Before Arkontaky joined, the practice centered on legal issues facing the elder population, such as Medicaid planning, Wills and Trusts and Probate issues. “Steven has embraced the idea of providing special needs planning to families who need assistance,” she explains.
As part of this focus, the firm now helps families set up trusts for kids with disabilities to supplement state funds they may receive. “Parents of kids with disabilities need to look at long-term guardianship issues as well,” says Arkontaky. “These children can also be eligible for state benefits, but you have to be careful that certain wills and trusts, for example, don’t affect the state services they can get. So, our firm focuses on these types of issues that such families often face.”
Arkontaky also finds time to reach out to the community by conducting seminars on special needs and estate planning for families. She has words of advice for women who are in a similar situation with a disabled child, and says they can apply to all working women with families. “It’s important to find work that fits your schedule, and it’s very important to set achievable goals,” she says. “Opt for part-time work if you can. Things, of course, won’t always be perfect, but that’s OK. Also realize that even in the best of situations, things do not always work out the way you planned. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s vital to develop a good support network and to be supportive to others in need. Have a plan A, a plan B, and maybe even a plan C!”
It’s obvious that Adrienne is very proud of her daughters. “Having a child with a disability can tear you apart — or bring you closer. I think my girls have learned quite a bit from having a sister with special needs. Justine has developed a sense of empathy and compassion that never would’ve been possible without Jordan. Jenna is extremely proud of Jordan and is not afraid to explain her disabilities to other kids her age. She also learned to walk by pushing Jordan’s wheelchair.”
Above all, Arkontaky credits her family with being her strength and encouragement. “I could never, ever have finished law school without their help,” she says. “We have been through a lot together, and we understand how important it is to support each other in tough times.”