Big Hearts, Big Home
John and Jeanette Murphy, of Morrow, Ga., have adopted 23 "special needs" children over the years, 17 of whom still reside with them. These children, currently ranging in age from 6 to 39, are challenged by conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, brain damage and heart defects.
John and Jeanette Murphy, of Morrow, Ga., have adopted 23 “special needs” children over the years, 17 of whom still reside with them. These children, currently ranging in age from 6 to 39, are challenged by conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, brain damage and heart defects.
SGR has been retained on a pro bono basis to assist the Murphy family with several important planning initiatives, including estate-planning documents that will provide for the lifetime care of those of their 17 special needs children who survive them. SGR attorneys will draft testamentary and inter vivos special needs trusts that will enable these children to maintain their ongoing eligibility for Medicaid, SSI and other means-tested government programs for which they are eligible as a result of their significant disabling conditions. SGR also will implement a workable guardianship process to assure that designated persons have legal authority to make health care decisions for the children, both after the death of John and Jeannette and during their lifetime if they should become incapacitated and unable to continue to care for their disabled children.
Secondly, the Atlanta-based Keenan’s Kids Foundation has undertaken a fundraising program during the past several years to help finance a new dormitory-style home for the Murphys that will better accommodate all of their children, both as minors and as the older children attempt to develop independent living skills. SGR has been asked to determine the most practical mechanism to secure the independent oversight of the construction of the new home with the donated funds, as well as to make recommendations for the ultimate ownership and management of the home once completed, in a manner that will enable the special needs children to maintain their eligibility for means-tested benefits.
Finally, SGR has assembled a team of other allied professionals to supplement our legal work, including Robert Hammond with Northwestern Mutual and the life care planners of Crawford Care Management, all of whom are working on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis to help secure the future of the Murphy children.
The Murphy family was prominently featured in the November 2006 issue of Points North, as well as the August 22, 2005 edition of People magazine. The Discovery Health Channel produced a documentary on the Murphy family several years ago, and local television stations continue to highlight the ongoing challenges and successes of the Murphy family.