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Special Needs Estate Planner: Guardianship For individuals With Intellectual Disabilities: Changes on the Horizon?

Date: August 14, 2017

Readers who have attended our presentations will recall what we consider to be the three main objectives of comprehensive special needs estate planning: empowering agents to make important life decisions for a person with a disability, protecting government benefit eligibility, and providing good information for those who will carry on after the primary caregiver is gone...
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Special Needs Estate Planner: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

Date: June 8, 2017

Like a Bad Penny….

It has been well over a year since our last issue of The Special Needs Estate Planner.   We have been fortunate to see our practice continue to grow in the interim, but this was not the reason for the delay in publication...
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Using Supplemental Needs Trusts To Protect Income: Sometimes You Can Eat Your Cake Too

Date: October 16, 2015

The times they are a' changin' in the world of Medicaid funded home care here in New York. Many of our readers know this only too well, as they are wrestling with these changes first hand. Some are struggling to secure eligibility to one of our community based Waiver programs...
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SSI Overpayments: How Do They Happen and What Can We Do?*

Date: October 20, 2014

A brief note of introduction for this edition of The Special Needs Estate Planner is in order. This edition discusses the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program rules for overpayments of SSI benefits. Many of our readers are trustees of Supplemental (Special) Needs Trusts ("SNTs") and representative payees for SSI benefits, and they are well aware of how challenging - and often frustrating - it can be to interface with the administrative staff of the Social Security Administration (SSA)...
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Filing a Tax Return for a Special Needs Trust: What a Trustee Needs to Know at Tax Time

Date: March 11, 2014

Each year as we approach tax season we receive a number of questions from clients about the taxation of income generated on assets held in Special Needs Trusts. With this newsletter we thought we would try to lay out some of these rules in as simple a manner as possible.

As you will read below - and like many areas of Special Needs Trust practice - rules differ depending on whether the trust is a "first party" trust funded with the assets of an individual with a disability (such as a trust funded with proceeds from a lawsuit), versus a "third party" trust funded with the assets of someone else (such as a trust funded with the assets of a parent as part of the parent's estate plan)...
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Making Gifts to a Child With a Disability: A Holiday Tradition

Date: November 26, 2013

We send The Special Needs Estate Planner to nearly 3,000 email recipients, and over the years our newsletters get passed along to people across the state and beyond. By far the most popular issue has been the one originally entitled, "Dear Grandma and Grandpa," which discusses common mistakes that are made by well-intentioned friends and family members who make financial gifts to individuals with disabilities...
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Serving As Trustee (Part III): A Wake-Up Call For Corporate And Other Professional Trustees

Date: August 19, 2013

Our past few issues of the Special Needs Estate Planner have focused on trustees of supplemental (special) needs trusts. In Part 1 we summarized our concerns over appointing family members as trustees. In Part 2 we highlighted some very common mistakes made by trustees (professional and individual trustees alike)...
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Serving As Trustee (Part II): The Devil Is In The Details

Date: April 26, 2013

We received such positive feedback from our recent newsletter ("Serving as Trustee: Fair and Honest is Not Enough," Special Needs Estate Planner, November 2012) that we thought a companion piece which continued the theme would be in order. Before we do, however...

Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC Sponsors  Second Annual Autism Fair and Carnival

This past weekend, hundreds of families and a multitude of exhibitors descended upon Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, for the Second Annual Autism Fair and Carnival...
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Taxes And The "ABLE Act": Legislative Action And Inaction.....

Date: January 30, 2013

The closing days of 2012 and opening days of 2013 were eventful days in our nation's capital. Most of us have heard in one form or another about the impending drop off the "fiscal cliff" and the Congressional action that broke the fall, at least for now.

While there was an enormous amount of national attention given to the Congressional impasse for the latter half of 2012, little if any, mainstream attention was given to a proposal that had bi-partisan support but was a casualty of the fiscal cliff...
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Serving as Trustee: Fair and Honest Is Not Enough

Date: June 1, 2012

Yes, It Has Been a While…

It has now been approximately six months since our last newsletter.  We knew that many people read and enjoyed our newsletters, but we did not realize the extent of the interest until we had a multi-month delay in sending one out...
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This Tangled Web...

Date: February 1, 2012

Lets get this straight: we love the internet, and we couldn’t carry on our practice without it. When we learn of an unfamiliar disability or diagnosis, off to the internet we go. We look for information on the disability, how it impacts a client’s life, and what types of programs and services are available to help support the individual in the community...
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All Are Not Created Equal

Date: January 1, 2012

We expect that everyone who reads this Newsletter is familiar with the concept of a “Special Needs Trust.” This type of trust is specifically designed to hold money for individuals with disabilities who participate in any number of means tested government benefit programs, and is used to provide goods and services which supplement what is available through those programs...
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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Date: December 15, 2011

In our April edition of the Special Needs Estate Planner, Snakes in the Grass, we told our readers about changes to the Medicaid program that were anticipated by the passage of the 2011-2012 New York State budget. Since that date, the New York State Department of Health has been busy promulgating regulations and issuing directives that have helped to clarify and explain many of those changes...
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'Tis That Time of The Year...

Date: November 1, 2011

If you have been reading The Special Needs Estate Planner since its debut in 2004, then you know that we have never repeated an issue. We may sometimes be slow in getting them “to print,” but we always write them from scratch. Of course, in the world of disability and elder law there are plenty of topics to choose from, so the challenge has really been in deciding which topic to write about rather than finding something interesting in the first place...
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Tip O'Neil Would Certainly Agree

Date: September 1, 2011

The second problem with “unfiltered” information from the internet lies in the fact that the law governing Special Needs Estate Planning in general, and Special Needs Trusts in particular, varies greatly from state to state, and in some cases from region to region within an individual state...
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"What Now?":The Importance of Educating Your Guardians And Trustees

Date: August 1, 2011

We have been pleased in recent years to see an increasing number of individuals with disabilities and their families take a more active role in planning for the point in time when the parent or caregiver becomes disabled or passes away. “Future Planning,” or as we call it in our office, “Special Needs Estate Planning,” can be especially difficult for parents and caregivers, as it forces them to contemplate the often inconceivable notion that a son or daughter with a disability will have to continue on without the support and advocacy provided by his or her parents...
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The Importance of Advance Health Care Directives for Individuals with Disabilities

Date: July 1, 2011

Recently we attended the Fourth Annual Future Planning Conference in Albany, New York sponsored by NYSARC, Inc., and the Schoharie County ARC. Programs were presented by attorneys and other professionals from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, local service providers, and by a panel of local Surrogate Court Judges...
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Retirement Accounts and Government Benefits: Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Date: June 1, 2011

In the world of Estate Planning, retirement plans are almost always part of the picture. While in general they can be great wealth building tools, in the specialized world of Special Needs Estate Planning, they can also present some very significant challenges, both for parents who want to leave retirement funds for the benefit of their children with disabilities, as well as for people with disabilities who work and need to qualify for Medicaid so that services and support can continue...
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A Rose is a Rose... What it means to have a "Disability"

Date: February 15, 2011

We often say that the word “disability” means different things in different contexts. Disabilities can be physical in nature, cognitive in nature, or some combination thereof. Some individuals with disabilities have guardians; some don’t. Some receive means-tested government entitlements; some don’t...
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