The purpose of the Academy of Special Needs Planners is to assist special needs attorneys in providing the highest quality service and advice to individuals with special needs and to their families. In addition to providing its member attorneys with up-to-date information on legal developments nationwide and a forum for exchanging best practices, the Academy provides information to consumers through this web site and its monthly e-mail newsletter.
On this site, we aim to provide the best information available on the Internet on planning for people with special needs as well as access to a network of attorneys focusing their practices on special needs planning.
Our information is designed to be thorough, up-to-date and easy to understand. The attorneys in our network have demonstrated a commitment to assisting those with special needs and their families. And they benefit from the experience and expertise of their peers through our Internet-based practice tools.
|Advisory Board Members|
Harry S. Margolis, co-founder. An elder law attorney since 1987, Mr. Margolis is also the founder and president of ElderLawAnswers and the founder and managing attorney of Margolis & Associates, a law firm specializing in elder law based in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the editor of The ElderLaw Report and The ElderLaw Portfolio Series and author of the ElderLaw Forms Manual. Mr. Margolis is a fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and has been a member of the adjunct faculty of Boston College Law School.
Vincent J. Russo, co-founder. Mr. Russo is the managing shareholder of Vincent J. Russo & Associates, P.C., Long Island's Signature Elder Law, Special Needs and Estate Planning Law Firm with offices in Westbury, Islandia, Woodbury and Lido Beach, New York. Vincent Russo has championed the rights of seniors and people with special needs since 1985.
Diedre Wachbrit Braverman is a graduate of Stanford Law School where she was Chair of the Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance, she is also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of California, Irvine magna cum laude. She has been Certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. Prior to opening her law practice, Diedre was a Senior Associate at the international consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, where she provided strategic business advice to some of the nation's largest and best-known firms.
Diedre serves on the Board as a Director of PAUSE 4 Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids with special needs to grow. She is a member of the Advisory Board, The Computer Access Center, Los Angeles, California. Diedre is a co-author of the Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB)'s forthcoming book on Special Needs Planning.
Diedre teaches continuing education courses for Wealth Counsel, Lorman, PESI and the National Business Instutute, national providers of legal education. She is also a teaching fellow at the Southern California Institute and has provided educational workshops and seminars for Amgen, La Leche League International, and Mothers & More.
Diedre also authors two blogs, one on estate planning, asset protection and taxes (http://wachbrit.typepad.com/); the other on special needs planning (http://wachbrit.typepad.com/special_needs_planning/).
Ken Coughlin, editorial director. Mr. Coughlin brings 29 years of publishing experience to the Academy of Special Needs Planners . He is editorial director of the Web site ElderLawAnswers and has been the Managing Editor of The ElderLaw Report since 1992. Before joining the Academy of Special Needs Planners, Mr. Coughlin was Editorial Director of Faulkner & Gray's Healthcare Information Center, a publishing unit of Thomson Financial, where his responsibilities included the production of several CD-ROM publications.
Mark Miller, director of operations and business development. Mr. Miller's responsibilities include managing member recruitment and retention, marketing, product development and customer service. Mr. Miller brings more than 15 years of experience in sales and business development for web-based service providers. Past projects have included consulting for McDonald Investments (division of KeyCorp.), Director of Technology Partnership for Food.com and executing web development or licensing agreements with companies such as Noggin (Viacom), FoxFamily, The Discovery Channel and LEGO.
Mr. Wiesner is a nationally recognized elder law attorney. He is a former President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Having a legal practice rooted in 17 years of traditional estate and tax planning, Mr. Wiesner, who is Florida Bar Board Certified in Taxation and Elder Law, devotes a significant portion of his practice to sophisticated estate planning. However, the principal commitment and focus of his practice is on resolving the legal needs of the elderly and their families.
He is one of a select group of attorneys nationwide who has been honored as a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in recognition of his work in advancing the legal needs of seniors. His involvement ranges from counseling on planning for incapacity, asset preservation and guardianship, to redressing abuse, exploitation and resident's rights issues.
Mr. Wiesner was an invitee to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging and has consulted with the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and the Agency for health care Administration on legislative matters. In addition to devoting a significant portion of his law practice to the legal needs of the elderly, Mr. Wiesner assists families with planning for the needs and protection of disabled and dysfunctional children.
Michael Gilfix is a nationally known authority in the field of law, aging and estate planning. A 1973 graduate of Stanford Law School, he is a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a co-founder of NAELA, and a Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Mr. Gilfix regularly addresses professional audiences, including attorneys, physicians, certified public accountants, and financial planners, nationally as well as locally.
An entrepreneur in the legal field, Mr. Gilfix created the first legal aid program for elders in 1973. He served as Executive Director of that program, Senior Adults Legal Assistance (SALA) of Santa Clara County, for ten years. In 1983 he created the law firm that is today known as Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP .
Mr. Gilfix is a California legal advisor to Partnership For Caring, the national organization devoted to rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions.
Mr. Gilfix holds an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, as judged by his peers in the legal profession. This rating, the highest given "... reflects an attorney who has reached the heights of professional excellence, ... has practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity."
