Seniors with Adult Children With Disabilities Need to Consider Special Needs Trusts




New York, NY (Law Firm Newswire) August 30, 2012 – More people with developmental disabilities are living to adulthood and even into their senior years.

Krooks 2011

Littman Krooks Founding Partner, Bernard A Krooks

The average life expectancy for someone born with Down Syndrome in the United States was nine years of age in the 1920s, and approximately 25 years of age in 1983. As of 2011, life expectancy for someone with Down Syndrome is 60 years of age.

This dramatic increase in lifespan and quality of life for someone with Down Syndrome is a testament to the benefits of early childhood intervention, medical breakthroughs and an ever-increasing number of community-based resources. However, adults with special needs living longer means that they also need a longer span of support; more adult children with disabilities need their primary caregivers, their parents, to care for them for longer than before. Meanwhile, the primary caregivers are aging as well, leading to a growing number of seniors caring for their adult children with special needs.

According to “The Graying of Disabled America,” medical issues can complicate the caregiving further, as some adults with disabilities age physically earlier than others. “Individuals with mental retardation and neuromotor disabilities may experience the effects of aging earlier than individuals without mental retardation or neuromotor disorders,” said Jeffrey H. Minde, C.S.W. and Andrea R. Friedman, M.Ed. “Twelve percent of all people with developmental disabilities are over the age of 65 years. This translates to approximately 500,000 individuals or more.”

Senior adults with dependent children may wish to explore the option of establishing a Special Needs Trust. Assets from a Special Needs Trust can be used to pay for medical services not covered by Medicaid, for a residence for the beneficiary and enrichment expenses.

There are three types of SNTs to consider: a first party special needs trust, funded with assets from the beneficiary; a pooled special needs trust, also funded with assets but managed by a nonprofit organization, when there is no legal guardian available to establish the trust; and a third party supplemental needs trust, funded with assets from others.

Each Special Needs Trust has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the individual requirements and circumstances. It is advisable to work with an attorney experienced in special needs planning, estate planning and elder law to explore what options are available.

About Littman Krooks
Littman Krooks LLP provides sophisticated legal advice and the high level of expertise ordinarily associated with large law firms along with the personal attention and responsiveness of smaller firms. These ingredients, which are the cornerstone of effective representation and are necessary to a successful lawyer/client relationship, have become the foundation of the firm’s success.

Littman Krooks LLP offers legal services in several areas of law, including elder law, estate planning, special needs planning, special education advocacy, and corporate and securities. Their offices are located at 399 Knollwood Road, White Plains, New York; 655 Third Avenue, New York, New York; and 300 Westage Business Center Drive, Fishkill, New York. Visit the firm’s website at

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