Monica gives presentations regularly to the general public, attorneys and other professionals about elder law and has written numerous articles for Tennessee attorneys. She writes a quarterly column about elder law issues called “Senior Moments” which is published in the Tennessee Bar Journal and available on our website.
On June 15, 2007, the Tennessee Bar Association awarded the Justice Joseph W. Henry Award to Monica, for her article “Saving Momma’s Home”, published in the Tennessee Bar Journal. This award is given annually to the lawyer who writes the most outstanding article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal. When presenting the award, TBA president, Larry Wilks, noted that Monica was only the second woman to win the award in the past twenty-five years, and the committee was unanimous in selecting this article for the award.
Born in Brownsville, Tennessee, Monica grew up in DeRidder, Louisiana and graduated from McNeese State University in 1985 with a B.S. cum laude in Psychology and a minor in Math Education. Monica taught high school Geometry and Algebra in Shreveport, Louisiana with a special focus on the needs of children with disabilities. In 1989, Monica moved to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee College of Law. She graduated with a J.D. cum laude in 1992. She was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1992 and is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee and U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. Monica is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Tennessee Bar Association, Knoxville Bar Association, and the Sevier County Bar Association. Her practice areas include: Estate Planning, Life Care Planning, Conservatorships, Medicaid Advocacy and Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Medicare Advocacy, Care Advocacy, Estate and Trust Administration.
Monica has one human son, Connor, a growing teenager, and one canine boy, Scout, a rambunctious Yellow Lab.
YEARS PRACTICING LAW
It was ten years after law school graduation and admittance to the Bar that I heard the terms “elder law” used in one sentence. I give credit to the Sevier County Clerk and Master, Carolyn McMahan, affectionately known as “Miss Carolyn” for setting me on the elder law path. She suggested that Chancellor Forgety appoint me as guardian ad litem in a conservatorship. I immediately read the statute, learned my duties, and sped off to interview the Respondent, a dear lady, who was vulnerable to exploitation, fiercely independent and could not hear my knock at the door. Eventually, the Court appointed me as her Conservator, a role in which I served until her death. My colleague in that case suggested that I consider elder law as a career and introduced to me to this brave new world of elder law and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. After years of searching, I had finally luckily stumbled upon the “color of my parachute.”
I am passionate about working with our clients and their families, studying the ever changing public benefits law and educating professionals and the community about how elder law affects each of our lives. Working, studying and writing can be a bit all-consuming but remains fascinating. I had to chuckle when a colleague informed me a few years ago that during our ride to Nashville for an elder law conference, we would not listen to “The Elder Law Answer Book” on tape! (I read that 5” book three times in preparation for my CELA exam. I really didn’t want to listen to it either!)