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Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on a menu below for answers to general questions about our firm and services. Please contact one of our corporate and securities, elder law, estate planning, special needs planning or special education advocacy attorneys for answers to questions about your unique matters.
What legal services does Littman Krooks LLP provide?
Littman Krooks LLP provides the following services:
How can I schedule an appointment?
Call us at our New York City or White Plains office. At that time, we will take basic information and schedule a convenient appointment with one of our attorneys.
New York City Office: (212) 490-2020
Westchester Office: (914) 684-2100
What are your office hours?
Our offices are open from 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM.
Elder Law & Estate Planning Answers
What is Elder Law?
Elder Law is the practice of specially-trained attorneys who can help you protect your assets in the event of illness and dispose of your assets upon your demise, with a minimum of taxes and problems. Elder Law attorneys address long term care and estate planning needs of each individual based on his or her unique situation.
How can you help me?
During your first consultation, a Littman Krooks attorney skilled in all areas of Elder Law will provide you with highly trained staff, who will advise you regarding your unique circumstances. After extensive evaluation of your situation, our experienced attorneys will be able to offer suggestions, solutions and propose steps you should take to achieve your goals.
What do I bring to my planning session?
You should bring the completed checklist of documentation that will be sent with a confirmation letter regarding your appointment or planning session.
Do you charge for the planning session with an attorney?
Yes, there is a charge for the planning session which pays for the attorney’s time, review of your situation and legal advice.
Does the meeting fee include the preparation of documents?
No. There is a separate fee to implement an Asset Protection Plan which includes the preparation of documents.
Special Needs Planning & Special Education Advocacy Answers
I’ve never heard of a special needs trust before. Is it something new?
Special needs trusts were authorized by Congress through the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA 93). A “special needs trust” describes any trust intended to provide benefits without causing its beneficiary to lose public benefits he or she is entitled to receive. There are two general categories of special needs trusts: self-settled and third party.
What is a supplemental benefits trust?
It’s the same as a special needs trust. Some lawyers simply prefer to use the term “supplemental benefits” or “supplemental needs” instead. The terms are interchangeable. They describe the trust’s purpose and are not legally different.
What is a self-settled special needs trust?
Sometimes a recipient of public benefits receives assets that prevent continued benefits eligibility. In this case, it may be possible – and advisable – to place assets into a special needs trust to regain or continue government benefits eligibility.
Who can establish a special needs trust?
Anyone. A third party special needs trust can be established by one person for the benefit of another. The person establishing the trust – called the settlor, grantor or trustor – chooses to make some of his or her assets available for the benefit of the beneficiary with a disability. Third party special needs trusts are often established by parents for their children with disabilities.
Does my family need a trust?
Not everyone with disabilities who receives a large tort settlement needs a special needs trust. A trust is usually necessary only if the person is receiving Medicaid , SSI or other means-tested government benefits. Small settlements may not warrant the establishment and administration of a trust. Other ways can be found to shelter the settlement funds. Even if the person is not currently receiving benefits, a trust must be considered if there is a possibility that the person may receive means-tested government benefits in the future.
What kinds of public benefits do special needs trust beneficiaries receive?
Special needs trusts can protect different public benefits. Most commonly, special needs trusts are intended to permit Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid recipients to receive some additional services or goods.
Does a special needs trust qualify a person for public benefits?
No. A special needs trust does not itself make public benefits available. Nor does it make it easier to qualify for them. The beneficiary must qualify for the benefits program – either before or after the trust is established. If properly designed, the trust will not cause a loss of benefits – although the level of benefits may be reduced in some circumstances.
What types of assets go into a self-settled special needs trust?
These trusts are often established by people who have received an inheritance or personal injury settlement – often from the incident that caused the disability. Sometimes people with pre-existing wealth determine that, upon becoming disabled, creating a special needs trust is to their advantage.
What does the trust pay for?
A special needs trust can provide for physical therapy, medications and medical treatment, and transportation. It also may allow for other life-enhancing items, such as education, entertainment, vacations, companionship, furniture and furnishings (such as a television or computer), and some utilities (e.g., cable television and telephone service, but not electricity, gas or water). The general rule is that a trust may not provide the beneficiary with food, or shelter (e.g., rent), or any asset which could be converted into food, or shelter – including cash. If the trust is structured to pay for food, or shelter, the beneficiary’s SSI payments will be reduced. However, with proper trust administration, the basic benefit as well as Medicaid eligibility can be preserved. Distributions of cash to the beneficiary are almost never permitted.
Can a special needs trust be used to buy a house or pay rent?
Yes. However, there are some strict SSI and Medicaid regulations affecting the use of special needs trusts (or any third party payment) for shelter. For example, if the beneficiary dies, the home would be subject to the Medicaid payback provision and the home may be lost. Before buying a house through the trust, consult an experienced lawyer knowledgeable about the intricacies of federal benefit programs.
Can a special needs trust buy an automobile or van?
Yes – but insurance is often difficult to arrange. It’s usually better for the trust to lease the motor vehicle.
Can a special needs trust pay for vacations?