Heather Goldstein and Allan Tarleton are among 37 attorneys at The Van Winkle Law Firm, which serves clients at its offices in Asheville, Hendersonville and Charlotte.
The firm established in 1907 offers a comprehensive range of legal services that include business and family law, trusts, estates and elder law. Each attorney at the firm brings an individualized background and experience to the practice, with some specializing in tax, patent and trademark law.
“The thing I like about being a part of this law firm is that our breadth of experience is pretty broad,” says Goldstein.
Using her knowledge of elder law and trust administration, Goldstein focuses on assisting clients with estate planning and related services. She helps clients create long-term medical care plans and also advises executors, trustees and guardians on administering estates.
“A lot of planning is to try to manage and structure assets,” she says.
Although much of her practice involves helping people create wills, draft powers of attorney and other essential documents, Goldstein also does trust and estate litigation and advocates for elderly clients who are vulnerable.
“You hear a lot about elder abuse,” Goldstein says.
Vulnerability to scams is a primary financial concern for older persons, she remarks.
“The vast majority of elderly financial abuse is with a family member who has power of attorney,” Goldstein says.
Before joining the Van Winkle Law Firm six years ago, Goldstein served as executive director of the Asheville Jewish Community Center. While working with the community center, she helped establish Jewish Family Services of Western North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that provides elder respite care and other social services.
Prior to working at the community center, she practiced law in the area of general civil litigation. Now she uses her combined experience to help clients plan for and manage their later years of life. While many of her clients are older adults, Goldstein also helps younger people with disabilities.
An Asheville native, Goldstein graduated from Duke University and received her law degree from George Washington University.
Tarleton grew up in Raleigh and initially graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in journalism. After working for the Washington Daily News for several years as a staff writer and editor, he returned to Wake Forest University to earn a law degree.
Covering courtroom cases as a reporter inspired Tarleton to pursue a career in law, he says. After working as a criminal and civil trial lawyer for a couple of years, Tarleton joined The Van Winkle Law Firm in 1982.
The nature of his practice has changed over the years, he says. When he first started working with the firm, he was representing the interests of insurance companies, and a large number of the cases he handled were tried in court.
Since the early 1980s, the number of cases going to trial has gone down significantly, Tarleton says. According to the present court procedure, every superior court case now goes through initial mediation, he notes. And many cases are mediated before the lawsuit is tried in court.
In the early 1990s, the focus of Tarleton’s work shifted to workers’ compensation and medical malpractice cases. And now he primarily represents people who have been injured, which he finds rewarding.
Tarleton says he is gratified "whenever you’re able to help somebody, and they’re better off.
During the years he has been with the law firm, Tarleton has represented hundreds of people, non-profit organizations and businesses and has obtained significant verdicts, judgments and arbitration awards in trials, hearings and appeals.
Both Tarleton and Goldstein—as well as other attorneys with the law firm—provide pro bono services to Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that assists low-income people with legal matters.
“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Pisgah Legal Services,” he says.
Tarleton previously served as board president for the agency and also volunteers with other organizations, including United Way and Habitat for Humanity.
Service to the community is a priority for the law firm, said Goldstein, who also spends much time volunteering with charitable organizations.
For more information on The Van Winkle Law Firm, visit the website at www.vwlawfirm.com.