How a Special Needs Attorney Can Help






If your child has a disability and isn’t receiving accommodations through public education, a New York special needs attorney can help.

Caring for a loved one with disabilities can be overwhelming, especially when thinking about the future. A special needs attorney can provide peace of mind through careful planning and financial assistance.

Special Needs Trusts

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a critical estate planning tool when a disabled person is going to receive significant assets, such as from an inheritance or personal injury settlement. A SNT makes it possible for those assets to be used without jeopardizing their eligibility for government programs like SSI and Medicaid that are vital to their quality of life.

The trustee (typically a family member or guardian) manages the funds in the SNT, making sure that they are used according to the beneficiary’s needs and that government program rules are followed. The trustee also ensures that the beneficiary does not exceed financial thresholds that would disqualify them from benefits.

There are two basic types of SNTs: first-party and third-party. A first-party SNT is funded with assets from the beneficiary’s own money, such as a lawsuit settlement or inheritance. A third-party SNT is a pooled trust that is managed by a non-profit organization. A competent attorney can help determine the best type of SNT for a particular beneficiary’s circumstances.


As your child with special needs approaches adulthood, you must consider the possibility that guardianship will be necessary. This includes ensuring day-to-day decisions are made to manage healthcare and other matters that pertain to their independence. A skilled New York special needs attorney can help you determine the best type of guardianship for your family’s unique situation.

While you can leave assets to your disabled loved one, this may cause them to lose vital governmental assistance programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). By establishing a guardianship with the court, you can provide your child or adult with a quality of life that is as independent as possible without disqualifying them from these critical public benefits. The court will evaluate factors like stability in the proposed guardian’s home, your child’s stated preference and the moral character of the proposed guardian. A court-appointed guardian can also act as trustee of a third party supplemental trust fund for your special needs beneficiary, allowing them to keep these assets because the funds are not considered income.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney authorize someone else to act on your behalf when you can’t. These are typically used to manage financial matters, but they may also include powers related to real estate or naming beneficiaries of insurance policies. A skilled lawyer can help you decide what powers to grant and when those will take effect. They can also ensure that the form you sign meets legal requirements for your state and will be effective even if it is revoked or becomes invalid for some reason.

People can use online forms for Powers of Attorney, but a conversation with an attorney about your specific circumstances and wishes is a good idea. This allows a lawyer to draft documents that fully address your needs. The attorney can also discuss other legal strategies that provide peace of mind and control after unpredictable events. There are several types of POAs, and they are distinguished based on their duration and scope.


Whether your child is preparing to enter the public school system for the first time or they are struggling in a traditional classroom, the assistance of an education and special needs attorney may be invaluable. These attorneys specialize in ensuring students with disabilities receive the educational services they are entitled to under federal law.

This can include access to free special education, tuition reimbursement for private programs and more. Education advocates also help families navigate the ARD process (an individualized education program meeting) and help parents understand special accommodations like 504 plans.

When a school district denies an evaluation, refuses to provide specialized aid or fails to comply with your child’s Individualized Education Plan, the normal reaction of many parents is to force a confrontation. This could be a big mistake and lead to the wrong outcome for your family. An education advocate or lawyer can assist you with the proper and necessary legal steps to resolve a dispute with the school.