2025 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 6-8, 2025

View Sponsorship Opportunities
Day One

Thursday, Feb. 6th, 2025

Registration and Continental Breakfast

7:30am – 8:30am

Welcome Sponsor:
Breakfast Sponsor:
Moving to Mastery LLC


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 they can select which parts they wish to attend. If they select all three, the fourth is complimentary.

Attorney Pre-Session

Sponsored by Fisher Fiduciary Services, Inc

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. If they select all three, then the fourth is complimentary.
Denise Cullen

(Pre-Session) – The Path to a Great Practice and a Great Life: Strategies for Success and Fulfillment

8:30am – 10:30am

Join us for an inspiring and practical session on achieving a thriving special needs professional practice and a fulfilling personal life. This session will cover:

• 3 Mindsets for Success: Learn the essential mindsets that can transform your approach to work and life.
• My Great Life: Discover how to define and create a vision for your ideal life, balancing professional ambitions with personal happiness.
• Burnout to Breakthrough: Gain insights into identifying, preventing, and overcoming burnout to maintain long-term well-being and productivity.
• Top 3 Actions to Start Working On: Leave with actionable steps to implement immediately to make positive changes in your practice and life.

Join us to unlock the potential for a great practice and a great life, filled with purpose, passion, and balance.
Kevin Urbatsch

(Pre-Session) – Fundamentals of Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities

8:30am – 10:30am

Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Childhood Disabled Beneficiary Benefits (CDB), Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Section 8 is crucial for professionals involved in planning and managing the personal and financial care of persons with disabilities.

In this foundational session, we will:

• Discuss the recent updates to SSI rules regarding food and shelter.
• Explore the implications of the elimination of Medi-Cal’s asset test on planning strategies.
• Provide a comprehensive overview of each program and their interrelationships.

This session is essential for beginners seeking a solid foundation and serves as an excellent refresher for experienced professionals looking to stay updated on the latest developments. Join us to build your expertise and ensure you can effectively plan for and support persons with disabilities throughout their lifetimes.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

10:30am – 11:00am

Sponsored by:
James Huyck

(Fiduciary Topic) Everything You Need to Know about In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and Regional Center Services

11:00am – 12:30pm

This comprehensive session provides an essential overview of In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and Regional Center Services, two critical support systems for individuals with disabilities in California. Attendees will gain a thorough understanding of IHSS eligibility, services, and application processes, along with insights into the role and offerings of Regional Centers. The session will cover the coordination of benefits between IHSS and Regional Center Services, strategies for maximizing support, and navigating potential conflicts. Additionally, participants will learn about key legal considerations, recent developments, and advocacy techniques to effectively support clients and family members in securing and maintaining these vital services. This session is ideal for attorneys, trustees, caregivers, and family members involved in caring and supporting individuals with disabilities.
Elijah Keyes, Leslie Sugai & Sheri Sudweeks

(Attorney Topic) Estate Planning for Persons with Special Needs

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

As an attorney specializing in estate planning, it is crucial to understand the specific considerations and challenges faced by families with a special needs loved one. Join us for an in-depth session tailored for legal professionals, where we will explore the intricacies of estate planning in this unique context.

During this session, our experienced speakers will delve into the legal aspects and best practices of estate planning for families with special needs individuals. We will discuss the importance of establishing special needs trusts, ABLE accounts and other relevant legal structures to preserve government benefits and protect the financial security of your client’s loved ones.

Through a series of comprehensive case studies and practical examples, we will also examine lifetime planning, including caregiver succession planning, conservatorship, and decision-making strategies.

