ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006: 10:00 AM-11:15 AM
Providence Ballroom I
#2185- Special Trusts for Special People
How do you make sure that your child, your grandchild, niece, nephew or other loved one with special needs is provided for financially after you can no longer be there yourself? The solution often involves the creation of a “Special Needs Trust”. This program will give participants the information needed—as free from legal jargon as possible—to take the next steps to ensuring a secure financial future and continuing quality of life for a loved one with special needs.

Presenters:Mark B. Heffner, Attorney, Heffner & Associates, Principal, Heffner & Associates - Mark B. Heffner is the principal of Heffner & Associates, a law firm whose practice is focused on the needs of the elderly and disabled. Mr. Heffner was graduated from Harvard University in 1977, and from Boston College Law School in 1982. Mr. Heffner served for ten years as a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, where he helped enact legislation which produced substantial reform and of Rhode Island's guardianship laws. Attorney Heffner is a member of the Special Needs Alliance, a private organization of attorneys whose practices include planning for individuals with special needs.

Neal A. Winston, Attorney, Moschella & Winston, LLP, Principal, Moschella & Winston, LLP - Neal A. Winston is a partner with Moschella & Winston, LLP in Somerville, Massachusetts and is a leading authority on government benefit programs, especially SSI and Social Security. Since 1975, Mr. Winston has lectured, trained and written widely on benefit programs and represented hundreds of claimants before state and federal agencies. A recent example is an article entitled Social Security Dependents and Survivors Benefits for Your Child With a Disablility published in Exceptional Parent Magazine in May, 2005. Mr. Winston is a member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national organization of elder and disability law attorneys.

This session's goal will be to provide an overview to conference participants of options and tools available to them to provide financially for loved ones with special needs, then after the death of the individual who is providing financial support.

Many individuals with special needs, such as autism related disorders, receive or are potentially eligible to receive, public benefits. In some cases, the loss of those benefits would be potentially devasting to the recepient.

The laws and regulations concerning what assets and income a disabled individual may or may not have are highly technical. These rules can also be easily violated by well-meaning relatives who wish to provide assistance.

Particularly in today's era of threatened cutbacks to basic entitlement programs such as Medicaid, having a supplemental source of assets for the disabled individual can be vital. At a minimum, having a source for payment of goods and services not covered by public programs can greatly enhance the quality of life for an individual with special needs.

This session will provide participants with an overview of the rules of public benefits programs most often utilized by individuals with disabilities. The session will then introduce participants to a frequently utilized tool--the Special (or Supplemental) Needs Trust. Properly designed and administered, these Trusts can enable disabled individuals to continue to qualify for essential public benefits programs, while being to enjoy the benefits of a fund source which can enhance the person's quality of life.

Both speakers are highly experienced presenters to both professional and lay audiences. For purposes of this presentation, it will be assumed that most of the conference participants are not intimately familiar with the rules governing public benefit programs, may have only a passing familiarity with Special Needs Trusts. The presentation will be as free of legal jargon as possible. The goal of both speakers is to empower conference participants to assist their loved ones financially when they are no longer able to do so themselves.

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