Those responsible for family members with disabilities are wise to plan ahead to maintain quality of life, government benefits and legal decision makers who will care for their loved ones during life and when they can no longer do so. An Albany special needs planning lawyer can help alleviate concerns by putting together a plan ensuring your child or other family member is properly cared for when the time comes. Such a plan also can involve ensuring that any inheritance the disabled person receives does not prevent them from accessing medical and other government programs.

At Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC, we are dedicated to assisting families with special needs and disability planning in Albany. Special needs planning is a complex area of law, and you need an attorney with expertise in this field to ensure your loved ones with special needs are protected. Because of our in-depth knowledge of special needs planning, we can provide peace of mind.

Why Special Needs Planning is Important

Special Needs Planning encompasses the holistic planning needs of an individual with a disability. It takes into consideration:

  • The health, legal, and financial decision-making that will be required on behalf of the individual with the disability both immediately and in the future.
  • Personal and social services that clients provide to the disabled loved one that would need to be provided by someone else in their absence, including acting as a guardian, advocate, companion, and chauffeur.
  • Estate and benefits planning that will protect the individual’s assets while ensuring that qualification for government benefits is not interrupted.

Comprehensive Legal Guidance

Our firm takes a comprehensive approach to special needs planning. Besides the financial and legal issues, our attorneys are sensitive to the emotional aspects associated with planning for those with disabilities.

An effective planning tool is the Supplemental Needs Trust, which can ensure that government benefits such as Medicaid, SSI and SSDI are in place.

Albany Special Needs Planning Team

Louis W. Pierro
Aaron E Connor
Aaron E. Connor
Frank E. Hemming III

Contact us today for a FREE consultation

Our Expertise

Our firm’s focus on special needs and estate planning is well known throughout New York State and across the country. Our team of attorneys in the Albany office include:

Louis W. Pierro, Esq.

Louis W. Pierro, Esq. Founding Partner

Louis Pierro is the Principal of Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC, a law firm with offices in New York City, Albany, Long Island and additional locations, serving clients in the areas of Estate Planning, Estate and Trust Administration, Business Succession Planning, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning. He helps persons with disabilities establish trusts customized to get the government benefits needed without depleting life savings. These plans serve to provide for the quality of life desired with protections in case of changes in income such as inheritance or the passing of parents and other caregivers.

Aaron E Connor

Aaron E. Connor, Esq., Partner

Aaron Connor heads our long-term care department, where he advises clients on the best way to preserve assets for themselves and their families, including family members with special needs. This includes planning to avoid the need for guardianship, or when warranted, to represent families in guardianship proceedings.

Mr. Connor is a seasoned litigator, currently concentrating in the areas of guardianship, will and trust contests, and other estate-related litigation. He assists clients in difficult situations to come up with the right plan based on the facts surrounding their case.

Frank E. Hemming, Senior Associate

Frank Hemming is experienced in helping clients plan for long-term care, including individuals with disabilities. He provides legal counsel to protect assets to qualify for community and chronic care Medicaid applications as well as other government benefits such as SSI and SSDI. Through first- and third-party supplemental needs trust planning, Mr. Hemming ensures that consistent care and quality of life are available to disabled individuals, bringing peace of mind to caregivers and families.

Mr. Hemming also leads the Firm’s monthly webinar series, Medicaid Monday, which can be viewed at this link.

Core Services for Special Needs

Special needs planning requires services that ensure the beneficiary’s needs continue to be met  once the family members or guardians caring for them have died or are no longer able to fulfill this care. Core services for special needs include:

Teacher assisting blind special needs student in the library

Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNT)

Individuals with special needs qualifying for government disability benefits receive barely enough to pay for the basics of food and shelter. In New York, an SNT may be set up to benefit someone with a chronic, severe, or persistent disability. A trustee is named to handle the SNT. While parents or grandparents most generally set up a “Third Party Supplemental Needs Trust,” an individual with a disability may also set one up on their own, known as a “First Party Supplemental Needs Trust.”

