Who Gets Special Needs Trust Balance on Death of the Beneficiary?

Death of the beneficiary

A special needs trust, of course, is for the primary benefit of the individual with a disability. But what happens on the death of the beneficiary? The trust might spell out its “remainder” beneficiaries — the ones who receive the balance on the death of the disabled beneficiary. But sometimes the trust just says that […]

Additional Information for Beneficiaries of a Special Needs Trust

Additional information for beneficiaries

Two weeks ago we offered some suggestions to help beneficiaries of special needs trusts better understand how their trust might work. At the end of that article we solicited questions we still needed to address. Based on that feedback, we have some additional information for beneficiaries of special needs trusts. If I don’t receive SSI, […]

On Being the Beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust

Beneficiary of a special needs trust

There’s a fair amount of information available to guide the trustee of a special needs trust. That includes the popular Trustee Handbook from the Special Needs Alliance. There’s far less help for being the beneficiary of a special needs trust. Beneficiaries might legitimately have a lot of questions. Let’s see if we can help with […]

Grandparent Visitation and Custody Disputes

Visitation and custody

We occasionally hear from grandparents who have visitation and custody disputes with their children. More commonly, they have disputes with their children’s spouses, partners or exes. The stories are often heartbreaking, and we want to help. Too often, our best advice is “you’ll have to learn to deal with it.” Court cases outlining grandparents’ rights […]

ABLE and SECURE Act Sequels


It was right there in the year’s name: 2022. Lots of sequels. See all those 2s in the year? We had some of the same experience in legal circles — particularly in the ABLE And SECURE Acts In the hours before Christmas, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. President Biden quickly signed it […]

Legally Required Notice in Probate Court

Legally required notice

Legally-required notice rules in probate proceedings are straightforward. They mandate mail notice or personal service on interested parties. The person filing a probate proceeding usually must publish notice in the newspaper, as well. But what if they don’t know how to reach other family members?

Famous People’s Wills Are Not Always Like Yours

Famous people's wills

We often write about famous people’s wills — usually when they have died recently. So, for instance, we recently wrote about Anne Heche’s will. More accurately, we wrote about what might be her will. Sometimes we discuss the absence of a will, or other poor planning choices. Consider the continuing mess generated by Prince’s failure to plan his estate.

The Problem of the Pretermitted Spouse

One of the common and vexing problems in administering a decedent’s estate is how to deal with a pretermitted spouse. To most non-lawyers, that sounds vaguely disturbing. What is a “pretermitted spouse,” and why do we care about their problems? What – or who – is a “pretermitted spouse”? “Pretermitted” is just a near-archaic term […]

Do Not Resuscitate / Do Not Hospitalize / Do Not Intubate (DNR/DNH/DNI)

A client asked last week whether he had properly signed his own DNR and DNI orders. We asked if he meant a “do not resuscitate” and “do not intubate” order. He confirmed that was what he thought he had signed. It made us think we need to look at the advance directive issue and update […]

Trust Amendment by Email Might Be Valid

Trust amendment by email

Last week we wrote about the late Anne Heche‘s emailed “will” that might be judged valid under California law. Our own article reminded us of a similar, but different, story we recently read about a less-famous electronic estate plan. The key difference: it involved an attempt at a trust amendment by email, rather than an […]

Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.