Estate & Benefits Planning, Supplemental Needs Trust, Asset Protection

Special Needs Planning Attorneys

Serving Many Communities Including Albany and New York City

Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC strives to Make a Difference in the Lives of People with Disabilities. Special Needs Planning encompasses the holistic planning needs of an individual with a disability. It includes both decision making for the individual with a disability either through the use of a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy or through a guardianship. It also includes estate and benefits planning for the individual, often through the use of a Supplemental Needs Trust. In addition, Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC Special Needs attorneys can assist with the application for Medicaid benefits and advocacy through other government agencies.

Types of Services:

  • Guardianship

  • Estate Planning, including use of Supplemental Needs Trusts

  • Benefits counseling

  • Medicaid application and advocacy

  • Advocacy with other government and not for profit agencies

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  • Are there different types of SNTs?

    • Yes, there are different types of SNT’s depending on WHO creates the trust, HOW the trust is created and WHOSE money and assets will be transferred to the trust.

  • Can you place the proceeds from a personal injury action in an SNT?

    • This is a very common use of first party SNT’s. Pierro, Connor & Strauss often works with personal injury law firms to assist with the creation of first party SNT’s to receive either lump sum payments or annuity payments from personal injury lawsuits. In doing so, the beneficiary would not lose his or her crucial Medicaid benefits.

  • How can you create an SNT?

    • A family member may create an SNT for the benefit of a person with a disability by either creating a stand alone SNT while the creator is alive (called an inter vivos SNT) or by creating it under a Will (called a testamentary SNT).

    • If the person with a disability wants to create his/her own SNT, based on state and federal law, they must work with either their parent, grandparent, guardian or a court to act as the “grantor” or “settlor”. This is the person who officially creates the trust.

  • What if the person with a disability no longer has any living parents or grandparents and does not have or need a guardian?

    • Pierro, Connor & Strauss could then assist the individual to petition a court to grant permission to create an SNT.

  • What is a first person SNT?

    • An SNT is called a “first person” SNT when the funds going into the trust originally belonged to the beneficiary or was designated to be distributed to the beneficiary. In New York, this is also considered a “payback” trust because at the death of the beneficiary, the Trustee must first reimburse the local Medicaid agency (either the Department of Social Services or HRA) for the value of benefits paid out to the beneficiary through the Medicaid program. If there are any funds left after reimbursing the local Medicaid agency, then the balance may go to the beneficiary’s estate.

  • What is a Supplemental Needs Trust?

    • A Supplemental Needs Trust, also known as a Special Needs Trust or SNT, is a particular type of trust created for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The trust is governed by state and federal law and is created in a way so that it does not affect the trust beneficiary’s ability to receive government benefits such as Medicaid or SSI.

  • What is a third party SNT?

    • An SNT is called a “third party” SNT when the funds going into the trust originally belonged to a person OTHER than the beneficiary, such as a parent, grandparent, etc. With a third party SNT, there are no payback provisions to the state, so at the death of the beneficiary, the Trustee can pay any outstanding principal to whomever the original trust creator indicates, including other family members or not for profit agencies.


Planning for an individual with a disability requires special knowledge of estate planning rules, guardianship laws and government benefits. If you are a person with a disability or have a person with a disability in your life, please contact one of our Special Needs Planning Attorneys for a consultation to develop an individualized estate and long term care plan which best fits your needs. We have experience helping clients across New York City, Albany, and many other parts of the state and are ready to go to work for you.