Cross Over Issues: Special Needs and Family Law Considerations for The Trusts & Estates Practitioner

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Time: 6:00pm - 7:15pm
Location: Virtual Zoom Meeting
Speaker: Valerie Powers Smith, Esq. & Carolyn Martino, Esq., Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney, LLP

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Valerie A. Powers Smith, Partner, Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP with offices in Palm Springs and Indian Wells, CA; New Jersey, NJ; and Manhattan, NY. She has over twenty years of experience in the field of special needs and elder law including the following highly specialized practice areas: health care insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, special needs trusts, trust administration, estate planning & administration, guardianships and conservatorships. Valerie also practices in the area of estates, trusts, and probate.

Over the years, Valerie has concentrated her legal work in the area of health care law and has vigorously advocated for families and people with disabilities to gain medically necessary care from private insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance providers. She has additionally focused her practice in the areas of special needs trusts and estate planning and routinely advise families, executors, and corporate trustees on the area of special needs law and the administration of the same.

She has additionally focused her practice in the areas of trusts, special needs trusts, and estate planning and routinely advise families, executors, and corporate trustees on the area of special needs law and the administration of the same.  Valerie has additionally focused on complex matters including same-sex and multi-generational planning.

Valerie has written extensively on a variety of disability law topics, has co-authored several publications on accessing adult services, Medicaid, estates and trusts, and health insurance; and is a regular contributor to several newsletters of disability-based advocacy organizations throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California. She has also lectured for disability-related groups and legal organizations throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, and D.C since 1997.
A seasoned litigator, Carolyn H. Martino, Esq., started her career in civil defense litigation in Los Angeles during her second year of law school, as a summer associate at a large firm; and, since 1998, has elected to specialize in California Family Law. Carolyn has practiced law in Southern California since 1994 and began expanding her practice from the Los Angeles area to the Coachella Valley in the early 2000s.


Ms. Martino earned her undergraduate degree at UCLA and her J.D. at Loyola Law School. Through her years of practice in the Desert communities, she has developed an outstanding reputation for integrity, professionalism, and dedication to achieving positive results for her clients. Her deep knowledge of the law and expertise handling matters involving complex estates with significant assets and custodial issues bring clarity and compassion to resolving complex disputes.

Ms. Martino’s practice encompasses all areas of dissolution actions, from initial filing to negotiation of asset and property matters; evaluation of the parties’ financial position and income available for support; child support, spousal support, equalization payments; resolution of complex custody and visitation issues, both pre- and post- judgment; domestic violence issues; preparation of fully encompassing judgment and settlement agreements; paternity and parentage matters; adoption and guardianships; and negotiation of marital settlement agreements and post-judgment agreements on custody, visitation, and financial issues. She has represented a range of clients, including doctors, attorneys, business owners, real estate developers and investors, hospitality industry professionals, sports entrepreneurs, celebrities, professional athletes, and their spouses.


Martino is the incoming Co-Chair of the Family Law Section of the Desert Bar Association, her second term in that role. She has been named a Palm Springs Top Lawyer from 2017-2019 and has participated in the Inns of Court. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court Central District, U.S. District Court Northern District, the California Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit.

A New York native, Ms. Martino’s father was a legal scholar with a focus on International Law and public policy, appointed by the United Nations to oversee the first democratic elections held in Bosnia in 1996. Ms. Martino devotes her free time to her family and philanthropy through a variety of endeavors, including as a Founding Member and Vice President of the Coachella Valley Youth Hockey Foundation, and a Member of the City of Indian Wells Architecture and Landscaping Committee.  She was featured in the Fall 2019 “Women in Philanthropy” issue of Desert Charities News. Ms. Martino currently resides in Rancho Mirage with her son.

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