Special Needs Planning - NY
Caring for a loved one with a disability can be overwhelming at times. The issues confronting a care giver are many and come at an unrelenting pace: health care, social supports, financial support, legal support, vocational support and educational support. The needs of a person with a disability differ as they cycle through their life experience. Our Firm is accustomed to assisting a loved one who seeks to support a person with a disability who is navigating these life cycles: parents seeking estate planning to accommodate the needs of a minor child; parents of a person transitioning out of a school based environment; aging parents or siblings of an adult with a disability who has been “off the grid;” and parents or grandparents seeking to provide a legacy to a loved one with a disability.
George Gray has over twenty-six years of involvement meeting and planning the needs of persons with a disability and their families. He has counseled many parents, grandparents and persons with a disability on the formation and operation of Supplemental Needs Trusts (“SNT”). This is a specialized area of trust practice and the document must be carefully drafted to give the Trustee sufficient discretion to “supplement” the life style needs of the beneficiary without “supplanting” his or her means-tested government benefits. The Firm has experience in drafting not only first party SNT’s but also third party SNT’s. The documents drafted by Mr. Gray for clients have been included in a Will to take effect upon the death of the grantor or in a “stand alone” trust document to take effect immediately upon funding.
The Firm counts as one of its clients a local bank & trust company and Mr. Gray provides it with advice and counsel on the operation and administration of over one hundred SNT’s.
Mr. Gray has handled numerous applications for Article 17-A Guardians for adults with an intellectual or developmental disability. He is proud of his appointment as an Article 81 guardian of an intellectually disabled adult. This appointment and interaction with his ward provides him practical experience similar to that garnered by parents who sits on the “other side” during certification for government benefits and coordination of needed services.
The Firm takes a collaborative approach to special needs planning, working often with financial advisors, insurance professionals, accountants, individual and corporate trustees and case managers to solve the complex needs of a person with a disability relying on means-tested government benefits.
Mr. Gray has lectured to professionals and parents on the complexities of special needs planning and the tools to meet the needs of a person with a disability. He is currently featured in four webinars on the topic of SNT’s and their operations which can be accessed over the internet. He has collaborated with Starbridge, a Rochester, NY based agency servicing the needs of developmentally disabled person to introduce the topic of Article 17-A Guardianships in New York and to explain the utility of an ABLE Account as a savings vehicle for a person with a disability. Mr. Gray is the author of a book entitled Special Needs Planning: A Guide for Families with a Loved One with a Disability, released in late 2014. Three articles on the use and operation of a SNT have recently appeared in the Elder and Special Needs Law Journal of the New York Bar Association. He has served on the Board of Directors of Starbridge for over 25 years and is a member of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.