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How We Actually Use ABLE Act Accounts

How we actually use ABLE Act accounts

We’ve written and talked about ABLE Act accounts before. But we’d like to revisit the subject with a very practical update. Let’s answer the question: how do we actually use ABLE Act accounts in our practice today? Start with a recap: what’s ABLE? Before we get practical, though, we do need to review the concepts. […]

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 […]

Disabled Beneficiary Graduates; Trust Terminated

Trust beneficiary graduates

It’s not too often that a special needs trust beneficiary “graduates” from their disability. But a heartwarming Michigan case gave us a chance to reflect on the possibility this week. A little background: a special needs trust can be established for a beneficiary who is “disabled” by Social Security standards. It can even contain funds […]

Modification of a Special Needs Trust

Modification of a special needs trust

Is modification of a special needs trust possible? Even if the trust is irrevocable, and its terms are clear? The short answer is “yes” — at least in some circumstances. A recent Texas Supreme Court case illuminates the principles. And the story is pretty interesting, to boot. “Dick” Poe was a prominent businessman from El […]

Special Needs Trust Terminated When Beneficiary Moved

Special needs trust terminated when beneficiary moved

What happens to a special needs trust when the beneficiary moves to a new state? Will the trust continue, or transfer to the control of the new state? One special needs trust beneficiary in Colorado discovered the Centennial State’s odd rule: a special needs trust is terminated when the beneficiary moves. Parker Wilson’s story Young […]

“Letter of Instruction” Helps Document Your Wishes

Letter of instruction

When we prepare your estate plan, we try to capture your wishes as thoroughly and precisely as possible. It can be a challenge, though, to cover every variable. You may also have preferences that are hard to capture in the legal language of trusts, wills and powers of attorney. That’s why we encourage clients to […]

Should You Establish a Special Trust for Your Child?

Special trust for your child

Let’s talk about a special trust for your child. Not necessarily a “special needs” trust, but a trust for a beneficiary who can not manage their own finances. What’s in a name? Search for information about special needs trusts, and you’ll find plenty of entries. But you’ll also find plenty of confusion. What’s the difference […]

The 2020 Budget Act and Special Needs Trusts

Budget Act and Special Needs Trusts

Late in December Congress adopted its 2020 budget. The law goes by the poetic name the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020“. We’ve already told you about the SECURE Act, part of the budget law. But there’s more in this complicated law. For our practices, it’s particularly important to know about the relationship between the budget […]

Explaining Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

Third-party special needs trusts

What is the difference between a third-party special needs trust and a self-settled trust? The distinction can be way more confusing than it ought to be. The trusts are similar in a number of ways, but there are important differences. A few months ago, we explained self-settled special needs trusts in this space. Those are […]

Hopeful Planning Fails in Two Special Needs Cases

Hopeful planning

Hopeful planning: when your estate plan is based around your hope that everything will turn out fine. We see it a lot. Often it works. Too often it does not. Two cases we read last week illustrate how hopeful planning can go wrong when facts change after the planner’s death. Both happened to be California […]

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.