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Fleming & Curti Offers Seminar For “Special Needs” Trustees

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MARCH 1, 2004 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 35

When a recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits receives money, the benefits may be reduced or even terminated. That is why most parents of children with a disability should consider establishing a “special needs” trust to handle any inheritance or gifts. Making the decision to establish such a trust is not enough, though—the parents must carefully select a trustee, and the trustee must understand the unique problems associated with administering a special needs trust.

Some special needs trusts are funded not with gifts or inheritances, but with the beneficiary’s own money. An SSI/Medicaid recipient might have received a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit, for instance, or a cash inheritance from a relative who did not plan carefully. The trustee of that kind of special needs trust must also understand the complicated rules governing public benefits and special needs trusts.

Parents, trustees and interested family members should know the limitations and requirements for special needs trusts, but there is little help in the community to provide them with the necessary information. Case managers, advocates and others working in the disability community may have tried unsuccessfully to locate resources to enhance their own understanding of the obligations and opportunities.

To help provide more information about special needs trusts, the law firm of Fleming & Curti, PLC, has scheduled its first-ever training session on administration of special needs trusts. The free two-hour seminar will be held on the morning of April 19, 2004, near the Fleming & Curti offices in downtown Tucson. Attendance will be limited by the space available, and reservations are required.

The session will address:

-Basic eligibility rules for SSI and Medicaid (in Arizona, AHCCCS / ALTCS).

-The key difference between special needs trusts established with the beneficiary’s own money and those set up by family members for inheritance purposes.

-Rules for trust administration, including accounting and tax requirements.

-Permissible trust expenditures and those which disrupt government benefits.

-Techniques for using special needs trusts to provide housing, food, and necessities of life for the trust beneficiary.

Parents and other family members considering establishment of a special needs trust, family members of individuals for whom a special needs trust has been set up, family and professional trustees and case managers should all consider attending. Reservations can be made by calling Bonnie at the Fleming & Curti office (520-622-0400).

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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.