Kommer Bave and Ciccone LLP General Practice Law Firm

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Estate Planning Documents

Does Your Child’s Special Needs Trust Need a Tune-Up? Probably.

May 24, 2023

Remember how satisfying it was setting up a trust for your child with special needs? You named a trustee and a successor trustee, signed the paperwork, and paid the legal bills, and then you rested easy at night knowing you had put a plan in place for your child. Done! Well, not exactly. Because things always change, whether over time or suddenly. It’s easy to throw your new special needs trust into a drawer and forget about it, especially if you are not planning on funding it until you pass away. Likewise, if your loved one with special needs has…

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Planning for your special needs child's future

Consider Writing a Letter of Intent for Your Child

May 24, 2023

If we have learned anything these past few years, it’s that life is fleeting. For families with children with disabilities, worrying about their loved one’s life in the years ahead is ever-present. Special needs planning allows you to provide for your children upon your death and name a trusted person to step in as a legal guardian. After choosing a guardian, drafting a Letter of Intent is critical to safeguarding your child’s future. What Does a Letter of Intent Do? If a guardian ever needs to take responsibility for your child, a Letter of Intent — also known as a…

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Caregiver giving support

Caregiver Contracts: How to Pay a Family Member for Care

May 10, 2023

Although people are willing to volunteer to care for a parent or loved one without any promise of compensation, entering into a caregiver contract (also called personal service or personal care agreement) with a family member can have many benefits. The Benefits of Becoming a Family Caregiver Caring for a relative rewards the family member doing the work. It can help alleviate tension between family members by making sure the work is fairly compensated. In addition, it can be a key part of Medicaid planning, helping to spend down savings so that the elder might more easily be able to…

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Adult Daughter Caring for Aging Father

Becoming a Family Caregiver for an Ailing Loved One

May 10, 2023

Taking on the responsibility of providing full-time care for an aging or disabled loved one can be a rewarding experience. Being a primary caregiver helps you rest assured that your loved one is receiving compassionate care from someone who will go above and beyond to ensure they are comfortable and looked after. Despite your good intentions to create a comfortable environment for your loved one, full-time caregiving is a significant time commitment. There is also a financial reality that the caregiver must face. Fortunately, family members who want to serve as caregivers may have options to help cover the expense.…

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Special Needs Support

Key Decisions in Setting Up a Special Needs Trust

Apr 13, 2023

Special needs trusts are an important component of planning for a disabled child, even though the child may be an adult by the time the trust is created or funded. These trusts allow a beneficiary with a disability to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and yet not lose her eligibility for certain government programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Types of Trusts Special needs trusts generally fall into one of three categories: 1) third-party trusts that one person, typically a parent or grandparent, creates for the benefit of a child or grandchild; 2) first-party…

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Creating Trusts

The Perils and Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Special Needs Planning

Apr 13, 2023

Among the costs of caring for a dependent with special needs are the fees for professional advice. Some families are tempted to save on these costs by setting up a special needs plan on their own. Low-cost platforms and templates give the idea that special needs planning is straightforward and one-size-fits all. Some parents or guardians might believe that they understand their situation best, and don’t want to put their family into the hands of a complete stranger. DON’T do it yourself! A trust or plan that is not customized to your individual family, financial status, or state of residence…

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Special Needs Planning for a Disabled Person

What Can an SNT Pay for Without Affecting SSI or Medicaid?

Mar 16, 2023

Funds held in a properly drafted special needs trust (SNT) will not affect a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid recipient’s benefits. However, funds disbursed in a manner that violates SSI or Medicaid rules can impact these benefits. It is important to understand what an SNT can and cannot pay for in order to avoid this. What Is an SNT? Special needs trusts (also known as “supplemental needs trusts”) are an important component of planning for a disabled person. An SNT can play an important role in preserving the financial security and lifestyle of a person with special needs. It…

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When is a Guardianship needed

Alternatives to Guardianship

Mar 2, 2023

Trying an alternative to guardianship can be important for several reasons. First, it prevents a court from ruling that someone is “incapacitated,” which carries with it a stigma and can be hard to undo. Second, it puts the person in the driver’s seat. Third, it is much less expensive and time-consuming. There are less restrictive options, such as supported decision-making, power of attorney, or revocable trusts that could be a better fit. What Is Guardianship? Every adult is assumed to be capable of making his or her own decisions unless a court determines otherwise. If an adult becomes incapable of…

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What Are Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts?

Jan 25, 2023

Medicaid is a state- and federally funded, means tested program that pays for long-term care. For applicants who fall into certain categories, Medicaid imposes specific rules on how much income and resources they can have and still qualify for benefits. Each state has different rules for how much an applicant may have in income and assets to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, the qualifications are different for home care Medicaid versus nursing home Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid, you must fall under your state’s corresponding limit. For example, in New York State, an individual may have up to $28,133 and a…

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Guardianship is a legal relationship between the guardian and the ward

The Ins and Outs of Guardianship and Conservatorship

Jan 4, 2023

Every adult is assumed to be capable of making his or her own decisions unless a court determines otherwise. If an adult becomes incapable of making responsible decisions, the court will appoint a substitute decision maker, usually called a “guardian,” but called a “conservator” or another term in some states. What Is Guardianship? Guardianship is a legal relationship between a competent adult (the “guardian”) and a person who because of incapacity is no longer able to take care of his or her own affairs (the “ward”). The guardian can be authorized to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for the…

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