Emma R. Hemness, Esquire

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Emma R. Hemness, Esquire


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Top 50 Women Lawyers in Florida as listed by SuperLawyer for 2017

Elder Law Attorney Member of the Year Award for the Florida Chapter, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for 2017

Emma was selected by her peers and by independent research as one of Florida's Top 50 Women Lawyers by Super Lawyers


In her local community of Brandon, Emma’s law office was nominated as a top three finalist for the “2006 Small Business of the Year” by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, she made it to the top three finalists again and was proud to win the “2009 Small Business of the Year” award.

What you should know ...

Emma's efforts fighting against the restriction on use of personal care contracts and spousal refusal, and trying to keep seniors from being included in the mandatory enrollment into for-profit, managed care plans to receive necessary Medicaid health insurance for their long term care needs, during the legislative session, she shined and was recognized as a big advocate for seniors.

Elder Law Super Lawyer 2008, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,16

Emma has been selected as a Super Lawyer in Elder Law. This distinction is awarded based on peer review and through independent research.

As stated in the Super Lawyers website, "Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a rigorous, multiphase rating process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis.  The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, i.e., lawyers in private practice and Legal Aid attorneys. The Super Lawyers selection process involves three basic steps: creation of the candidate pool; evaluation of candidates by the research department; and peer evaluation by practice area."

About Emma ...

Emma Hemness is the founding owner of the Law Office of Emma Hemness P.A.  Emma was admitted to practice law in Florida in 1995.  As a native of Polk County, she opened the first law office in Lakeland, Florida in January 1998.  In May 2000, she opened a second law office in Brandon.

Clients desiring expertise in the following areas will be working with Attorney Emma Hemness:  Wills and trusts; advance directives, durable powers of attorney; asset protection planning; Medicaid qualification and eligibility; Veterans benefits; and special needs trusts.

Emma Hemness is one of only a handful of Elder Law Attorneys in Florida who are Board Certified.  With her Board Certification by the Florida Bar in 2004, Emma is considered an “expert” and a “board certified specialist” (BCS) in the field of Elder Law.  In addition to her Florida Bar certification, she became nationally certified in Elder Law as a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) in 2005 by the National Elder Law Foundation.  In 2008, she also became accredited by the Veterans Administration, with accreditation being a federal requirement for anyone counseling veterans.

In 2008, Emma was named a Florida Super Lawyer in Elder Law, a distinction earned only by the top 5% of all lawyers in a given area or expertise. She has received this distinction for 6 consecutive years.

Mrs. Hemness received her undergraduate degree from Florida Southern University, summa cum laude, in 1991.  She earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) in 1995 from Stetson University College of Law. Prior to concentrating in Elder Law, Emma was an insurance defense litigator in Tampa, Florida.

Emma Hemness has volunteered thousands of hours towards protecting the practice of elder law attorneys in the State of Florida and the clients whom they serve.  She was in the primary position of leadership for Florida elder law attorneys as the Chair of the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section in 2007-2008.  Emma still serves on the Elder Law Section’s Executive Council as Co-Chair of the Medicaid Committee.  In addition to these roles, Emma was invited to join a special Task Force of the Elder Law Section and Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys whose principle work is to review the policies and processes of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure compliance with federal and state rules and regulations.

Emma is a current member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (www.naela.org).  In 2008, she won the “NAELA Outstanding Elder Law Attorney of the Year” award for the state chapter, where she is a current member of the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys and a past board member.

Mrs. Hemness is dedicated to serving the needs of persons with disabilities and their families as an integral part of her Elder Law practice.  Emma is a member of the Special Needs Alliance (www.specialneedsalliance.org ), an invitation-only national organization of special needs trusts attorneys.  She has had the pleasure of serving as an ambassador of the SNA to both the Autism Society of America and the National ARC in recent year.  In 2011, she worked as Co-Chair of the NAMI affiliation team of the SNA.

Mrs. Hemness is active in her local aging community and served as Chair of the West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging May 2008 through 2011.  In addition to serving as a past board member and an officer of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, she donates office space to the charitable organization and is a proud sponsor of the Memory Walks since 2005.

Emma Hemness is a frequent lecturer teaching other attorneys at Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education seminars.  She is often asked to give presentations on elder law issues to churches, organizations, and caregiver support groups.  A listing of some legal education seminars taught:

  • Elder Law Section Certification Review Course, January 12-13, 2011, Ins and Outs of Medicaid Benefits

  • AFELA 11th UnProgram, December 4, 2010, Promissory Notes and Gift & Cure Strategies in Medicaid Planning

  • Elder Law Section Retreat, October 2010, Hot Topics: Veterans Administration Benefits Change

  • Elder Counsel LLC, Guest Speaker, October 5, 2009, Medicaid Crisis Planning Strategies  

  • AFELA 9th UnProgram, December 2008, Real Estate Investment & Medicaid Planning and Veterans Benefits

  • 12th Annual Public Benefits Seminar, Elder Law Section, April 11, 2008, Post DRA-Planning

