Every day, Carolyn White takes the formal, complex language of the law — language that has been evolving since before the Magna Carta — and puts it into the context of her clients’ lives so that they can both comprehend it and make sure that it works to their maximum benefit.
“I love to listen, I love to explain, and I have a great ability to imagine all the ways in which a plan might go wrong — to help ensure that everything goes right,” she says. “I don’t want my clients going forward with something that they don’t understand. I want to help them understand everything clearly so that they’re never blindsided, can see all of the possibilities, and feel completely comfortable with their path forward.”
Based in the Firm’s Midlothian office*, Carolyn previously was one-half of White & McCarthy (along with director Chris McCarthy), which folded into ThompsonMcMullan in 2018 and deepened the firm’s capabilities in several fields. Carolyn’s practice focuses on estate planning, probate and administration of trusts and wills, long-term care planning, and elder law. She is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve as guardian ad litem for incapacitated adults. She is also is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Carolyn assists clients from all walks of life — young families just starting out who want to protect their children’s’ futures; the “sandwich generation” looking after both their children and their older parents; retirees interested in streamlining the transition from one generation to the next; and families settling the estates of their late loved ones. She and her team also work to protect people with physical or cognitive impairments by establishing and preserving their long-term care benefits and helping to ensure proper supervision and management of their finances — sometimes working on behalf of their families and sometimes on behalf of health care institutions who are caring for incapacitated adults.
Carolyn says she enjoys her practice in part because the legal issues she tackles are tied to developing practical solutions for her clients rather than contending with disagreements and contentious relationships.
“The people I’m working with all day are people I can actually help solve a problem,” Carolyn says. “They come to me with a challenge — how to get money from Point A to Point B or how to put some firewalls up around money for a beneficiary — and I help them solve it. That always feels good.”
Carolyn says she appreciates that she has the opportunity to help families navigate the complex planning that can accompany the circumstances of their lives. She takes pride in serving as their capable, compassionate and reliable guide through often stressful and confusing territory.
“I really enjoy listening to families and helping them develop a strategy that meets their goals,” Carolyn says. “It starts with listening. First and foremost, my clients have a lot on their minds and they need to offload it before we can drill down into the issues. I listen not just to what they say they want to do, but why they say they want to do it. That way I can help them solve the problem in a way that works best for them.”
In addition to her work with ThompsonMcMullan, Carolyn is active in the local legal community — she is a past president of both the Richmond Bar Association and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association and a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation — and applies her legal expertise to causes outside of the firm, serving as a member of the Powhatan Board of Zoning Appeals and volunteering with Legal Information Network for Cancer.
*While Carolyn operates her practice primarily from the Midlothian office, she is available to meet with clients at either the Midlothian or Shockoe location.