Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Swampy
Posts: 774
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:16 am
Location: Between gators, rattlers and snowbirds

Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by Swampy »

I am in Florida and would like names of experienced and reputable special needs trust attorney's, preferably on the Gulf Coast side of the state, as the attorney's I have spoken to do not have any experience with setting up a special needs trust. They refer me to someone who does family trusts (which I may need also), but it is very different from special needs and my first priority is setting up a special needs trust this year.

If you have had experience with a good (or bad one to avoid) attorney, I would appreciate a name and phone number either below or privately messaged to me.

I've heard of many benefits of these trusts, but are there any negatives or drawbacks from your experience, such as over or under-funding, costs, limits, etc?

All suggestions, experience and wisdom is welcomed.

Thanks!
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. | Failure is not an option. | If I have seen further, it is because I was carried on the shoulders of giants.
littlebird
Posts: 1679
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST AND ATTORNEY SUGGESTIONS

Post by littlebird »

You might try seeking a referral from any organization(s) that advocate for or deal with the type of disability your special needs person has.
bsteiner
Posts: 5386
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:39 pm
Location: NYC/NJ/FL

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by bsteiner »

There are two basic types of special needs trusts.

One is commonly called a first party trust. It's funded with the beneficiary's own money. After the beneficiary dies, whatever is left is used to pay back Medicaid. These are usually done by lawyers who focus on Medicaid. There are more such lawyers in the southeastern part of Florida since the population there is larger. If it's this type of trust, if you'll provide the name of the closest city of any size, I'll let you know if I know or can find someone there who focuses on Medicaid.

The other is sometimes called a third party trust. It's created by one person for the benefit of someone else. It's usually created in the Will (since it's usually for a child or some other person whom you're taking care of during your lifetime), though sometimes it's created by a gift during lifetime. This type of trust should be routine for the lawyer who handles your estate planning. Except for the degree of control that the beneficiary has over the trust, it's not very different from the trust you would create for a child who didn't have special needs, but for whom you were providing in trust to keep his/her inheritance out of the child's estate for estate tax purposes and to protect against creditors and spouses.
Topic Author
Swampy
Posts: 774
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:16 am
Location: Between gators, rattlers and snowbirds

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by Swampy »

littlebird, we did two years ago.

There were a couple of individuals posing as 'experts' in setting up special needs trusts.

We contacted them and met them in their office in Tampa. What followed was a high pressure sales pitch to take over and manage all of our assets for an outrageous fee. They even came to our home and we literally had to throw them out of the house. They were 'offended' when I inquired as to what their management fee's would be, stating it didn't matter since it was such a large account.

Thieves in suits! What's worse, one capitalizes on having a special needs child - hence giving them an apparent respectability with organizations. Furthermore, they didn't know anything about setting up a special needs trust and had no contact with an appropriate attorney, they were just quick buck salesmen looking to line their pockets.

Shame on them!

bsteiner, as mentioned we are on the Gulf Coast side, but I am willing to meet with anyone who is experienced with this, preferably between Tampa and Naples, but I'm willing to drive to Orlando or even Miami if I must. PM me if you know of anyone. I would be using my own funds, preferably life insurance proceeds after I'm gone, to fund this.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. | Failure is not an option. | If I have seen further, it is because I was carried on the shoulders of giants.
Dulocracy
Posts: 2303
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:03 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by Dulocracy »

As a senior partner at a law firm with attorneys in GA that handles trusts, I will tell you that this is a VERY specialized area of law. So much so that, although we do handle trusts, we do not handle special needs trusts. If I cannot do it well, I will not do it at all. This type of trust can be an absolute disaster if done incorrectly. While I do not know of an attorney in Florida handling these trusts, I can point you to a resource. (BY THE WAY: Be willing to drive across the state for the right attorney. With an area of law this specialized, it is more important to have a great attorney than a convenient one.) Go to this website:

http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/MESearchDK?OpenForm

You will go to the directory for attorneys by name (which should be what comes up).

Select "Expanded Search"

Search under "Certified in these areas of law" for Wills Trusts and Estates. You will have a long list of attorneys to interview. You can ask several for a recommendation. Make sure you go with someone who specifically has special needs trusts on their website as something they do (so as not to wind up being a test case for someone).

Another option is to call Family Law attorneys that handle custody matters and ask if they know of a referral to a good special needs trust attorney.

While it is not a perfect referral, the above will hopefully get you started on the quest.
I'm not a financial professional. Post is info only & not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists with reader. Scrutinize my ideas as if you spoke with a guy at a bar. I may be wrong.
apk
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 7:12 am

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by apk »

Contact your state ARC. It might operate its own special needs trust. If not, it should be able to give you the names of several attorneys.
littlebird
Posts: 1679
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by littlebird »

Swampy wrote:littlebird, we did two years ago.

There were a couple of individuals posing as 'experts' in setting up special needs trusts.

We contacted them and met them in their office in Tampa. What followed was a high pressure sales pitch to take over and manage all of our assets for an outrageous fee. They even came to our home and we literally had to throw them out of the house. They were 'offended' when I inquired as to what their management fee's would be, stating it didn't matter since it was such a large account.

