What Types of Legal Matters Do You Handle?
I devote my practice to helping families and small businesses with their legal needs.
My expertise in estate planning focuses primarily on families with special needs children. I am passionate about helping families with special needs planning, which is estate planning for the benefit of a family which includes someone who is disabled or who may be receiving needs-based government assistance. The emphasis in our planning for such a family is to protect the family member who may receive (now or in the future) needs-based government assistance. I achieve this through estate planning and by utilizing specialized accounts, special needs trusts, and other legal and financial tools.
I began my legal career working at a large firm focusing on financial litigation. It was only after I adopted my middle child, with special needs, that I experienced the lack of resources available to similarly situated families. Managing that process for my own family inspired me to shift my legal focus to better advocate on behalf of my daughter. In doing so, my practice has also shifted.
Thus, one important focus of my law practice is helping families navigate the complexity of special needs advocacy. In doing so, I combine my legal knowledge with my personal experiences as the parent of a special needs child. I work with families as they learn to advocate for their child both in the education system and in life long planning. I work with families seeking to better understand special education and IEP meetings, help them secure additional services/accommodations, and understand the role of effective advocacy.
Many of the families I have served own and operate small businesses right here in our community. As I advised families with their personal affairs, I learned they also needed help with their businesses. In this way, I serve as the trusted advisor for my clients’ family matters as well as their business interests. As a consequence, I handle business entity formation, general business and corporate law matters, and litigation. I also have extensive experience in non-profit formation and management.
What is your philosophy about estate planning?
Proper estate planning is a gift to your loved ones. By adequately preparing for an unexpected (or expected) illness or death, you can eliminate or reduce the stress and pressures placed on loved ones during an otherwise emotional time. In your estate planning, you will address legal, medical and spiritual beliefs and wishes. Many of these wishes are deeply personal and, in many cases, have never been discussed. To me, the process of facing these otherwise difficult questions is an act of love. By clearly spelling out your final wishes through our estate planning process, you ensure that your wishes have been communicated and reduce potential conflict among the loved ones you leave behind.
Estate planning can also be tailored for specific medical issues like mental health illness. I have experience in advising clients on the proper use of Advance Healthcare Directives to specify treatment in the event of a mental health crisis. This is a wonderful tool that families which include special needs children or other individuals with disabilities can utilize to ensure that specific treatment is used—or not used—in the event they should become incapacitated.
The estate plan is a road map for your family and loved ones to follow in the event that you become disabled or pass away. This comprehensive plan prepares your loved ones for the unexpected.
What do you see as your role as an attorney?
I see my role as an attorney as a family advocate and trusted advisor to small business. Through the process of estate planning and special needs advocacy, I become intimately familiar with you and your family. In doing so, I am able to help position your family—and your special needs dependent—for the best chance of success, however that is defined by you.
As trusted advisor for your small business, I serve as your legal guide. I may act as your advocate in contested matters, counselor on formation and corporate law matters, and help you buy or sell business interests. Just as it is my goal in family estate planning and advocacy, my goal in representing my business clients is to contribute to their best chance of success by managing all of their legal affairs.
What are your qualifications?
I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.A. 2001, magna cum laude) with an undergraduate degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in history (M.A. 2003, summa cum laude). I received my law degree from Indiana University School of Law (J.D. 2008).
I spent the first four years of my practice at a large law firm in Birmingham. After going into a small practice with a fellow law partner, I eventually decided to open my own law practice so that I could focus on representing families with their estate and special needs planning and advocacy. All told, I have 12 years of experience with estate and special needs planning, small business matters, and estate administration and litigation.
Tell me more about yourself
I was born and raised in Alabaster, Alabama (Go Warriors!). I attended college at UAB and was a member of the Women’s Track & Cross-Country Team. After completing my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I moved to Japan where I lived on the tiny island of Iki, Nagasaki for two years. While in Japan, I received my advanced scuba diving certificate and have enjoyed diving in numerous places during my travels throughout Southeast Asia. My husband and I have three children and three senior rescue dogs. In 2011, I received a $500,000 grant to bring a Dream Dog park to my hometown in honor of my dog, Honey Belle, who was found as a stray in the park. During my free time, I can be found at The Red Barn, where my daughter rides horses or with my son canvasing every playground in and around Birmingham.
I am an active member of the community. I currently serve as the President of the Board of Directors of Jefferson County Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority. I am the immediate Past President of Susan G. Komen North-Central Alabama. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Shelby Humane Society. I am a member of the Development Committee of the Birmingham Zoo. I am a founding member and Co-President of the Board of Directors of Special Siblings, which provides support for children with special needs siblings. I act as legal counsel to a number of animal rescue organizations in town. My family and I are members of Temple Emanu-El.« Back to Attorneys Page