Pro Bono Program Overview

We established our Pro Bono Supplemental Needs Planning Program to provide free, simplified supplemental needs and estate planning for families of modest means that have children with special needs.

What is Supplemental Needs Planning?

Individuals with disabilities have a lifetime of needs for which their parents and other loved ones wish to provide. However, leaving an inheritance outright to a child with a disability or to a typical health and support trust for the child’s benefit might jeopardize the child’s ability to access Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), two important public benefit programs for individuals with disabilities. The goal of supplemental needs planning is to make assets available to enrich the quality of life of an individual with disabilities, above and beyond what public benefit programs might provide for that person (generally food, shelter, medical care, and nursing care). Such planning typically involves the creation of a special type of trust, called a “supplemental needs trust” or “SNT,” to hold assets for the benefit of a child with disabilities. When properly drafted and funded, an SNT will be available to provide for the child’s many needs that exceed the core essentials intended to be covered by public benefits, without jeopardizing the child’s access to those programs.

To be most effective, a child’s SNT should be part of a broader, coordinated estate plan of the parents that includes a will and powers of attorney.

How Does the Program Work?

Once or twice per year, our firm hosts an in-depth presentation on supplemental needs and estate planning for families with children that have special needs. After the presentation, eligible attendees may choose to participate in the program’s next stage: the creation of coordinated estate planning documents, including a third-party (“15.1”) supplemental needs trust for the child with special needs.

To do so, participants first complete an online intake form to provide asset and family information and to specify their planning choices, such as the selection of trustees and the determination of how their assets will be distributed at death. They then consult with one of our attorneys by phone to confirm their selections and discuss any questions they might have. Finally, participants meet with an attorney in our office to review and sign their estate planning documents.

Are There Any Eligibility Limitations?

Although we wish the program could serve every family with a child that has special needs, in order to meet the program’s mission and serve many families throughout the year with the program’s available resources, we have established a number of initial eligibility limitations.

View Eligibility Limitations
How Much Does Program Participation Cost?

There is no charge to participate in the program.

How Do I Register?

Please follow our Steps to Participate to register for the next presentation (or, if registration is closed, to register to be notified once it opens). Note that each presentation is limited to 12 families, based on order of registration.

Steps to Participate

"My husband and I are so very appreciative that we heard about Rivkin & Rivkin and that they offered us and other families with special needs children and young adults their services, pro bono, to complete our Special Needs Trust for our son. We kept procrastinating doing this important documentation due to lack of funds. Jennifer Axelsen was tremendously patient, knowledgeable and helpful with guiding us through the process, Larry Rivkin is a kind, generous man whose calming demeanor helped us initially as we didn't know what to expect. Thank you to Larry, Michele, Jennifer and all of the wonderful staff at Rivkin & Rivkin."

– S.N. of Grayslake

"We had looked into creating a special needs trust before finding the program offered by Rivkin & Rivkin. Everywhere we looked, the fees were cost prohibitive. We are grateful for the service and guidance you provided. Thank you!"

– Anonymous

"Thank you, Rivkin & Rivkin, for everything and I hope you will help more families like mine."

– M.C. of Hanover Park