Special Needs Law & Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Law and Disability Planning

Developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury (TBI), mental illness, multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, physical trauma, and other disabilities can lead to special needs and complex worries for both persons with disabilities and their families. Regardless of the issue, our over-riding objective is always the same – to meet your goals, lessen your worries about the future, alleviate stress, and help you and your loved one with special needs enjoy a better quality of life.

Special needs law is far broader than the representative special needs considerations we have space to note here. Nevertheless, given our lengthy experience with special needs planning and Division of Developmental Disabilities benefits, we probably have dealt with your issues even if they aren’t listed here. Click on the links below for more information, or call or email us today.

Qualifying for Government Disability Benefits

People with disabilities may be eligible for a broad range of public assistance programs. These range from programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, which aren’t age limited, to Division of Developmental Disabilities benefits that are available only if lifelong disabilities manifest before age 22 and substantially limit at least three of these life activities: self-care; learning; mobility; communication; self-direction; economic self-sufficiency; and ability to live independently– such as persons with substantial intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida, autism, or neurological impairment. Read more

Special Needs Trust to Protect Gift / Inheritance for a Disabled Child

Gifts and will shares usually disqualify a loved one with disabilities for valuable government programs unless paid into a Supplemental/Special Needs Trust or SNT. While outright gifts merely substitute for government aid in many cases, ordinary trusts won’t due either. To supplement rather than supplant disability aid, SNTs must pass muster under complex government benefit laws.  Read more

Lawsuit Settlements and Recoveries

If you have serious disabilities and recover money in a lawsuit, you may be surprised to face a variety of issues. For instance, how can you realize a settlement without losing disability benefits like Medicaid, Medicare, and Division of Developmental Disabilities housing or day programs. Must your recovery pay repay prior government benefits and healthcare costs. Do you need a special needs trust to protect Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income? Will you jeopardize future Medicare if you don’t use a Medicare Set-aside Trust?  Read more

Medicare Set-Aside

When a Medicare beneficiary or person likely to have Medicare soon resolves a personal injury or worker compensation claim, he/she (and his/her lawyer) can face financial ruin, unless they are sure to protect Medicare’s statutory rights. Issues range from determining and resolving Medicare claims against the recovery to avoiding loss of future Medicare by employing a Medicare Set-aside Trust to ensure that Medicare claims aren’t filed for care that should be funded from a settlement. Read more

Special Needs Trust Administration

As shown above, a special/supplemental needs trust or SNT often is essential to supplement government aid without jeopardizing benefits. However, if it isn’t administered properly, even the best drafted SNT will prove disqualifying and the trustee may incur liability. With our many years of experience in special needs planning, we can prepare your SNT in accordance with complex government benefit rules and guide the trustee to manage the trust correctly. Read more

Guardianship for a Child with Disabilities

Contrary to popular misconceptions, once a child reaches age 18, parents no longer have automatic authority to make decisions for a severely disabled child or even access his/her healthcare information. no matter how disabled the child. We have helped many families of people with developmental disabilities and other serious impairments obtain guardianship. To obtain guardianship, you must show a court that your loved one lacks capacity to make key decisions and that you are right for the job. Read more

Mental Illness

When a loved one suffers from mental illness, a broad array of legal concerns may arise. Special needs trust planning may be necessary to protect government aid. Guardianship is called for when a person can’t make significant decisions. Destructive behavior may trigger highly individual issues. Care, commitment, or other concerns may be involved. We can help you identify options to provide quality care to your loved one with mental illness while protecting you and your family. While nobody can eliminate the myriad issues that arise when a loved one has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental illness, we can apply our substantial experience to help limit your stress. We mean it when we say on our home page, “Your peace of mind is our priority.”

Special Needs Q&A

As this website provides general information and isn’t tailored to your particular situation, it doesn’t constitute legal advice and may not take into account rules and exceptions that affect you. Although updated from time to time, this website may not take account of recent legal developments or differences in laws from state to state. For safety sake, obtain individual legal advice before you act! You assume all risk of acting on information contained in this website. This website doesn’t constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship exists unless FriedmanLaw and you execute a written engagement agreement. Please contact us at 908-704-1900 to discuss engaging FriedmanLaw to help resolve your legal concerns.
Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Autumn_Leaves_13.jpg.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.