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Special Needs Planning

Parents, close relatives, and other friends of people with disabilities often take on responsibility for helping the person with special needs. Your role may involve providing financially for the person with the disabling condition, or providing care giving services. You may serve as the guardian for the person with disabilities, or may simply provide monetary assistance or want to give a gift to enrich that person’s quality of life.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, you need to get legal assistance with special needs planning. The law Offices of Barton Levine can help. Taking the wrong actions could end up jeopardizing important government benefits. So, give us a call toll-free at (516) 415-0696 or contact us online.

We will help with the creation of a personalized and customized plan and can also offer answers to questions you may have including:

  1. Why is special needs planning important?
  2. What is involved with special needs planning?
  3. How can we help?

A person with a disability may be unable to work to earn a living for himself, and may be unable to provide care for himself. A person with special needs may also be unable to manage money or property he acquires, such as cash that is provided through a personal injury settlement or from a gift. As a result, when a person with special needs is about to come into cash or property, provisions need to be made to ensure that the assets are managed appropriately.

A person with a disability may also be receiving government benefits, such as Supplemental Security income (SS and Medicaid). These benefits can be worth any thousands of dollars a month, especially if the person with special needs requires nursing home care, residential care, or costly medical care. These benefits are all means-tested, which means that if the person with the disability were to receive a gift or otherwise obtain assets, the important and valuable benefits could be lost.

Special needs planning makes it possible to protect the financial needs of a person with a disability. With the right plan, a personal injury settlement, a gift, or other assets can be appropriately used to provide for the person with the disability. A plan may also be created to insure that physical care is provided to the person with disabilities when a parent or other caregiver passes away or otherwise becomes unable to provide help.

Special needs planning usually involves the creation of a specific type of trust, called a special needs trust. There are first party special needs trusts if the assets which will be used to fund the trust belong to the person with disabilities. This can happen if someone who is disabled has worked, earned money, and acquired property before becoming disabled,. It can also happen if someone who is disabled will be receiving a personal injury settlement after an accident that caused the disability.

There are also third party special needs trusts. These trusts are created in situations where a family member or close friend wishes to provide money for a person with disabilities, either as an inter vivos gift (a gift during the giver’s lifetime) or as a posthumous gift (a gift provided after the giver’s death).

A first or third party special needs trust can shield money and property kept in the trust from counting as assets that would disqualify the person with disabilities from receiving government benefits. A trustee can also be named who has a fiduciary obligation to effectively manage trust property and assets and to use the property to benefit the person with disabilities.

The use of special needs trusts is just one part of a special needs plan. If you are providing care and serving as guardian for a person with disabilities, you will also need to make other provisions to ensure that a person you trust is able to take over the role of guardian if something happens to you.

Our legal team has extensive experience providing assistance with special needs planning. Whatever your relationship to the person with the disability or whatever your financial plans are for the person with special needs, we can help. Give us a call toll-free at (516) 415-0696 or contact us online to learn about the assistance we offer.

For more information on topics related to planning for those with special needs, check out these resources.


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