Considerations when Initiating or Settling a Personal Injury Action

This issue of The Voice is written by Ken W. Shulman, Esq. who is a partner in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Day Pitney LLP. Ken focuses his practice on estate planning and related issues for families who have children with disabilities and on elder law. He has served as a board member for several human service agencies including the Greater Boston ARC and presently serves as a board member for the Asperger's Association of New England. He also serves on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies Committee on Disabilities and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He is a co-author of Managing a Special Needs Trust, People with Disabilities Press (2012). Ken often serves as a trustee of special needs trusts at his clients' request.


Getting Creative: Models for Filling the Housing Gap

By Mary O’Byrne, Esq., and Stephen W. Dale, Esq. Previous installments of this three-part series have examined the scope and causes of the housing crisis faced by people with disabilities, as well as government programs designed to address it. This final article explores models being used by nonprofits, families and private industry-often with the help [...]


Trustees Should Use Professional Administration for MSAs Inside SNTs

By Douglas Shaw, COO, Medivest and Tom Matson, National Account Manager, Medivest An injury settlement of any variety can present a host of complex issues that the settling parties must take into account. One such issue centers around a dually eligible claimant, who is either currently receiving, or is eligible to receive, both Medicare and Medicaid [...]


Attorneys Explain Interplay of SNTs and Medicare Set-Asides

Representing SNA at the recent annual conference of the National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals (NAMSAP), Kristen L. Behrens, of the Begley Law Group, and Shannon A. Laymon-Pecoraro, of the Hook Law Center, discussed how to integrate Medicare set-asides (MSAs) with first party special needs trusts (SNTs) created to hold personal injury settlements. An SNT [...]


Blog Roundup: Home and Community Care/Least Restrictive Environment/”Sole Benefit” SNT Distributions/Hospitals and Family Caregivers

HCBS--A Cost-Effective Method of Providing Care Home and community-based care is less expensive than nursing home care and has the potential to ease states' Medicaid burden. Read on. Does the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Work for Your Child? An inclusive environment isn't always the best educational solution for a student with special needs. Read [...]


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 [...]


The Affordable Care Act and Personal Injury Awards

SNA President Marielle F. Hazen, CELA recently spoke on the "Impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on SNT and Settlement Planning" to an audience of 200 at the 2014 annual meeting of National Structured Settlements Trade Association. After providing a quick overview of the ACA, she focused on its potential effect on personal injury [...]


Tax Tips for Parents of a Child with Special Needs

This issue of the Voice was written by Robert B. Fleming, CELA, a founding member of the Special Needs Alliance and a partner in the Tucson, Arizona, law firm of Fleming & Curti, PLC. Mr. Fleming represents family members who are guardians, conservators or trustees; he also frequently acts as trustee of special needs trusts. He travels and speaks extensively on taxation and trust administration issues. His website is at


Call to Action! Ask Federal Legislators to Co-Sponsor Bills Benefiting People with Disabilities

The Special Needs Alliance and other prominent advocacy groups have long supported two pieces of legislation that would greatly benefit individuals with disabilities. Now we're asking you to help sign up additional co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 2123/S.1672) This bipartisan legislation was introduced in [...]


Filing a Tax Return for a Special Needs Trust: What a Trustee Needs to Know at Tax Time

This installment of the Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Tara Anne Pleat. Tara is a founding partner of the law firm of Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC ( in Clifton Park, New York. She practices in the areas of special needs planning, elder law, and trust and estate planning and administration. Tara writes and lectures frequently on issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


Blog Roundup: PI Settlements/College Supports/Eldercare/Employment/SNTs & SSI

SNA attorneys have daily involvement with a wide array of issues facing individuals with disabilities, their families and the professionals who serve them. Below is a sampling of recent posts from member blogs: High Expectations of PI Attorneys When Advising Clients During Settlement A recent client suit against personal injury attorneys illustrates the care with [...]


Special Needs Trusts And Home Ownership: A Trustee’s Concerns

This installment of the Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Evan J. Krame who focuses his practice on estate planning, probate, special needs planning and elder law. Evan is a past president of Shared Horizons, operating a pooled trust serving the Mid-Atlantic region. Evan also served as co-chair of the Estates, Trusts and Probate Section of the DC Bar. He has been honored as a Top Attorney and Best Lawyer in Washington and Maryland. Evan is a candidate for rabbinic ordination, seeking to blend his work in the law with pastoral care and spiritual direction skills. You may visit his website at Law Offices of Evan J. Krame.


End-of-Year Tax Considerations

By H. Amos Goodall, Jr., CELA Caring for a loved one with special needs can run into millions of dollars over the course of their lifetime, so the last thing families need is to pay unnecessary taxes. I'd estimate that before beginning to work with a special needs attorney, 30 percent of my clients had [...]


Family Members Should Consider Trust Protector Role

By Robert B. Fleming, CELA, Tucson, AZ For family members wishing to participate in the care of a loved one with special needs, the role of trustee isn't always a good match. Family members may not be particularly familiar with investing, accounting and tax returns. They may not have time to handle ongoing disbursements, or [...]


Tax Planning for Families With Special Needs

By Bradley J. Frigon, CELA As tax-paying season approaches, there are a number of tax obligations and deduction opportunities that families with special needs should bear in mind. It's important to realize that the investment income generated by funds deposited in a special needs trust (SNT) are taxable, yet the details differ, depending upon the [...]


Structured Settlements and SNTs

Protecting Public Benefits By John F. Kearns III, CELA, West Hartford, Connecticut When settling a personal injury case, the value that public benefits will bring to the plaintiff's quality of life should be carefully assessed. Means-tested programs such as Medicaid and SSI will often play a central role in providing healthcare and maintaining financial security. [...]


When A Family Member Serves As Trustee (Part II): The Devil Is In The Details

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment's author is 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 member and past president of the Special Needs Alliance, Ed writes and lectures frequently on issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


Military Survivor Benefits and SNTs

Will Congress Correct this Inequity? By Kelly A. Thompson, Esq., Virginia Poor word choice can derail intent. Nearly a decade ago, legislation governing the military's Survivor Benefit Plan stipulated that payments be made to a "person." A literal reading of that language has meant that veterans who have children with special needs can't assign those [...]


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.