206 11th Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
We Develops Detailed Settlement Plans
The lawyers at the Pollan Elder and Disability Law have more than 30 years of vast experience with all aspects of aging and special needs law. Our lawyers and staff are committed to serving the elder and special needs communities throughout the State of Georgia. We help plan for inheritances, medical malpractice, and personal injury settlements, judgments, alimony and child support for individuals with disabilities who depend on their government benefits.
We work extensively with our clients and their trial attorneys throughout the State of Georgia to protect all forms of existing government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and other forms of means-tested benefits.
Whether you are receiving a settlement, a judgement, or an inheritance, we will work diligently to ensure that your available monies and property can be administered to effectively preserve your current and future government benefits.
If you are receiving a personal injury or medical malpractice settlement, we work closely with you to create a personalized settlement plan that is carefully tailored to your individual needs and circumstances.
Eligibility for various needs-based programs can be affected by receipt of a settlement, including:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and SSI-related Medicaid
- All classes of Medicaid, including family Medicaid and aged, blind or disabled classes of assistance
- Medicaid Waiver Programs, such as the Community Care Services Program (CCSP), New Options Waiver (NOW), Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP), and Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment (SOURCE)
Our goal and our mission is to help our clients maintain the highest level of independence, quality of life, and a secure future.
We use a variety of complex planning mechanisms, such as special needs trusts, revocable and irrevocable third-party special needs trusts, structured settlement annuities, settlement preservation trusts, guardianships and conservatorships.
Families with children and adults with disabilities require special consideration when developing an estate plan.
A special needs trust is sometimes a necessary component of an estate plan or settlement plan to ensure that an inheritance or malpractice settlement won’t jeop[ardize or terminate your benefits. The sole purpose of a special needs trust is to hold and administer assets tal needs trust), is used to hold assets for the benefit of someone in your family with disabilities, without affecting their eligibility for important public benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.
With a special needs trust, the assets held by the trust are not “counted” for the purpose of qualifying an individual with disabilities for government programs, so long as certain rules are followed. One of the important rules for all types of special needs trusts is that the trustee can only use the funds to supplement the government benefits the beneficiary is receiving, rather than replace the government benefits. This means that the trustee cannot use the funds to pay for the support and maintenance of the beneficiary such as food, rent, electricity, water, etc.
There are three types of special needs trusts that may be available to you:
- A self-settled (or first-party) special needs trust
- A third-party special needs trust, and
- A pooled trust
Each of these trusts has its own set of rules, advantages and disadvantages which are discussed in more detail below. There are several important factors for you to consider when creating any type of special needs trust, such as who should be the trustee, directions for disbursements to the beneficiary and what assets should be placed in the trust.
- Self-Settled Special Needs Trust
A self-settled/first-party special needs trust is established by the beneficiary’s own funds. Your disabled family member must be under the age of 65 and disabled, and the trustee can only use the funds for their benefit while he or she is living. When the beneficiary dies the assets remaining in the trust are used to reimburse the state for the cost of medical care. Florida has specific rules about what disbursements can be made from the special needs trust, and failure to adhere to these rules could disqualify your family member from receiving important government benefits like Medicaid.
A self-settled special needs trust is often used when your disabled family member with special needs comes into assets because of an inheritance or accident settlement. For example, if they are receiving Supplemental Security Income, they are only allowed to have $2,000 or less in assets. If that person receives an inheritance or property settlement from an accident, they could lose those benefits unless a self-settled special needs trust is established. If the beneficiary lacks capacity (use hyperlink here to guardianship page), a court will need to approve the special needs trust.
- Pooled Trusts
A pooled trust is similar to the self-settled special needs trust in that the funds remaining in the trust when your family member dies are used to reimburse the government for medical care during their lifetime, except that a portion of those funds is provided to the non-profit organization who is responsible for managing the trust.
It is called a pooled trust because a non-profit organization establishes a large trust for the beneficiaries to “pool” their resources for investment advantages, but separate accounts are maintained for each beneficiary.
- Third-Party Special Needs Trust
A third-party special needs trust is usually used by parents and family members to provide assistance to a person with special needs. Similar to a self-settled special needs trust, the third-party special needs trust protects your family member’s access to government benefits. However, the third-party special needs trust has a distinct advantage because there is no “reimbursement” provision to the government.
One of the requirements of the third-party special needs trust is that the trustee has the sole discretion to make trust disbursements and your family member cannot make demands for funds. Unfortunately, a third-party special needs trust is not a viable option for your family if the inheritance was not initially directed to the special needs trust, or your family member received a property settlement from a personal injury case.
We can identify all available public assistance programs and the most beneficial types of Medicaid for our individual client’s needs. Pollan Elder & Disability Law provides guidance on the following issues that may arise during settlement planning:
- Identification of Public Assistance Programs
- Medicaid Lien Subrogation/Resolution
- Identifying Qualified Fiduciaries and Trustees
- Trust Administration Counseling and Support
We understand that losing government benefits can be devastating and the protection of benefits especially after an accident. Let Pollan Elder & Disability Law work to protect your settlement monies and your benefits.