Special Needs Trusts and Federal Student Aid

By Christopher W. Smith, Esq. When a special needs trust (SNT) is being set up, families are typically most concerned about government benefit programs like Medicaid and Social Security. But how might an SNT impact an individual's ability to receive federal financial aid for college? The answer is surprisingly gray. Let's first state the obvious. [...]

2021-01-11T10:57:56-05:00

Income Taxes and Special Needs

This installment of the Voice was written by Robert B. Fleming, CELA. Robert is a partner in Fleming & Curti, PLC, a Tucson law firm focusing on special needs planning, trust administration, guardianship/conservatorship and estate planning. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and also of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been a member of the Special Needs Alliance since its founding, and was one of the original co-authors of the SNA's Handbook for Trustees, the free online guide to managing special needs trusts.

2021-01-11T10:56:24-05:00

Strategies for Funding a Special Needs Trust

By James McCarten, Esq. With all the daily responsibilities that parents juggle when one of their children has a disability (and, therefore, special needs), it's tough to find time to plan for the future. But that's what it takes when a loved one has a disability that may affect his/her ability to be self-supporting. It [...]

2021-01-11T10:56:14-05:00

Trust Advisory Committees Can Guide Trustee Decisions

By B. Bailey Liipfert, III, CELA Acting as trustee for a special needs trust (SNT) is a demanding responsibility, and one person or bank trust department may not possess all the knowledge and skills needed for the job. Families sometimes create a trust advisory committee to guide professional trustees who don't know the beneficiary well, [...]

2021-01-11T10:54:31-05:00

Consider Special-Purpose Trusts When Facing Mental Illness or Substance Abuse

By Shawn Majette, Esq. Over the last 30 years, I have participated in more than 10,000 involuntary civil commitment hearings. Each involved someone alleged to have been so seriously mentally ill or substance-addicted that he or she could not safely remain in the community. Each involved lawyers, handcuffs and forensic examiners. This note explains how [...]

2021-01-22T15:26:35-05:00

Distributions from Special Needs Trusts: In Kind Distributions, Credit Cards, Gift Cards, or Debit Cards

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. The firm's focus is to provide to individuals who are aging or living with disabilities positive strategies to 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.

2021-01-11T10:49:29-05:00

Roundup: Special Needs Trusts/Vets with Disabilities/Medicare

SNA attorneys have ongoing involvement with the wide-ranging 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. Mother's Gifts to Children Create Dispute over Special Needs Daughter When planning for the longtime financial security of a child with disabilities, it's best [...]

2021-07-20T16:06:55-04:00

Siblings Don’t Always Make the Best Trustees

By Robert B. Fleming, CELA As the parent of a child with disabilities, you may already know that you have to establish a trust to handle any inheritance you leave for your son or daughter. But do you know the most important question? Selecting your trustee is at least as critical as getting the trust [...]

2021-01-11T10:48:09-05:00

A Wake up Call for Professional Trustees and Parents

This installment of the Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Edward V. Wilcenski, Esq., a founding partner of the law firm of Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC in Clifton Park, New York. He practices in the areas of special needs planning, elder law, and trust and estate planning and administration. A past president of the Special Needs Alliance, Ed writes and lectures frequently on issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.

2021-01-11T10:46:40-05:00

The ABLE Act – A New Tool for Special Needs Planning

This installment of the Voice was written by Robert B. Fleming, CELA. Robert is a partner in Fleming & Curti, PLC, a Tucson law firm focusing on special needs planning, trust administration, guardianship/conservatorship and estate planning. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and also of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been a member of the Special Needs Alliance since its founding, and was one of the original co-authors of the SNA's Handbook for Trustees, the free online guide to managing special needs trusts.

2021-01-11T10:45:06-05:00

SNTs, Qualified Disability Trusts and ABLE Accounts: Slashing Tax Liability

By Ron M. Landsman, Esq. Special needs trusts (SNTs) enable funds to be saved on behalf of an individual with disabilities without affecting their eligibility for means-tested programs such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid. Since income generated within trusts is often subject to high tax rates, it’s sometimes assumed that the same is [...]

2021-01-11T10:41:48-05:00

Crossing State Lines

Special Needs Planning for Moving to a New State By Wendy H. Sheinberg, CELA No one enjoys moving; it's hard work and involves lots of detail (not to mention all of those boxes). Managing the transition for someone with special needs can be difficult; it's wise to begin planning as soon as you begin seriously [...]

2021-09-29T11:35:15-04:00

New Savings Accounts May Fund Care for Individuals with Disabilities

By Morris Klein, CELA In December, amidst much euphoria, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the ABLE Act of 2014 (Achieving a Better Life Experience). ABLE empowers states to create programs enabling individuals with certain disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts modeled after the popular 529 college savings plans that, if used for [...]

2021-01-11T10:41:02-05:00

Blog Roundup: 504 Plans/Health of Seniors/Managing SNTs

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 recent posts from member blogs. So What Exactly Is a 504 Plan? A 504 Plan provides accommodations and services—but not special instruction—to students with disabilities. Ranking [...]

2021-04-12T06:26:53-04:00

Child Support for an Adult Child with Disabilities

The Voice is the email newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Craig C. Reaves, CELA of Reaves Law Firm, PC. in Kansas City, Missouri. Holding the CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney) designation from the National Elder Law Foundation, he is a Past President and Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and a Fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC). He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and has been designated as a Missouri Super Lawyer. Mr. Reaves is an adjunct professor of elder law at the law schools of the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He practices law in Kansas and Missouri with major emphasis in the areas of estate planning, elder law, special needs trusts, and planning for persons who have a disability.

2021-01-11T10:39:07-05:00

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. “Here-and-now” needs like healthcare, therapy, education and other immediate needs can quickly take priority over future planning, which is understandable. [...]

2021-01-11T10:37:53-05:00

Do I Really Need A Professional Trustee For My Special Needs Trust?

By Michael C. Walther, President, Oak Wealth Advisors Serving as a trustee requires administrative and technical skills in addition to strong interpersonal communication skills. Identifying the appropriate trustee is difficult in general; a Special Needs Trust (SNT) presents additional challenges. While most families will name a relative to serve as the trustee of their family’s [...]

2021-01-11T10:36:50-05:00

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 www.sharinglaw.net.

2021-01-18T10:30:22-05:00

When People with Disabilities Divorce

By Barbara Hughes, Esq., and Edward V. Wilcenski, Esq. Studies indicate that divorce rates increase with the onset of a disability. While any divorce is likely to be disruptive, when one or both partners have special needs, there are additional complications. Marital laws differ by state, but here are issues to consider. Question of Capacity [...]

2021-01-11T10:34:33-05:00

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