Networking Lunch

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Sponsored by:
Heather Fisher & Kevin Urbatsch

(Fiduciary Topic) Ensuring Compliance: SNT Distributions under McGee Case and the SSA’s POMS

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Compliance with McGee and POMS (Program Operations Manual System) rules is crucial for making and documenting special needs trust (SNT) distributions. This session will provide a comprehensive overview of the legal requirements and best practices for adhering to these guidelines. Attendees will learn how to properly document SNT distributions to ensure they meet regulatory standards and avoid potential legal pitfalls. Key topics include understanding the specific requirements under McGee and POMS, effective record-keeping strategies, and practical tips for maintaining compliance. Join us to enhance your ability to manage SNT distributions confidently and in full compliance with the applicable rules.
Vincent Bonazzoli

(Attorney Topic) Building a Special Needs and Estate Planning Client Maintenance Program

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Creating a successful maintenance program for special needs clients is essential for ensuring long-term support and stability. This session will provide a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing an effective maintenance program tailored to the unique needs of special needs clients. Key topics will include assessing individual needs, setting goals, and creating personalized care plans. Attendees will learn best practices for monitoring and adjusting the program over time, coordinating with various service providers, and maintaining compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Join us to gain valuable insights and practical tools for building a robust maintenance program that enhances the quality of life for special needs clients and provides peace of mind for their families.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sponsored by:
Michele Fuller, Lisa Soloway & Dan Cutter

(Fiduciary Topic) Onboarding Success: Introducing Beneficiaries to Special Needs Trusts

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Successfully onboarding new beneficiaries is crucial for the effective administration of special needs trusts. This session will provide a comprehensive guide to introducing beneficiaries to the trust, ensuring they understand their rights, responsibilities, and the benefits available to them. Topics will include clear communication strategies, essential documentation, and the establishment of a supportive relationship between the trustee and beneficiary.

Attendees will learn best practices for addressing common concerns, educating beneficiaries on trust operations, and fostering a collaborative environment. Join us to gain the tools and insights needed to achieve a seamless onboarding process, enhancing the beneficiary’s experience and trust administration efficiency
Doug Housman & Joe Morrill

(Attorney Topic) Effective Representation of Fiduciaries for Special Needs Persons

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Representing a fiduciary in special needs planning can be both challenging and rewarding. This dynamic session is designed to equip attorneys with the essential knowledge and skills to effectively support fiduciaries, whether SNT Trustees, conservators/guardians, Agents, Representative Payees, or other related roles.

Our expert speakers will discuss the common issues faced by fiduciaries and offer practical solutions and strategies. Attendees will explore ethical dilemmas unique to this field, learn how to manage crises and gain insights into best practices for ensuring the well-being and financial security of individuals with disabilities. Join us for an engaging discussion that will enhance your expertise and confidence in representing fiduciaries

Welcome Cocktail Reception

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

sponsored by:
Andrew de Vries
Day Two

Friday, Feb. 7th, 2025

Full Breakfast

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

sponsored by:
Moving to Mastery LLC
Kevin Urbatsch

Establishing and Administering California OBRA 93 Special Needs Trusts

8:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

After elimination of California’s Medi-Cal asset test, the OBRA 93 Trust is a new tool for preserving Medi-Cal and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) benefits without the need for a Medi-Cal payback provision, sole benefit requirement, or separate trustee. This program delves into the optimal circumstances for establishing an OBRA 93 Trust and the critical provisions required for proper setup. Attendees will learn about the intricacies of trust administration, including common pitfalls and traps that trustees may encounter. The session will also explore drafting techniques to preemptively address these issues, emphasizing the growing importance of private professional fiduciaries in ensuring effective trust management.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Sponsored by:

James Cunningham, Michele Fuller & Jeremy Lau

Effective Management of Retirement Assets in Special Needs Trusts: Ensuring Compliance and Avoiding Pitfalls

10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Administering special needs trusts funded with retirement assets presents unique challenges and opportunities. This session will provide an in-depth exploration of the critical considerations and best practices for managing retirement plans within special needs trusts. Attendees will learn about the complex interplay between retirement account rules and special needs trust requirements, including tax implications, distribution rules, and strategies for integrating retirement assets into the broader trust administration plan. Additionally, the session will cover ensuring continued compliance for retirement funds, addressing common pitfalls, and finding practical solutions to typical issues, thereby enhancing your expertise in effectively administering special needs trusts with retirement assets.

