Disabilities and Special Needs Planning


For children and adults with special needs, seniors coping with the aging process or facing the possibility of long-term care and individuals concerned about medical and end-of-life decision-making, maintaining personal independence and dignity with financial security are the highest planning goals.
 
Our clients and their family members include:

  • special needs children and adults
  • children and adults who have suffered disabling personal injuries
  • trial counsel who need advice regarding liens and other pre- and post-settlement issues
  • individuals with mental illness
  • individuals with progressive disabling conditions
  • individuals and couples facing long-term care
  • individuals concerned about medical and end-of-life decision-making
  • special needs trusts administration and investments 

To many clients faced with these complex and sensitive personal situations, the legal technicalities of conservatorships, commitments, guardianships, special needs and OBRA 93 Trusts, Social Security Disability and Medicaid can appear overwhelming. With profound knowledge and extensive experience in all aspects of special needs, disabilities planning and elder law, our attorneys can provide thoughtful and effective advice to help achieve the personal independence, dignity and financial security crucial to every human being.

Special Needs Children and Adults

Through the use of special needs trusts that are fully integrated into the family estate plan, parents and others can provide for a son or daughter with developmental or other disabilities. Whether the special needs individual requires extensive or limited care and whether or not public assistance benefits are, or may become, necessary, our attorneys will design a plan that implements the family's and individual's needs and achieves their planning goals.

Children and Adults Who Have Suffered Disabling Personal Injuries

When an individual of any age has been seriously injured (as a result of an accident, medical malpractice or any other cause) and a settlement or judgment in the individual's favor becomes available, planning to protect the funds is essential. Under federal and state law, many injured and disabled individuals may place their assets in an OBRA 93 Trust and qualify for Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other benefits. Our attorneys assist individuals, trial counsel and the courts in developing and drafting appropriate trusts and, if requested, assist in trust administration and probate court proceedings.

Trial Counsel Whose Clients Have Received Compensation for Injuries

When an individual has been seriously injured and receives a significant settlement or judgment, planning to protect the funds is essential. Under federal and state law, many injured individuals may place their assets in an OBRA 93 Trust and qualify for Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other benefits. Our attorneys assist trial counsel and the courts by resolving liens, analyzing structures, assessing future need for public assistance and developing and drafting appropriate trusts. We also assist in trust accountings and other probate court proceedings, in which trial counsel often have limited experience. Our collegial, supportive role has led many leading trial counsel to rely on us for such assistance and advice.

Individuals With Mental Illness

Among the most challenging disabilities that an individual or his or her family can face is severe chronic mental illness.  Our attorneys are experienced in providing appropriate estate planning in such circumstances and in advising and representing individuals and families in commitments, conservatorships and related court and administrative proceedings.

Individuals With Progressive Disabling Conditions

When an individual of any age has been seriously injured (as a result of an accident, medical malpractice or any other cause) and a settlement or judgment in the individual's favor becomes available, planning to protect the funds is essential. Under federal and state law, many injured and disabled individuals may place their assets in an OBRA 93 Trust and qualify for Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other benefits. Our attorneys assist individuals, trial counsel and the courts in developing and drafting appropriate trusts and, if requested, assist in trust administration and probate court proceedings.

Individuals and Couples Facing Long-Term Care

Once of relatively little concern to any but the indigent, Medicaid (or Title XIX) is now recognized as an important planning consideration even for the affluent. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey are among the most expensive states for institutionalized care in the nation, with some nursing homes charging more than $10,000 per month. Although the financial costs of institutionalized care are staggering, the logistics of at-home care often make it an unrealistic alternative. Our attorneys can advise on appropriate Medicaid planning techniques (such as the transfer of assets and creation of income-only trusts) as well as the alternatives, including long-term care insurance. When requested, they also can assist in the preparation of Medicaid applications, representation at fair hearings and appeals, as well as in asset protection litigation.

Individuals Concerned About Medical and End-of-Life Decision-Making

As medical science pushes the frontiers of human life ever further, medical and end-of-life decision-making processes have become increasingly complex. While public debate rages over assisted dying and other issues, most individuals wish to remain in control of their own bodies for as long as possible and to provide clear directions to family, friends, physicians and others when they are no longer able to do so. Our attorneys understand these concerns. They will assist in determining what instructions should be provided and in drafting state-specific documents that, to the greatest extent legally possible, assure that our clients' wishes are respected and implemented.

Special Needs Trust Administration and Investments

Our experienced in-house trust department is available to work with existing investment advisers or select new advisers to design and implement an investment strategy to meet the objectives of special needs beneficiaries. Our lawyers are prepared to act as trustees or counsel to trustees. Moreover, the investment strategies for and administration of special needs trusts (both OBRA and third party), as well as guardianships and conservatorships, require sensitivity to the circumstances of the beneficiaries, including not only their particular special needs but also a thorough knowledge of public benefits programs. Our attorneys and trust administration professionals possess the skill, desire and understanding to assist special needs beneficiaries and their fiduciaries in all aspects of trust administration.