Mark Armstrong Attorney at Law, P.C. is a general practice law firm that welcomes clients dealing with various issues. Areas of practice include Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, Guardianship, Conservatorship, Family Law, and Limited Assistance Representation.
A Special Needs Trust provides for the needs of a person with disabilities without risking eligibility for government benefits. Special needs trusts complement, rather than replace, benefits received from SSI, MassHealth, Section 8 Housing and other programs. In this way the special needs trust enhances the beneficiary's quality of life beyond basic necessities.
There are two basic types of special needs trusts. A self-settled special needs trust is funded with the beneficiary's own assets. A third party special needs trust is funded with another person's assets for the benefit of the disabled individual. Many possible situations warrant the use of special needs trusts:
- Parents who want to prepare a third party special needs trust to finance the lifetime needs of their disabled child
- A person whose eligibility for SSI, MassHealth, or other public benefit is in jeopardy due an unforeseen receipt of assets
- A person not yet receiving public benefits, but who may need them in the future
- A couple who wants to plan for a nursing home stay and MassHealth eligibility
- A disabled individual who needs a self-settled special needs trust to receive a personal injury award in order to be eligible for public benefits
Many other important documents are needed to complete the plan such as:
- Will: transfer assets in probate and appoint guardians for minor children
- Durable Power of Attorney: Avoid costly conservatorship during a period of incapacity
- Health Care Proxies: Avoid costly guardianship during a period of incapacity
- Guardianship for minor children: Avoid the unexpected need for a temporary guardianship hearing
Estate Planning centers on the transfer of assets upon the passing of a loved one. This can include the gift of assets remaining after a long life or resources needed for a young family when a caregiver passes too soon. Planning for elders changes the focus to comfort and care during one's final days. Planning needs change as life moves on, but the potential for incapacity during life consistently remains and needs to be considered.
A proper estate plan generally includes a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Guardianship for minor children, in addition to various types trusts.
A Guardianship is the court appointment of a guardian for an incapacitated person. It may be a Full Guardianship, which removes the incapacitated person's personal decision making responsibility and authority, or it may be a Limited Guardianship over a person who has functional capacities and limited incapacities. The court must consider whether a Limited Guardianship can better preserve an incapacitated person's rights.
In a Conservatorship a conservator is appointed by a court to protect the property and business affairs of a person in need of protection. It may be a Full Conservatorship, which removes personal control over the protected person's assets from the protected person, or a Limited Conservatorship with only those powers necessitated by the limitations of the person to be protected. A Conservator may not be needed at all if the situation is better served by a Protective Order. A court must consider whether the rights of a protected person are better served by a Limited Conservatorship or Protective Order instead of a Full Conservatorship.
Family Law issues can affect every family. A Joint Petition for Divorce or a Complaint for Divorce citing specific grounds may be filed. It may be possible to instead file a Complaint for Separate Support depending on the circumstances of the family. Parties to a Divorce Action may also opt for Mediation of their divorce outside of court.
Limited Assistance Representation (LAR)
Many clients now prefer to hire an attorney for a specific event:
- One time court appearance by counsel for a particular event
- Document preparation with the assistance of counsel for a particular event
- Consultation about a certain issue in the client's case without a court appearance by counsel or document preparation with the assistance of counsel
Some possible examples of Limited Assistance in the Probate and Family Court:
- Guardianship Petition
- Guardianship Hearing
- Hearing on Order for Protection from Abuse, c.209A
- Financial Statement
- Temporary Orders Hearing
- Draft Pleadings, Motions for Temproary Orders (Child Support, Alimony)
- Case Management Conference
- Pre-Trial Conference
- Subpeona records
- Legal Research and Analysis
Dracut Village Square
101 Broadway Road Suite 22
Dracut, MA 01826
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