Osterhout, McKinney & Prather, P.A. celebrates 20 years

The elder law attorneys of Osterhout, McKinney & Prather, P.A. are celebrating 20 years of business in January 2010.

Online PR News – 16-January-2010 – – Fort Myers, FL (January 16, 2010) – The elder law attorneys of Osterhout, McKinney & Prather, P.A. are celebrating 20 years of business in January 2010.

For two decades, the attorneys of Osterhout, McKinney & Prather, P.A. have been committed to providing legal services to the elderly of Southwest Florida that would assist them in protecting their assets, preserving their independence, and maintaining their security as they confront the concerns of aging and illness. The firm’s elder law focus includes estate planning, probate, guardianship, asset protection planning, living wills, health care surrogates, durable powers of attorney, trusts, life care planning, special needs trusts, Medicare and Medicaid qualification.

Firm partners Lance McKinney and Beth Prather are Certified Elder Law Attorneys and firm founder Julie Osterhout is an Emeritus Specialist in Elder Law by The Florida Bar.

Osterhout was an early pioneer in the field of elder law. Her tenure began while she was working as an attorney in Lehigh Acres in the early 80s.

“At that time, Lehigh Acres was very much a retirement community,” Osterhout said. “Many of the residents were wanting information on how Medicare and Medicaid worked and what happened once someone entered a nursing home. I had no one to talk to and no resources to help these clients.”

In 1988, Osterhout was one of the first attorneys to join the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a coalition of like-minded attorneys from around the country who wanted to be able to interact with one another for the benefit of their elder clients. NAELA was approved by the American Bar Association as a sub-specialty area of law that same year and held its first annual meeting. Since that time, membership has grown to more than 6000 attorneys all over the country.

In 1990, Osterhout established her own law practice specializing in elder law.

In the mid 90s, Osterhout went on to help form an independent study group of a dozen of the leading elder law attorneys from across the country. This coalition was created by invitation only and consisted of experienced and compassionate elder law attorneys who share a deep commitment to their elderly and disabled clients.

From there, Osterhout helped form another group, called the Special Needs Alliance, a national, non-profit organization committed to helping individuals with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who represent them. The Special Needs Alliance includes some of the most credentialed public benefits and disability law attorneys in the country, many of whom are parents and siblings of children with disabilities. This select group of attorneys meets annually to discuss issues and educate one another on the special needs of the disability community.

Osterhout believed McKinney’s expertise in guardianship and-- probate was the perfect compliment to her elder law and estate planning specialty and asked him to join the firm in 1999, changing the name to Osterhout & McKinney. Prather joined the firm in 2002, was made partner in 2007 and the firm name was expanded again to Osterhout, McKinney & Prather.

McKinney and Prather share Osterhout’s passion for being leaders in their field. Both are also members of NAELA, The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys and are accredited by the Veteran’s Administration to represent claimants.

McKinney is also a member of the Florida State Guardianship Association, has received formal training in investment fiduciary responsibility and earned the AIF® designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies through the University of Pittsburgh. He served as a barrister in the Inns of Court, on the Board of Directors of Age Link, an agency that provided information and referrals to the elderly, and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Lee County Chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

A Fort Myers native, Prather is a current Board member of the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys, has served as an officer and board member for The Association of Family Law Professionals and was a member of the Inns of Court. In both 2008 and 2009, Super Lawyer Magazine named Prather a Super Lawyer.
“In the early 90s, we were really the only firm handling elder law,” Osterhout said. “As Florida has continued to be an attractive retirement state, many other attorneys list elder law as a service, but elder law is the only area we practice.”

Over the past 20 years, Osterhout championed the formation of the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Inc., is a past Board President and currently serves as Board Member Emeritus. She has served as the chair of the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar and has been a Director of the Board of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Osterhout was also chosen as a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for outstanding service to the legal community and to seniors.

“With the advances in medicine, we all really need to be prepared financially to live longer and to handle chronic long term illnesses,” Osterhout added. --- “Until all elders and special needs individuals are represented, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Osterhout, McKinney & Prather, P.A. is located in Fort Myers at 3783 Seago Lane. For more information, call (239) 939-4888 or visit www.omplaw.com.