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Michigan Law Center

Michele Fuller

Special Needs Planning Attorney of the Year, Women in Law 2016. Elder Law, Pooled trust, Special Needs Expert.

Michele Fuller is Founder of the Michigan Law Center located in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The practice focuses on elder law, special needs planning, Veteran’s Administration planning, and and settlement planning, including a national practice estatblishing Qualified Settlement Funds (QSF).

Michele is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is serving her second term on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Chapter, and presented at the 2014 national conference. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP), and served as Chair of the 6th Annual conference, in addition to being a frequent presenter at the annual conferences and webinars. She has also presented for the American Bar Association and American Association for Justice regarding various aspects of special needs trusts and planning. 

Michele was quoted in a New York Times article regarding utilization of pooled trusts.  She was also the featured attorney in the Lawyer’s Giving Back section of Lawyers and Settlements. Michele is also a contributing member of ElderCounsel, and has presented on various aspects of special needs planning and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. 

Michele co-authored several nationally published articles, including Traps for the Unwary During Special Needs Trust Administration, in Estates and Trusts Magazine, the Future of Planning for Persons with Disabilities which was published in the Fall 2013 edition of the NAELA Journal, and Pooled Trusts: An Approach to Special Needs Planning for Families of Modest Meanspublished in the May-June 2013 edition of BiFocal, a Journal of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. Parenting Magazine also named Michele Top Special Needs Child Advocate in 2013. She also contributed to the November 2014 edition of the Michigan State Bar Journal, Planning for a Person with Disabilities. Michele is also co-author of a book entitled Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child’s Financial Future, 6th Edition, NOLO Press. She is also author of Saving Grace, which is about an elder law client’s experience.  

Michele is a long-standing member of the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ) and has given national and statewide presentations regarding special needs settlement planning and related issues.  Michele is currently the Secretary of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section (ELDRS) of the State Bar of Michigan and presents for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. She also drafted the pending Michigan Pooled Trust Act. She has also presented for the Michigan Brain Injury Association of Michigan and the Michigan Guardianship Association. 

Michele graduated with Honors as a member of the James Madison College at Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations.  Michele then attended American University International Law Masters program and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.




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Michele’s

Sessions



D1 8:30am

Comprehensive Overview of Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities

Comprehensive Overview of Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities come from every background and have different needs. A professional must have a solid grasp of the public benefits available to understand what it takes to create and administer a plan to fully enhance a person with a disability’s life. This is an overview of how the professional identifies available public benefit programs available for persons with disabilities, the eligibility requirements for each program, and the needed tools professionals must have in order to obtain these benefits for their clients. This session is a necessary foundation for the rest of the day’s programs that will build a deeper understanding of the most important benefits for people with disabilities.

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D1 1:30pm

Special Needs Planning with Military or Veteran’s Benefits

Special Needs Planning with Military or Veteran’s Benefits

An underutilized and often overlooked public benefit program is veteran benefits. A person with a disability may have been in the military or more commonly is a child or spouse of a veteran. There is a wider class of individuals who are eligible for these programs. This program will explore what benefits are available to a person with disabilities who is either a veteran, child (or step-child) of a veteran, or spouse of a veteran. This session is designed to provide the professional with sufficient knowledge to safely navigate these difficult waters and provide them confidence in knowing how best to make a plan when the person with a disability may receive veteran benefits.

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D1 3:45pm

Navigating the SSA Programs of (SSI) and (CDB) Benefits for SNT Beneficiaries

Navigating the SSA Programs of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Childhood Disabled Beneficiary (CDB) Benefits for SNT Beneficiaries

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is often the gateway public benefit program that opens the door to many other programs. It automatically qualifies the recipient for Medi-Cal and its definition of “disability” is used for many other public benefit programs. However, SSI is one of the most densely managed public benefit programs available to persons with disabilities and can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. There are thousands of pages of government policy, hundreds of pages of laws, and active enforcement by the Social Security Administration. Yet, there are fundamental rules that once mastered makes planning and administering SSI much easier for the professional. This session will provide a thorough review of these rules along with handouts and cheat sheets to make the job of managing a client’s SSI eligibility easier.

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D1 5:15pm

Putting Together the Public Benefits Puzzle for SNT Beneficiaries

Putting Together the Public Benefits Puzzle for SNT Beneficiaries

The final program of the day will tie together what has been taught all day. The professional is responsible to make sure that the client with a disability’s needs is well taken care of both personally and financially. Is preserving every public benefits always the right answer? What if a program is available by one program but jeopardizes another? What happens when the person with a disability transitions from one program to another? The professional needs the tools to properly evaluate an individual client’s needs and how best to resolve those needs. This session will bring together our professional to assist the attendees in reviewing common planning scenarios and coming up with proposed solutions.

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D2 8:30am

Creating Systems to Properly Administer Special Needs Trusts

Creating Systems to Properly Administer Special Needs Trusts

Administering an SNT is a very important job, which often has a profound impact on the life of persons with disabilities. In most cases, the SNT trustee is providing the beneficiary goods and services that improve their quality of life. In some cases, the SNT trustee may be the only person looking to the beneficiary’s welfare. The great SNT trustee is a solid financial manager, accountant, record keeper, legal counselor, public benefits advisor, social worker, housing coordinator, civil rights advocate, guardian, and life coach. This session will provide the professional with the appropriate systems so the SNT trustee properly manages the trust and the attorney can ensure that the trustee is doing an excellent job. The goals of this session are to turn good SNT trustees into great SNT trustees.

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D2 10:30am

Making Sustainable Budgets and Monitoring Prudent Investments in a Special Needs Trust

Making Sustainable Budgets and Monitoring Prudent Investments in a Special Needs Trust

An SNT trustee has a legal duty to decide how best to make distributions that will enhance the quality of life of a beneficiary with a disability. The best way to do this is to set up a budget of items and services that will be paid from the SNT. But a budget is not a static, one-time task. Once a budget is established, it is immediately beset with unforeseen costs, poor investment performance, and special one-time expenses. This session will
provide the professional with information on how to handle these circumstances. The presenters will discuss the legal standard for SNT investment based on the type of SNT the trustee is managing, provide a summary of the types of proper asset classes for an SNT, discuss the use of professional money advisers to assist the
trustee, cover questions that arise when hiring a professional money adviser, and discuss the best methods for ongoing investment monitoring.

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D2 1:30pm

Properly Paying for Housing for an SNT Beneficiary and Avoiding Unintended Consequences

Properly Paying for Housing for an SNT Beneficiary and Avoiding Unintended Consequences

A challenging aspect of managing an SNT is handling the SNT beneficiary’s housing. This becomes more difficult for the SNT beneficiary on Section 8. There are additional areas of concern for purchasing a home by the SNT trustee, placing a down payment on a home, and additional requirements for court-supervised SNTs. This program will provide a detailed overview of the essential issues the SNT trustee and their attorney needs to know to properly manage this challenging area.

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