- J.D., University of Notre Dame Law School, 1988, magna cum laude
- B.A., Aquinas College, 1984, summa cum laude
Laurie Murphy is a Member of the firm, Chair of the Estate Planning Practice, the Private Client Practice, the Probate Practice, the Guardianship Practice, the Wills and Trust Disputes Practice, is a former Vice Chair of the Business Section, and has been practicing law since 1988. She specializes in probate and estate planning, taxation of estates, trusts and gifts, as well as elder law and special needs planning.
Probate and Estate Planning
Ms. Murphy works with a wide variety of individuals from business owners to seniors to baby boomers, married couples to single parents, from young families to non-traditional families. She strives to make clients comfortable when she meets with them to identify goals and analyze their financial and personal situation. Ms. Murphy focuses on practical solutions and uses plain English to explain estate planning options. She customizes each client’s plan based on each unique situation. Regardless of the differences, she finds some common goals clients have. These include:
- Avoiding probate
- Protecting assets from creditor claims
- Minimizing or eliminating gift, estate, capital gains and income taxes
- Coordinating retirement plans and life insurance policies
- Protecting minor children or disabled loved ones
Business Owners and Succession Planning
Ms. Murphy represents many successful business owners and their families in succession planning. Her goal is to minimize taxes at each generation while maximizing creditor protection and family control. She develops strategies to leverage available estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping tax exemptions. She coordinates with families other trusted family advisors like CPAs, financial professionals and family business advisors. She keeps up to date on the trends and powerful techniques for wealth transition including:
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts
- Intentionally defective grantor trusts
- Family limited partnerships
- Limited liability companies
- Crummey Trusts
Elder Law and Disability Planning
Ms. Murphy has a statewide reputation as an expert in Elder Law, helping families with the legal and practical aspects of planning for the needs that arise as people age. Her mission is to serve as an “agent of hope” when families are in crisis over nursing home and long term care issues. Her caring manner eases their anxiety and provides a level of trust in her counsel so that they know there is a solution in sight. Her clients are prepared when faced with difficult decisions due to Ms. Murphy’s vast experience in drafting proper documents, asset protection planning, and researching topics from Medicaid eligibility to quality nursing home care.
Some specific elder law services she provides include:
- Preparing powers of attorney and patient advocate designations
- Filing guardianships and conservatorships
- Preserving government benefits Medicaid and SSI
- Providing assistance with Medicaid/Medicare issues such as spend down and asset sheltering
- Preparing Medicaid applications and forms, and assisting with appeals if needed
- Reviewing nursing home contracts and policies
- Identifying resources for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other dementia
- Protecting the homestead – preserving the family’s primary residence to benefit the homeowner and his or her family
Special Needs Planning
Ms. Murphy believes that every person deserves the highest level of respect and consideration. Her practice also includes planning to maximize resources for people with disabilities and special needs. Ms. Murphy prepares trusts to protect people with disabilities so they can maintain government benefits while family funds are used to enhance quality of life. She works with disabled people who receive funds from insurance proceeds and money judgments to draft and fund special needs trusts specifically authorized by state and federal law to shelter assets.
Health Care Reform and Affordable Care Act
Ms. Murphy is a valued member of the firm’s Health Care Reform Team since some of the health care reform changes focus on elder abuse, long-term care, and Medicare. Because of the complexity and ambiguity of the Affordable Care Act and other recent health care reform legislation, she is committed to informing contacts of new regulations as they are released in order to ensure compliance.
Professional Affiliations and Activities
Ms. Murphy is a one of only 50 fellows of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) in the state of Michigan. ACTEC, a nonprofit association of lawyers, elects to its membership those attorneys who demonstrate the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trust and estate counselors.
Ms. Murphy was invited to join Special Needs Alliance (SNA) is a national, not for profit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Her membership in SNA is based on a combination of relevant legal experience in the disability and elder law fields, direct family experience with disability, active participation with national, state and local disability advocacy organizations, and professional reputation.
Ms. Murphy serves on the Board of Directors for Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. and is also a member of the West Michigan Estate Planning Council having been a past president and on the Board of Directors. She is immediate past president of the Board of Directors for Disability Advocates.
Ms. Murphy is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and was the secretary and treasurer for the Elder Law and Advocacy section. Ms. Murphy is a member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and was president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Probate Section. She belongs to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and American Bar Association.
Articles and Presentations
Ms. Murphy is a frequent speaker to CPAs, bank trust officers, financial planners and other professional and community groups on estate and gift tax, estate planning, wills and trusts, sophisticated estate planning techniques, powers of attorney, living wills, patient advocate designations, planning to avoid probate, Medicaid, elder law and other topics.
Ms. Murphy is an editor of the fourth edition of “Advising the Older Client or Client with a Disability” published by The Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). She also contributed, as a co-author, to the chapter “Medicare Benefits and Procedures.”
She was profiled in the article “Elder law expertise allows attorney to offer clients more options” in Grand Rapids Legal News in January 2012. She has been a panelist on the public television programs “Successful Aging” and “Caring for Your Parents”.
Articles and presentations she has written include:
- “Tax Updates for Estate Planners:’‘Permanent’ Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions, Portability, Property Tax Changes and Trust Tax Issues,” West Michigan Tax Symposium, November 12, 2013
- “Sophisticated Estate Tax Planning After the 2013 Tax Act,” February 28, 2013
- “Benefits of Special Needs Trusts,” BRAINS Express newsletter, May 1, 2012
- “Special Needs Trust Basics,” Michigan Probate and Estate Planning Journal, Jan. 2012
- “What to Ask the Nursing Home,” Miller Johnson’s Business Law Update, Winter 2012
Ms. Murphy was named by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2013 “Michigan Women in the Law.” She was also the recipient of the 2013 Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award given by Elder Law of Michigan for making significant contributions in the areas of safety, fairness and justice for vulnerable adults. Ms. Murphy is a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). She was selected to join this prestigious professional association on the basis of her professional reputation and ability in the fields of trusts and estates and on the basis of having made substantial contributions to these fields through lecturing, writing, teaching, and bar activities. Ms. Murphy was also invited to join Special Needs Alliance (SNA) a national, not for profit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Ms. Murphy was named as Best Lawyers 2016 Grand Rapids Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates Law. She is listed in the “Best Lawyers in America®” for Elder Law, and Trusts and Estates and has been named as a Michigan “Super Lawyer” in Estate Planning & Probate, to the Top 50 Michigan Women list and the Top 50 Consumer Super Lawyer List.
Ms. Murphy is the past president of the Board of Directors for Disability Advocates of Kent County and has served on the Board for the Council on Aging of Kent County. She is an advocate for and member with the Area Agency on Aging, Gerontology Network and Triad – Council Against Senior Exploitation. Ms. Murphy has been a member of the Management Advisory Board for Covenant Village Retirement Community. She also does legal work for the refugee program at Bethany Christian Services. She serves on the Grand Rapids Art Museum Foundation Board as well as the Pine Rest Foundation Board and has served on the Board of Directors for the Hugh Michael Beahan Charitable Foundation.
Ms. Murphy received her law degree magna cum laude in 1988 from Notre Dame Law School and her undergraduate degree summa cum laude in 1984 from Aquinas College. She is admitted to practice in Michigan.