Estate Planning

Millennials and Estate Planning

This post was authored by attorney Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, CELA of Hook Law Center, P.C., Virginia Beach, VA. Shannon focuses her practice on elder law, special needs planning, estate and trust administration, estate planning, asset protection planning, financial planning, guardianships and conservatorships. She has been a SNA member since 2017. The pandemic has changed every aspect [...]

2024-06-19T10:29:14-04:00Tags: |

Special Needs Beneficiaries Can Be Explicitly Included in Estate Planning

This article for The Voice¬ģ was written by Mark B. Heffner, CELA, a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School. He is the principal of Heffner & Associates, a firm with offices in Warwick and Barrington, Rhode Island, focusing since 1992 on elder law, special needs planning, and estate planning. Mark is a Certified Elder Law Attorney, and became a member of the Special Needs Alliance in 2004. He can be found at

Roundup: Special Ed and Coronavirus/ Coping with Early Dementia/Standalone Special Needs Trusts

SNA attorneys have ongoing involvement with the wide-ranging issues faced by individuals with disabilities, their families and the professionals who serve them. Here is a sampling from member blogs and newsletters… Defining a Student’s Legal Rights to Special Ed During COVID-19 With coronavirus isolating families at home, how will special ed students receive the services so important [...]


Who Will Protect Your Child from You?

This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Joseph R. Gilsoul, Esq., of Gilsoul & Associates, Shreveport, Louisiana. He has practiced special needs law and estate planning for over 32 years and frequently speaks on these subjects to professional groups and the general public, including attorney continuing education seminars. Visit his website at


Finding a Balance of Autonomy, Support, and Assistance: Using Supported Decision-Making Agreements and Powers of Attorney

This edition of the Voice was written by Mark Todd Johnson, CELA. Mark is a partner at Johnson Teigen, LLC in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. The law firm serves clients of all ages and circumstances with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, special needs planning and trusts, long-term care planning (including Medicaid), and guardianships. He is the 2019-2020 president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

2024-05-07T13:56:49-04:00Tags: |

Preparing for Dementia

By Sally L. Schoffstall, CELA Dementia is on the rise with the aging of baby boomers. Nearly six million individuals in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, while others deal with cognitive decline related to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Downs Syndrome or other medical conditions. The changes are often wrenching, as parents become vulnerable and adult children grieve [...]


Terminating a Special Needs Trust

By Charlene K. Quade, Esq. Individuals establish special needs trusts (SNTs) to protect assets intended to supplement means-tested government benefits for a sole beneficiary, and to preserve the individual’s eligibility for such programs. SNTs exist in the form of first party, first party pooled, third party, and third party pooled trusts. First party and first [...]

2024-05-16T16:31:27-04:00Tags: |

Pairing Advance Directives with Supported Decision-Making

By Michael A. Kirtland, CELA When a young person reaches the age of 18 (19 or 21 in certain states), they are legally considered an adult. For many it's an exciting threshold, full of promise. Still, they may face medical, financial and educational decisions which could benefit from the advice and assistance of others. Unless [...]


Roundup: Supported Decision-Making/Bullying/Pre-Dementia Planning

SNA attorneys have ongoing involvement with a wide array of issues faced by individuals with disabilities, their families and the professionals who serve them. Below is a sampling of posts from member blogs and newsletters. Supported Decision-Making: A Model Alternative to Guardianship? Supported decision-making is an approach to enabling individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to control the [...]


Having Your Say: What if Advance Directives Are Ignored?

By Professor Kim Dayton Making medical and financial choices for an aging parent or other adult with special needs can be stressful. Health care directives and financial powers of attorney are meant to establish an agent's decision-making authority, but in practice, it doesn't always work that way. Time and again, health care professionals ignore medical [...]


How to Assess Future Life Needs for a Loved One with a Disability

By Joanne Marcus, MSW, Executive Director, Commonwealth Community Trust The first months, or even years, after receiving the diagnosis are filled with unexpected questions and challenges when you have a loved one with special needs. ‚ÄúHere-and-now‚ÄĚ needs like healthcare, therapy, education and other immediate needs can quickly take priority over future planning, which is understandable. [...]


Naming a Special Needs Trust as Beneficiary of your IRA or Retirement Plan

This issue of the Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Lisa Nachmias Davis, CELA, a partner in the New Haven, Connecticut law firm of Davis O'Sullivan & Priest, LLC. Ms. Davis helps clients with estate planning, setting up or administering special needs trusts, qualifying for public benefits, and probate and estate settlement; she also represents charities and other nonprofit organizations. Her website is


Understanding SNT Groundrules Can Avoid Disappointment

By Bridget O’Brien Swartz, CELA, Vice President & Senior Trust Officer, First International Bank & Trust Beneficiaries and their families generally have high expectations regarding special needs trusts (SNTs), which are designed to enhance quality of life for a loved one with disabilities without threatening eligibility for means-tested government programs. But SNTs are subject to [...]


Do Not Hospitalize Directives Often Confuse

By Elizabeth L. Gray, Esq. A recent article by Judith Graham, "The New Old Age, A Misunderstood Directive," (New York Times, 20 November, 2013) got me thinking about "Do Not Hospitalize" (DNH) orders. As attorneys, we routinely put such orders in our advance directives without a detailed explanation to our clients. What is a "Do [...]


Letter of Intent

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Amy C. O`Hara, CELA and her co-author, Sheryl Frishman. Amy and Sheryl are attorneys with the New York law firm Littman Krooks LLP, specializing in special needs planning, trust administration, guardianships, elder law, and estate planning and administration. Amy is an active participant of the Special Needs Alliance publications committee and is a member of the New York State Bar Association. Sheryl's practice is devoted entirely to the advocacy and life planning needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families. She is immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Westchester Arc. Sheryl also serves on the Board of Governors and Legal Committee of NYSARC Inc.

Does My Child Need a Guardianship?

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Hyman Darling, Esq., a partner in the Springfield, Massachusetts, firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C. Mr. Darling concentrates his practice in estate planning, elder law, probate, special needs and guardianships/conservatorships. Before joining Bacon Wilson, he was a trust officer for several years. A frequent speaker for civic and charitable organizations, he serves on the American Cancer Society National Professional Advisory Committee and the boards of several western Massachusetts nonprofit organizations for persons with disabilities. He serves on the board of directors and has served as Secretary of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

Developing an Estate Plan for Parents of Children with Disabilities: A 15-Step Approach

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Laurie Hanson, Esq., a shareholder in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, elder law firm of Long, Reher & Hanson, P.A. with the help of her law clerk, Christine Jensen. The firm's focus is to provide positive strategies for individuals who are aging or living with disabilities to help them live as independently as possible for as long as possible. Laurie concentrates her practice exclusively in the areas of government benefit eligibility, special needs trusts, trust and public benefit litigation, estate planning, and planning for incapacity. She is the past president of the Elder Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and is repeatedly named a super lawyer in the field of elder law by her peers.

Thinking It Through

What to Consider When Creating a Special Needs Trust By Katherine N. Barr, Esq. Many parents put off the process of setting up a special needs trust (SNT) for a child with disabilities. They worry about complexity and cost and that they'll be faced with difficult decisions. They may finally be prompted to call an [...]