David J. Lillesand is the principal of Lillesand & Wolasky PL, attorneys with offices in North and South Florida, in Gainesville and in Miami, Florida. The firm represents disabled children, adults and their families in Social Security/SSI disability claims, Medicaid, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship and Estate Planning matters.
David graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1966 with a degree in Political Behavior, and the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1972, and began representing individuals with SSI disability claims in 1974. He has been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, South America, a domestic volunteer in the VISTA program working with migrant farm-worker families in Laredo, Texas, and spent seven years in Legal Services programs in New Jersey and Florida, including two years as Executive Director of Florida Rural Legal Services.
Since beginning private practice in 1979, he has been a frequent lecturer for state and national Continuing Legal Education programs in the areas of Social Security disability, SSI, special needs trusts, guardianship, and legal and financial planning for disabled children and adults. He received the ARC’s Plotkin Outstanding Legal Service Award for service to mentally retarded citizens, is a three-time recipient of the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award from the South-Miami Kendall Bar Association, and received the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. He has been President of his two local bar associations, chairman of the South Florida Council on Divorce Mediation, and President of Guardianship and Case Management Services, Inc.
David is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and POMS. He has been married for 36 years to Dr. Diane V. Lillesand, a recently retired clinical and forensic psychologist and now fulltime Ph.D. graduate student in Tibetan Buddhism at the University of Florida, Gainesville. They have one daughter, Jessica, a graduate of Duke University and a recent graduate of the University of Florida Law School.
Tim has combined decades of clinical social work experience and legal expertise to develop an insightful, innovative and people-friendly approach to assisting his clients. He is the founding President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and was recognized in 1992 as a Fellow of the Academy.
Tim is a past President of the Oregon Gerontological Association, past Chair and founding member of the Elder Law Section of the Oregon State Bar and past President of the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He is past Chair, Amicus Brief Committee-National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (2003-2006) and also a member of the Medicaid Task Force-National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (2003-present).
He is a founding member and past secretary of the National Alliance of Medicare Set Aside Professionals. Tim is a member of the Oregon State Bar and the Washington State Bar Association. He is also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Academy of Special Needs Planners and the Society of Settlement Planners. Tim was the recipient of the 2007 Unaward of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Kevin Urbatsch is a principal of the boutique estate planning firm, Myers Urbatsch P.C. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He has extensive experience in all forms of estate planning with a particular specialty in providing for the planning needs of individuals with disabilities and their families. In 2009, Mr. Urbatsch was named KRON-TV's Best of the Bay estate planning attorney for San Francisco and Northern California. In 2010, Mr. Urbatsch was named a 2010 Northern California Superlawyer.
Mr. Urbatsch is the Co-Executive Editor of the NAELA Journal. A compilation of scholarly articles on elder law and special needs law for the over 5,000 member elder law organization. He is also the Contributing-Editor and partial author of CEB's publication titled Special Needs Trusts - Planning, Drafting, and Administration which is the nation's leading publication on estate planning for persons with disabilities.
From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Urbatsch was an Attorney-Editor for CEB (the Continuing Education of the Bar) in its estate planning group. He was responsible for the quality of California's legal reference guides to other California estate planning attorneys. He was also the Attorney-Editor for several other CEB titles including: California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives; California Guardianship Practice; Handling a Probate; Capacity and Undue Influence: Assessing, Challenging, and Defending; and Transferring Property through Probate.
Michele Palmer Fuller:
Michele P. Fuller is the founder of Michigan Law Center, P.L.L.C. and Advocacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation. Located in Shelby Township, Michigan, her probate practice focuses on elder law, special needs planning, post-settlement planning. She is a frequent presenter for attorneys, paralegals, service providers and parent groups. She has participated in community outreach and education programs with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. She also frequently publishes articles for probate and trial lawyers on special needs trust and settlement issues on a local and national level, and most recently published a feature article in Lawyers Weekly.
Michele serves on the Board of Directors for the Macomb County Probate Bar Association and is acting Treasure, serves on the counsel for the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section of the State Bar of Michigan. She is also an active member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP), is a regular contributor to the ASNP Special Needs Settlement Planning newsletter and will be a presenter at the annual conference in the spring.
Michele is honored to serve as the Director of Advocacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities. Advocacy, Inc. offers special needs trust administration services of all types of special needs trusts, including d(4)(A) trusts, third party, the Michigan Preservation Trust (a pooled self-settled d(4)(C) trust), and a third party pooled trust, and a Medicare Set-Aside pooled trust. She is also a long standing member of the Michigan Association for Justice.
After graduating with Honors as a member of the James Madison College at Michigan State University, Michele attended the American University in their Masters program and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
The Academy of Special Needs Planners provides legal information, not legal advice. Our information explains general legal concepts and principles that may or may not be applicable to a particular person's situation. The Academy of Special Needs Planners is not a law firm, does not give legal advice and no attorney-client relationship exists between the site and any user.
The Academy of Special Needs Planners makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this site. Because legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each client case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.
If you require legal advice, we encourage you to retain an attorney from our directory and to develop an attorney-client relationship with that attorney or firm.