Special Needs Trusts and Wills

Ideally, all parents will create an estate plan to provide protection for their children after they pass on. However, for a parent of a child with a disability, planning is a MUST. Special needs estate planning encompasses a broad range of legal and financial issues of families with loved ones with a disability. This often includes drafting supplemental (special) needs trusts and wills, establishing and maintaining eligibility for government benefits, and helping family members become legal guardians.

Effective advocacy in this area requires an understanding of the spectrum of disabilities which can  impact an individual’s ability to live independently in the community, as well as the numerous local organizations that provide care and support. We help individuals with disabilities and their families ensure that a child with a disability always has a legally empowered advocate and that an inheritance will not disrupt continuing participation in the Medicaid program. We also assist guardians and trustees to make the best use of funds held for the benefit of the individual who will need a lifetime of support.

“It is difficult to explain just how physically and emotionally exhausted families and other caregivers can become. You have to live it to understand it. For the parents, the role as primary caregiver never ends, unlike most of their peers whose children eventually establish independent lives. And concerns about the future keep our clients up at night. Working with you, we create tailored special needs estate plans that offer you peace of mind about what the future will bring for your loved one.” —Ed Wilcenski

In this area of our practice we:

  • Draft supplemental (special) needs trusts and develop estate plans for individuals with special needs and their families;
  • Assist individuals with disabilities and their advocates with applications and continued eligibility for government benefit programs, most importantly Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Represent clients in court to establish special needs trusts;
  • Counsel family members considering guardianship options and represent them in both Surrogate’s Court and Supreme Court for the appointment;
  • Advise individual and corporate trustees of supplemental (special) needs trusts who are managing funds and prepare and review annual trust accountings to determine compliance with government program rules; and
  • Represent clients in administrative hearings before state and federal agencies involving eligibility for government benefits.