Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Can I Use an Online Template to Draft a Special Needs Trust?
Guardianship and Conservatorship are Not the Same Thing in Virginia. Here's What You Need to Know
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Source: Reprinted from the March 2018 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,


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Issue: #108

 March 2018

I'm excited for the season change and the chance to enjoy a little time off over spring break. My friend and I are heading to Memphis for a few days next week to visit Graceland.  It's been on my bucket list for a long time.
Please note that our office will be open during the time that I am away. Feel free to call my assistant, Ashley, if you have any questions or want to set up an appointment. 
Don't forget that April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. We're encouraging everyone to use their social media to "Light It Up Blue" and help spread the word about this important observance. You can also wear blue clothes and accessories that day to show solidarity and support for individuals (and their loved ones) living with autism spectrum disorders.

Feel free to download our graphic and share it with your friends and loved ones. Just right click the image, choose "save as" and you'll be able to save the file on your computer.   Then send it out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Have a great month,


Can I Use an Online Template to Draft a Special Needs Trust?

I have been asked: "Can I use an online template or do-it-yourself software to create my disabled child's Special Needs Trust?"
A Special Needs Trust is a very complex legal tool that rarely works as a "one-size-fits-all" solution. I'd venture to say that the majority of online templates or do-it-yourself (DIY) software programs that create Special Needs Trusts are not sufficient for most families and could cause many unintended consequences.
A DIY program can't understand the complexities of your family or your child's unique needs. It also won't tell you what you are missing that could hurt your child when you are no longer around to protect him or her.
Not to mention, laws vary from state to state and eligibility for programs that your child may depend on are also complex and difficult to account for on a generic, "one-size-fits-all" document.  
For example, the eligibility rules for Medicaid are different from those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and both of those are different from Section 8 housing. Many of the decisions made by trustees can have devastating consequences for the individual with special needs and their ability to access critical government programs.
Furthermore, without having detailed knowledge, families (and even some inexperienced lawyers!) make the mistake of putting a "Medicaid pay-back" provision into the Special Needs Trust rather than allowing the remainder of the Trust to go to others upon the death of the individual with special needs. While Medicaid pay-back provisions are required in some types of Special Needs Trusts, an attorney who knows the difference can save your family thousands of dollars, or more.
So, while it is possible to create a Special Needs Trust using an online template, it is not likely to produce the best results for your child or your family. Always seek the advice of a qualified Special Needs Trust Attorney who understands which is the best kind of Special Needs Trust and how the eligibility for the government programs your child depends on will be impacted.
If you'd like to schedule an appointment to get started, please call our office.
Guardianship and Conservatorship are Not the Same Thing in Virginia. Here's What You Need to Know

One of the most important things to understand about guardianships and conservatorships in Virginia is that they are not the same thing. In fact, they are separate roles that a person may serve when overseeing the care of an incapacitated adult.
A guardian is responsible for making decisions regarding the incapacitated adult's personal needs including health, safety, housing and education.

A conservator is appointed to make decisions regarding the care of the individual's financial affairs including money and property.
Although these are two distinct roles, it is possible to appoint the same person to serve as both guardian of the person and conservator of the property. Co-guardianship or co-conservatorship is also an option if more than one person would like to care for the incapacitated person.   However, this particular option should be carefully considered.
It may be tempting to name, for example, all of the siblings of the incapacitated adult as co-guardians or co-conservators, but it is important to remember that this is more than just a title. There is a lot of hard work that goes along with acting as guardian and/or conservator and some family members may not be suited to handle this responsibility.
If you would like help determining if you should pursue a guardianship, or a conservatorship,or both, call our office to schedule an appointment.

Free Download of Sheri Abrams' Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits"

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Our Office Location

The law firm of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law is located at: 

service source building


10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 306
Oakton, VA 22124
(571) 328-5795


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Our office is also accessible by public transportation.


If you know of someone who could use our legal services, please forward to him/her this e-mail newsletter or give him/her our telephone number: (571) 328-5795.


We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Wills and Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills), Guardianship, Conservatorship, Disability Planning and Student Loan Discharge. 
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on any of the areas of law for which we provide legal services, please call us at (571) 328-5795.