Fratello Law

Special Needs Attorneys
in Smithtown, NY

Protect & Support Your Loved One with Help from an Experienced Attorney

As the parent or sibling of a special needs minor or adult, you always want what is best for your family member. However, it can be difficult to get their affairs in order and care for them on top of your own career and other responsibilities. Fortunately, you do not have to handle this process alone. Our Smithtown special needs attorneys at Fratello Law can assist you with creating an estate plan that allows your loved ones to maintain their government-funded programs. 

Having a plan to ensure your special needs loved ones are cared for is crucial because it helps protect their assets and ensures they receive their maximum public assistance. Creating this plan can be complex, so we are here to guide you every step of the way. Our compassionate, family-oriented special needs attorneys work hard to establish trust and high-quality relationships with our clients, helping them through every stage of life. This dedication and unbeatable service gives you the peace of mind that you and your loved ones are in the right hands.

Special Needs Legal Services We Offer

Estate Planning for Special Needs

Supplemental Needs Trusts, also known as Special Needs Trusts, are an essential part of planning for a disabled loved one. These trusts allow a disabled beneficiary to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds without losing their eligibility for certain government programs and public benefits. Supplemental needs trusts are designed to provide additional comforts that are not covered by public assistance. The funds in these trusts are typically used to pay for things like education, comfort, recreation, counseling, and medical attention beyond basic care. We work with you to set up and manage a supplemental needs trust for your disabled loved one.

Article 17A Guardianship

In New York, parents of a disabled child are deemed their parent and natural guardian until he or she turns 18. Once a child turns 18, New York State law deems them an adult capable of managing their everyday lives on their own, but this is often not the case with a developmentally disabled adult. An Article 17A guardianship allows you to petition a court to become the legal guardian of your disabled loved one and care for their personal and financial needs beyond the age of 18. At Fratello Law, our experienced and caring Smithtown special needs planning attorneys will guide you through the legal process and court proceedings associated with Article 17A guardianship.

Guardianship Accounting

If the court finds it necessary, a guardian is appointed to manage the assets and property of your disabled loved one. If you are appointed by the court as your loved one’s guardian, you are responsible for overseeing and using your loved one’s funds to support their wellbeing. In addition to using the funds, as a guardian you are also responsible for an annual guardianship accounting to the Court, which requires you to keep a detailed record of all your loved one’s income and expenses. Our attorneys can take the burden of guardianship accounting off of your plate, so you can spend more quality time with your loved one.

Special Needs Trust Fundamentals

Your loved one’s care is of the utmost importance, but you may not always be there to care for them yourself. With a special needs trust, your loved one can have their long-term needs taken care of to ensure a high quality of life without giving them too much money to prevent government assistance eligibility. Setting up these trusts can be complex, but our team strives to make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible. New York recognizes the following types of special needs trusts:


A first-party special needs trust receives funds with assets the beneficiary owns. This type of trust protects the beneficiary’s current or future income from exceeding the limit to qualify for government benefits. A parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or the court must establish this trust, and it has to be irrevocable. We can help ensure the trust meets all legal requirements and is set up properly to protect your loved one.


With a third-party trust, the beneficiary’s parents, relatives, or friends provide funding, and is often preferred by those who want to leave an inheritance to their loved one with special needs. This type of trust helps protect this intended inheritance, and parents can use it for expenses government benefits do not cover. Additionally, the person who created the trust can choose remainder beneficiaries when their loved one with special needs passes away.

Pooled Trust

Like a first-party trust, a pooled special needs trust receives funding from assets the individual with special needs owns, but nonprofit organizations establish and manage them. The nonprofit organization manages a sub-account for the beneficiary where the assets are pooled for investment purposes. 

Benefits of Special Needs Trusts

Special needs

Special needs trusts can play a crucial role in the quality of your loved one’s life and help give you the peace of mind that their assets will remain protected and used. While they can be time-consuming to establish, they provide the following benefits:

  • Preserve your loved one’s government benefits while supplementing their lifestyle and meeting their needs.
  • Because special needs trusts are under strict guidelines, they ensure the funds are used for their intended purposes.
  • Multiple parties can contribute to a special needs trust. Single individuals can give up to $18,000 without triggering a gift tax or generation-skipping tax.
  • You can fund a special needs trust with cash, securities, a second-to-die life insurance policy, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), and other resources.
  • Making distributions while your loved one is young creates a record for future trustees to refer to to make the best decisions.
  • If your loved one receives a personal injury settlement, they can put it in their special needs trust to remain financially secure while still qualifying for government benefits.

With these benefits, a special needs trust can be a helpful tool to plan for your loved one’s future. Our experienced special needs planners can help determine which type of trust would work best for you and the structure that would best suit your needs.

Why Choose Fratello Law for Your Special Needs Planning?

We are one of the select firms on Long Island with special needs planning attorneys on staff who focus on special needs planning for individuals with disabilities. But more importantly, we treat our clients like people. We are respectful and take the time to understand your unique needs and concerns. Our dedicated special needs attorneys in Smithtown work efficiently and diligently to make sure you have a plan that works for you and your loved ones. 

We handle every aspect of your special needs trust, from listening to your story and answering your questions to choosing a trustee. Our Fratello Law Smithtown special needs attorneys are here to provide the counsel you need to achieve a successful outcome. This means more support for your loved ones and less stress during your time of need. Ultimately, Fratello Law aims to build a lasting relationship with every client our Smithtown special needs lawyers work with. 

Contact the Trusted Long Island Special Needs Attorneys at Fratello Law to Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Regardless of your loved one’s situation, our experienced special needs planning attorneys in Smithtown understand exactly what you are going through and will be right by your side through the entire special needs planning process. We have years of experience supporting those with special needs and use that experience to uphold your wishes and your loved one’s best interests. This makes us one of the most trusted special needs planning firms in the Long Island area.

Fratello Law is a small firm with a big heart. Our comprehensive services begin with a no-cost consultation, which you can schedule by calling us at (631) 406-5580 or filling out our contact form. We look forward to welcoming you to our client family.