Special Needs Planning Attorney Atlanta: Professional Legal Guidance for Families


Speak with a trusted Probate Court lawyer in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Introduction to Special Needs Planning

If you need a special needs planning attorney in Atlanta, get in touch with Perigon Legal Services today. We are here for you. Give us a call now.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on April 16, 2024.

Navigating the complexities of legal matters for loved ones with special needs requires not only a profound understanding of the law but also a compassionate approach. At Perigon Legal Services, we recognize the unique challenges that families face when planning for the future of individuals with special needs. 

With a comprehensive grasp of special needs trusts and estate planning, we ensure that our client’s loved ones are provided for in a way that maximizes their quality of life and preserves their eligibility for essential government benefits.

Our law firm, based in the heart of Atlanta, has earned a reputation for detail-oriented and client-focused legal service. We meticulously handle each case, lending our full attention as if it were our sole focus, thereby achieving significant results time and again. We employ a strong business acumen balanced by exceptional personal skills, creating a rare combination that resonates well with our clients. 

We are dedicated to you and your family member’s needs, providing robust legal strategies for protecting assets and ensuring continuous care for those with special needs.

    Understanding Special Needs Trusts

    Special needs trusts are essential tools in estate planning, designed to enhance the life quality of individuals with disabilities. By establishing a special needs trust in Georgia, families can secure resources for their loved ones without affecting their eligibility for government programs like Medicaid.

    Types of Special Needs Trusts:

    • First-Party Trusts: Funded by the beneficiary’s assets.
    • Third-Party Trusts: Established with assets from someone other than the beneficiary.
    • Pooled Trusts: Managed by nonprofit organizations for multiple beneficiaries.

    Creating a special needs trust is a strategic decision to protect a family member or disabled person’s future. These trusts ensure that assets are managed responsibly and used for the beneficiary’s needs, from medical care to personal growth experiences.

    As trustees, we uphold our duties meticulously. In Atlanta, trustees of a special needs trust are responsible for the following:

    1. Ensuring prudent asset management.
    2. Making disbursements in the beneficiary’s best interests.
    3. Maintaining accurate records and complying with legal requirements.

    We at Perigon Legal Services recognize the importance of preserving government aid while providing for your family member’s additional needs through a trust.

    Government Benefits and Eligibility

    Understanding the intersection between government benefits and special needs planning is key to protecting the financial future of individuals with disabilities. At our firm, we ensure that every aspect of life care planning takes into consideration the eligibility criteria for programs like Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

    When educating families and beneficiaries about government benefits, it’s critical to stress that personal income and assets can impact your disabled family member’s qualifications for government assistance. This is where a special needs trust becomes an indispensable tool. Structuring assets within such a trust helps safeguard government benefit access while providing supplemental resources.

    • Medicaid: A means-tested program essential for many of our clients. We help individuals navigate the complexities of eligibility to secure healthcare needs.
    • Medicare: Generally available without means testing, offering healthcare coverage primarily to those 65 and older, as well as to some younger people with disabilities.
    • SSDI: Provides income for adults who are disabled and have met work requirements.

    In the realm of education, working with special education programs necessitates a careful balance to preserve access to government resources. Our firm’s meticulous approach to crafting individualized education plans and life care plans not only ensures that the immediate educational needs are met but also acknowledges the potential long-term impact on a child’s eligibility for government benefits.

    Choosing the Right Trustee

    When embarking on the essential task of estate planning, selecting the ideal trustee becomes a pivotal decision, especially when it involves adults or children with disabilities. At Perigon Legal Services, we understand the gravity of this role and the profound impact it has on the success of your estate plan.

    Trustee Duties and Responsibilities:

    • Financial management: Trustees must meticulously manage and distribute assets in the trust, aligning with the specific needs of the beneficiaries.
    • Legal obligations: Complying with all legal requirements and trust documents is non-negotiable.
    • Communication: Keeping beneficiaries and family members informed is key to maintaining transparency.

    Considerations for Choosing a Trustee:

    1. Professionalism: Assess the potential trustee’s knowledge and experience, ensuring they can navigate complex legal and financial landscapes.
    2. Personal skills: Evaluate their ability to connect and empathize with family members and adults with disabilities, offering support and understanding.

    Commitment: The chosen trustee must be wholly dedicated to carrying out the duties with the utmost regard for beneficiary needs.

    Special Needs Planning for Different Life Stages

    At Perigon Legal Services, we understand that special needs planning is an ongoing process that requires diligent care and experience at every stage of a child’s life. Our approach is tailored to ensure that each client receives comprehensive support, whether they are caring for children with developmental disabilities or planning for the future of adults with disabilities.

    1. Early childhood and adolescence: When it comes to long-term care planning for young children, we focus on establishing a secure foundation for their growth and education. This typically involves setting up special needs trusts and discussing guardianship options to safeguard their financial and legal interests.
    2. Transition to adulthood: As children grow, we shift our approach to include transition planning. By their mid-teens, it’s crucial for parents to modify their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to reflect their life skills and future independence.
    3. Adulthood: Adulthood demands a refined strategy, especially for adult children with disabilities. We assist in creating a life care plan that provides long-term solutions for living arrangements, employment, and community involvement.

    Legal Process and Documentation

    When considering the future of a loved one with special needs, the legal process and necessary documentation can appear daunting. At Perigon Legal Services, we simplify this journey for our clients, ensuring clarity and peace of mind throughout the process.

    Setting Up a Special Needs Trust

     A special needs trust is pivotal in safeguarding the financial future of those with disabilities. We guide those we serve through creating a trust, which involves:

    • Drafting the trust agreement
    • Funding the trust with the appropriate assets
    • Assigning a trustee who will manage the trust in the beneficiary’s best interest

    The trust must adhere to Georgia’s specific requirements to ensure that beneficiaries can keep trust assets and still receive public assistance benefits. 

    How Perigon Legal Services Can Help

    We understand the intricacies of special needs planning in the Atlanta area. Our attorneys are equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to guide family members through the process of special needs planning.

    Services we offer:

    • Creation of special needs trusts
    • Guardianship arrangements
    • Estate planning tailored to your special needs
    • Offer informed legal advice tailored to your unique situation
    • Prepare and file necessary documentation with precision
    • Represent and advocate for your interests in court if required

    For a dedicated special needs planning lawyer who will stand with you and your family, Perigon Legal Services is your trusted partner. Contact us today and let us help you secure the future for your disabled child or your loved one.

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    Atlanta, Georgia 30339