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  • December 14, 2016

    December 14, 2016   Special Needs Planning,   Announcements

    ElderCounsel Principal Attends Signing at White House

    ElderCounsel Principal Michael Amoruso and his Seeing Eye Dog, Demitri, were present yesterday for the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act.  A major part of this Act was the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, which now allows disabled persons to establish and sign their own special needs trust. Previously, only a parent, grandparent, guardian or court could establish such a trust. Michael was instrumental in advocating for passage of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, encouraging the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) to get involved. "Getting the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act passed has been a long-standing priority for me, spanning the last 23 years,” said Amoruso. “I am very grateful to NAELA for spearheading the effort to get these prov... Read More


  • December 9, 2016

    December 9, 2016   Special Needs Planning

    Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

    We are excited to learn about passage of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act as part of H.B. 34. This Act will allow a beneficiary with special needs to sign their own first-party special needs trust.  Previously, only a parent, grandparent, guardian or court could establish such a trust.   The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) led the effort to get this important Act passed. It will go into law immediately after being signed by the President, which we expect to happen shortly.   ElderDocx® is being updated right now to allow you to choose the beneficiary as the grantor who establishes and signs a self-settled special needs trust with a notation that the trust should not be signed until the Act is signed into law by the President. Join us on Friday... Read More


  • October 12, 2016

    October 12, 2016   Special Needs Planning

    October is Special Needs Planning Month

    Did you know October is Special Needs Planning Month? This is a great opportunity for you to reach out to your community and educate them about your firm’s services and how you can help. Special Needs Planning varies from children with autism to cerebral palsy, to adults with early onset Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s. Brush up on the fundamentals by watching “Special Needs Benefits Basics.” In this video, ElderCounsel Advisory Board Member, Stephen Dale, Esq., LLM, covers the basics of public benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), childhood disability benefits and Medicare. Any of these items would be powerful topics to address during a presentation in your community! Special Needs Benefits Basics By Stephen... Read More


  • April 2, 2014

    April 2, 2014   Special Needs Planning

    Tips to Counsel Parents of Special Needs Children

    Many parents of special needs children do a great job attending to their children’s daily needs, but haven’t given any thought to planning for the day when they will no longer be around or no longer able to care for their children. As an attorney you may have noticed clients who take this approach and don’t adequately plan for their special needs children. A lot of parents of such children haven’t even bothered to write a will, let alone make any special provisions for the children to be cared for later on in life. We found 5 tips that parents of special needs children can use as they consider planning strategies in a recent article on about.com that we thought were worth sharing. Write a letter of intent. This is not in place of a will, but lists eve... Read More


  • January 27, 2014

    January 27, 2014   Special Needs Planning

    The Basics of Planning for a Special Needs Family Member

    While estate planning is important for every family, it is especially important that families with special-needs children create a solid and well-informed estate plan in order to ensure the well being of their special-needs child.   It is first important to understand how public benefits work. Most special needs individuals receive public benefits including Medicaid and other supplemental income programs. These benefits, however, are need-based. Therefore, if the special needs individual suddenly inherits a significant amount of assets, he or she may lose his or her public benefits.   Rather than forfeit public benefits, most families set up a special needs trust to benefit the special needs individual. These trusts preserve an individual’s qualification for government assi... Read More


  • October 15, 2013

    October 15, 2013   Special Needs Planning

    Recent Decision for 3rd Party Supplemental Needs Trust

    By Valerie Peterson

    There has been a recent decision from New York that discusses the ability to decant into a third party supplemental needs trust under New York law, specifically EPTL 10-6.6.  The full citation for the case is, In the Matter of the Application of Alan D. Kross (N.Y.Surr.Ct. (Nassau Cty.), No. 2012-369907, Sept. 30, 2013) and a copy of the opinion is provided here.    Daniel Schreiber is the beneficiary of the trust in question.  Daniel’s grandfather drafted the trust in 1992, and passed away in 2008, at which time Daniel’s trust was funded, and Rachel Schreiber and Alan Kroll began managing the trust as trustees.   At the time the trust was drafted, Daniel was 19 months old and exhibited no signs of a disability.   However, Daniel, age 21,... Read More


  • October 14, 2013

    October 14, 2013   Special Needs Planning

    Introducing The First Special Needs Planning System for Attorneys

    MADISON, WI — ElderCounsel, a membership organization supporting elder law, special needs and VA Pension attorneys, has announced the launch of a new membership offering, the “EC Special Needs Planning System.” The EC Special Needs Planning System provides special needs planning attorneys a more efficient way to draft comprehensive legal documents in a fraction of the time.  Designed for both new and experienced special needs planning attorneys, the EC Special Needs Planning System helps attorneys spend more time with clients, and less time drafting. Through this system, attorneys also have access to: free online education; a collaborative community of over 650 firms across the country (including many top special needs planning attorneys); an online discussion g... Read More


  • June 4, 2013

    Per Stirpes—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    By Brian Albee

    "Per stirpes," "by representation," and "per capita at each generation" are all descriptors that tell the reader how to allocate a gift among a person's descendants.  They are not shorthand for contingent beneficiary provisions.  (While this discussion applies to all three, I will use per stirpes for the rest of this blog.)The Good: It's easy.To use per stirpes correctly, you just have to follow one rule:  Always make the gift to a person's descendants, like "to [person's] descendants, per stirpes."  Note a couple of things: (1) in general, the person should be one person, not a class of people; and (2) the word "descendants" (or "issue") must always appear.  Here are some examples:-- to my descendants... Read More


  • May 2, 2013

    May 2, 2013   Just for Fun,   Special Needs Planning

    Making History……A Teenager, Downs Syndrome and Base Camp on Mt. Everest

    I knew exactly what I was going to write about when we were asked to contribute to the blog at ElderCounsel…..and then it became a national news story!  While this story was reported a few weeks back, I still feel the trek to Base Camp on Mt. Everest by a vibrant teenager from my hometown of Bend, OR bears repeating. Elisha Reimers is the eldest of 5 kids, loves the outdoors, sports, and has Downs Syndrome. In March, a friend of mine joined his team on the trek with the purpose of documenting the journey as well as to tell Eli’s story as he attempted to ascend to the foot of the world’s highest mountain. He is the first person with Downs Syndrome to attempt such a feet. The purpose of the trip was to raise awareness and funds for ‘The Elisha Foundation’ (TEF)http://theelishaf... Read More


  • October 29, 2012

    October 29, 2012   Special Needs Planning

    Disability Planning – Not Popular, But Necessary

    No one likes to think about the possibility of their own disability or the disability of a loved one. However, as we'll see below, the statistics are clear that we should all plan for at least a temporary disability.Disability planning is one area where elder law attorneys can give each and every person and family they work with great comfort in knowing that, if the day comes for themselves or a loved one, they will be prepared.  Most Individuals Will Face At Least a Temporary Disability: Study after study confirms that nearly everyone will face at least a temporary disability sometime during their lifetime. More specifically, one in three Americans will face at least a 90-day disability before reaching age 65 and, depending upon their ages, up to 44% of Americans will face a... Read More