Planning for Persons with Special Needs

Special Needs Planning can be done by parents, grandparents or other relatives or friends. Special Needs Planning can ensure that the lifetime gifts, bequests, or insurance funds set aside for the person with special needs will be used to supplement government benefits while maintaining his or her eligibility for benefit programs.

New York Law provides two significant ways: Special Needs Trusts and Guardianships for family and friends to protect the future of persons with special needs. Our Special Needs legal services include:

  1. Supplemental (Special) Needs Trusts (sometimes called SNTs). Third Party SNTs are created with your funds to become available for your family member, now or after your lifetime. First Party SNTs are created with the funds belonging to the person with special needs, such as when there is a personal injury or medical malpractice settlement or when your family member inherits funds directly from a relative who did not establish a trust with the protective provisions of an SNT. First Party SNTs may require court approval and are subject to ongoing review by the court and attorney for the local social services district. We draft both types of SNTs and can represent you in court and with the attorney for your local social services district.
  2. Guardianships. When a person with special needs becomes 18 years of age, a parent or other responsible adult needs to be appointed Guardian by the court in order to make health care decisions and manage the person’s finances. A “third party designee” can monitor government benefits but there are many actions that can only be taken by a court-appointed Guardian. Depending on their specific situation, the special needs individual may be able to sign his or her own Health Care Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney to avoid the need for a Guardianship.
  3. Advising Guardians and Trustees of Supplemental Needs Trusts. Advising Guardians and Trustees of Supplemental Needs Trusts. We advise individuals and trust departments serving as the Trustees of Supplemental Needs Trusts and court-appointed Guardians to ensure compliance with the Trust document or court appointment, and with other governmental regulations. We will also coordinate our services with your social worker, case manager or community service provider.

We welcome the opportunity to help you protect and benefit your family member with special needs.