  • Elder Law Section Certification Review Course, January 24-25, 2008, Medicaid Eligibility, Qualification & the DRA

  • AFELA-sponsored Private Workshop, October 2007, Florida Implementation of the DRA

  • National Business Institute, May 2007, Qualifying for Medicaid Long Term Care Programs

  • 11th Annual Public Benefits Seminar, Elder Law Section, April 2007, Medicaid Eligibility and the DRA

  • National Business Institute, February 2007, Medicaid ICP:  The Basics

  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys UnProgram, Breakout Session, January 2007, Using Income Producing Property for Medicaid Eligibility

  • Elder Law Section, Fundamentals of Elder Law, April 2006, Ethical Issues:  Dealing with Incapacitated Clients & Evaluating Mental Incapacity

Emma Hemness is married to the other attorney in the Law Office of Emma Hemness PA, namely, Gerald L. Hemness Jr. They met during law school as fellow students.  They married in November 1995 in an outdoor ceremony in the courtyard at the Stetson University College of Law. They have one son, Nathan. 
 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid

  • Asset Protection Planning

  • VA Benefits

  • Special Needs Trusts

  • Estate Planning

Comprehensive Services

  • Asset protection planning to achieve immediate (and maintain) Medicaid and VA benefits qualification

  • Advance planning using irrevocable trusts for future Medicaid and VA benefits qualification

  • Estate planning for families of all ages, including preparation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives

  • Asset protection planning to achieve immediate (and maintain) Medicaid and VA benefits qualification

  • Advance planning using irrevocable trusts for future Medicaid and VA benefits qualification

  • Estate planning for families of all ages, including preparation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives

  • Estate planning for families with disabled members, including preparation of special needs trusts and coordination of assistance like SSI, Medicaid, Medicare

Board Certifications/Accreditations

  • Elder Law Specialist, 2004, Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization

  • Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), 2005, National Elder Law Foundation

  • Veterans Administration, Accreditation, 2008

Professional Licenses

  • State Bar of Florida, 1995

  • Life, Health, Variable Annuity, 1998

  • NASD Series 6, 1997 (not active)

Employment

Law Office of Emma Hemness P.A. | Brandon, Florida

Founding Attorney, 1998-Present

Elder Law, Probate, Guardianship, Special Needs

 

Alpert, Barker & Calcutt | Tampa, Florida

Associate Attorney/Personal Assistant to Senior Partner, 1995-1997

Securities Litigation/Arbitration, Civil Rights, Workers Comp

Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy & Ford | Tampa, Florida

Associate Attorney/Law Clerk, 1994-1995

Insurance Defense, Torts, Litigation

Florida Citrus Mutual | Lakeland, Florida

Executive Secretary/Legal Assistant, 1985-1991

World’s largest citrus grower cooperative, advocating for its members on international tariff, environmental, labor and water use issues

Affiliated Organizations

Foundation for LTC Solutions LLC, Tallahassee, Florida

Manager/Member, 2013

A group of 3 elder law experts providing advocacy and consulting services

 

Elder Planning Income Concepts LLC, Ocala, Florida

Manager/Member, 2005

Income producing real estate for elder law attorneys by elder law attorneys 

 

 

Education

Stetson University College of Law

St. Petersburg, Florida

Juris Doctor Degree, July 1995

Florida Southern College

Lakeland, Florida

B.S. Degree(s):  Summa Cum Laude December 1991

Major:  Human Resources; Finance

Minor:  Resort Management

Honors: Dean’s List

 

Polk College

Winter Haven, Florida

A.A. Degree:  Highest Honors May 1990

Major:  Business Administration

Honors: Dean’s List

Honors and Awards

• 2013 (2008-Present) Florida Super Lawyer in Elder Law

• 2013 (2012-Present) Florida Trend’s Legal Elite in Elder Law

• 2011 Florida Bar’s Elder Law Attorney of the Year

• 2011 Top 50 Women Lawyers in Florida

• 2009 Brandon Small Business of the Year

• 2008 National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Outstanding Member of the Year (State)

• 2006  Finalist, Brandon Small Business of the Year

Professional Affiliations

• Section Chair, Florida Bar Elder Law Section, 2007-08

• Executive Council Member, Florida Bar Elder Law Section, 2008-present

• Chair, West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging, 2008-present

• Member, Special Needs Alliance

• Member, Public Policy Task Force

• Member, Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys

• Member, National Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys

• Past Officer/Board Member, Florida Gulf Coast Alzheimer's Association

• Member, Brandon Chamber of Commerce

 

Professional Organizations, Leadership, and Appointments

• Treasurer, Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (Current 2013)

• Member, Florida Council on Aging Nominations Committee (2013)

• Member, Florida Council on Aging QSLA Committee (2013)

• Co-Chair, Montana Retreat, CLE, Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar (2012)

• Member, Executive Council of the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar (2008-2012)

• Co-Chair, Medicaid Committee, Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar (2010-2012)

• Member-At-Large, Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly & Disabled (2009-Present)

• Past President, Better Living for Seniors, Hillsborough County (2012-Present)

