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The Court got it Wrong for Special Needs Trust Individuals

In a published decision, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, ruled that a trial court erred when it applied the doctrine of probable intent to create testamentary special needs trusts for two disabled children of a woman who died prior to finalizing her estate planning documents. In the Matter of the Trusts to be Established in the Matter of the Estate of Margaret A. Flood, Deceased, 417 N.J. Super. 378 (App. Div. 2010).Margaret Flood had four children, including two daughters with disabilities who received government benefits. Concerned about leaving an inheritance directly to the daughters with disabilities, Ms. Flood consulted with an attorney about the possibility of creating a special needs trusts for them. However, Ms. Flood died intestate before an estate plan was ever drafted, and under New Jersey’s intestacy statute, her $480,000 estate passed in equal shares directly to all four children.The administrator of Ms. Flood’s estate filed an action in the Chancery Division seeking to create and fund special needs trusts to hold the inheritances for her daughters with disabilities. The court granted the request, holding that the doctrine of probable intent allowed it to create the trusts because it was Ms. Flood’s undisputed intent to create them prior to her death. The state, which was a party to the action because one of Ms. Flood’s daughters had accrued a million-dollar Medicaid lien, appealed.The appeals court reversed, finding that the trial court had no authority to establish and fund the trusts under the doctrine of probable intent. The court reasoned that “the doctrine of probable intent is a rule of construction or interpretation and, therefore, presupposes an existing testamentary disposition . . . [w]here there is no will there can be no will construction.”The appellate panel of Mary Catherine Cuff, Clarkson Fisher and Douglas Fasciale said the trial judge, while well-intentioned, misunderstood the applicable law which, the court held, “precludes application of the doctrine of probable intent to create a testamentary disposition where none existed.”

A bad case for people looking to set up an estate plan for special needs family members 

1 Comment to The Court got it Wrong for Special Needs Trust Individuals :

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motor accident lawyer on Monday, May 27, 2013 2:13 AM
your post The Court got it Wrong for Special Needs Trust Individuals is so informative and it will saying that how important will play a role. so always take care of legal issues. thanks for the post..
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