Special Needs Trust Webinar

Special Needs Trusts Webinar Recorded July 22, 2023 By Arizona Attorney Emily R. Taylor

Estate planning can be a complex and sensitive process, but for families with special needs individuals, it takes on an added layer of intricacy. The future well-being of loved ones with disabilities is a paramount concern, and understanding how to protect their interests while preserving access to government benefits is crucial. In a recent webinar hosted by Arizona Attorney Emily Taylor, participants were enlightened on the various facets of special needs planning, with a particular focus on first-party special needs trusts, third-party special needs trusts, and the advantages of ABLE accounts. Let's delve into the insights gained from this enriching webinar.

Understanding Estate Planning and Federal and Arizona State Government Benefits

Before delving into the specifics of special needs trusts, it is essential to grasp the fundamentals of estate planning and its interaction with government benefits. Emily reviews how estate planning involves the process of arranging for the disposal of one's assets and property after their passing. For families with special needs individuals, estate planning aims to provide a solid foundation for their care and financial security.

Government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid (ALTCS, AHCCCS, DDD), play a vital role in supporting individuals with disabilities. However, these benefits are needs-based, meaning that eligibility is contingent on the individual's income and assets. Emily Taylor reviews how traditional inheritance could jeopardize access to these crucial benefits, making special needs planning all the more essential.

First-Party Special Needs Trusts

A first-party special needs trust, also known as a self-settled or (d)(4)(A) trust, is a tool designed to protect the assets of an individual with special needs without affecting their eligibility for government benefits. This type of trust is funded with the disabled individual's own assets, such as an inheritance, personal injury settlement, or other forms of windfall.

By placing these assets into a first-party special needs trust, the disabled individual can still maintain eligibility for means-tested government benefits while ensuring that the funds in the trust are used to supplement their care and quality of life. It prevents the assets from being considered as personal income or resources for benefit eligibility purposes.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

A third-party special needs trust, on the other hand, is established and funded by someone other than the disabled individual, such as a parent, grandparent, or sibling. This trust is commonly used as part of an estate plan to set aside assets for the benefit of the special needs individual.

The advantage of a third-party special needs trust is that it allows loved ones to provide financial support to the disabled family member without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. Assets in this trust can be used to enhance the individual's quality of life, cover medical expenses, education, and other necessities, all while preserving their eligibility for vital government aid.

ABLE Accounts

ABLE accounts, or Achieving a Better Life Experience accounts, are another invaluable tool in special needs planning. These accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. ABLE accounts allow eligible individuals to save and invest money without affecting their eligibility for means-tested benefits like SSI and Medicaid.

Contributions to ABLE accounts are made with after-tax dollars, and the funds in these accounts can be used to cover qualified disability-related expenses, including education, housing, transportation, and healthcare. They offer a level of financial autonomy and empowerment to the disabled individual, providing them with greater control over their finances while preserving their access to crucial government benefits.

The Synergy of Special Needs Trusts and ABLE Accounts in Planning

By combining the benefits of first-party and third-party special needs trusts with ABLE accounts, families can create a comprehensive and secure plan for their special needs loved ones. First-party special needs trusts are ideal for safeguarding unexpected windfalls, while third-party trusts enable family members to provide ongoing support. ABLE accounts, with their tax advantages and flexibility, empower the disabled individual to manage their finances more independently.

Planning for the future of a loved one with special needs requires a delicate balance between providing financial support and preserving access to essential government benefits. The special needs trust webinar by Arizona Attorney Emily Taylor illuminated the nuances of estate planning, government benefits, and the importance of utilizing first-party and third-party special needs trusts in conjunction with ABLE accounts.

Through the knowledge gained in this webinar, families are now better equipped to navigate the complexities of special needs planning, ensuring their loved ones with disabilities can thrive with financial security and enhanced quality of life for years to come. 

Remember, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is essential to tailor a plan that best suits your family's unique circumstances and ensures a brighter future for your special needs loved one.

Estate Planning

Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney


Adult Guardianship, Supported Decision-Making, Limited Guardianship

Special Needs Planning:

Special Needs Trusts, DDD & ALTCS Planning

Take it off your to-do list and rest easy: our team focuses our Arizona legal practice in special needs planning and estate planning. We are dedicated to helping individuals and families create personalized plans that address their unique needs and goals. We want you sleep easy knowing your plan is in place.

Our services include estate planning, adult guardianship, government benefits protection planning (ALTCS, DDD, SSI), and more. 

Contact us today at 602-341-6700 to schedule a consultation.


"Emily and her team were wonderful to work with during our son's guardianship and revising our Trust. She understands the process but more so understands what we are going through as parents. I would recommend Emily Taylor and her staff for your legal needs

Google Review from John July 2023

Phone: 602-341-6700

Address: 1747 East Morten Avenue, Suite 105, Phoenix, AZ 85020

E-mail: info@emilytaylorlaw.com


Monday:   8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday:   8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday:   8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Thursday:   8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Friday:    Closed

Saturdays:    By Appointment Only

Emily R. Taylor is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Arizona.  Emily Taylor practices in the areas of Special Needs Planning, Guardianships (and its alternatives), Estate Planning, and Special Needs Trusts.  The office of Emily R. Taylor, Attorney PLLC is located in Phoenix, Arizona.  Emily Taylor is available to consult on legal matters throughout the state of Arizona.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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"Emily came recommended from some friends to set up our trust and we highly recommend her and her firm. We have a unique situation with two special needs boys and other variables and Emily made the process seamless. We worked with Emily, Michelle and Camille and everyone was so pleasant, patient and kind. I really can't say enough about how supportive they were in making some huge family decisions. You will not be disappointed with their services

Google Review from Lisa June 2023