- J.D., University of Oregon School of Law, 1984
- B.S., University of Michigan, 1976
Cathy Contos Metzler is a member of Miller Johnson and has been practicing law since 1984. She specializes in estate planning and taxation, probate and trust administration, guardianship and conservatorship, special needs trusts, elder law and Medicaid planning. Ms. Metzler is also the co-chair of the firm’s Elder Law and Disability Planning practice group.
Ms. Metzler assists individuals and couples of all ages and backgrounds with planning in the event of incapacity during their lifetime and for estate administration after death. She prepares wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney, patient advocate designations, authorization and consent forms pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as transfer documents designed to minimize or avoid probate and streamline the administration of estates and financial matters during incapacity and death.
Medicaid and disability planning is very important to many of Ms. Metzler’s clients. Couples with special needs children should feel comfortable planning for their children’s care and custody following the death of the parents. Special needs trusts and Designation of Guardians are frequently used in the estate plans of couples who have a child with disabilities. Many families in southwest Michigan seek advice for planning an elder parent’s long term care in the nursing home setting. Medicaid laws are complicated and constantly changing. Ms. Metzler attempts to help clients understand their long term care options.
In addition to estate planning, Ms. Metzler helps families administer an estate or trust after death. This may include representing the estate or trust in court proceedings, locating and valuing assets, determining and paying debts and administration expenses as well as preparing and filing final individual income tax, fiduciary tax and estate tax returns.
Ms. Metzler also guides families through court proceedings for guardianship and conservatorship in those occasions when it is necessary to appoint a guardian to make medical and custodial care decisions or a conservator to handle finances of a minor or an incapacitated individual who has not previously designated an agent in a power of attorney or patient advocate form. She has experience in establishing self settled trusts for minors with developmental disabilities who have funds in a conservatorship and are reaching the age of majority as well as adults with disabilities who find themselves inheriting funds or receiving a lump sum settlement from a lawsuit.
Ms. Metzler assists clients with name changes for themselves and minor children in contested and non-contested situations. She has helped couples through the process of step parent adoption or adoption through guardianship.
Professional Affiliations, Activities and Honors
Ms. Metzler is a member of the American Bar Association, Michigan Bar Association, Kalamazoo County Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She was on the board of directors and past president of the Kalamazoo County Bar Association, past chair of the Probate and Estate Planning section, and past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Southwest Region. She is a member of the Kalamazoo County Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition which created a handbook for vulnerable adults and their families. Ms. Metzler completed the ICLE Probate and Estate Planning Certificate Program in 2005 and updated the certificate every year since then.
Ms. Metzler is the recipient of the 2016 Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award given by Elder Law of Michigan for making inspiring and significant contributions to the needs of vulnerable adults. Ms. Metzler is also listed in the “Best Lawyers in America®” for Elder Law, and Trusts and Estates. Ms. Metzler was named as Best Lawyers 2019 Kalamazoo Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates
Ms. Metzler is a frequent speaker to professional, church and community groups on estate planning and taxation, charitable giving, wills and trusts, planning to avoid probate, living wills and patient advocate designations, guardianships and conservatorships, special needs trusts and other topics. She also regularly volunteers at the Kalamazoo County Probate Court free probate clinic and for the Legal Hotline Lawyer for Elder Law of Michigan, Inc.
Ms. Metzler is on the board of directors of Friendship Village Community where she was President as well as served on the executive committee, finance committee and development committee. Ms. Metzler is on the Kalamazoo County Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition and also volunteers with Ministry with Community.
Ms. Metzler served as president, treasurer and on the fundraising committee of Prevention Works, a non-profit organization which empowers youth and families to make good choices regarding the use (or non-use) of tobacco, drugs and alcohol and to resolve differences through non-violent means. She served the board of directors for the Drug Treatment Court Foundation as well as being chair of their Planned Giving Committee. She also served on the board of directors for the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation as well as on its development committee. Ms Metzler formerly served on the boards of Guardian Inc. of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo County Guardian, Inc. She was a member and scout leader with the Girl Scouts of Southwest Michigan and a member and troop treasurer with the Boy Scouts.
Ms. Metzler received her law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1984 and her undergraduate degree in 1976 from the University of Michigan. She was admitted to practice in Oregon in 1984 and admitted to practice in Michigan in 1986.