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Planning Ahead for Peace of Mind

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By: Sipi Gupta | January 23, 2020

Most of us think about taking care of our aging parents or spouse when they’re older, and not our kids. But long-term care of adults with disabilities is the next crisis facing Americans.  Ask any of the more than 39.8 million  Until that time, however, you will hear parents asking themselves: What happens when I am no longer able to care for my child?

 

Here at Gupta Law, parents of children with special needs are strongly urged to begin planning AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Special needs planning is a daunting task that has overwhelmed parents and clients for years.  And the Firm’s New Year’s gift to you is a breakdown of the steps and documents you need to best position your adult children with disabilities for lif...

By: Sipi Gupta | August 30, 2019

Serving as a trustee requires administrative and technical skills in addition to strong interpersonal communication skills. Identifying the appropriate trustee is difficult in general; a Special Needs Trust (SNT) presents additional challenges. While most families will name a relative to serve as the trustee of their family’s SNT, they are often unaware of the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in the role. In many cases, it makes sense to have a family member involved in some capacity in the care of the individual with special needs. Another option is to select a professional trustee with specialized skills to serve as the trustee or co-trustee.

Ideal Qualities for a Trustee

In considering trustees to name for your SNT, evaluate your al...

By: Sipi Gupta | April 08, 2019

There are many federal government benefit programs available to individuals with disabilities. Programs are often referred to by confusing acronyms (LIHEAP, SNAP, QMB, to name just a few) and some programs are very different but sound similar (for instance, Medicare and Medicaid or SSI and SSDI). Stop in each week for spotlights on different benefit programs. Today, we take a look at SSI:

Supplemental Security Income

Benefit: Cash benefit to low-income individuals with a disability or who are elderly

Asset Limit: $2,000, single; $3,000, couple.  Exemptions for: home, vehicle, burial arrangements

Income Limit:   In 2019, $771/mo (single) or $1,157/mo (couple) Income reduces benefit.  

Comments:  SNT w...

By: Sipi Gupta | May 25, 2017

Trustees of special needs trusts wear many hats. They act as investment manager, bookkeeper, distribution manager, benefits advocate, and financial planner. Often trustees are in constant communication with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s caregivers regarding many aspects of the beneficiary’s life such as approving distributions for the purchase of a vehicle or even the purchase of a home.

This level of involvement can be confusing for beneficiaries and their families, who may be under the impression that the trustee has the decision-making power in all aspects of a beneficiary’s life. If a trustee can approve or reject the proposed purchase price of a home for the beneficiary, can’t they also decide where the beneficiary lives? In gen...

By: Sipi Gupta | May 22, 2017

A special needs trust cannot pay for food or shelter for an SSI beneficiary without affecting his benefits. But there is no penalty for paying for someone’s food or shelter while they are on SSDI. And if the SSDI beneficiary receives Medicare, there is no penalty there, either.

By: Sipi Gupta | May 16, 2017

I live in one state and my daughter lives in a group home in neighboring state.  Where should I establish a special needs trust for her benefit?

While the trust can probably be established in either state, your final choice of location may depend on where the trustee lives and what state provides Medicaid benefits for your daughter.  Regardless of where the trust is situated, if your daughter lives in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, please call us at 215-650-7017 to review the trust to make sure that it complies with local Medicaid rules.

By: Sipi Gupta | May 01, 2017

Yes, but be aware that a co-trustee can be held responsible for another co-trustee’s breach of a fiduciary duty. Thus, it is important that all co-trustees pay close attention to everything that is done in the administration of the trust. If there is any question or problem, it should be communicated to the other co-trustee or co-trustees immediately. As a general rule, where there are two or more co-trustees, all have to agree on all matters of trust administration. However, the trust document may create a different standard for agreement, such as majority rule. In order to minimize the chances of being held responsible for someone else’s poor judgment or breach of duty, a co-trustee should be sure to make a written record of any points of...

By: Sipi Gupta | February 14, 2017

Some trust beneficiaries have trouble with walking or with feeding themselves. Others have no trouble with these activities, but their disability can severely cloud their judgment. For these beneficiaries, trusts must be carefully structured with close coordination between families, trustees, and caregivers.

Because the majority of psychiatric care now takes place in the community at less cost than the care provided in hospitals, the goal of the special needs trust should be to assist the beneficiary in obtaining community services tailored towards his specific mental illness. This process starts with the choice of trustee. It is strongly recommended that family members not serve as trustees, but instead move towards the background and away ...