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Showing posts from 2014

Travis Finchum to speak at the 2015 Probate and Guardianship Annual Update

Travis Finchum will be presenting at the January Probate and Guardianship Annual Update on January 23, 2015 sponsored by the Clearwater Bar Association and the St. Petersburg Bar Association.  He will participate in a panel entitled: Trust Account Distribution: Mock Discretionary Committee Meeting.
You can learn more about the program and register by clicking HERE.  The panel will discuss difficult decisions trustees sometimes need to make regarding discretionary trusts and the program will incorporate interaction and participation of the audience.

Proposed Guardianship Bill for 2015 Florida Legislative Session

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Proposed Guardianship Bill for 2015 Florida Legislative Session.
House Bill 0005 has been introduced by Representative Passidomo.  The Bill is a product of a workgroup that consisted of attorneys and professionals familiar with some of the common problems with our current guardianship process.  The link to the proposed Bill can be found by clicking HERE.  While it is still very early in the process (the Bill has not been vetted through committees yet) this Bill seems to enjoy wide support and is likely to have legs this next session. 
Here is the legislative summary of the Bill: 
Provides that fees & costs incurred by ward's attorney in compensation proceedings are payable from guardianship assets; authorizes court to appoint guardian ad litem to protect minor's interests; provides for confidentiality in settlement of minor's claim; requires notification of incapacitated person & attorney before hearing on appointment of emergency temporary guardian; provides for co…

Reporting the Establishment of a Special Needs Trust

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We are often asked when changes in financial circumstances must be reported.  A change is defined as the establishment of a Trust when we are referring to a person receiving some sort of public benefit.  The answer depends on the program(s) the beneficiary is receiving and thus the agency to which to report.  The only common thread is that YOU MUST REPORT.For beneficiaries on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the answer is found in POM SI 2301.005. For SSI recipients a report is due within 10 calendar days after the month in which the change occurred. A report by mail is timely when the postmark date is within the same 10-day period.  Recipients and payees may report in writing, by telephone, or in person. They may use Form SSA-8150-EV (Reporting Events, SSI) to report in writing. The Change is reported to your local Social Security office.
For the Medicaid programs administered through the Department of Children and Families in Florida, the time to report is within 10 days of the cha…

2014 Elder Concerts

Have you heard of the Elder Concert?  This event is a MUST for professionals working in the elder care arena. 

The Elder Concert is a one-day gathering of the lead decision-makers in the Florida elder care community.  Based upon a growing sense of our multi-disciplinary mission, attendees include attorneys, health care providers, guardians, care managers, social workers, Judges, financial service professionals, facility administrators, representatives in government and others who care for and serve Florida's elderly.  Ever since Attorney General Bob Butterworth kicked off the first Elder Concert in 2001, the program has become a hallmark of networking and learning in this field.  Attendees are grouped into small topic clusters with a knowledgeable facilitator (not a lecturer), to allow for interactive learning and networking.

The Elder Concert will take place on Florida's east coast on September 13th at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida and on the west coast, th…

Utilizing a Power of Attorney document to open a pooled trust sub-account

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We have recently been made aware that legal counsel for Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) is closely scrutinizing Power of Attorney (POA) documents used to execute documentation to join a Pooled Special Needs Trust.  We closely review any POA used to sign our Joinder Agreements, but we also state we don't necessarily have the final say.  Arguably we do, because whether we believe the POA document is sufficient to join our trust is up to us and DCF isn't a party to our agreement.  Then again, the time and expense to challenge DCF on this issue precludes a final decision being rendered by an authority. 
First, whenever possible, have the beneficiary of the Pooled Trust sign the Joinder Agreement.  This gives DCF one less thing to argue about. 
Second, review the POA document closely to find authority to sign our paperwork.  If you draft POA documents for a living make sure the power is granted to establish an irrevocable trust, particularly special needs tr…

(d)(4)(A) vs. (d)(4)(C) - The Great Debate

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We are seeing a lot of attorneys drafting d4A Special Needs Trusts for disabled beneficiaries under age 65 when they should use a Pooled Trust.  We administer both individual and our pooled SNT, so it doesn't really matter to us.  I will propose a thought that there is never a good reason to draft an individual SNT over our Pooled Trust.  The traditional arguments for drafting a stand alone (d)(4)(A) SNT over a pooled trust include:  1) I want to be the trustee (or name a family member), 2) I want the trustee to pay back the Medicaid lien and then the rest go to designated beneficiaries and 3) I want to invest the funds, or have my investment person handle the investments.  I will take each of these points in turn. 
Individuals do not know how to administer trusts in general, let alone SNT's.  The federal law and policy is constantly changing, particularly for beneficiaries receiving Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.  It is extremely difficult to keep up with these changes…

iBudget Proposed Rule held invalid by Court

On Monday July 21, 2014 a three judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) did not follow the statute in their implementation of the iBudget.  APD administers the program that funds individuals with developmental disabilities in the community.  Click HERE to read the 8 page opinion.  This means APD must continue to provide services and funding under the previous methodology and go back to the drawing board on implementing an algorithm to determine appropriate individual budgets that comply with the law.  
Continue to monitor our blog for any new information.