Networking Lunch

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Sponsored by:
Judge Ana Maria Luna & Greg Lederman

Disputes About SNT Distributions: Preparing for Success in the Evidentiary Hearing

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Successfully navigating disputes over special needs trust (SNT) distributions in evidentiary hearings requires thorough preparation and strategic presentation. This session will equip fiduciaries and legal professionals with essential skills to handle conflicts effectively. Key topics include gathering and presenting compelling evidence, understanding standards of proof, addressing common disputes, and managing objections. By the end of this session, attendees will have a comprehensive toolkit for preparing and presenting SNT distribution cases in evidentiary hearings, enhancing their ability to advocate effectively for beneficiaries and uphold fiduciary responsibilities.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

sponsored by:
Justin Miller

Fiduciary Tax Planning for Special Needs Trusts: Best Practices for Legal, Trustee, and Financial Professionals

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In this session, participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of fiduciary income tax planning specifically tailored for first-party and third-party special needs trusts. Designed for special needs attorneys, financial advisors, and trust administrators, this session delves into the intricacies of managing and optimizing tax considerations for trusts established to support individuals with special needs.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

sponsored by:
Patti Uplinger, Madison Adams & Kristine McCann

Securing Lifelong Housing: Innovative Solutions for Individuals with Disabilities

4:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Many people are searching for sustainable ways to plan for lifetime housing of a person with disabilities. People face difficult choices when it comes to ensuring housing for persons with disabilities. This session will explore various housing options designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Learn about housing options such as group
homes, supported and independent living programs, and co-housing communities, all of which offering secure and supportive living environments.

We will also discuss the Legacy Homes Program, which allows family members to transfer a home to a non-profit, ensuring lifelong housing ownership, management, maintenance, and coordinated services for a family member with developmental disabilities. This session will provide insights into how these innovative solutions can offer peace of mind and security for families planning for the future of their loved one with special needs.
Party Time

Strolling Veranda Dinner

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Strolling Dinner in 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. 8th, 2025

Full Breakfast

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Sponsored by:
Ann Koerner &. Michele Fuller

Practical Guidance for Professionals: Funding and Testing Third-Party Special Needs Plans

8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Parents often worry, “Who will take over my role in caring for my child, and how can I trust they will do it well?” This session delves into the practical aspects of implementing a third-party special needs plan while parents are still alive. Attendees will learn how to effectively manage and test the plan to ensure it meets the beneficiary’s needs. Critical challenges addressed include funding the plan, meeting parental expectations, paying for it, and assessing if it fits. Through real-world examples and expert insights, participants will gain valuable knowledge to optimize and test special needs plans.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

9:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

Sponsored by:
Hon. Mary T. House (ret.) & Meredith Taylor

Amazing Grace: Winning the Battle Over Compassion Fatigue

9:50 a.m. – 11:05 p.m.

Compassion fatigue, often referred to as the "cost of caring," is a common challenge faced by those in caregiving and helping professions, like special needs attorneys, professional fiduciaries, and financial advisors. This session aims to provide participants with a deeper understanding of compassion fatigue, its symptoms, and its impact on both personal and professional lives. Through practical strategies and insightful discussions, attendees will learn how to recognize early signs of compassion fatigue, implement self-care practices, and develop resilience. This session is designed to empower professionals and anyone in a supportive role to maintain their well-being while continuing to provide exceptional care. Join us to rejuvenate your spirit, enhance your emotional resilience, and continue your journey with renewed grace and strength.

Break Visit with Exhibitors

11:05 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Sponsored by:
Kevin Urbatsch, Michele Fuller & Full Panel of Experts

Ask the Experts – Answering the Unanswered Questions

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Join us for an engaging and interactive session where top experts in the field of special needs planning come together to tackle the toughest and most perplexing questions. This session is designed to delve into the unanswered questions from the Symposium. Attendees are encouraged to bring their most challenging cases and queries to the table.

Thank you

Grand Prize Drawing

12:45 p.m. -1:45pm

Thank You Esteemed Attendees, Sponsors, and Exhibitors