I am so proud to be a special needs law attorney and member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), which has sponsored a nationwide observance of Special Needs Law Month during the month of October. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NAELA was formed in 1987 in response to the growing needs of older adults and people with disabilities in coping with the legal problems of aging and special needs.
Programs this month throughout the United States will include: an overview of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Medicare Part D presentations; seminars in financing long-term care; seminars in legal tools for financial management, such as powers of attorneys and trusts; seminars in understanding Medicare and Medicaid; discussions of special needs trusts and a student’s right to an independent educational plan; discussions of public entitlements, such as Social Security and Supplemental Security Income; discussions of housing options; and other issues with which local special needs law attorneys feel the public should be familiar.
Membership in NAELA has grown to more than 4,000 members since its inception in 1987 commensurate with the continuing national advocacy for people with special needs.
Unlike traditional generalist lawyers or even trusts and estates attorneys, as a special needs law attorney I focus on my clients “holistically” – helping with the issues that affect a particular segment of the population rather than a particular area of law.
When clients visit our firm, they generally present problems beyond the need for a will or a power of attorney. We know the multifaceted aspects of this complex area of the law and can refer those in need to a large network of services and providers who rescue our clients right along with us.
Like NAELA we are committed to education for our clients, other professionals serving our clients and members of the public. We constantly monitor the ever-changing statutes and regulations to which people with disabilities are often sadly beholden for their daily needs.
NAELA Members are the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services that enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. If you are a senior facing aging issues or anyone with special needs you owe it to yourself and your family to only work with a NAELA member devoted to you. Other attorneys just cannot and will not provide that level of service. We welcome the opportunity to help you and your family. Call today to schedule your Family Wealth Planning session and learn how we can make your life and the lives of your loved ones secure.
needs trust (often referred to as a special needs trust or “SNT”) is a special
type of trust specifically authorized by federal and state law to protect
assets of a disabled individual while safeguarding access to benefits programs,
such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
pooled supplemental needs trust is a
kind of SNT that is formed and governed by a not-for-profit organization. The benefits of using this type of trust
can be contributed by the disabled individual or by friends and family members
attorney does not need to draft the trust so legal fees are saved
not-for-profit manages the trust funds and handles all distributions so if
there is no one a family can appoint to manage an individual trust, this
administrative burden is lifted, and the annual summary of expenditures required
for Medicaid recertification is easily obtained
not-for-profits offer the ability to shelter excess income through their pooled
SNTs so an individual can contribute funds to the pooled SNT and still use
those funds rather than simply spending-down their excess income each month
negative aspects of using a pooled supplemental needs trust include:
funds at the beneficiary’s death usually
must stay with the not-for-profit for its programs and cannot be distributed to
family members, friends or other charities
when the pooled account is funded with the special needs individual’s own money
there may be a Medicaid payback requirement if the not-for-profit does not
retain the remaining funds
can be somewhat high as well, although they are comparable to a corporate trustee,
usually a percentage of the account value or the monthly income contribution
SNTs cannot be used to shelter assets from Medicaid if the beneficiary enters a
nursing home for chronic care
would be happy to discuss how a pooled SNT or any other type of SNT may fit
within your family’s planning needs.