Harrison LLP

Kristen M. Lewis

Partner

T 470.705.2188
F 404.806.6692
klewis@harrisonllp.com
Atlanta, GA

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Kristen M. Lewis counsels and guides clients through the complex Special Needs Estate Planning process.  Kristen works with a family to create a customized network of Special Needs Trusts as the foundation of a comprehensive plan to secure the current and future wellbeing of a family’s loved one challenged by a disability.  She helps a family to assemble their team of “allied professionals” who help to design and implement their loved one’s comprehensive plan.  Since many beneficial services and programs for their loved one are not available on a private pay basis, Kristen facilitates the family’s access to such critical supports by guiding the team to establish and maintain the loved one’s eligibility for various government programs, both means-tested and employment-linked.  Kristen also counsels professional and family trustees regarding the myriad pitfalls encountered in the administration of Special Needs Trusts.  She regularly advises families regarding multi-generational Special Needs Estate Planning, often working as co-counsel with their existing team of advisors to remediate existing trusts that are incompatible with the plan that a family wishes to implement for the benefit of their loved ones with disabilities.

Nationally recognized for her work in the Special Needs Planning area, Kristen is a frequent speaker and author on the topic. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and an active member of the Special Needs Alliance, serving as co-editor of the organization’s monthly e-newsletter, The Voice. She is a faculty member for the annual American Bankers Association Advanced Trust and Wealth School, and she also regularly presents workshops on Special Needs Planning for parents and allied professionals.

In addition to her legal practice, Kristen is also active in the community. She has served on the boards of The Bobby Dodd Institute, the  Center for the Visually Impaired, Cumberland Academy of Georgia (a private school for children with autism),  Eagle Ranch (a non-profit that works to unify broken families), Wesley Woods Senior Living (which provides affordable housing for seniors of limited means), and Better Living Together, Inc. (which seeks to provide affordable housing for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and others of modest means).

In her vast amounts of free time, Kristen volunteers for Canine Assistants, a non-profit which raises and trains certified service dogs for recipients with disabilities, where she and her husband have Puppy Nursery Duty every Saturday night.

Georgia

New York

Cornell University Law School, J.D.

Wellesley College, B.A., with highest honors

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Fellow (present)
  • Special Needs Alliance, Member (present)
  • Center for the Visually Impaired, Board Member (present)
  • Eagle Ranch Foundation, Board Member (present)
  • Cumberland Academy of Georgia, Board Member
  • Wesley Woods Senior Living, Board Member
  • Better Living Together, Inc., Board Member
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Legacy Advisors Leadership Council
  • All About Developmental Disabilities, Board Member
  • Georgia Community Supports & Solutions, Board Member and Board Chair
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Inc., Board Member and Board Chair
  • Wellesley College Alumnae Association, Trustee
  • Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Annulment Advocate
  • Serra Club of Atlanta

The Best Lawyers in America®, Trusts and Estates (2013 – present)

Georgia Super Lawyers, Estate Planning and Probate (2021 – present)

  • “Top 30 Best Practices When Advising Families with Special Needs Beneficiaries,” Conner-Zaritsky 45th Annual Advanced Estate Planning and Administration Conference, Hot Springs, Virginia (April 2024)
  • Panel Discussion with Tara Pleat and Bridget Swartz, “Beyond Limits: Tackling Staff Shortages Creatively in Accessing Direct Support,” Special Needs Alliance, Asheville, North Carolina (March 2024)
  • “Top 30 Best Practices When Advising Families with Special Needs Beneficiaries,” Louisville Estate Planning Council, Louisville, Kentucky (March 2024)
  • “Special Needs Trust Administration, ” American Bankers Association Wealth and Trust School, Atlanta, Georgia (March 2024)
  • “Top 30 Best Practices When Advising Families with Special Needs Beneficiaries,” ACTEC Southeast Fellows Institute, Atlanta, Georgia (February 2024)
  • “Planning Challenges for Beneficiaries With Special Needs,” Estate Planning, Volume 46, Number 3 (March 2019)
  • “The Crime of the 21st Century: Financial Abuse of Elders,” Probate & Property, Volume 28, Number 4 (July/August 2014)
  • “Planning for Beneficiaries with Special Needs,” Journal of Estate & Tax Planning published by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (Fourth Quarter edition, 2012)
  • Co-Author, “Top 15 Tips for Estate Planners When Planning for Special Needs,” Probate & Property, Volume 24, Number 2 (won the magazine’s 2010 Excellence in Writing Award for “Best Overall Article – Trusts & Estates”) (March/April 2010)
  • Multiple articles for The Voice, a publication of the Special Needs Alliance
  • Numerous presentations for ACTEC, the Heckerling Estate Planning Institute, the Special Needs Alliance, the American Law Institute, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Southern Federal Tax Institute, the Federal Tax Institute of New England, the Duke Estate Planning Institute, the Johanson Estate Planning Institute, the Georgia Federal Tax Institute, the Georgia Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Atlanta Estate Planning Council, the Georgia Fiduciary Law Institute, and the ACTEC Southeast Fellows Institute.

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