The Voice®2019-05-23T16:45:16-04:00

The Voice is SNA’s newsletter, written by our member attorneys for the benefit of families, other attorneys and professionals who work with the special needs community.

These are in depth articles that address the complex issues we each face.

Mediation Promotes Relationships, Dignity and Choice

ROXANNE J. CHANG, JD, MS LLP, is an attorney specializing in elder and special needs law. She is also a Limited Licensed Psychologist, with a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Ms. Chang has experience in consultation and advocacy for persons with dementia, developmental disabilities, and other individuals with special needs. She also provides conflict resolution services, including mediation and conflict coaching. Ms. Chang has a solo private practice in Plymouth, Michigan.

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.

How long do you have to work for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if you are 30 and younger?

This installment of the Voice was written by Martha C. Brown, CELA, a Special Needs Alliance Member who has been practicing in the field of elder law and special needs for over 30 years and is a Certified Elder Law Attorney as certified by the National Elder Law Foundation. Her firm, Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC, concentrates on the unique legal needs of the elderly, people with disabilities and the families who care for them.

Should a Special Needs Trust Pay for Medical Marijuana?

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Kyle Moore, Esq., who practices with the law firm of Weems, Schimpf, Haines, Shemwell & Moore, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He focuses on special needs planning, elder law and estate planning.

Requirements for Reprinting this Article: The below article may be reprinted only if it appears unmodified, including both the author description above the title and the "About this Newsletter" paragraph immediately following the article, accompanied by the following statement: "Reprinted with permission of the Special Needs Alliance - www.specialneedsalliance.org."

Preserving SSI When Divorcing Parents Have a Child with Disabilities

The Voice is the email newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member, Lee M. Holmes, CELA, of Holmes, Holmes and Neisent, PLLC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The law firm’s practice focuses on planning for persons with disabilities, estate planning, Medicaid and elder law. Lee is a founding member and fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a certified elder law attorney (CELA), is listed in Best Lawyers in America and has been designated an Oklahoma Super Lawyer.

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Financial Abuse of Individuals with Disabilities

This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Elizabeth L. Gray, Esq., a principal with the firm of McCandlish Lillard, with offices in Fairfax and Leesburg, Virginia. She has practiced special needs and elder law for over 20 years and has been listed in Best Lawyers of America annually since 2012. She also sits on the board of directors of Brain Injury Services.

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Tax Law Changes for Those with Disabilities

This edition of the Voice was written by SNA member, Robert B. Fleming, CELA. Robert is a partner in the Tucson, Arizona law firm of Fleming & Curti, PLC. He is a long-time member of the Special Needs Alliance and frequently speaks on special needs issues to lawyers and family members all over the country. You can subscribe to his newsletter and podcast at www.elder-law.com.

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Selecting a Trustee – Some Things to Consider

Parents and grandparents often have a pretty good sense of when they may want to create a special needs trust ("SNT") for their child or grandchild with atypical needs. They also understand, perhaps after discussion, when their family's circumstances warrant a need for money management, or if an inheritance will jeopardize essential means-tested government benefits, like SSI or Medicaid. In meeting with a special needs attorney, Clark and Cathy explained that Sara, their daughter with developmental delays, would be unable to manage her own inheritance. The question they had not fully considered was, "Who should hold that job after they are gone?"

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Sometimes Less is More – Alternatives to Plenary Guardianship

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Timothy Rigby, Esq., who practices with Hart, Southworth & Witsman in Springfield, Illinois. The firm’s focus is estate planning and transactional matters, and Tim concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and special needs planning.

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Recommended Books for the Special Needs Community, Second Installment

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, & Price, P.A. The firm’s focus is to provide 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 a past president of the Elder Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, a member of the SNA board of directors, and is repeatedly named a super lawyer in the field of elder law by her peers.

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SNT Beneficiaries on the Move: Third in a Series

This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Kristen M. Lewis, Esq., who practices in Atlanta, Georgia at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Kristen is also a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). She is a frequent national speaker on special needs planning, and serves on the Boards of numerous non-profits that support individuals with disabilities and their families. In her free time, she trains certified service dogs for Canine Assistants in Milton, Georgia.

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SNT Beneficiaries on the Move: Second in a Series

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Kristen M. Lewis, Esq., who practices in Atlanta, Georgia at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Kristen is also a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). She is a frequent national speaker on special needs planning, and serves on the Boards of numerous non-profits that support individuals with disabilities and their families. In her vast amounts of free time, she trains certified service dogs for Canine Assistants in Milton, Georgia.

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SNT Beneficiaries on the Move: First in a Series

This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Kristen M. Lewis, Esq., who practices in Atlanta, Georgia at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Kristen is also a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. She is a frequent national speaker on Special Needs Planning, and serves on the Boards of numerous non-profits that support individuals with disabilities and their families. In her vast amounts of free time, she trains certified service dogs for Canine Assistants in Milton, Georgia.

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Two Different Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are two types of Special Needs Trusts (SNTs), commonly designated as first-party and third-party SNTs. It is important to determine which type of SNT you have or need. This depends upon whose property is funding the SNT. If the property funding the SNT originates with the SNT beneficiary, then it is a first-party SNT. However, if the property funding the SNT always belonged to someone other than the SNT beneficiary, then it must be drafted as a third-party SNT.

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Trust Protectors for Special Needs Trusts

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Gregory Wilcox of Berkeley, California. Greg’s firm focuses on government benefits and estate planning for the elderly and for individuals with disabilities. He is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and co-author of Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting, and Administration and of California Elder Law Resources, Benefits, and Planning.  He is a core faculty member in attorney training conferences given by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) in San Francisco, and frequent contributor of articles on special needs topics in CANHR's Legal Network News.

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The Social Security Administration’s Special Needs Trusts Review Process

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Sage C. Hart, Esq., who practices law in Lutherville, Maryland. Her practice focuses on estate and special needs planning. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the First Maryland Disability Trust.

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

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Tara Anne Pleat, Esq.. 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.

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Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) – How to Open an ABLE Account

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Pacheco, California, Special Needs Alliance member Stephen W. Dale of The Dale Law Firm, PC. Steve is a disability rights advocate and attorney dedicated to providing quality estate planning. He is a frequent speaker on a variety of disability related topics across the country. Steve regularly teaches courses to the public, financial professionals, and other attorneys on special needs trusts and trust administration. Additionally, he serves as the trustee for the Golden State Pooled Trust. Steve offers numerous videos and handouts to the public and his colleagues at www.achievingindependence.com.

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The “Special Needs Trust Fairness Act” is Finally Law: Individuals with Disabilities Can Now Establish Their Own Trusts

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Morris Klein, CELA, who practices law in Bethesda, Maryland. Morris has been recognized as a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, and focuses on elder law and special needs planning. He currently serves on the SNA Board of Directors, and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the First Maryland Disability Trust.

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