Thieves in suits! What's worse, one capitalizes on having a special needs child - hence giving them an apparent respectability with organizations. Furthermore, they didn't know anything about setting up a special needs trust and had no contact with an appropriate attorney, they were just quick buck salesmen looking to line their pockets.

Shame on them! .
That's awful. When I used the word "referral", I assumed referral to a real lawyer. I assume you complained long and loud to the organization that referred these scam artists.
countdown
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:13 pm

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by countdown »

Swampy, I hope you follow Dulocracy's advice.
The Florida Bar association will be able to provide you with names of licensed attorneys who are specialized in trusts.
You can also narrow down to your county Bar association, and attorney trust specialists in your county (if any).
I'm sorry to hear of your experience involving your special needs loved one.
That will not happen with an experienced lawyer in good standing, expert in the area of law you seek.
Best wishes.
lethean46
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:52 pm
Location: OH

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by lethean46 »

swampy

You have a PM (private message).

ML
lethean46
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:52 pm
Location: OH

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by lethean46 »

swampy

You have a PM (private message).

Let me know here if you didn't receive the PM.

ML
SnowSkier
Posts: 265
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:21 pm
Location: Austin

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by SnowSkier »

We recently established a Special Needs Trust for my teenage daughter.

I first started researching attorneys that specialize in Estate planning, but found that this was Not a very helpful way to find attorneys with experience and expertise in Special Needs Trusts.

I'd recommend going to naela.org (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) and click on "Find an Attorney", then enter your city or zip. The resulting list would be a great Starting point to then research those names.

Just as an example, when I entered Sarasota and 10 miles, here's the list it returned:

Code: Select all

Name                      Business                                 City       Distance (miles)
----                      --------                                 ----       ----------------
Mayper, Matthew           Fergeson, Skipper, et al                 Sarasota   0
Bach, CELA, Babette       Bach & Jacobs, P.A.                      Sarasota   0.67
Boyer, ESQ CAP, Edwin     Boyer, Jackson, Bowman & Boyer, P.A.     Sarasota   0.67
Bowman, Teresa            Boyer Jackson, PA                        Sarasota   0.67
Boyer, Andrew             Boyer & Jackson, PA                      Sarasota   0.67
Likens, Christopher       Attorney at Law                          Sarasota   0.67
Proctor, Rebecca          Kirk Pinkerton, PA                       Sarasota   0.67
Pillion, Kevin            Life Planning Law Firm, P.A.             Sarasota   0.67
Scott, Neil               Attorney & Counselor at Law              Sarasota   0.67
Wiesner, CELA, Ira        Advocates in Aging                       Sarasota   1.5
Griffin, John             Griffin & Griffin                        Sarasota   7.43
Spencer, Mary Anne        Schofield & Spencer, P.A.                Bradenton  7.63
Collins, James            The Anderson Firm, P.C.                  Sarasota   8.17
Anderson, Kent            Kent J. Anderson, P.A.                   Sarasota   9.83
Good luck.
Topic Author
Swampy
Posts: 774
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:16 am
Location: Between gators, rattlers and snowbirds

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by Swampy »

Thanks to everyone for your insightful responses and PM's.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. | Failure is not an option. | If I have seen further, it is because I was carried on the shoulders of giants.
bsteiner
Posts: 5386
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:39 pm
Location: NYC/NJ/FL

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by bsteiner »

SnowSkier wrote:We recently established a Special Needs Trust for my teenage daughter.

I first started researching attorneys that specialize in Estate planning, but found that this was Not a very helpful way to find attorneys with experience and expertise in Special Needs Trusts.

I'd recommend going to naela.org (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) and click on "Find an Attorney", then enter your city or zip.
I disagree. That might be appropriate if you're creating a special needs trust with the beneficiary's own money (such as with the proceeds of a personal injury or medical malpractice award). However, the original poster is providing for his child with special needs. That's a routine estate planning matter. Any any competent trusts and estates attorney should be able to handle this as a routine matter. A substantial number of clients have a child with special needs.

He can provide (in his Will) for the child with special needs to receive his/her inheritance in trust rather than outright. Our clients generally provide for all of their children (with or without special needs) to receive their inheritances in trust, to keep their inheritances out of their estates for estate tax purposes, and to protect against creditors and spouses.

The trust for the child with special needs is almost the same as the trust for the child without special needs. Depending on the nature of the special needs, the child with special needs may not have as much control over his/her trust. For example, that child might not be a trustee, and might not have the power to remove and replace his/her co-trustee (with a replacement trustee who is not a close relative or subordinate employee) (or might only be able to remove and replace the trustees if the replacement is a bank or trust company). Someone else might instead have that power.

The child with special needs might not have a power of appointment over his/her trust, or might have a narrower power of appointment.

For avoidance of doubt, we might also add some language saying that it's the client's intention that the trust be used to supplement rather than supplant any government benefits that the child might receive.
jonnyboy
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:49 pm
Location: FL

Re: Special Needs Trust and Attorney Suggestions

Post by jonnyboy »

Hi Swampy,

If you are still looking for an attorney, I'd be happy to discuss with you as my firm can handle what you're looking for. Feel free to reach out to me as you see fit.
Post Reply