Practice Areas

Special Needs Planning

Caring for a loved one with a disability is a tremendous undertaking. You do not have to face these challenges alone; our office can help. We can assist both the individual with special needs, and their family, to develop a comprehensive plan. Our holistic approach focuses on the following critical issues:

  • Surrogate Decision Making - financial and health care decisions, including Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, Living Wills and Guardianships
  • Asset Management and Protection, including Supplemental Needs Trusts
  • Eligibility for Government Entitlements, including Medicaid, SSI, disability benefits, Medicare
  • Planning for the Parents or other Family Members through Wills and Trusts

Mistakes can be costly and result in the loss of income for the person with special needs or loss of their health care benefits. The rules for these programs are complex and constantly changing. Our experienced attorneys stay current on the rules and regulations necessary to ensure continued eligibility and access to new services as they become available.

Planning for Disabled Individuals

Special Needs - Disabled children, or adults who are permanently disabled as a result of a personal injury resulting from accident, or medical malpractice, have special needs in order to preserve their inheritances or recoveries while maintaining necessary and vital public benefits such as Medicaid. Additionally, parents with disabled children now have a choice to use specialized trusts to provide for those children without jeopardizing the child's right to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Medicaid.

Support Trusts - A typical Will may contain a support trust for minor children directing a trustee to make distributions for support, welfare and education. Such a trust will make the child ineligible for SSI or medicaid, and may not be appropriate for disabled individuals.

Supplemental Needs Trusts - SNTs are the most effective way to help a beneficiary, by managing the resources in the trust while retaining the child's eligibility for public assistance benefits. There are two types of supplemental needs trusts: "third -party" and "self-settled".

  • Third-party Supplemental Needs Trust. These are created using a parent for "third-parties" assets to establish the trust and may be establish in a Will, or while the parent is living.
  • Self-settled Supplemental Needs Trust. These are created by special rules, but funded with the beneficiary's assets (usually received as a personal injury settlement or as an inheritance). But where those types of trusts are used, any money left in the trust may be subject to a "pay-back" to the state.

Other types of Supplemental Needs Trust helps provide for the quality of life of a disabled child or adult while maintaining public assistance benefits.

A lawyer experienced in these Special Needs (Supplemental Needs) Trusts can advise you and help you choose which option is best for your specific situation.

Planning for Pets

In America more adults have more pets than children! A love and concern for these "family members" can best be demonstrated by creating a special "pet trust" to provide for the pet in the event of your disability or death. Thirty-eight states, including New York, now allow pet owners to set up special trusts to take care of their pets after their incapacity or death, just as though the pet where a minor child. These trusts have many distinct advantages over merely providing for the pet in your Will.

Trusts for pets are necessary since the law classifies your pet as "personal property", and as such cannot inherit directly. The New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 7-8.1 sets up special rules to allow the creation of these trusts, which are not limited to dogs and cats, but can be established for any kind of animal companion, even fish.

Like any trust, the pet trust must have a trustee who will carry out the grantor's directions concerning care of the pet. Such a trust may be general, or very specific in detail. The trust may be funded during lifetime, or at death, or partly each. When the pet dies, the remainder of the trust will be distributed according to the directions contained in the trust. The trust may be for the benefit of one or more pets, and may have one or more trustees to administer the trust. The trust must end when the pet dies, or the maximum duration of 21 years.

Contact us for more information on this specialized law practice.

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