Mary T. Schmitt Smith established the Theresa Law Center, PC in May 2005 to continue over a twenty-year tradition of providing legal advocacy for clients with a passion for protection. Now a part of Lipson Neilson P.C., located in Bloomfield Hills, she advises clients about estate planning, tax and probate options, with a distinct focus on drafting and administration of Special Needs Trusts.
Mary is Michigan’s first Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA, 1999), and is AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell for the past 16 years. She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, (NAELA) and was recognized as a Fellow in the Academy in 2003.
In the early 1980’s, Mary created the concept of an Interceptor Trust; a court authorized Special Needs Trust. She persuaded Judges in more than twenty-seven (27) counties throughout Michigan to approve these special needs trusts to protect assets of individuals with disabilities. These trusts have become more popular since 1993, when Congress specifically gave Courts the authority to establish these trusts under federal law, also referred to as “d (4) (A)”.
In 2003, she became the 9th recipient of the national Theresa Foundation Award, in recognition of her community service for people with disabilities. She is a Past President of The ARC of Oakland County, Inc., the nation’s sixth largest ARC, and served on the Board of Directors for twelve years.
Mary is a charter member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national network of lawyers dedicated to Disability and Public Benefits Law. Click here to view the most recent newsletter from The ARC.
Mary has presented on probate, tax, estate planning and special needs trust topics for Bar Associations and law schools in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas and New Jersey, as well as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is admitted to practice before the U. S. Tax Court, and the U. S. Court of Appeals (6th Circuit), where she successfully appealed a federal trial court decision interpreting Medicaid law, in favor of client’s Special Needs Trust in 2005.
Super Lawyers Magazine has designated Mary as a Super Lawyer for the past eleven consecutive years (2007-2017) in Elder Law, Estate Planning & Probate, Trust & Estate Litigation as reported on superlawyers.com.
In August 2011, Mary received the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award at the Disability Awareness Night, Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park.
She received her J.D. from the University of Detroit School of Law. She earned a Master of Laws in Taxation (L.L.M.) from Wayne State University in 1986 after writing her Masters thesis on “Estate Planning for Persons with Disabilities.”
She has published in the Michigan Bar Journal on “Protecting Estate Assets: Planning and Tax Considerations of Medicaid and Medicare Programs,” and “Resource Planning for the Elderly,” in Laches, a publication of the Oakland County Bar Association.
NELF large from National Elder Law Foundation on Vimeo.