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Resolve to Plan

We are 28 days into the new year… have you maintained your New Year’s Resolution? It’s tough to form new habits! Well, if you haven’t kept your resolution and you’re looking for a quick way to redeem yourself and feel productive, I have an idea for you: resolve to make a plan for your family through special needs estate planning. This can include a will, special needs/family trust, powers of attorney, and other related documents.

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Janet L. Lowder: Past Speaking Engagements & Activities


  • Boy Scouts of America, Greater Cleveland Council, “Special Needs Trusts and Medicaid Planning”
  • NAMI – Lorain County, “Legal Needs of the Mentally Ill: Benefits, Guardianship, Special Needs Trusts”
  • United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, “Special Needs Planning”
  • Maple Heights Senior Center, “Advance Directives”
  • CEVEC Parent Alumni, “Housing Alternatives”
  • KeyBank Trust Officers, “Special Needs Trusts”
  • CEVEC Transition Fair, “Government Benefits & Special Needs Planning”
  • Stetson Conference


  • Southwest General Hospital
  • NAELA Conference
  • NYEC
  • Southwest General Hospital Parents Group
  • Lake West Hospital
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Home Instead
  • Cleveland society of Financial Professionals
  • Cleveland Bar Association, “Estate Planning”
  • Stetson Conference


  • Stetson Conference
  • Light of Hearts Villa
  • Northeast Ohio Case Management Network
  • Tools for Today and Tomorrow
  • Cleveland Bar Association, Practice and Procedure Clinic
  • CEVEC Transition Fair
  • OSBA Elder Law Institute
  • CBMRDD, “Life Planning”
  • Home Instead
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National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)

Janet L. Lowder and Elena Lidrbauch are members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a non-profit professional association dedicated to improving the quality, availability and delivery of legal services to seniors and people with special needs. NAELA sponsors continuing legal education programs and provides publications, educational materials, and mentoring to its members, as well as supports other organizations that serve seniors and people with disabilities. NAELA also examines and advocates on public policy issues facing seniors and people with special needs, and keeps members abreast of ever-changing legislation related to elder law on a federal and state level.

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Examples of Estate Planning Documents

Last Will & Testament
A Last Will & Testament determines who will administer your estate upon your death. It also dictates who receives your assets.

Durable General Power of Attorney
A Durable General Power of Attorney (POA) is a wonderful tool that can be used to avoid a possible Guardianship action being filed in the Probate Court if you become incompetent to make your own decisions. When we create a POA for you, you have the opportunity to predetermine who will manage your affairs if at some point you are unable to do so.

Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Power of Attorney for Health Care document authorizes another person to make health care decisions for you if you lose the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself.

Living Will Declaration
A Living Will Declaration is a binding legal document you can complete now which declares your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining treatment, if you should become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

A trust can provide for others to step in and assist with, or fully assume, the management of your assets should you become incapable of handling your affairs. It is a flexible and practical tool that can be used to carry out your predetermined objectives.

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Examples of Personalized Trusts

Medicaid Payback Trusts or Special Needs Trusts
Typically, Medicaid Payback Trusts (also called “Special Needs Trusts”) are funded by assets received from a personal injury settlement, jury award, or inheritance. The beneficiary of a Medicaid Payback Trust must be under 65 when the trust is established, and must meet the definition of disability under the Social Security Act Title II. The trust must include a Medicaid reimbursement provision. Some Special Needs Trusts are established and overseen by a Probate Court; others require no supervision.

Pooled Trusts
When a smaller amount of assets is involved, or when it is in the best interests of the disabled individual for a professional to make decisions about investments and distributions (payments out of the trust), a pooled trust may be advisable. Pooled trusts are created with the beneficiary’s personal assets, and are available in Ohio through the Community Fund Management Foundation in Cleveland, The Disability Foundation in Dayton, SCSA, and others. The pooled trust involves relatively low management fees, but is also less flexible on how distributions may be made from the trust account.

Supplemental Services Trusts
Unlike a Pooled Trust, the Supplemental Services Trust must be created with the assets of another. For instance, this trust allows a parent to transfer assets for the benefit of their disabled child either during the parent’s lifetime or after the parent’s death. The beneficiary must meet the eligibility requirements for services from the state department or county board of Developmental Disabilities, or from the county board

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