• Chair, West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging (2008-2011)

• Chair, Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar (2007-2008)

• Member, Special Needs Alliance (2008-Present)

• Member, West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging Board of Directors (2005-Present)

• Member, Care Connections Inc., Board of Directors (2008-Present)

• Chair, Board Certification Review Course CLE, Elder Law Section, (2007)

• Member, Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys Board of Directors (2004-2007)

• Treasurer/Board Member, Alzheimer's Association, Florida Gulf Coast (2003-2006)

• Vice-Chair, Public Benefits Seminar CLE, Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar (2003)

• Member, Florida Council on Aging (2012-Present)

• Member, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (2002-Present)

• Member, Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (2002-Present)

• Member, Real Property Probate & Trust Law Section (2005-Present) 

Selection of Publications/Lectures

 • “Florida Medicaid: LTC Programs – Qualification and Medicaid Reform”, UPDATED, January 18, 2013, Elder Law Section Annual Update and Certification Review Course.

• “Income Producing Property”, Broward Bar Association CLE, November 18, 2012.

• “Estate Planning for Parents of Children with Disabilities”, Pepin Academy Parent-Teacher Conference, November 2012

• “Have You Hugged Your Elder Law Attorney Today?” Florida Veterans Service Officers Statewide Annual Conference, October 10, 2012

• “Florida Medicaid: LTC Programs – Qualification and Medicaid Reform”, January 14, 2012, Elder Law Section Annual Update and Certification Review Course.

• “Florida’s Medicaid Experiment – Overhauling Medicaid through Privatization”, August 4, 2011, Special Event, Task Force Fundraiser.

• “Florida’s Medicaid Experiment – Overhauling Medicaid through Privatization”, December, 2011, (Meet the Experts) AFELA 12th Annual UnProgram.

• “Ins and Outs of Medicaid Benefits”, January 12, 2011, Elder Law Section Certification Review Course.

• “Promissory Notes and Gift & Cure Strategies in Medicaid Planning”, December 4, 2010, (Meet the Experts) AFELA 11th Annual UnProgram.

• “Hot Topics: Veterans Administration Benefits Change”, October 2010, Elder Law Section Retreat.

• “Medicaid Crisis Planning Strategies”, October 5, 2009, Elder Counsel LLC Seminar.

• “Real Estate Investments, Medicaid Planning & Veterans Benefits”, December 2008, (Meet the Experts) AFELA 9th Annual UnProgram.

• “Post DRA - Planning”, April 11, 2008, 12th Annual Public Benefits Seminar, Elder Law Section.

• “Medicaid Eligibility, Qualification & the DRA”, January 24, 2008, Certification Review Course, Elder Law Section.

• “Florida Implementation of the DRA”, AFELA Invitation-only Workshop, September 27, 2007.

• “Medicaid Eligibility and the DRA”, April 2007, 11th Annual Public Benefits Seminar, Elder Law Section.

• “Qualifying for Medicaid Long Term Care Programs”, May 2007, National Business Institute.

• “Medicaid ICP:  The Basics”, February 2007, National Business Institute.

• “Using Income Producing Property for Medicaid Eligibility”, January 2007, Breakout Session, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys UnProgram.

• “Ethical Issues:  Dealing with Incapacitated Clients & Evaluating Mental Incapacity”, April 2006, Fundamentals of Elder Law, Elder Law Section.

• The Elder Law Advocate, Various articles and reports, including: “Traps for the Unwary”; “Can you have your Medicaid Cake with VA Icing on Top?” 

Pro Bono Publico/Community Service

• Volunteer, Elder Advocate, SSI-Related Medicaid Rules Meetings

  Ongoing with Assistant DCF Legal Counsel: June 13, July 12, August 30, 2013

• Volunteer, Elder Advocate/Participant in Florida Medicaid Waiver Application Meeting with Cynthia Mann, Deputy Director, CMS, Washington DC, April 20, 2012

• Volunteer, Sponsor & Lecturer:  National Elder Law Month, May 2012 (6) Community Workshops:  Topics included Veterans benefits, Elder exploitation, The LTC Ombudsman, Taking Care of the Caregiver.

• Volunteer Attorney, Center for Guardian Advocacy (2007-Present)

• Emergency Care Help Organization, Participant, Canned Food Drive, May 2003, 2004

• Emergency Care Help Organization, Chair, Fashion Show Fundraiser, February 2003 

Media Appearances

• “Family caregiver contracts under scrutiny in legislation”

Tampa Bay Times, March 16, 2013.

• “How Much is a Family Caregiver Worth?” Health News Florida

WUSF News, March 18, 2013

• “The Caregiver Hour” radio show, Kim Linder, 1250 AM WHNZ

• “Senior Voice” radio show, 1470 AM WMGG

• “Brandon Attorney finds her niche with Elder Law”

 

Tampa Tribune, November 11, 2011

• “New Law Protects Veterans”, ABC Action News, Taking Action for You, September 21, 2011

• “Use of Reverse Mortgages”, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2006