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Listener’s Questions About SNTs – Part 1

A listener sent us several questions about SNTs (that is, special needs trusts). We thought the questions were good, and if we talked about them it would give us a chance to explain a number of things about trusts for people with disabilities.

Broadly speaking, there are two different “flavors” of SNTs. Sometimes the beneficiary’s assets fund the trust (those are called “self-settled”). Others are “third-party” (that is, the money comes from someone else — a family member’s estate plan, for example). Those “third-party” trusts generally have more generous rules than their “self-settled” cousins.

When we get questions about SNTs, our answers usually have to be doubled-up. “If the SNT is a self-settled trust, the answer is …” we might explain. And then: “but if it is a third-party trust, the answer is different.”

In order to keep the “Answer A/Answer B” distinction to a minimum, we’ve decided here to answer all the questions only for third-party SNTs. When we recorded this podcast, it spanned two longer-than-usual sessions. In a third, later, session, we will go back over the same territory but for self-settled SNTs.

A word about terminology: we use “self-settled” and “first-party” interchangeably. We do not believe that there is widespread acceptance of a distinction between “special needs” trusts and “supplemental benefits” trusts, but some use the latter term for one (or the other) of the two types of trusts.

And there are actually four or five other types of special needs trusts to consider. We haven’t talked here about pooled trusts, or “Miller” trusts, or “sole benefit” trusts or “Qualified Disability” trusts because they are less common terms, not because they are unimportant. But we’d love to get your questions about those designations for later episodes.

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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.