SPECIAL NEEDS - Danley Law Firm

Special Needs Planning - 
Oklahoma Special Needs Trusts

Forrest Danley, Attorney and the Danley Law Firm help clients with Special Needs Planning and also prepare Oklahoma Special Needs Trusts for clients throughout Oklahoma, including Edmond, Oklahoma City, Norman, Yukon, Guthrie, Ada, and other communities. 

Special Needs Planning is the legal area concerned with planning to benefit someone, such as a child or grandchild, who is disabled or incapacitated due to physical, emotional, or mental conditions (the "Beneficiary").  A primary goal of Special Needs Planning is to design and build an effective structure and plan for the long-term care and well-being of a Beneficiary.

A Beneficiary is often unable to manage assets or income. Or, the receipt of assets or income by a Beneficiary may very well jeopardize the Beneficiary's financial eligibility for important means-tested governmental benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.  There are ways to navigate through the complicated maze of federal and state rules and regulations and protect and provide for a Beneficiary while preserving governmental benefits. There are also ways to use legal documents to effectively handle and manage the assets and income of a Beneficiary. 

A common planning tool is the Special Needs Trust.  In essence, a Special Needs Trust is a type of trust that provides a reserve fund to help with a Beneficiary's needs that are not provided for or taken care of by public assistance or governmental benefits.  There are two basic categories of Special Needs Trusts:

  • Third-Party Special Needs Trust (that is, a trust created by someone other than a Beneficiary with assets that do not belong to the Beneficiary).
  • Self-Settled Special Needs Trust (that is, a trust created for a Beneficiary with the Beneficiary's own assets).

Under the right circumstances, a Special Needs Trust can be an essential way to plan for a Beneficiary.  A Special Needs Trust can be a standalone trust, or it can be included in a client's Revocable Living Trust, depending on the client's goals for the Beneficiary. 

Special Needs Planning can be important, among other situations, when  .  .  . 

  • Parents or other family members want to plan to protect and take care of a child with special needs.
  • Parents want to preserve the governmental benefits that are available now and in the future for their special needs child. 
  • Parents want to do their best to plan for the situation when they are not available or able to take care of their special needs child.
  • A disabled person is going to receive an inheritance or lawsuit award or recovery.
  • A plaintiff's attorney needs assistance with the settlement or structuring of a lawsuit for the benefit of a person with special needs who is receiving or anticipating the receipt of governmental benefits. 

Without effective Special Needs Planning, important and necessary life-long governmental benefits can be jeopardized or lost.  For example, if a special needs child on means-tested governmental benefits (such as Medicaid or SSI) receives a gift or an inheritance, the gift or inheritance could very well cause the loss of the child's governmental benefits.

For more information, please read this paper: Special Needs Planning (& Trusts).  

We hope you will Contact Us if you or someone you know is interested in Special Needs Planning, including a Special Needs Trust.