2023 Special Needs Planning Symposium.

Sponsorships Available

Get your company or brand in front of leading fiduciaries and special needs attorneys during this intimate event, held at the luxury venue Meritage Resort & Spa, Feb 9-11, 2023.

View Sponsorship Opportunities

2023 Agenda will be posted 7/01/22

In the meantime please browse our last symposium agenda below to familiarize yourself with our sessions and content.

Day One

Thursday, Feb. 24th, 2022

Registration and Continental Breakfast

7:30am – 8:30am


Fiduciary Pre-Session

Sponsored by PFAC

This program is designed for the SNT fiduciary to learn the fundamentals of special needs trust administration and is divided into four parts. If the attendee feels confident in one area, then he or she can select which parts they wish to attend.

Attorney Pre-Session

Sponsored by Kairos Fiduciary

This program is designed for the attorney to learn different aspects of special needs planning. It is divided into four parts. If the attendee feels confident in one area, then he or she can select which parts they wish to attend.
Kevin Urbatsch and James Huyck

(Optional) Part I – Fundamentals of Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities

8:30am – 10:30am

Understanding the fundamentals of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Childhood Disabled Beneficiary Benefits (CDB), Medi-Cal, Medicare, Regional Center, and In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is the critical first step for the professional to know how to properly plan for persons with disabilities and how to manage their personal and financial care during their lifetimes. This is the foundational program to all other programs. It is a must see for the beginner and an excellent refresher for the experienced professional.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

10:30am – 11:00am
Michele Fuller and Sanford Mall

(Optional Fiduciary Topic) Part II – Making Proper SNT Disbursements

11:00am – 12:30pm

It is critical that the SNT Trustee understand how disbursements are used to enhance the quality of life of a person with a disability. There are four main issues to decide: if the SNT Trustee makes the disbursement will it impact the beneficiaries’ public benefits; if the impact on benefits is acceptable, is the request in the best interests and for the primary benefit of the beneficiary; is the disbursement fiscally responsible and within the spending plan; if so, decide the best method to make the distribution. This program will cover a host of commonly applied situations and scenarios in which the SNT Trustee will have to decide if paying for food, shelter, vacations, or other common special needs disbursements requests.
Josh Brothers and Greg Lederman

(Optional Attorney Topic) Part II – First Party Special Needs Planning:
Evaluating the Options in Assisting Persons with Disabilities who Receive Assets

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Our panel will discuss the issues that arise when persons with disabilities receive assets in their own names. This is a challenging and difficult situation to address. The practitioner needs to understand what tools will work and the impact on the person’s life and benefits. It becomes even more challenging when the person lacks capacity and the funds come from a litigation recovery. Our presenters have years of experience working with persons with disabilities to evaluate their best options. This program will allow attendees to identify the necessary issues, and know which tool is the most appropriate such as First Party SNTs; Pooled SNTs, ABLE Accounts, Qualified Settlement Funds (QSFs), Structured Settlement Annuities, and Medicare Set Aside Arrangements (MSAs).

Lunch on your own

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Ted Ong, Jeremy Lau, Frank Acuña, Tracy Regli and Lisa Soloway

(Optional Fiduciary Topic) Part III – Protecting the SNT Trustee from Litigation

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The SNT Trustee has a fiduciary obligation towards the SNT beneficiary. This is the highest duty one can owe another under the law. What happens when someone disagrees with the Trustee’s work and sues. Our panel will discuss the various ways in which an SNT Trustee should protect themselves from potential liability e.g, written procedures or sufficient insurance. The panel will also discuss common SNT Trustee duties that trigger potential liability such as poor investments, bad record keeping, loss of public benefits, fights over distributions, among other similar issues. Plus, once litigation is unavoidable, what can the SNT Trustee expect.
Kevin Urbatsch and Jess Farinas

(Optional Attorney Topic) Part III – Drafting the World’s Greatest Third Party Special Needs Trust

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Our speakers have drafted hundreds of special needs trusts and administered many more. The two are nearly complete with their Drafting Guide that will be published soon. They have further evaluated other attorney’s SNT documents and seen numerous errors. This program is designed to aid the trust drafter in evaluating the provisions needed to allow the person with a disability to enhance his or her quality of life. There will be particular emphasis paid to the SNT Management Team including drafting for the Trustee, Trust Protector, and Trust Advisory Committee.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sponsored by:
Robert Nuddleman, Meredith Taylor and Cheryl Severson

(Optional Fiduciary Pre-Session) Part IV – Hiring Caregivers for Persons with Disabilities: Best Practices and Legal Requirements

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Hiring caregivers to assist a person with a disability is one of the most important tasks an SNT Trustee must do. This critical task is fraught with numerous issues both legal and practical. Our expert panel includes an attorney, employment agency manager, and professional fiduciary to discuss the best practices when hiring a caregiver for a person with a disability. The panel will discuss the issues to consider such as whether the person is an independent contractor or employee, what employment records must be kept, what taxes paid, potential liability traps, and the practical issues that arise.
Kevin Urbatsch and Will Doyle

(Optional Attorney Pre-Session) Part IV – Evaluating and Correcting Defective Special Needs Trusts

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The primary planning tool for professionals is the special needs trust. This program will identify key points in evaluating an existing SNT. Often the analysis stops if the SNT meets the basic legal requirements. While most SNTs meet bare requirements of the law, too many are drafted which unintentionally make administration difficult, if not impossible. This program will teach the professional what to look for when evaluating an SNT for legal and statutory compliance and from a practical administrative perspective. In addition, participants will gain perspective on when and what steps to take when correcting a defective document.

