How a Special Needs Attorney Can Help You

When it comes to hiring a special needs attorney, there are many things to consider.  A special education attorney can be a lifesaver when it comes to complex cases or special education cases that require a lot of time and energy.

Bridging the Healthcare Gap

As a parent and a doctor, I have plenty of experience with our fragmented and confusing healthcare system. I have seen firsthand the challenges faced by patients who navigate it. From the first sign of illness to the last medical bill, our healthcare system throws far too many obstacles at patients and the families who care for them--and no one faces greater obstacles than families with special needs. 

The IEP Process Explained by an Attorney

Christopher Knauf is the founder of Knauf Associates in Santa Monica, CA. His law firm specializes in disability rights and education-related legal disputes. He has also served as an independent hearing officer for Section 504 special education disputes. Mr. Knauf was kind enough to speak with and answer some questions about the overall IEP process.

Self-Funded Special Needs Trusts

What is a Self-Funded Special Needs Trust?

A trust is a legal document that provides for the control and distribution of assets held by a "trustee" for the benefit of another (the "beneficiary"). The assets in a trust may be money, stocks, bonds, real estate, business interests, or other possessions or assets. A trust should provide how assets are to be managed and distributed during the beneficiary’s life, and also how they are to be distributed after that person’s death.

Navigating Types of Special Needs Trusts

Special needs trusts generally fall into one of two categories, and the treatment and effect of any given trust varies depending on which kind of trust is involved. This has led to a tremendous amount of confusion and, in some cases, a significant loss of assets. Many (but not all) practitioners use the same language to describe the distinction: a types of special needs trust is either a "self-settled" or a "third-party" trust.

First Five Steps in Special Needs Planning

What is special needs planning? The focus of special needs planning is to protect and secure the future of our loved ones with disabilities.

Creating a Legal Plan for Your Child’s Future

There is no “one size fits all” approach that parents of a child diagnosed within the “autism spectrum” should take as the child approaches their 18th birthday. The abilities and the needs of each child are unique and should be evaluated to create the best legal plan tailored for that child’s future. When a child reaches the age of majority and becomes a legal adult, it is an exciting and scary time for both the parent and the child.

I&RS vs. 504 Accommodation Plan vs. IEP

You’ve heard about the I&RS Plan and the 504 Accommodation Plan as well as the IEP, but what are these documents? How are they different? When are they relevant to your child? And most importantly, how do you get one if you need one?

Let’s begin with the plan that is least involved and I’ll get into the plan that is the most involved.

Intervention & Referral Services Action Plan

Financial Gifts for Children with Special Needs

It is a grandparent’s right to spoil the grandchildren.

But if your grandchildren have special needs, giving them large financial gifts may have unintended consequences. 

Many grandparents of children with special needs are worried about their grandchild’s ability to support him or herself and want to help out in any way they can. But Michael Smith, co-founder of Savannah-based Smith Barid LLC, which focuses on special needs planning, warns that some financial gifts may actually hinder one’s grandchild from getting the support he needs.

Financial Planning: What You Need to Know from the Experts

Merrill Edge, which started in 2010, has announced some new programs that will help parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs.  Specially trained financial advisors have the tools to help families with special needs that do not have a great amount of investable assets.