For more than 20 years, Adam S. Bernick has represented clients in complex legal matters. His practice focuses on Elder Law; Estate Planning; Guardianships; Pension/ERISA; Business Formation; Real Estate; and Taxation. Adam brings to the practice of law a deep understanding of the unique needs of disabled individuals and the desire by their families to put the proper legal mechanisms in place to protect them.
Throughout his career, Adam has:
- Secured Pension/ERISA benefits for clients whose employer or trustee/administrator would not cooperate in producing documents, embezzled funds, or otherwise failed to provide benefits
- Created individual estate plans by drafting hundreds of wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, and healthcare declarations
- Developed comprehensive estate plans for closely held businesses to ensure transmission to the next generation
- Helped administrators and executors efficiently navigate the complex probate process, and provided aggressive representation when they are accused of wrongdoing or estates are contested
- Successfully petitioned for legal guardians to be appointed for individuals suffering from temporary or permanent incapacity
- Successfully litigated challenging issues such as accounting for assets and income in estates, real estate partition, and voiding forged deeds
Adam also frequently serves as a court-appointed independent administrator of estates during family disputes or as an independent guardian for incapacitated persons.
As a thought leader, Adam has published numerous articles on emerging legal issues including the overlap of divorce and estate planning, the transfer of rights to access social media and emails of the deceased, and burial disputes. He has presented seminars to employees of large companies, nonprofits, attorneys, and others on legal issues pertaining to estate planning and patients’ rights.
Throughout his life, Adam has dedicated himself to the highest levels of public service.
While in college he served as a White House intern under President Bill Clinton. He also interned at the prestigious Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which started the Special Olympics, and provides assistance to those with developmental disabilities. There, he worked with Eunice and Sargent Shriver, President John F. Kennedy’s sister and brother-in-law. He also worked at the National Senior Citizens Law Center in Washington, D.C.
- Adam and Faye worked together on a matter arising from a client’s request that Adam revise his estate plan, help him organize his bills and paperwork, and determine why funds seemed to be missing from his financial accounts. They suspected the client had mental health and cognitive problems, but the client was in denial and his mental health provider was not helpful. After being arrested several times for anti-social type behavior and failing to cooperate with his criminal defense attorney, the client was tried and imprisoned. Adam and Faye engaged a mental health expert and petitioned the court to treat the matter as a mental health issue. The judge vacated the client’s prison sentence, appointed a guardian, and moved the client from prison to a care facility. This process took several years and required coordination between many stakeholders. The judge said it was the first time in his lengthy career that a person was removed from prison and a guardian appointed.
- Adam and Faye reached an excellent result for a woman who alleged that her sister, a local lawyer, was preventing her and her brother, both living in different states, from seeing their father, a former surgeon. The two siblings alleged that their sister was not properly accounting for their father’s substantial assets. An expert medical witness was retained and, after several hearings, the judge determined that the father was mentally incompetent and appointed a guardian. A settlement regarding future contact with the father and financial issues was negotiated by their efforts.
- “Can You See the Light?!,” Upon Further Review, January 22, 2015
- “Clarity Brought to Durable Powers of Attorney,” Upon Further Review, December 16, 2014
- “The Hunt for Estate Tax Allocation,” Upon Further Review, October 21, 2014
- “Inheriting Digital Assets,” Upon Further Review, April 3, 2013
- “Movin’ On Up?” Upon Further Review, December 18, 2012
- “Divorce After Death,” Upon Further Review, December 8, 2009
- “U.S. Supreme Court Weighs in on Beneficiary Issues in Savings and Investment Plans,” Upon Further Review, November 10, 2009
- “Avoiding Ambiguity in a Will and the Application of the Anti-Lapse Statute,” Upon Further Review, August 7, 2009
- Sixth Annual Palliative Care Spring Symposium, Jefferson University, 2017
- Estate Planning, University of Pennsylvania, 2014
- Estate Planning, Cigna Paper Works Industries, Inc., 2012
- General Overview of Various Estate and Elder Law Issues, Deloitte & Touche, 2008
HONORS & AWARDS
- Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers’ Rising Star, 2007, 2008, 2010-2013
- Pro Bono Roll of Honor, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, 2010