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Estate Planning - Summary

Legal Guardianship
Parents often assume that they have the legal authority to continue to make decisions for their child with a disability into adulthood. However, New York State law dictates that ALL individuals over 18 are presumed competent to manage their own affairs and make their own medical, housing, vocational and financial decisions. We can assist you in petitioning for guardianship under either Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 or Surrogate's Court Procedure Act Article 17A, so that you can continue to advocate and make critical decisions in your child's best interest. You may also seek the appointment of a standby guardian to ensure that your child is protected after you are no longer able to serve as guardian.

Financial & Estate Planning
People with disabilities depend on accessing public benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to pay for vital services such as housing, case management, vocational training, rehabilitative therapies and medical care. These benefits impose strict limits on the amount of resources a person with a disability can receive and still be eligible. An inheritance of as little as $2,000 can jeopardize benefit eligibility. By including a supplemental needs trust in your will you will accomplish three important objectives:

  • Provide a fund of money to pay for items and services for your child which are not covered by public benefits;
  • Ensure continued eligibility for SSI and Medicaid;
  • Appoint a relative, friend or corporate entity as trustee to invest the inheritance and distribute the funds in accordance with the terms of the trust.

A supplemental needs trust is an essential step in safeguarding your child's financial well-being after your death.

Supplemental needs trusts can also be used to protect eligibility for public benefits when a person with a disability will receive an intestate distribution, life insurance settlement, personal injury award, or Social Security underpayment.

Professional Services
Development of an individually tailored future plan which is consistent with both the client's overall estate plan and their wishes for their disabled child. The plan may include a will, supplemental needs trust, power of attorney, health care proxy and petition for guardianship. Consultation to guardians and trustees regarding their fiduciary responsibilities and accounting requirements. Presentations to advocacy organizations and parent groups regarding appropriate future planning. Referrals to other professionals, agencies and resources as needed to obtain residential, case management, vocational, educational or other services.

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