What friends are for …

Patricia H. and Patricia C.

Find yourself a friend who will not only tell you about an amazing free estate planning service available for Mecklenburg County residents over 60 but also go with you to have your documents finalized!

That’s what Patricia C. did for her friend, Patricia H. These two have known each other for years. Along with sharing a first name, they live in the same community and attend the same church.

Patricia C. had her will updated through Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Legal Services for the Elderly program when she moved to the area in 2014. 

“Because I was new, I was trying to find out everything that was available,” she says.

The program pairs Mecklenburg County residents age 60 and older with volunteer pro bono attorneys who help them prepare simple estate planning documents and execute them to ensure local seniors can maintain their dignity and independence when making end-of-life decisions without the burden of cost.

Estate planning can be expensive, especially for people living on a fixed income, which is a major reason why many put off doing it.

The pro bono attorney who prepared Patricia C.’s documents told her that had she gone to a private attorney to have the documents prepared, she would have paid at least $1,000 for the service. She’s seen others pay even more.

However, when a person dies or becomes incapacitated without documenting their wishes, loved ones are left with hard decisions to make.

That’s why Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy protects the rights of seniors who can’t afford legal assistance by providing free simple estate planning.

“Being able to have this service done takes all of the hard decision making and burden off my children’s hands,” Patricia C. says.

Patricia C. had such a wonderful experience that when she learned her friend, Patricia H., didn’t have a will, she encouraged her to call Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

On April 26, the Patricias came to the sixth annual Wills for Seniors and Veterans Clinic at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, where volunteers from Duke Energy, Garrity & Gossage and K&L Gates helped local seniors and veterans execute wills, advance directives and powers of attorney documents.

“I’m here to support of my friend,” Patricia C. said sitting in the waiting area.

“It’s been a good experience and my attorney explained so much,” Patricia H. said after getting her documents finalized. “I’m going to live to be 100, but I’m glad I was able to go ahead and check this off my to-do list!”

Now both women have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their wishes will be honored and a plan is in place.

The Patricias celebrated by going to lunch afterward.

That’s what friends are for.

Learn more about Legal Services for the Elderly.

Santana Receives Liberty Bell Award

Courtesy of the Mecklenburg County Bar

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy team member Ruth Santana is the 2019 recipient of the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Liberty Bell Award.

Santana, who works with the Advocacy Center’s Immigrant Justice Program as a BIA accredited paralegal-advocate, received the award in recognition for her advocacy on behalf of immigrants seeking legal assistance in Charlotte’s Immigration Court.

Santana is a tireless champion for immigrants in our community, fighting to ensure they have the legal assistance and information they need to defend themselves in Charlotte’s Immigration Court.

Her work is critical because no one has the right to representation in immigration court, since immigration cases are civil matters.

That leaves those who can’t afford an attorney, including children, alone to defend themselves in an overwhelming and confusing system with scarce resources.

For hundreds of clients, Santana is a stabilizing and supportive advocate, guiding families in crisis through frightening uncertainty and fighting for their right to due process.

The Mecklenburg County Bar’s Liberty Bell Award, which has been awarded annually since 1966, recognizes non-lawyers serving the community in ways that strengthen the American system of freedom under the law.

Santana joins a long list of community leaders who have received the award, including former Advocacy Center paralegal-advocate and CMS Board of Education leader Arthur Griffin (2004), local historian Tom Hanchett (2011) and Harvey B. Gantt (2018), Charlotte’s first African American mayor.

Some Immigrants Choose Between Food Stamps and a Green Card


Lourdes Juarez has lived in North Carolina since 2000, working part-time to help children with disabilities improve their motor skills. Originally from Mexico, she is now a lawful permanent resident of the United States with plans to apply for citizenship.

After bouts of pancreatic and liver cancer left her struggling with medical debt, she learned that she qualified for Medicaid, the government health program for low-income people. But she had a nagging concern that accepting government benefits would affect her chances of gaining citizenship. She had heard rumors to that effect among her friends and in the news.

Juarez’s fear reflects the growing sense among immigrants that they should avoid public programs, which also include food stamps and certain housing programs, in case they count against their ability to stay in the country permanently. In December, Juarez called the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, which reassured her that her citizenship would not be affected if she enrolled in Medicaid. Only then did Jaurez relax and sign up.

Read more from theatlantic.com

Pro Bono Honor Roll 2019

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys on its annual Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Download a copy of the
Pro Bono Honor Roll 2019

This list recognizes local attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2018.

Thank you to these dedicated legal professionals who have given their time and expertise to serve our community!

Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies ensure ALL people have access to justice through legal representation.