Purchasing a vehicle from a pooled special needs trust

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Often we receive requests from a beneficiary to purchase a car with the funds from their pooled trust account. We generally do not have an issue with approving such requests. However, when a beneficiary requests that we purchase a vehicle in someone other than a beneficiary’s name, we have a sole benefit problem. There are many legitimate reasons why one would want to purchase a vehicle for the beneficiary but in another person’s name. Most commonly is when a beneficiary is unable to drive but still needs transportation. So how does the pooled trust purchase a vehicle in someone other than the beneficiary’s name without violating the sole benefit requirement? Social Security has recently provided us with some guidance. In Emergency Message 14026, Social Security released a “Trust Training Fact Guide” which states the following:
“If the trust purchases durable items, e.g., a car or house, either the beneficiary or the trust must be the owner (a car title may show the trust as a lien hol…

Attorney Trust Officer Liaison Conference in Naples

This past weekend we participated in the annual Attorney Trust Office Liaison Conference. This year it was held in Naples, FL. We were able to reconnect with many of our long-time partners and colleagues as well as meet numerous new friends. Often times other banks and trust companies aren't willing or able to serve as Trustee of a Special Needs Trust without a liquid asset minimum funding of $500,000 - $1,000,000+ and that is one major advantage to choosing our services.  Since we do not have a minimum for any of our trusts we are able to take the "smaller cases" and we are a good option for those trust officers who are looking to recommend an alternative to their clients.

Call or email us today - we look forward to working with you!

Bowling in the Dark for Lighthouse of Pinellas

Saturday, May 10th our team at Guardian Trust participated in Bowling in the Dark for Lighthouse of Pinellas at Seminole Lanes. Lighthouse of Pinellas is one of the many organizations in which our non-profit Trustee, the National Non-Profit for Americans with Disabilities, Inc. has made a donation to support their programs and services.

Lighthouse of Pinellas has provided services to meet the needs of the blind or visually impaired for over 50 years. Chartered in 1956, the mission of Lighthouse of Pinellas is to advance the independence, opportunities and quality of life for the more than 40,000 residents of Pinellas County who are blind or visually impaired.

Lighthouse of Pinellas offers comprehensive vision rehabilitation programs for adults and seniors, job placement for adults, life enrichment programs for adults and seniors, an independently owned and operated product store and information and referral services. Our children’s program includes early intervention services for child…

Special Needs Resource Fair hosted by Morning Star School of Pinellas Park

Guardian Trust is proud to support the Morning Star School of Pinellas Park and their ongoing efforts to provide a healthy learning environment for children with special needs. 

This Saturday, May 3, 2014, we will participate as an exhibitor at their first Special Needs Resource Fair.

Click here for more information on this great FREE event!




Guardian Trust attends Florida's Voice on Development Disabilities - Special Education Summit

On Saturday, April 26, 2014 Florida's Voice on Developmental Disabilities (FVDD) hosted their 2014 Special Education Summit at Broward Health North Hospital.  Travis Finchum, a FVDD Board Member, attended the conference and represented Guardian Trust.

The program was very well organized and attended.  The three Directors of the Exceptional Student Education programs of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties were speakers at the program. This conference gave families an opportunity to hear from professionals and ask questions.  Attorneys from around the State spoke about current issues and offered advice to families with children with special needs.

Travis took the opportunity to speak with families and attorneys from around Florida about our third-party special needs trust administration as well as our first-party pooled trust

Guardian Pooled Trust can be utilized as a Advocacy Fund

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As Statewide Medicaid Managed Care rolls out we will be seeing lots of changes.  For most elder law attorneys this will result an increasing number of follow-up calls for assistance when clients are navigating through these changes.  We all want to be able to continue to help our clients and their families when the phone calls begin, but we must be able to be compensated for our time advocating for clients when their benefits may be cut-off or reduced.  Our Pooled Trust is a great tool to house an "Advocacy Fund" to be able to re-engage good legal representation to protect the rights of a beneficiary.  Funds can be used to engage the Foundation for Long Term Care Solutions in order to understand legal rights and options.  So many other Medicaid planning strategies separate the money from the Medicaid applicant and make funds inaccessible.  The Pooled Trust is the opposite; it keeps funds close to the beneficiary to be used directly for his or her benefit, including advocacy.…

My client no longer needs Medicaid or SSI, so can they terminate their trust?

We are frequently asked “What happens with my Pooled Trust Account if I no longer need SSI or Medicaid?”  First we would say “Congratulations!” You are now in situation where you don’t have to worry about the strict limitations Social Security places on you or the limited services Medicaid provides to you.  However, we cannot just terminate the Pooled Trust Account and give a beneficiary the remaining balance.  Federal policy is very clear that if the Pooled Trust Account is terminated during the lifetime of the beneficiary, the State Medicaid lien(s) MUST BE PAID BACK IN FULL before a beneficiary can get his or her money back.  See the POMS on Early Termination at SI 01120.199.  Therefore, the account continues.  However, now we have more flexibility in the administration.  If the beneficiary is no longer receiving SSI then we do not have “in-kind support and maintenance” concerns or income limits for the beneficiary.  If the beneficiary is no longer eligible for Medicaid we can tre…