Planning for persons with disabilities can be very challenging. It is highly technical area of the law. One reason for the complexity is because lawyers practicing in this area need competence in several areas including estate and tax planning, public benefits, trust law, incapacity and family law. Even small differences in the client's factual situation can significantly affect the legal requirements and resulting outcome.
Additionally, such advice can be of great benefit to the family. Such advice can assist with preserving public benefits to provide for lifetime financial support and medical care; providing supplemental financial support for additional items and services that make life more rewarding; creating a system of advocacy to preserve civil rights; establishing an efficient, knowledgeable, and long-term team to manage issues that arise because of the planning needs of the person with a disability.
People with disabilities constitute our nation's largest minority group (one of five Americans has a disability). It is also the most inclusive and most diverse: both genders, any sexual orientation, and all ages, religions, ethnicity, and socioeconomic levels are represented. Yet people with disabilities are all different from one another and planning can be complex as a result.
The primary planning tool for the special needs practitioner is the special needs trust (SNT). SNTs fall into two basic categories: (1) the third party SNT and (2) the first party SNT. Within each category are various alternatives, but the basic structure is that assets are transferred into trust with an independant trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary with a disability who has no control over disbursements from the trust.
It is critically important to determine, at the outset, whether the trust is to be a third party or a first party SNT. This distinction will control the drafting of the trust, the funding of the trust, and the validity of claims by state and federal agencies against trust assets on the termination of the trust.
Phelps Law Group has lawyers with broad experience and who are highly skilled in advising clients considering SNTs to assist their loved ones with disabilities.