New York Special Needs Attorney

Goldfarb Abrandt & Salzman LLP

Lawyers Helping Plan for Those with Special Needs in the State of New York

Taking care of a loved one with special needs can overwhelm anyone, and its difficult to focus on anything other than the here and now. Careful planning, however, is necessary to protect their futures, especially when the time comes when you are gone or no longer able to take care of them. From financial considerations to managing their educations to their day-to-day living, you have to plan ahead to make sure they continue to receive the care and services that you want them to have.

For more than 25 years, the attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt & Salzman LLP have helped families plan for those with special needs. Call us at (212) 387-8400 or send us an email via our online contact form to talk about how we can help.

Why Careful Planning Is Important

People with special needs typically rely upon public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid to live their daily lives. Because these programs are designed to serve low-income people and are therefore income-qualified, even a modest inheritance or personal injury settlement or award can jeopardize their ability to receive public benefits and severely undercut the lifestyle you want them to have. In addition to their financial well-being, you may also need to consider who will take care of them, where they will live, and who will make decisions for them. Planning appropriately ensures that they receive the best care you can give them so that they can enjoy a comfortable quality of life.

Planning for a special needs person involves many complicated issues. An experienced special needs attorney can help you provide for their futures by identifying the best available options and creating the legal framework to ensure their protection.

Special Needs/Supplemental Needs Trusts

An attorney can explain the financial tools available to provide for your loved oneand implement those tools should you choose to proceed. One such tool is the special needs trust. Special needs trusts, also known as supplemental needs trusts, are designed to protect the assets of individuals with special needs without compromising their ability to qualify for public benefits. The basic idea is that you will pay the funds into the trust for the benefit of someone with special needs, who is designated as the beneficiary. The Trustee may only use those funds to pay for supplemental needs not covered by Medicaid. For example, these needs could include education, recreation, and travel. Depending on the type of public benefits the Trustee may not use the funds in a special needs trust for basic necessities, such as rent, insurance, food, or utilities.

To put it another way, a special needs trust can supplement the coverage provided by public benefits. A special needs trust is one way for you to ensure that someone you love with special needs will have the standard of living you want them to have.

ABLE Accounts

Another financial tool is an ABLE account. In 2017, New York adopted the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act. ABLE accounts are similar to special needs trusts in that the funds in an ABLE account do not count towards eligibility for public benefits. They are easier to set up than special needs trusts, but come with these important distinctions:

  • They are available only for people whose disability began before age 26.
  • The maximum annual amount that someone can deposit is the same as the gift tax exclusion, which in 2018 is $15,000.
  • The total lifetime contribution is limited.

Special needs planning attorneys can help you navigate the various options that best suit your wishes and your situation.

Reaching Adulthood and Guardianship

If you have a child with special needs, you need to understand that your authority to make decisions for your child terminates once your child turns 18. This means that you need to start planning well in advance of the 18th birthday. This may involve setting aside funds for education or living expenses, creating medical directives, or making special transportation arrangements. Depending on the level of need, it may also involve having a guardian appointed to oversee your child’s welfare and make decisions for your child.

In general, a guardian has the legal authority to make decisions for an individual who cannot make those decisions. Guardianships can range from limited to broad. For example, you can limit a guardians authority to decisions regarding the persons financial or personal needs decisions. On the other hand, a guardians authority may extend to such things as travel, visitors, and relationships. Carefully consider whom you wish to have a court appoint as guardian and what that person will have the authority to do.

In addition, appointing someone as a guardian requires a court proceeding. You will have to prove that the person is incapable of making decisions for themselves. As a result, you may want to consult with an attorney who handles these types of cases.

Contact a New York Special Needs Attorney Today

We understand the difficulty of providing for a loved one with special needs, as well as the complicated and confusing options and legal requirements when someones welfare is at stake. You dont have to figure this out alone. The attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt & Salzman LLP can help you plan for a future that fits your familys needs and protect those who cannot care for themselves. Call us at (202) 387-8400 or fill out our online contact page today to speak with one of our attorneys.