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A knowledgeable and skilled attorney who brings warmth and empathy to her client relationships

It was at ThompsonMcMullan that Karen first learned the technical aspects of trust and estate law while developing an expertise in public entitlement programs. She is excited to be back in private practice where she can work in closer proximity to individuals, especially the elderly and those with disabilities. Whether providing estate planning and administration, special needs planning and administration, or elder law, Karen is experienced in complex family situations and will help clients navigate those dynamics.

Prior to rejoining the firm, Karen was General Counsel and Director of Client Services for Commonwealth Community Trust, a national pooled special needs trust organization that provides trust administration services for beneficiaries with disabilities. Karen routinely worked with attorneys and families to plan for the receipt of assets and the proper funding of trusts, as well as the allowable use and distribution of beneficiaries’ funds. Her team assisted thousands of individuals who had special needs trust accounts maintain their public benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

Most recently, Karen was Director of Strategic Operations and Services at True Link Financial, Inc., a mission-driven organization providing financial inclusion to the vulnerable and disabled community. In this role, she continued to advise regarding the importance of receiving public benefits for those with special needs.

Karen has spoken for the Virginia Continuing Legal Education Foundation, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), several NAELA state chapters, The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, National Academy of Special Needs Planners, National Association of Estate Planning Attorneys, National Business Institute, University of Texas School of Law, Stetson University College of Law, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She is an active member of the Virginia State Bar, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and continues to speak and provide educational presentations and articles to various organizations.

Having previously served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, Karen is currently a board member of The Agecroft Association and is the Executive Director of the Alliance of Pooled Trusts. She is a proud Georgia Bulldog, Richmond Spider, and mother of twin boys.

Representative Experience

PRIVATE PRACTICE

  • Represented individuals and families in all areas of special needs planning
  • Advised individuals and couples on estate planning and drafting of appropriate documents, including those needing long-term care, public benefits, tax planning, and planning for the families of same-sex couples
  • Represented individuals in their fiduciary capacity regarding estates and trusts
  • Represented individuals in fiduciary litigation such as will contests, contested guardianships, and misappropriation claims

GENERAL COUNSEL

  • Engaged with attorneys and families representing potential beneficiaries of the pooled trust regarding appropriate creation of accounts with pooled trusts, including review and approval of pleadings, wills, and other trust documents
  • Oversaw tax filings for pooled trusts, including beneficiary K-1s and Grantor Letters
  • Oversaw reporting requirements to governmental agencies for beneficiaries receiving public benefits
  • Partnered with trial attorneys, estate administration attorneys, banks, and trust companies to structure the receipt of assets for those receiving public benefits without jeopardizing eligibility, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, to maintain public benefits such as Medicaid, SSI, and Medicare Set-aside
  • Drafted master trust documents, joinder agreements, and other forms for the pooled trust organization
  • Advised organization on corporate matters, employment matters, and marketing compliance

Education

  • University of Richmond School of Law, J.D., 1995
    • Law Honors Scholar (full scholarship)
  • University of Georgia, B.A., Journalism, 1989
  • Legislative Aide to The Honorable J. Randy Forbes, Delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, 1995 Legislative Session

Admissions

  • All Virginia courts including the Supreme Court of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia

Affiliations

  • Agecroft Hall & Gardens Board of Directors and Executive Committee
  • Alliance of Pooled Trusts, Executive Director
  • Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association (MRWBA)
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
    • Special Needs Law Section
  • Richmond Ballet Advisory Council
  • Richmond Bar Association
  • Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (VAELA)
    • Founding Member
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Virginia State Bar
  • Windsor Farms Inc. Board of Directors and Trustee

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