Planning for Life

Karen Mariscal

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Choosing a Trustee for A Child’s Special Needs Trust

Posted by Karen Mariscal on November 7, 2017

by Karen B. Mariscal

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning, special needs, Special Needs Child, Special Needs Trust, trustee

ABLE Accounts are Open for Business!

Posted by Karen Mariscal on August 4, 2016

This could be life-changing for your disabled loved one

For the first time, many people with disabilities (and their parents) can open special savings accounts in which they can save money (and have the use of more cash) without jeopardizing their government benefits.  Ohio, Florida, Nebraska and Tennessee have all launched ABLE accounts, based on the 2014 ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act.

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Topics: MassHealth, Intellectually Disabled, disability

Victory for Special Needs Trusts and Section 8 in DeCambre

Posted by Karen Mariscal on June 20, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

On June 14th,  the First Circuit in the seminal (and very local) case DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority, reversed the decision of the lower court, and held that distributions of principal from a special needs trust are NOT counted as income for purposes of Section 8 calculations.  This is the correct decision, in our view, and a significant victory for the disabled population, with nation-wide implications. 

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Topics: special needs planning, housing policy ,, supplemental needs trusts

Get On It! The Centralized Section 8 Waiting List

Posted by Karen Mariscal on June 14, 2016

By Karen Mariscal

On the day your intellectually disabled child turns 18, give yourself a birthday present – put him or her on the Section 8 waiting list.  The Section 8 housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.  In the Boston area it usually takes 8-10 years to get a voucher, starting from the day you first submit the pre-application. 

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Topics: special needs planning, housing policy ,, special needs

A  Long Bright Future: What Will You Do with Your Extra 30 Years?

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 31, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

According to Stanford Professor Laura L. Carstensen Carstensen, the 20th century bequeathed us a fabulous gift:  an average of 30 more years of life!  Life expectancy at birth is now 78, whereas in the early 1900s it was only about 50.

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Topics: Retirement Planning

Supplemental Needs Trusts: Do They Need a Separate Tax ID?

Posted by Karen Mariscal on July 27, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

When creating a supplemental needs trust (“SNT”) for our clients, we are often asked whether the trust requires a separate Tax I.D. number. The short answer is, “Not until you fund it.”  The majority of our clients who create SNTs leave them unfunded until they die, at which point the trust becomes irrevocable and a Tax I.D. number is required.

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Topics: supplemental needs trusts

Section 8 and Special Needs Trusts: Confusing Massachusetts Federal Case Could Cause Problems

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 20, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

Special Needs Trusts are designed to allow disabled beneficiaries to supplement their income without causing them to be financially ineligible for certain government programs.  Unfortunately each program is different, and HUD’s Section 8 housing assistance program does not expressly recognize or protect Special Needs Trusts.  A federal district court has recently ruled that the Brookline  local housing authority properly counted payments from a special needs trust as income when it determined that a Section 8 beneficiary was no longer eligible for a housing voucher.  DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority (D.Mass., No. 14-13425-WGY, March 25, 2015).

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Topics: special needs planning

Do You Employ Someone in Your Home?

Posted by Karen Mariscal on May 15, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

On April 1, 2015, the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights went into effect.  Massachusetts is the fourth state in the nation to enact such a law. The bill guarantees certain protections for home workers, including 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week; meal and rest breaks; limited vacation and sick days; parental leave; legal protections (from discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal charges for food and lodging, and eviction without notice); and notice of termination. The bill does not pertain to casual babysitters.  Here are some of the key provisions:

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Topics: domestic workers bill of rights

Not Even Close: Raising a Child with Autisim

Posted by Karen Mariscal on April 29, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

I came by my work as a special needs lawyer naturally, in that my husband and I have a severely autistic son, our first child, who is now a young adult.  We have navigated the educational system and the transition years, and Billy is now attending a community day program at the Charles River Center in Needham.  At this point he still lives at home, although we are working on creating a group home for him in Framingham.  Here is my story.

“Not even close.”

This is what I said to my pediatrician when she asked me the very simple yet profound question “What does he do when you ask him to go get his shoes?”

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Topics: special needs planning, autism

Form Over Function: Court Decision Guts Special Needs Trust

Posted by Karen Mariscal on April 6, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

A recent federal court decision in South Dakota is a set-back for the special needs community, and illustrates the “gotcha!” mentality sometimes adopted by the Social Security Administration when it comes to (d)(4)(A) trusts – i.e. trusts that are established with a disabled person’s own money pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(d)(4)(A) in order to prevent the loss of government benefits.

In Draper v. Colvin, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) rejection of a (d)(4)(A) trust designed to hold a woman's personal injury settlement, because, in the Court’s view, the disabled person created the trust herself.  Under the statute, a (d)(4)(A) trust is only valid if, among other requirements, it is created by the individual's parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court. (No one knows why Congress enacted this limitation and legislation has been introduced to correct it.)

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