SNT assets are paid to the beneficiary to enhance their quality of life. For instance, an SNT may pay for education, transportation, recreational activities, and medical expenses not covered by insurance.

When written to conform with New York State law, an SNT’s assets do not count when it comes to determining whether the beneficiary is eligible for government benefits, such as Medicaid. Under New York Medicaid, eligibility for long-term care in 2024 cannot have income exceeding $1,732 per month and assets exceeding $31,182. Limits change annually.  New York also has favorable laws that make a home exempt for consideration in a Medicaid application if a disabled child lives there. An SNT is irrevocable, meaning that once it is established, the terms can only change within a complex legal agreement.

We advise SNT trustees and guardians so that they understand and comply with the terms of the trust document.

Government Benefits Coordination

Eligibility requirements for government benefits for the disabled are complicated. Our firm is well-versed in coordinating a special needs plan with government benefit programs. Besides Medicaid or Medicare, those with special needs may prove eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

We can help with the submission of a Medicaid benefits application and applications for other government benefits. At Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC, work to obtain all government benefits for which the individual with special needs qualifies.

Our attorneys also advocate with non-profit organizations assisting the disabled.

Advance Directives and Guardianships

The Albany-based guardianship attorneys at Pierro, Connor & Strauss represent and assist clients in matters after a mentally disabled person reaches the age of 18. When there is no power of attorney in place, we help to determine whether a guardian should be appointed to manage the affairs of an individual who is intellectually and/or developmentally disabled and unable to make their own decisions. The procedures for the appointment of guardianship under Article 17-A can be particularly challenging, so legal counsel is highly advised.

Mother caring for her wheelchair-bound disabled son in the kitchen.

Lifetime Planning

Those with special needs frequently rely on others to make their decisions for them. As noted above, we offer services relating to guardianships, decision-making authority and care arrangements for loved ones who depend on you for their current and future well-being.

For the parents of a special needs individual, their own estate and long-term planning require coordination with the needs of their child. We can design estate plans with your entire family in mind.

Why Choose Us

Planning for a family member with special needs requires expertise. Schedule a consultation with the Albany Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys at Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC today.

Our expertise in the understanding of New York and local laws and regulations is second to none. When you work with a local lawyer, they know the best options for special needs beneficiaries in the surrounding areas.

What Our Albany Clients Are Saying

My husband and I chose this law firm primarily for a special needs trust for our daughter. At our very first meeting with Mr. Pierro, he explained the trust in detail and then we decided to go ahead and do a family trust. Mr. Frank Hemming has been the primary attorney for this trust and we couldn’t be happier with his attention to detail and the way he has taken time to explain how it all works. I must say that everyone that we have come into contact with in this office have been extremely helpful no matter how many questions we ask. They always have a satisfactory answer, are always pleasant and we are very pleased with their work and attention to detail.

— Tina V.

We engaged Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC to assist us in a potential contested guardianship for our son. Jacob D. Verchereau, Esq. represented us, and we could not have asked for a better lawyer. Jacob is passionate about helping individuals with disabilities and understands both mental hygiene law and special needs education law and advocacy. Jacob was often the smartest person in the room, even among lawyers and judges, exuding confidence without arrogance. He is tuned into others displaying strong emotional intelligence, sympathy, and understanding. However, he is strong in his advocacy and does not hesitate to fight for you when it’s needed. Jacob prepared us by helping to manage our expectations from the very first call and kept us informed throughout the process. We felt we had a true partner who wanted what was best for our son. Our guardianship case was contested, but against all odds, we prevailed due to Jacob’s guidance and counsel. Jacob Verchereau and Beth Stasiak are responsive, kind, intelligent, and compassionate. We highly recommend them and Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC for contested guardianships and special needs education law and advocacy. We could not have been happier with the outcome.

— Jeffrey M.

Life Happens…..Are You Prepared?

Contact us today for a FREE consultation and we’ll be happy to help take the worry out of tomorrow so you can live today.

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