Shirley Berger Whitenack Partner

Shirley B. Whitenack is a partner at Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP with offices in Florham Park, Paramus, and Sparta, New Jersey and co-chairs the firm’s Elder and Special Needs Law Practice Group and the Estates and Trusts Litigation Practice Group. Ms. Whitenack devotes a substantial portion of her practice to elder and special needs law, estate planning and administration and trust and estate litigation. She  is on the State of New Jersey roster of approved mediators.

Ms. Whitenack is a Past President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a NAELA Fellow, and a member of NAELA’s Council of Advanced Practitioners (CAP), an invitation-only group of elder and special needs planning practitioners and has served as an adjunct professor of law in the J.D. and LL.M. in Elder Law Programs at Stetson University College of Law.

Ms. Whitenack is a member of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA), an invitation-only nationwide alliance of special needs planning attorneys, the American Bar Association (Litigation Section and Real Property, Trusts & Estates Section), the New Jersey State Bar Association’s (NJSBA) Advisory Committee on Continuing Legal Education and past chair of the NJSBA’s Elder & Disability Law Section. Ms. Whitenack is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Program Development Committee, the Morris County Bar Association’s (MCBA) Estates & Trusts Committee and is past chair of MCBA’s Elder Law Committee. Ms. Whitenack is also a Trustee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Ms. Whitenack publishes and lectures extensively on topics related to guardianship, elder and special needs law, estate and trust litigation and probate mediation.  She is quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Market Watch, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, Money and Consumer Reports.

Ms. Whitenack received the NJSBA’s Legislative Service Award in September 2003 for her contribution in drafting and promoting revisions to New Jersey’s guardianship statutes and the NJSBA’s Amicus Curiae Award in 2004. Ms. Whitenack received GANJI’s Recognition Award in October 2003 for her contribution in advocating for the civil rights of incapacitated individuals. She received NJICLE’s Distinguished Service Award in 2007 and the Distinguished Service Award from the NJSBA’s Elder & Disability Section in 2009. Ms. Whitenack received the Community Health Law Project’s Ann Klein Advocate Award in 2011 for improving the lives of people with disabilities and was recognized in 2011 by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey in a Joint Resolution for service to those with special needs. In 2012, she was honored by the NJSBA for her long service as a trustee of the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and received the NJSBA’s Distinguished Legislative Service Award for her contribution to New Jersey’s enactment of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. Ms. Whitenack received the Morris County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Award in 2015 and is the recipient of the 2017 Alfred C. Clapp Award for Excellence in Legal Education by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education.  In 2019, she was selected by the New Jersey Bar Foundatoin as a recipient of the prestigious Medal of Honor.

She is A-V rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has been recognized in New Jersey Monthly magazine as one of New Jersey’s top 100 Super Lawyers, one of New Jersey’s top 50 women Super Lawyers as well as a top Elder Law “Super Lawyer.” * She also has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© ** for Trusts and Estates. Ms. Whitenack is admitted to practice in New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She received her undergraduate degree cum laude from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and attended Seton Hall University School of Law, where she held the position of Notes and Comments Editor of the Seton Hall Law Review.


Areas of Concentration

Guardianships; will contests, will and trust reformations, including special needs trusts; accountings for trusts, estates, guardianships, conservatorships and under powers of attorney; disputes involving trusts, powers of attorney, living wills and health care representatives; disputes among co-fiduciaries, breach of fiduciary duty claims, insolvent estates, elective share; disinherited spouse and omitted spouse; court approval of special needs trusts; uncontested, contested and interstate guardianship matters; elder and special needs planning and advocacy; mediation in probate and commercial litigation matters; Medicaid planning; fair hearings and appeals; planning for incapacity including asset protection and availability of government benefits, including Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSD); pooled trusts; settlement planning and consulting.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully represents corporate and individual fiduciaries in litigation
  • Represents financial institutions serving as executors, trustees, guardians, and individuals
  • Represents litigants in interstate contested and uncontested guardianship matters
  • Represents seniors and their families in planning for incapacity
  • Represents and provides advocacy for individuals with special needs and their families
  • Assists personal injury attorneys in structuring settlements and awards for their clients who have special needs and establishing special needs trusts

* The Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists are issued by 
Thompson Reuters.  A description of the selection methodology 
can be found at Super Lawyers Selection Process. No aspect of 
this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

** A description of the Best Lawyers in America © selection 
process can be found at Best Lawyers Methodology.  No aspect of 
this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.