Attorneys helping to plan for your future

Special Needs Planning

What is Special Needs Planning?

Special Needs Planning – A focus on family members with a disability.

Planning for Adults & Children with a Disability

Many families struggle with a lifetime of care for beneficiaries with a disability. The disability may arise from a developmental disability, a chronic disease, or an injury. Beneficiaries with a disability depend on access to governmental benefits to support them day-to-day. Governmental benefits can include Social Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, access to support services from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), Veterans Benefits, and other programs.

Financial Limitations and “Means Based” Testing

Some issues special-needs families face are financial. Strict financial requirements surround access to governmental benefits. If the beneficiary with a disability has “too much money” in their own name (more than $2000 in New Jersey), they may be disqualified from all services. On the flip side, governmental benefits do not sufficiently provide for every beneficiary’s lifestyle. The family must provide financial support, so it enhances a person’s lifestyle but doesn’t destroy their access to governmental benefits. Our special needs trust attorneys help families walk this fine line through planning with trusts.

Capacity Planning

Some disabilities mean that a person cannot engage in independent decision making. Those adults may need a Guardian or Conservator named by the court. We guide families through this process and advise Guardians, Conservators, and agents under a Power of Attorney on their role and obligations.

Attorney Expertise

Deirdre Wheatley-Liss, Esq. is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)* by the American Bar Association-accredited National Elder Law Foundation. Less than 50 attorneys in the State of New Jersey have this rigorous designation. Similar issues exist with access to governmental benefits for seniors and disabled individuals under the age of 65. Deirdre’s pursuit of her CELA designation reflects her commitment to empowering families to use the law to their advantage to provide lifetime security to disabled family members.

Crystal West Edwards, Esq. is highly experienced working with the legal problems of individuals with disabilities and their families. She advised on issues regarding complex estate and tax planning, asset preservation, eligibility for means-tested government benefits, fiduciary appointments, and advocacy. She is also a trusted advisor to financial institutions and corporate fiduciaries who serve as trustee of special needs trusts.

Elizabeth Shea, Esq., is the former Director of the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (“DDD”). Liz counsels families with special needs members on service options and advocates with them for appropriate DDD services.

Ask a Special Needs Planning Attorney

Many families have limited experience working with attorneys. Learn more about our Mission and Team.

Wealth Preservation Services

Porzio’s Wealth Preservation attorneys serve New Jersey families with offices in Morristown NJ, Princeton NJ, and New York City. We provide legal counsel on Estate Planning, Elder Law, Asset Protection Planning, Special Needs Planning, Wills and Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers, Living Wills, Probate, Estate Administration, Estate and Trust Litigation, Guardianship, and Tax Planning to families in Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Passaic County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County and Warren County.

* Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the American Bar Association accredited National Elder Law Foundation. The National Elder Law Foundation is not affiliated with any governmental authority. Certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law.