Welcome Cocktail Reception

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

sponsored by:
Day Two

Friday, Feb. 25th, 2022

Full Breakfast

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
sponsored by:
Jonathan Martinis

Keynote Session: Supported Decision-Making: Protecting Rights and Ensuring Choices

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Study after study has shown that when people with disabilities are empowered to make more choices, they have a better quality of life. In this session, you will learn about Supported Decision-Making (SDM), where people with disabilities work with friends, family, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they can make their own decisions and direct their lives. We’ll discuss statutory and case law on SDM as an alternative to conservatorship, describe ways to implement SDM with your clients and people you support, and provide practical strategies for incorporating SDM to maximize outcomes in education, health care, and money management.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Darryl Lynch, AIF

Inherited Retirement Plans: Protecting the Person with a Disability

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Directly inheriting a retirement plan can be devastating for a person with a disability. The monthly disbursements can count as income and the plan itself as a resource. This can lead to loss of public benefits and (depending on person’s capacity) an expensive plan to protect benefits. This program provides an overview of available planning solutions if the person with a disability directly inherits a retirement plan, best practices on avoiding the situation, and an overall discussion of other tools and strategies (under the SECURE Act) to provide the person with a disability with the best possible use of an inherited retirement plan.

Networking Lunch

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Moderator: Michele Fuller; Speakers: Ann Koerner and Christine Grabowski

Beyond the Documents: Advocating for Services for Persons with Disabilities

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

What makes special needs planners different from other professionals is the ability to recognize when a person with a disability will benefit from additional services. The planner will then know how best to advocate for those services. Many planners miss these critical issues and even if they identify it, may not know how to proceed. In addition, the biggest concern of many persons with disabilities and their family is the ability to live as independently as possible. This program will address these issues that prevent persons with disabilities from leading fulfilling lives by reviewing the most common issues including identifying appropriate services, available housing, and caregiving solutions. We have gathered an impressive panel of advocates for persons with disabilities and their families who describe how to identify missed opportunities and the best way to advocate for these critical services in to provide a higher quality of life for persons with disabilities and support their independence.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
sponsored by:
Moderator: Kevin Urbatsch; Speakers: Josh Brothers, Daniel Cutter, Andrew De Vries, Herb Thomas, Ann Koerner, Greg Lederman, Will Lindahl and Meredith Taylor

The Tournament of Special Needs Knowledge

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Join us for the spectacle and glamour of the inaugural special needs knowledge tournament in which our expert panel provides five questions under a specific topic heading, the audience privately provides their response in our state-of-the-art computer system, and volunteer participants play the game live. You will cheer with every correct answer, you will groan at any incorrect response, and you will argue with the reasoning of the experts as they justify their answers. This action packed and fast-moving game is not for the timid. But take heart, for those with the knowledge and fortitude, it is a chance to walk away with valuable prizes.
Party Time

Wine Cave Reception

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Strolling food and wine pairing in the amazing Wine Cave and Poolside Patio
Delicious hors d’oeuvres with Napa wine, craft beer and creative non-alcoholic beverages

Sponsored by:

Day Three

Saturday Feb. 26th, 2022

Full Breakfast

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Dennis Sandoval and Dayn Holstrom

Special Needs Means Specialized Family Law Planning Issues

8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Unique issues arise during divorces when there is a child or spouse with special needs involved. It is common knowledge that the divorce rate in the United States hovers in the 50-percent area. When there is a child with special needs, studies have shown the divorce rate can climb to between 75 to 90-percent, depending on the child’s disability. Special needs planners should include in their plan what happens in a divorce when there is a spouse or child with a disability. This can include public benefit issues, capacity issues, and particular care needed during orders of support. Moreover, estate plans created for a married couple should include provisions on what happens during divorce because it is more likely than not that the couple being planned for will not be married by the time the plan is implemented.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Hon. Sandra Bean, Hon. Daniel Juarez and Hon. Mary House (ret)

A View from the Bench: Court’s Review of Special Needs Planning Issues

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

There are four general situations in which a Probate Judge will need to issue a ruling concerning a special needs planning issue:

1. Establishing a Special Needs Trust (SNT) for a person with a disability who receives assets from a litigation, inheritance, or through substituted judgment as part of a conservatorship of the estate.
2. Evaluating the SNT Trustee’s performance during a court account and report.
3. Ruling on a Petition for Instructions on certain SNT provisions or proposed distribution request.
4. Ruling on a request to modify a trust to make it qualify as a SNT

Join the Hon. Sandra Bean from the Alameda County Probate Court, Hon. Daniel Juarez from the Los Angeles Probate Court, and Hon. Mary House (ret.) formerly of the Los Angeles Probate Court while they discuss what the Probate Court wishes to see from petitioners when submitting requests to the court in these special needs matters. This includes compliance with the legal requirements, common mistakes made, and best practices going forward for attorneys and professional fiduciaries.

Thank you

Grand Prize Drawing
Thank You Esteemed Attendees, Sponsors, and Exhibitors

12:30 p.m. -1:30pm