A reliable, meticulous guide to the complexities of estate planning and elder law
Every day, Carolyn White takes the formal, complex language of the law — language that has been evolving since before the Magna Carta — and puts it into the context of her clients’ lives so that they can both comprehend it and make sure that it works to their maximum benefit.
“I love to listen, I love to explain, and I have a great ability to imagine all the ways in which a plan might go wrong — to help ensure that everything goes right,” she says. “I don’t want my clients going forward with something that they don’t understand. I want to help them understand everything clearly so that they’re never blindsided, can see all of the possibilities, and feel completely comfortable with their path forward.”
Carolyn previously was one-half of White & McCarthy (along with director Chris McCarthy), which folded into ThompsonMcMullan in 2018 and deepened the firm’s capabilities in several fields. Carolyn’s practice focuses on estate planning, probate and administration of trusts and wills, long-term care planning, and elder law. She is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve as guardian ad litem for incapacitated adults. She is also is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Carolyn assists clients from all walks of life — young families just starting out who want to protect their children’s’ futures; the “sandwich generation” looking after both their children and their older parents; retirees interested in streamlining the transition from one generation to the next; and families settling the estates of their late loved ones. She and her team also work to protect people with physical or cognitive impairments by establishing and preserving their long-term care benefits and helping to ensure proper supervision and management of their finances — sometimes working on behalf of their families and sometimes on behalf of health care institutions who are caring for incapacitated adults.
Carolyn says she enjoys her practice in part because the legal issues she tackles are tied to developing practical solutions for her clients rather than contending with disagreements and contentious relationships.
“The people I’m working with all day are people I can actually help solve a problem,” Carolyn says. “They come to me with a challenge — how to get money from Point A to Point B or how to put some firewalls up around money for a beneficiary — and I help them solve it. That always feels good.”
Carolyn says she appreciates that she has the opportunity to help families navigate the complex planning that can accompany the circumstances of their lives. She takes pride in serving as their capable, compassionate and reliable guide through often stressful and confusing territory.
“I really enjoy listening to families and helping them develop a strategy that meets their goals,” Carolyn says. “It starts with listening. First and foremost, my clients have a lot on their minds and they need to offload it before we can drill down into the issues. I listen not just to what they say they want to do, but why they say they want to do it. That way I can help them solve the problem in a way that works best for them.”
In addition to her work with ThompsonMcMullan, Carolyn is active in the local legal community — she is a past president of both the Richmond Bar Association and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association and a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation — and applies her legal expertise to causes outside of the firm, serving as a member of the Powhatan Board of Zoning Appeals and volunteering with Legal Information Network for Cancer.
Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Family Formation
- Acting as fiduciary for, or advising fiduciaries for, decedent’s estates, the estates of incapacitated persons, and special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts, and trusts for minors.
- Estate planning and the drafting of wills, trusts (including revocable or irrevocable special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts, or trusts for minors), general durable powers of attorney, and advance medical directives.
- Evaluating and establishing financial eligibility for public assistance benefits, such as Medicaid, to help pay for long-term health care.
- Planning for Medicaid long-term care eligibility.
- Obtaining guardianships and conservatorships for incapacitated adults or incapacitated minors turning 18.
- Special-needs planning for individuals with disabilities.
- Serving as executor, administrator, trustee, conservator, guardian, and an agent in situations where a neutral professional fiduciary is appropriate.
- Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Elder Law (2021)
- Selected to the Virginia Super Lawyers list in the Elder Law and Estate Planning & Probate category (2012 – 2021)
- Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite,” Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law category (2016 – 2019)
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
- Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation
- Influential Women of Virginia, awarded by Virginia Lawyers Media (2012)
- University of Richmond School of Law, J.D., 1993
- Order of the Barristers
- Moot Court Board Member
- Associate Editor of the Law Review
- University of Virginia, B.A., 1989
- All Virginia courts including the Supreme Court of Virginia
- U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Virginia State Bar
- Bar Association of the City of Richmond (1993 – present)
- President (2007 – 2008)
- Board of Directors (1999 – 2009)
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) (2004 – present)
- Virginia Chapter of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (VAELA) (2004 – present)
- Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association (1993 – present)
- President (2002 – 2003)
- Henrico County Bar Association (1993 – present)
- Virginia Bar Association
- Powhatan County Board of Zoning Appeals
- District 4 Representative (2009 – 2012)
- District 5 Representative (2012 – 2019, 2019 — 2024)
- Chair, 2018 — 2020
- The Rotary Club of Powhatan (2011 – present)
- Powhatan Education Foundation (2014 – present)
- President (2016 – present)
- Secretary (2015 – 2016)
- Powhatan County Crime Solvers, Inc. (2014 – present)
- CancerLINC – (formerly Legal Information Network for Cancer), volunteer referral attorney (2000 – present)
- Gwathmey Jeffress Memorial Trusts, Allocations Committee Member (2009 – 2012)
- Powhatan High School Band Boosters (2008 – 2017)
- Powhatan County Public Schools Gifted Advisory Committee (2002 – 2014)
- Chair (2004 – 2006)