Tim Nay, a partner in the law offices of Nay & Friedenberg, is one of the leading special needs and elder law attorneys in the United States. As an adjunct to his legal career, Nay was also educated as a clinical social worker and practiced in that profession for many years.
Among his professional contributions, Nay is the founding President and a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and continues to participate on NAELA committees, task forces and educational programs. Nay is a Director of the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP) as well as a founding member, former Director and officer of the National Association of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals (NAMSAP). Nay is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP) and serves on ASNP's Advisory Board.
On the state level, Nay is a member of the Oregon and Washington Bar Associations. He is a past President of the Oregon Gerontological Association, past Chairman and founding member of the Elder Law Section of the Oregon State Bar and past President of the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Earlier this month, at the ASNP 2009 Annual Meeting, Nay participated as Chairman and presenter for the ASNP educational program titled "Special Needs Settlement Planning" (SNSP) following which he provided S2KM with this exclusive interview.
S2KM: Greetings, Tim. In addition to your legal practice, how do you find time for, and what motivates, your many professional association activities?
Nay: Planning educational conferences has evolved into a small passion of my practice. My role as CEO of Nay & Friendberg, as well as our practice model, allows me to commit time to plan and present at conferences related to our practice. I always learn something.
S2KM: What do you consider your most important professional accomplishments?
Nay: Helping people and touching lives positively have been the most rewarding aspects of my career. When a client sends a handwritten "thank you" note to me or a member of our team, it means a lot. I am proud of my educational accomplishments including graduate degrees in counseling psychology and clinical social work prior to law school. My professional association work is a continuing source of many friendships and shared accomplishments.
S2KM: What connections do you see among elder law, special needs law and settlement planning?
Nay: Elder law practitioners champion special needs trusts, initially in the context of estate planning. Bringing special needs trusts to settlement planning is a logical extension of what elder law attorneys have been doing for more than 20 years. To contribute to the settlement process at the highest level, however, special needs attorneys must understand, or at least be aware of, other substantive legal issues important to the settlement process.
S2KM: How do you define "special needs settlement planning"?
Nay: Our firm views settlement planning as a process. We use a team approach which I supervise. Sandy Conley, senior legal assistant in our probate department, coordinates our special needs planning cases. She also drafts the settlement documents and papers in the state court proceedings to establish any guardianship and/or conservatorship. Jackie Appleton, senior legal assistant in our Legal/Financial department, is a third party special needs expert. Whenever third party planning is appropriate for the family of an injury victim, she drafts the documents and supervises their execution. Other members of our probate and estate planning staffs frequently assist our settlement planning process. Whenever difficult legal issues appear in settlement planning cases, we triage the case with our attorney staff as well as Sandy and Jackie.
S2KM: In addition to special needs trusts and estate planning, what potential roles exist in settlement planning for special needs attorneys?
Nay: Some special needs attorneys also serve as judges; mediators; trustees; conservators; and guardians for minors or incapacitated adults. All of these roles help prepare special needs attorneys to best serve injury victims and their families.
S2KM: In your experience, what impact do 468B Qualified Settlement Funds (QSFs) have on settlement planning?
Nay: Use of 468B QSF trusts allow defendants to conclude their settlement liabilities and responsibilities so other planning priorities such as liens, allocations, government benefits and funding options can be addressed by plaintiffs and their advisors in a less-adversarial context.
S2KM: What do you like and dislike about structured settlements and structured settlement consultants?
Nay: I like the product. In most of our catastrophic injury cases, structured settlement annuities are part of the settlement package. What many special needs attorneys, including myself, do not like are the business practices of some structured settlement consultants: over-structuring; single product focus; limited product comparisons.
S2KM: Did the ASNP "special needs settlement planning" conference accomplish your objectives?
Nay: The feedback from attendees has been outstanding. Everyone came away with important new learning.
S2KM: What additional actions are needed to improve and grow the "special needs settlement planning" market?
Nay: For the "special needs settlement planning" market to grow, all stakeholders must know when a special needs trust can improve life quality for the injured party. These stakeholders include plaintiff and defense attorneys, judges, mediators, and structured settlement consultants, as well as injury victims and their families. Without that knowledge, the settlement will be gone quickly, leaving the injury victim in grinding poverty.
S2KM: Thank you, Tim, for this interview. Congratulations for your continuing professional contributions and accomplishments.