Mary T. Schmitt Smith

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Elder Law Attorney in Bloomfield Hills, MI

Lipson Neilson, PC
 | 3910 Telegraph Road, Suite 200
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
Phone: 248-220-6416
Fax: 248-593-5040
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2020
Licensed Since: 1979
Practice Areas:
  • Elder Law (30%),
  • Estate Planning & Probate (50%),
  • Estate & Trust Litigation (20%)
    Attorney Profile

    For more than 30 years, attorney Mary T. Schmitt Smith has provided legal advocacy and counsel for clients with a passion for protection.  She is a parent and a professional.  As an advocate for seniors and their families, Mary helps clients address issues encountered in the process of aging.  In 2005, after receiving the Theresa Foundation Award for Community Service, she was inspired to establish the Theresa Law Center, P.C., located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  

    After learning that her grandmother’s wedding ring “disappeared” during a nursing home stay, Mary knew she wanted to be a voice and an advocate for older adults- to speak up for their rights and help their families.  In 1999, Mary became the 1st Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) in Michigan, determined to serve individuals who are seniors and their family menbers.  She has continued her certification for the past 19 years, keeping current with elder law issues and trends. Mary serves on Elder Counsel’s National Advisory Board.

    Mary advises clients about estate and protective planning, tax, real estate and probate options, with a distinct focus on drafting and administration of Special Needs Trusts (SNT).  Her practice includes both first party and third party Special Needs Trusts, and she provides counsel to both Trustees and beneficiaries.  Mary served on the Board of Directors for The ARC of Oakland County Inc. and was elected as its President during her dozen year tenure. She is a lifetime member of the agency.

    In the early 1980's, Mary created the concept of an “interceptor trust” and persuaded Judges in 27 counties throughout Michigan to establish Special Needs Trusts to protect beneficiaries.  Then, in 1993, Congress specifically gave Judges the authority to establish SNT's to protect assets of individuals with disabilities.  Mary has argued cases involving Special Needs Trusts before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Eastern District of Michigan and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals with success. Mary is a charter member of the Special Needs Alliance, and served as its General Manager in 2003-2004. 

    In addition to her law practice, Mary has presented on special needs trusts, probate, tax, elder law and estate planning topics for bar associations, conferences and law schools in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona and New Jersey. 

    Practice Areas
    • 30%Elder Law
    • 50%Estate Planning & Probate
    • 20%Estate & Trust Litigation
    Focus Areas

    Estate Planning, Guardianships & Conservatorships, Probate & Estate Administration, Trusts


    Selected to Super Lawyers for 14 yearsbottom-image

    Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2020

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    About Mary Schmitt Smith

    Admitted: 1979, Michigan

    Professional Webpage:


    • The 9th Annual Theresa Award recognized Mary's community service, her contribution, dedication and passion to protect clients with special needs and their families. , Theresa Award in Community Service, Theresa Alessandra Russo Foundation, Long Island, NY, 2003
    • AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell since 2000, more than 17 consecutive years

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • 1st  Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) in Michigan, by National Elder Law Foundation, 1999
    • LLM, Master of Law in Taxation, Wayne State University Law School, 1986

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • Fellow, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), 2003
    • Vice President, Elder Law Committee, Genl. Practice Section, American Bar Assn, 1991
    • U.S. Tax Court, 1981
    • Michigan, 1979
    • National Advisory Board Member- Elder Counsel
    • Charter member, Special Needs Alliance, and served as General Manager 2004-2005. 
    • Member, Professional Advisory Board, Community Home Care Agency, 1983 -1987
    • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award presented at Disability Awareness Night. This award was presented to Mary at home base of Comerica Park baseball stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers major league baseball team, in recognizition of her leadership, competitive spirit and efforts on behalf of the disabilty community.  The annual award is sponsored by Exceptional Parent Foundation-Mass Mutual- League of Dreams, 2011
    • Lifetime member, The Arc of Oakland County, Inc. 
    • 1987- 1999- The Arc of Oakland County, Inc. served on Board of Directors, also selected President.  From 1999 to date, Member Advisory Board.

    Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

    • Protecting Estate Assets: Planning & Tax Considerations of Medicaid & Medicare Programs, Michigan State Bar Journal, January 1989
    • Resource Planning for the Elderly, Oakland County Bar Association, 1989


    • Successfully defended Trustees of Special Needs Trust against claims by nursing home provider who had previously received payment from Medicaid. See: Spectrum v Anna Bowling Irrevocable Trust, 410 F3rd 304 (6th Court of Appeals), 2005
    • Michigan Supreme Court, In Re Barbara Hertsberg, represented Trustee of Special Needs Trust in case of 1st impression to determine who established trust, and whether the Department of Mental Health was entitled to reimbursement from the trust for services to beneficiary, 1998

    Educational Background:

    • Wayne State University Law School, LL.M. Tax, Master of Law(s) in Taxation, 1986
    • Eastern Michigan University, B.S., with Honors, 1976

    Industry Groups

    • National Academy Of Elder Law Attorneys
    • National Elder Law Foundation
    • Special Needs Alliance
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    Office Location for Mary T. Schmitt Smith

    3910 Telegraph Road
    Suite 200
    Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

    Phone: 248-220-6416

    Fax: 248-593-5040

    Mary T. Schmitt Smith:

    Last Updated: 7/7/2020

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