Planning for Life

What's a Trust and Why are There So Many Different Kinds?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 18, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

A trust is a legal entity that permits one or more people -- the "trustee" or "trustees" -- to manage property for the benefit of other people -- the "beneficiaries." The third actor in a trust is the person who creates it -- the "grantor" or "donor." To confuse things a bit further the same person can be a grantor, trustee and beneficiary, but he can't be the only one in all three roles. And the property in the trust can be just about anything you can own -- real estate, bank accounts, investments, or artwork.

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Topics: Estate Planning, special needs planning

Personal Care Attendants: Valuable Help for Parents of Disabled Children

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 17, 2016

MassHealth funds a Personal Care Attendant (a/k/a Personal Care Assistant), or PCA, program in order to help recipients with long-term disabilities manage their own in-home day-to-day personal care. Under this program, a PCA is hired at a rate of $14.12 an hour (in 2016) to physically assist with both activities of daily living, or ADLs (mobility, bathing, dressing, passive range-of-motion exercises, taking medications, eating, and toileting), and instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs (laundry, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, housekeeping, traveling to medical appointments, and other special needs).

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Topics: special needs planning

Housing Models for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities Who Are Not in State-Supported Housing

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 8, 2016

The majority of adult children with significant intellectual disabilities live with their parents or other family members through the child’s 40s, and often 50s. (For purposes of this article, we will refer to the provider as the parent, and the adult with special needs as the child, although this article applies to siblings and other relations as well.) Only about a third of all intellectually disabled citizens in Massachusetts are served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) receive housing provided by the state. These people -- tending to be the older or more serious cases -- are considered Priority One for housing by DDS. All other DDS clients are either Priority Two on No Priority. Click here for a description of state-supported housing.

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Topics: special needs planning

Funding a Special Needs Trust With Life Insurance

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 26, 2016

Leaving your special needs child with enough money to pay for their needs after you are gone can be a daunting task. The costs of providing a home and care exceed the resources of most families. Often a good solution is to fund a special or supplemental needs trust (“SNT”) with life insurance. A parent can take out a life insurance policy on his or her life to ensure that once the parent is gone, monies will be available to care for the special needs child.

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Topics: special needs planning

Laughter is the Best Medicine:  Humor in the Special Needs Parenting Trenches

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 23, 2016

There are so many funny things about raising a disabled child. Often the joke is on me. Like how I am always weirdly and inappropriately concerned about whether my child “wins” at a Special Olympics meet. My son, who is severely autistic, doesn’t even know he is in a race. He still occasionally comes in first, and when that happens, I parade him around with his gold medal for days, so that I can bask in the glory. Again, he has no idea what the medal means, and in fact he doesn’t really appreciate the attention, but apparently that is irrelevant.

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Topics: special needs planning

Accessory Apartments: Keeping Our Special Needs Children and Elderly Close

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 15, 2016

Along with the graying of America, our society is grappling with a dramatic surge of young adults impacted by autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities who are aging out of school and into the vastly less supported real world. We need to think creatively about how to provide alternative housing options for them.

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Topics: caregiving, special needs planning

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: housing policy ,, special needs planning, 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

ABLE Act Closer to Becoming a Reality

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on December 17, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal 

It’s going to happen.  We have been waiting since the ABLE Act was enacted almost a year ago to learn how the ABLE Acts accounts were actually going to work.  Now the IRS has issued new guidelines that resolve our basic concerns, and it looks like ABLE Accounts will soon be a helpful tool in the special needs arsenal. The regulations clarify several confusing parts of the ABLE legislation and provide a road map for practitioners dealing with ABLE accounts and SSI benefits. The regulations, POMS Section SI 01130.740, can be read here.

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Topics: special needs planning

Not Gifting to a Special Needs Child? Recent Case Highlights Risks

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on November 13, 2015

By Karen B. Mariscal

In an effort to preserve government benefits for a child with special needs, parents giving gifts to children will sometimes provide nothing to the child with special needs while giving substantial amounts to the child’s siblings. This planning strategy can lead to trouble, as the recent Wisconsin case of Robbins v. Foseid and Walters illustrates.

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Topics: trusts, special needs planning

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