Special Needs Planning is an important service provided by Fiore Law Firm, P.C. in New York for those who have a child with a mental or physical disability.  Parents like these often have spent a good portion of their lives making unique sacrifices for their special needs child.  Special Needs Planning is an extension of that life-long commitment because no matter how old the child becomes, parents still worry and they have legitimate reasons for concern.  Who will care for their special needs child when they are no longer around?

As part of total Estate Planning, Fiore Law Firm, P.C. provides these services for New York families with special needs children:

  • Arranging quality, long-term care
  • Protecting the child’s inheritance
  • Maximizing federal benefits
  • Setting up and Managing Trusts
  • Naming Guardians

Special Needs Trusts
Special Needs Trusts protect assets that the client has accumulated while allowing a disabled loved one to continue receiving the government benefits the individual relies upon.

While a caretaker or loved one can certainly create an estate plan wherein they “bequest”, or leave, a person with special needs money and assets, such an estate plan may prevent the person with special needs from qualifying for essential benefits such as the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Medicaid programs.  A special needs trust is an essential component of the estate plan for any parent or caretaker who wishes to provide for a disabled beneficiary upon his or her death.

Public monetary benefits such as SSI and Medicaid provide only for the minimum necessities, to include: housing, food, and clothing.  However, public benefits are extremely limited and will not provide those loved ones with the resources that would allow them to enjoy a richer quality of life.

If a loved one leaves assets to a person who is receiving public benefits, that person may be disqualified from receiving those benefits.  Fortunately, the government has established rules allowing assets to be held in certain trusts, called “Special Needs Trusts” or “Supplemental Needs Trusts” for a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, so as long as certain requirements are met.

A special needs trust must be specifically designed to supplement, rather than replace, public benefits.  With a special needs trust in place, the eligibility of a person with a disability is preserved, and the trust is able to provide assets that will meet the “supplemental needs” of that person.  Supplemental needs are those that go beyond those that go beyond food, shelter, and clothing, and the medical and long term supports and services of Medicaid.  The special needs trust can fund those additional needs.

Sometimes the special needs person is an adult and the resources to be protected are his own, maybe received from an inheritance or a law suit. A special needs trust established in this instance would allow the person to continue receiving benefits and preserve the trust funds for his special needs.

Funds from a special needs trust must be disbursed to the vendors who provide goods and services for the use and enjoyment by the disabled beneficiary.  Funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the beneficiary with special needs.

The following is a list of life-enhancing expenditures that a special needs trust can provide for without compromising a person’s eligibility for SSI or Medicaid:

  • Annual check-ups at an independent medical facility
  • Supplemental education and tutoring
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • Transportation
  • Purchase and maintenance of a vehicle
  • Purchase materials for a hobby or recreation activity
  • Funds for trips or vacations
  • Funds for entertainment such as movies, shows or ballgames
  • Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life: computers, videos, furniture, or electronics
  • Athletic training or competitions
  • Special dietary needs
  • Attendance of religious services
  • Personal care attendants or escorts