Steven Schurkman ’80 to be honored for elder law work

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A SUNY Buffalo Law alumnus who for more than 15 years has taken his legal expertise into the community to fight elder abuse will be honored for his efforts October 16.

Steven A. Schurkman ’80 will receive the Elder Justice Distinguished Achievement Award from the Pace Women’s Justice Center in White Plains, N.Y. The center, affiliated with Pace University Law School, provides pro bono legal services to those at risk of domestic violence and elder abuse, and works to educate the public and human-services professionals about the legal tools available to potential victims.

“A lot of issues come out of family relationships that have deteriorated,” Schurkman says, “particularly in dealing with older people, who can easily find themselves living at the mercy of other family members, some of whom take advantage of both financially and otherwise of a person who is too frail to defend themselves.”

Much of his educational work, Schurkman says, serves to remind social workers and others that legal instruments such as powers of attorney need to be handled with care. “Powers of attorney frequently are very broad documents,” he says. “You’re really allowing somebody to do anything under the sun as it relates to their finances. For example, do you really want to give someone the authority to be gifting away assets, even if from the standpoint of estate planning it makes sense? You have to walk a fine line.”

Toward that end, Schurkman has written a guidebook, Elder Law Q&A: An Introduction to Aging Issues and Planning for the Future, now in its 14th edition. The 159-page book provides information about financial planning and asset preservation, including powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills, wills, trusts, taxes, insurance and Medicaid planning. Its printing and distribution are funded by the Pace Women’s Justice Center, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and Westchester County. An electronic version of the book is linked from the website of Keane & Beane, the White Plains firm where Schurkman specializes in elder law as a partner.

“Steven Schurkman has been involved with the Pace Women’s Justice Center for many years as a close friend and generous supporter,” says Jana Kosberg-Kleidman ’01, associate director of the center. “He generously donates hours of his time sharing his knowledge and experience in elder law, estate planning and all legal issues related to seniors, including writing Elder Law Q&A, an indispensable educational tool that we share with clients and professionals who work with older adults. We are thrilled to be recognizing his contributions to the community.”

Schurkman and his wife, Hon. Judith Gische ’80, a state Supreme Court justice, were classmates at SUNY Buffalo Law School. Their son Zachary G. Schurkman ’10 is an associate in New York City with the firm Wilson Elser.

Also to be honored at the Pace Women’s Justice Center dinner is Mary Beth Morrissey, a health care attorney and social science researcher at Fordham University, who will receive the Creative Vision for Elder Justice Award.

Those wishing to attend the Oct. 16 dinner are asked to register through the Pace Law School website, or contact Kosberg-Kleidman at 914-422-4638 or jkleidman@law.pace.edu.Steven A. Schurkman ’80 will receive the Elder Justice Distinguished Achievement Award from the Pace Women’s Justice Center in White Plains, N.Y. The center, affiliated with Pace University Law School, provides pro bono legal services to those at risk of domestic violence and elder abuse, and works to educate the public and human-services professionals about the legal tools available to potential victims.