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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 - 2022
Licensed in Michigan Since: 1979
Practice Areas: Elder Law, Estate Planning & Probate, Estate & Trust Litigation
Attorney Profile

For more than 38 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 members.  She has continued her certification for the past 22 years, keeping current with elder law issues and rends. Mary has served 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. She counsels 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 the 1st lifetime member of the organization, and remains on the Advisory Committee.

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


16 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2022

About Mary T. Schmitt Smith

First Admitted: 1979, Michigan

Professional Webpage:

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

Special Licenses/Certifications

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

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

Bar/Professional Activity

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


  • 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


  • 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

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
  • 1987- 1999- The Arc of Oakland County, Inc. served on Board of Directors, also selected President.  From 1999 to date, Member Advisory Board.
  • Lifetime member, The Arc of Oakland County, Inc. 

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

Last Updated: 5/15/2022

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