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Showing posts from 2015

ABLE Accounts - Latest Update

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With the near finalization of Regulations from the IRS on the ABLE accounts, Social Security has published POMS on the ABLE accounts. Here is the link and then the entire POMS is pasted below.  This is a very good overview of the program.   I have highlighted in red what I think is one of the MAJOR points of an ABLE account.  Social Security will not count payments for shelter as in-kind support for individuals on SSI as long as you use the money for shelter in the month you pull the money out. 
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130740
Effective Dates: 12/18/2015 - PresentPrevious | Next TN 72 (12-15) SI 01130.740 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) AccountsCITATIONS: Public Law 113–295 The Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) – Enacted December 19, 2014
A. What is an ABLE Account?An Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account is a type of tax-advantaged account that can be used to save funds for the disability-related expenses of …

ABLE Act / Social Security Update

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As you read last week, we attended the annual Stetson SNT conference and listened to the 2015 update from Ken Brown and Eric Skidmore from the Social Security Administration.  The implementation of the ABLE Act was a big topic for discussion.  
For those not familiar, ABLE, Achieving a Better Life Experience, is basically a section 529 Educational Savings account with a few twists.  First, only individuals who were disabled prior to age 26 can use them and the funds can be used for things other than education.  Examples of allowable expenditures are:  education, housing, transportation, employment training, assistive technology, health, prevention and wellness, financial management, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring of the ABLE account, and funeral and burial arrangements.
ABLE accounts seem a lot like a Special Needs Trust, which is true, but there are a few exceptions.  We could write entire articles on the similarities and differences of SNT’s and ABLE accounts, an…

2015 Annual Update from the Stetson National Special Needs Trust conference

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We just returned from the annual update on Friday, October 16, 2015 from Ken Brown and Eric Skidmore from the Social Security Administration at the National Stetson SNT conference.  Unlike years past, we actually got some good information and solid answers; at least in some areas.  There was still some of the vague: “we are looking into that” or “we are aware that is an issue” responses, but here are a few nuggets I took from the conversation.

The Regional Trust Review Teams that began operating in April 2014 have been busy. There are 167 members nationwide, on 14 teams, that have reviewed approximately 8,800 Trusts (not all are SNT’s).  They are receiving about 500 per month.  Each team has a Lead person and they are working to communicate concerns and training through the Leads to then disseminate the information out to the entire team.

A big concern raised is that when Social Security has a problem with an SNT and determines the trust to be a countable resource, the notice generall…

Clerk of Circuit Court training provided by Co-Trustee Steven Hitchcock

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Monday, May 4th Co-Trustee/Attorney Steven Hitchcock visited the Probate Department of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pinellas County, FL. He provided an overview of Special Needs Trusts and gave the staff an opportunity to have questions answered and help them to become more familiar with how Special Needs Trusts work and how they can benefit the public. 



The Probate Audit Specialists, along with their trainer and supervisor, felt that the training was time well spent and they were able to broaden their knowledge of the different types of trusts that are filed. 
If you would like a speaker or professional training about Special Needs Trusts, please feel free to contact us today!

Kole Long asked to speak with families at SBACFL conference

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This past weekend (April 18) I had the privilege to speak to families at the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida’s Education Days annual conference. The day long conference took place at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida. Families gathered to listen to various professionals address topics that affect those with Spina Bifida. 
I was asked to talk to parents about the important role of a Special Needs Trusts in their Estate Plan. I was able to give guidance and answer questions on how a Special Needs Trust can be used as a inheritance tool for their children with Spina Bifida, allowing money to be held for their children without disqualifying them for their much needed benefits. 
If you are interested in having a speaker at your conference or event, contact our office via email or by calling 800-669-2499, option 3.


Kole J. Long Elder Law Attorney Co-Trustee, Guardian Trusts

Updated Social Security and Medicaid 2015 Figures

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The 2015 figures for eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are effective now that we are into the new year.  The resource limit for a single person stays the same for the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and long term care Medicaid programs at $2,000.  For a spouse at home of a person qualifying for long term care Medicaid, the resource limit has increased to $119,220.  The income limit for SSI is now $733 per month which then makes the Medicaid income limit $2,199 (always 3 times the SSI limit).  Medicare part B monthly premiums stayed the same at at $104.90.  The monthly personal needs allowance for people on Medicaid in a nursing home remains at $105.  Finally, the home equity exclusion for Medicaid eligibility went up to $552,000.  For a chart of these figures click here.

Happy New Year!





Travis D. Finchum, Esq.
Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
Co-Trustee, Guardian Trusts