Supporting Families

Harbor Island 3

Using ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts in Future Planning

Thursday, November 2
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: Harbor Island 3

Target Audience: Family Members

There are now two financial tools that people with disabilities and their families can use to plan for the future, ABLE accounts and Special Needs Trusts. Not even three years after the signing of the ABLE Act, eligible people with I/DD and their families across the country are opening accounts that enable them to save for a broad range of disability related expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for public benefits. Since the beneficiary is the owner of the account, these accounts promote autonomy as well as economic self-sufficiency. Nonetheless, the annual contribution limit and the overall limit on the size of the account place limits on how well these accounts function as a tool to plan for the future. For decades, families have used individual special needs trusts and accounts in pooled trusts to enable their family members with I/DD to gain the benefit of their own and their families' financial assets while preserving eligibility for public benefits. There is no limit on the amount of money that can be put into these trusts. Unlike ABLE accounts, these trusts can hold non-liquid assets, including the home of the beneficiary. In this session, we will explore these two financial vehicles and discuss how they can be used separately or together in planning for the future of a person with I/DD.

Learning Objectives:

Robin Shaffert

Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support
The Arc
Washington, District of Columbia

Robin Shaffert is the Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support at The Arc of the United States. Robin leads the Center for Future Planning. Previously, she was the Policy Director for the Caring Across Generations campaign, a coalition of over 200 diverse organizations committed to reforming long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. Robin served as Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), where she led AAPD's participation with Workforce Flexibility 2010 and the Campaign for Disability Employment. She was Deputy General Counsel of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., an associate at Latham & Watkins and a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Norma L. Shapiro. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Dartmouth College and studied for a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Hamburg.


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Mary E. O’Byrne

O’Byrne Law, LLC
Lutherville,, Maryland

Mary E. O'Byrne is the owner of O'Byrne Law, LLC, a practice concentrating in special needs and estate planning, and advocacy for people with disabilities. She teaches frequently on these topics for the Maryland State Bar Association and other state and national educational forums. She is a member of the Maryland bar, the Special Needs Alliance (currently serving on the board of directors) and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Mary also serves on the board of directors of NAMI-Metro Baltimore. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Since 2013 she has led the Special Needs Trust Advocates group in meeting with the Social Security Administration. She served on the Governor's 2015 Task Force on ABLE Accounts. Mary was the first Executive Director and Trustee of the First Maryland Disability Trust., a pooled asset special needs trust for people with disabilities.


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Using ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts in Future Planning


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