Stephen D. Allred
Blas P. Arroyo
Keith F. Atkinson
Patricia V. Baker
Linda Elise Boss
Barry S. Burke
William M. Butler
Jazmin G. Caldwell
Emily Lynn Cantrell
Avery Devin Catlin
L. Cameron Caudle Jr.
P. Mercer Cauley
Graham H. Claybrook
Shelly Davis Cole
G. Lee Cory
Alexander Carter Covington
Robert Kader Crawford
Matthew H. Crow
Josef C. Culik
Heather W. Culp
Joshua D. Davey
Stephen Thomas Denmark
Kathleen H. Dooley
Timothy Scott Emry
Landon S. Eustache
John A. Fagg Jr.
Ramona Farzad
Daniel J. Finegan
Walter D. Fisher Jr.
Douglas R. Ghidina
David P. Ginzer
Christian K. Glista
Kimberly A. Gossage
Stephanie E. Greer Fulcher


David Alan Griffin
Ariel E. Harris
Alexandra Jacqueline Hirsch
Brett Alan Hubler
Fielding E. Huseth
Ann-Rose Marie
Johnson-Lewis
David H. Jones
Stuart Manly Jones Jr.
Michael Todd Kafka
Amy P. Kaplan
Christopher B. Karlsson
Glenn E. Ketner III
Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel
Glenn G. Kunkes
Nicholas H. Lee
Francisco J. Linares
Howard Michael Lintz
Allan J. MacQuarrie
Jasmine Chloe Marchant
Thomas E. McNeill
Graham Strowd Miller
Eric William Mills
Molly Elizabeth Morgan
Robert A. Muckenfuss
Amanda J. Muehlhausen
Elizabeth A. Murphy
Thomas W. Murrell III
Amanda Pickens Nitto
Nancy Black Norelli
Paul J. Osowski
Fern A. Paterson
Kim Brett Perez
Kathleen Elizabeth Perkins
Sean F. Perrin

Henry N. Pharr III
Kevin Lee Pratt
Amanda Katherine Reasoner
Alexis N. Reynolds
Garry S. Rice
Alice Carmichael Richey
Patrick L. Ridinger
Susan Courtwright Rodriguez
Melissa A. Romanzo
Frederic Hilton Schilling
Jonathan E. Schulz
Ty Edwin Shaffer
Raleigh A. Shoemaker
Matthew R. Smith
Benjamin A. Snyder
Eric S. Spengler
Paul A. Steffens
Ryan Paul Thompson
Jeremy Bryant Tomes
Lauren Tonon
Nicolas Evan Tosco
Leslie Campbell Tucker III
Karen Vasko
Richard William Veronen Jr.
H. Landis Wade Jr.
Ann L. Warren
Kathryn G. Wellman
Abigail Forrister Williams
Susan Brown Wolfe
David Scott Wolpa
Julia Kay Wood
Richard Charles Worf Jr.
Julian H. Wright Jr.
Nancy M. Wright

North Carolina attorney volunteers!
Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit ncprobono.org/volunteer/ to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Check out this year’s cohort of inductees! Learn more at ncprobono.org.

Class Action Notice: Hawkins v. Cohen

Hawkins v. Cohen (5:17-CV-581 E.D.N.C.) is a federal lawsuit filed in 2017 by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the National Health Law Program to stop illegal terminations of Medicaid benefits in North Carolina. 

The Court hearing the case has certified it as a class action. This means that the Court’s orders protect all North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries from having their Medicaid terminated improperly (including transfer to Medicaid that only covers family planning services). 

The Court has issued a preliminary injunction ordering the N.C. Medicaid agency and all 100 county Departments of Social Services (DSS) to stop terminating or reducing Medicaid coverage until eligibility under all Medicaid categories has been considered and advance notice of the right to a hearing has been mailed.  

The Court’s order prohibits automatic terminations without any notice by the state computer, NC FAST, because a county worker failed to process a review of the case in the month it was due. This often happens in the following circumstances:

The Order also prohibits failure to consider all Medicaid categories before Medicaid terminates. Specifically, beginning in April 2019, for persons receiving Medicaid as a child, caretaker of a child, or pregnant woman, DSS will have to send a notice giving that person the opportunity to allege disability and then apply for Medicaid based on disability even though the person already gets Medicaid. If that application based on disability is timely filed, DSS cannot terminate Medicaid for that person unless that application has been denied.  

If you have any questions about this lawsuit or about your rights, you may contact the attorneys who filed the case, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. You can reach these lawyers by calling this toll free number: 1-800-936-4971. You can also send the lawyers an email at hawkinsinfo@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

You also may contact these lawyers if you want to report that you lost your Medicaid without a decision that you were no longer eligible for Medicaid under any category or without receiving advance written notice that your Medicaid would stop. There is no cost to you for any help that these lawyers provide to you.

Hospitals Must Post Prices Online for Standard Services

CHARLOTTE, NC – It’s now easier to estimate what your hospital bill might add up to.
Since the start of the new year, a federal rule requires all hospitals to post prices for procedures online. That doesn’t include what health insurance covers.

Read more at spectrumlocalnews.com

Healthcare.gov Knocked For Glitches, Inaccurate Info By Advocacy Group

If you’re shopping for an insurance plan on healthcare.gov, the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, there’s an important feature that doesn’t always work, an advocacy group says. It sometimes gives misinformation about which doctors are in the network for each plan.

Read more at www.wfae.org