Book Details

A Practical Guide to Estate Planning for a Family with a Special Needs Child

By Sebastian V. Grassi, Jr.

  • Softcover
  • 202 pp.
  • ISBN: 9780831899929
  • Order Code BK68
  • $125.00
  • ONLINE: 2009
  • Online
  • 202 pp.
  • $100.00

Few attorneys in the country could bring together the technical and personal issues involved in special-needs planning like Mr. Grassi has in this book.  For anyone involved in advising special needs families, this book will be a timely and easy-to-access resource.

--Julius. H Giarmarco, Esq., Wealth Strategies Journal

This is a book that I would recommend to any adviser who expects that he or she will be consulting with families that include a disabled child or other loved one (which, as the book points out, could be just about any family these days).

--Benson Barr, The Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc.

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Strides in technology and medicine now permit disabled individuals to live longer and have greater social interaction with others. The need for estate planning professionals and financial advisors to become familiar with planning for a family with a special needs child  is therefore growing each day. This book will guide the reader on how to assist parents (and relatives) of a disabled child in that effort.

A Practical Guide To Estate Planning For a Family With a Special Needs Child by Sebastian V. Grassi, Jr. (who is the father of an adult special needs child) sets forth over 50 issues that an estate planning professional or financial advisor may encounter when advising a family with a special needs loved one.

The text also contains more than two dozen practice points and cautions. For example: How do you avoid the trap of requiring the trustee to seek support and resources for the beneficiary from all public benefits programs when others are serving as the beneficiary’s guardians or conservators?

A Practical Guide To Estate Planning For a Family With a Special Needs Child discusses how to use a discretionary spendthrift trust to protect a bequest or inheritance that is left to a special needs person (which, for purposes of this book, is assumed to be a special needs child). This type of trust is the estate planning vehicle of choice that will protect the special needs person’s inheritance from being seized by the government or requiring that the government be reimbursed (for the financial assistance or cost of medical assistance the government has provided to the special needs person) upon the person’s death.

Included in the book are numerous “Practice Points” and “Cautions” that highlight unusual issues or warn of potential pitfalls.

The book also discusses:
• The fifteen issues that need to be considered when preparing an estate plan for a special needs family.
• The four important government benefit programs for special needs families.
• The five unique estate planning challenges for a special needs family.
• The five essential estate planning documents for a special needs family (with drafting examples).
• Tax planning for a special needs family.
• The five estate planning options available to a special needs family.
• The importance of the stand alone third-party created and funded special needs trust.
• The need to coordinate other relatives’ estate plans with the special needs family’s estate plan.
• The sixteen common assets and beneficiary designations that need to be reviewed.
• The need to integrate financial planning with the family’s special needs planning.
• The important role of life insurance in special needs planning.
• How to protect a special needs person’s existing assets by using a government sanctioned form of safe harbor trust.
• The HIPAA rules and their impact on an adult special needs person.
• How to assist the adult special needs person in financial, educational and daily living matters.
• How to provide an inheritance for a special needs person if the parents or grandparents need Medicaid paid nursing home care (with drafting example).
• Estate planning with retirement benefits for a special needs beneficiary.


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About the Author

Sebastian V. Grassi, Jr., is a founding partner in Grassi & Toering, PLC, a law firm located in Troy, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He is a graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the University of the Detroit-Mercy School of Law in Detroit, Michigan. His practice emphasizes business law, business succession planning, estate planning and probate (including estate planning for special needs families), special tax counsel to trustees and executors concerning complex tax issues, and related real estate matters. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Society, where he served on its national Board of Directors.

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, and in Detroit Area Best Lawyers, Sebastian is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC”), and has served as a member of the Michigan Probate and Estate Planning Council. The Council advises the Michigan legislature on changes in probate and trust law.

Sebastian has written several chapters in books published by CCH, and Matthew Bender. Sebastian has also published over 105 articles on business law, estate planning, estate planning for special needs families, and tax matters in Probate & Property; ACTEC Journal; Estate Planning; Journal of Practical Estate Planning; The Journal of Taxation; The Journal of Taxation of Estates and Trusts; Michigan Bar Journal; Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal; Michigan Tax Lawyer; Probate Practice Reporter; Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal; Wealth Strategies Journal; Practical Tax Strategies; The Practical Lawyer; The Practical Tax Lawyer; and Tax Ideas. Sebastian is also a 3 time winner of the American Bar Association’s Probate & Property “Probate & Trust Excellence in Writing Award for Best Practical Use Article.”

For more information about Sebastian's article on Understanding Your Eternal Estate Plan, please go to

Sebastian is a frequent lecturer for the State Bar of Michigan's Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He also serves on the Institute's Estate Planning Advisory Board, and has served on the Estate Planning Advisory Board of the American Law Institute - American Bar Association (“ALI-ABA”). Sebastian has lived in China, and lectured at the Electronics Industry Management College, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China. Elsewhere, Sebastian has lectured at various ACTEC meetings, various Financial and Estate Planning Councils, various Probate and Estate Planning Bar Associations, The Washington, D.C. Estate Planning Council, The Michigan Probate Registers Annual Conference, The Annual Great Plains Federal Tax Institute, The Annual Minnesota Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, The Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, The National College of Probate Judges, the ALI-ABA, the Heckerling Estate Planning Institute as well as at the University of Michigan Law School.
Sebastian is also the father of an adult special needs child.

Mr. Grassi also has three books published by ALI-ABA:
A Practical Guide To Estate Planning For a Family With a Special Needs Child

A Practical Guide To Drafting Marital Deduction Trusts

A Practical Guide to Drafting Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts

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