children or incapacitated adults, and take advantage of tax savings which may result from a properly drawn will.

What is Probate, and do I need it?- Even if you have a Will, Probate may still be required. Probate is the court procedure for transferring title of a deceased person’s property to the proper survivors. If there is a valid will, the estate still needs to be probated if the estate owns real estate (to satisfy title companies) or if the probate estate is greater than $100,000.00.

Trusts- Trusts are legal entities which own property in the name of the Trust, as opposed to someone owning property in your individual name. Trusts, when properly created and funded, can avoid the probate process because a Trust will appoint a person to be in charge of administering the trust estate called a “Trustee.” Instead of having to go to court to have a person appointed by a judge to be in charge through the Probate process, the Trustee is already in a position of authority to begin administering assets.

Community Property Agreements- Married couples can record a document called a Community Property Agreement directing the transfer of marital assets upon the death of one spouse. This transfers property to the surviving spouse outside the Probate process.

Once these documents have been prepared, it is also important to review any documents that you have executed every few years to make sure that they still reflect your wishes, and that no changes need to be made. The better the shape your estate plan is in, the easier things will go for your family in the future. The bottom line is, if you want to ensure that your wishes are followed through upon, put it on paper in one or a combination of the above documents!





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