Special Needs Planning

The Maine Elder Law Firm is honored to serve clients with disabilities. We navigate the maze of public benefits and access the network of housing and caregiving services sometimes associated with those benefits. We also work with clients to maximize resources. That may include establishing eligibility for means-tested benefits while protecting excess assets in an ABLE account or in a first or third party special needs trust.

Special Needs Trusts

The purpose of any special needs trust is to maximize all available resources for the benefit of an individual with disabilities. The objective is to allow the beneficiary of the trust to become or remain eligible for means-tested public benefits like Medicaid (MaineCare) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The public benefits provide for the individual’s basic needs like food, shelter, and medical care. The assets held in the special needs trust supplement — rather than supplant — the government benefits and provide goods and services to improve the quality of life for the individual with disabilities.

ABLE Accounts

ABLE Accounts are an exciting and relatively new tool for individuals with disabilities. These are tax-advantaged accounts into which the individual or family or friends may contribute up to $15,000 (total, from all sources) in 2020 and more in future years. The balance in the ABLE account is not taken into consideration when determining eligibility for means-tested federally-funded benefits such as SSI and MaineCare. Over time, the account balance can build to $100,000 without affecting SSI; the limit is much higher for MaineCare. The individual can own and control the account, unlike a special needs trust. Often an individual will benefit from a special needs trust and an ABLE account.

Learn More about Special Needs Planning

When the Maine Elder Law Firm is contacted by a professional or an individual who thinks a special needs trust may be appropriate in a particular matter, we often offer this Checklist for Suitability of Special Needs Trusts. We also welcome you to browse our helpful articles on special needs planning, which include introductions to three types of special needs trusts: the third party special needs trust, the self-settled (d)(4)(A) trust, and the self-settled (d)(4)(C) trust.

For more information about special needs trusts, please refer to the Resources and Articles available on the website of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA). And if you are an individual with disabilities, someone who cares for an individual with disabilities, a trustee of a special needs trust, or a professional who advises them, consider signing up to receive The Voice which is the SNA’s newsletter. Current and past issues of The Voice are available online.

On the SNA website, you can also find and download Administer

Administering Special Needs Trusts: A Handbook for Trustees.

Special Needs Planning — We're Here to Help

To consult with us about special needs planning and how we can help, please contact the Maine Elder Law Firm in Bangor.

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