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Health Care Decision-Making for Cognitively Impaired Adult Patients: A Legal Overview (Webinar)

The complexities of elder law and advance health care planning can be daunting. What parties may exert medical decision-making authority is dependent upon the existence of certain legal circumstances and the validity of certain legal documents. Confusion can arise when multiple advance planning documents have been executed by a patient or cognitive issues are evident.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Bar Association collaboratively host this one-hour continuing education program to address medical and legal issues related to serving the needs of adult patients whose mental capacity is at question. 


7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Specifically, issues that can impact the course of medical treatment as well as the protection of their legal interests will be examined. Panelists representing key decision makers in these situations will use hypothetical patient scenarios that commonly arise to discuss the medical and legal issues.

We invite you to stay connected for further questions and answers as well as an opportunity for virtual networking immediately following the education program.


  • Recognize when individuals can exert medical decision-making authority with legal documents such as health care powers of attorneys, advance directives, living wills, POLST forms, and guardianships taking precedence.

  • Appropriately fulfill a physician’s legal responsibilities related to honoring advanced health care decisions and decision-making authority

  • Apply new knowledge to answer patients’ questions regarding advance health care planning

Webinar Speakers


Julieanne E. Steinbacher, Esquire, CELA*, is the founding shareholder of Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, an elder care and special needs planning law firm established in 2002, with offices in Williamsport and State College, PA. Julieanne graduated Magna Cum Laude from Widener University School of Law and is a *Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) through the National Elder Law Foundation.

As an attorney, her goal is to bridge the gap between legal services and the aging network. She developed the Elder & Special Needs Resource Center in Williamsport, PA, which hosts seminars about issues affecting those who are aging. Julieanne is founder and president of Estate & Long-Term Care Planning, an organization that educates estate and elder law attorneys from across the nation in areas of elder law and best practices. She is also part owner of Nippenose Valley Village, a senior living community offering residents independent living, personal care, and respite care services.

*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation

Katherine_Pearson Katherine C. Pearson is a Professor of Law and the Arthur L. and Sandra S. Piccone Faculty Scholar at Dickinson Law, Pennsylvania State University. Her scholarship focuses on laws and policies connected to aging and she frequently includes age-related issues in her teaching of courses on contract law, conflicts of law and nonprofit organizations law.  During the Fall semester of 2018, she initiated a new format for her elder law course, with individual modules permitting in-depth examination of selected financial planning, care planning (including end-of-life decision making), and comparative law issues. She is the author of articles and chapters on long-term care, financing and filial obligations, and is the co-author of a treatise, The Law of Financial Abuse and Exploitation (Bisel 2011). As a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar (U.K. in 2010), her work includes international, comparative analysis of laws affecting families, including work as an international consultant to promote better systems for safeguarding and adult social care.  In July 2016, she was honored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association with the Elder Law Section’s top award for “Excellence in Elder Law.” She is a writer and co-editor for the Elder Law Prof Blog, at


Quentin Burchfield graduated Millersville University with a Bachelor’s Degree and then a Master’s Degree in Social Work.  Quentin is a licensed social worker and has worked in three different Area Agency on Aging Offices for a total of 19 years.  Currently, Quentin is the Assistant Director of the Centre County (Pennsylvania) Office of Aging.


The Honorable Lois E. Murphy, professional biography

Lois Murphy is a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County, assigned to the Orphans’ Court Division.  She has been serving since January 2010 and has been Administrative Judge of the Orphans’ Court Division since January 2015.  The Orphans’ Court Division approves adoptions, and hears a wide variety of matters including terminations of parental rights, guardianships, will contests, trust and estate matters, and matters related to minor’s estates and non-profits.

Judge Murphy is a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts, and serves as the chair of the Orphans’ Court Section of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.  She also serves as the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Courts Working Group on Public Access. 

Judge Murphy graduated from Harvard College in 1984, magna cum laude and Harvard Law School in 1987, cum laude.  

Judge Murphy served as a law clerk to the Honorable George C. Pratt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, then served as a trial and appellate litigator in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, and then as in-house counsel to a national non-profit organization advocating for women’s rights.  Judge Murphy practiced law at Morgan Lewis in Philadelphia and at Heckscher, Teillon, Terrill & Sager, in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.   She is a frequent lecturer on topics including Ethics, Guardianships, Access of Justice for Older Adults, End of Life Decisions, Orphans’ Court practice and procedure, and the Pennsylvania Uniform Trusts Act.

Sanford L. Pfeffer, Esq.

Mr. Pfeffer is the General Counsel of Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), the area agency on aging in the City and County of Philadelphia.  In addition to advising the agency on a range of corporate matters, he represents the agency in civil proceedings, arising under the Older Adults Protective Services Act, involving elder abuse and exploitation.  Previously, Mr. Pfeffer was in private practice with a large Philadelphia-based law firm and a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he taught in the psychiatry and bioethics programs.  He has also served as a member of the Subcommittee on Aging of the Philadelphia County Medical Society, a member of the Attorney General’s Task Force for the Protection of Older Pennsylvanians, and a speaker for the American Society on Aging.  Mr. Pfeffer received both his B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business Law (now Journal of International Law).  He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Pennsylvania Geriatric Society and regularly serves as a course planner and faculty member for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute.  Mr. Pfeffer is a 2005 recipient of an Academic Research Grant from the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging.


  • The Pennsylvania Medical Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Pennsylvania Medical Society designates this live activity for a maximum of .50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity
  • No one involved in the planning or delivery of this activity has any relevant financial relationships to disclose.