E03: Perspective on ABLE Accounts and Trusts

Stephen W. Dale, Esq., LL.M is a disability rights advocate whose interest in the disability community began at an early age. He comes from a family of institutional workers that served in California’s State Hospitals and Developmental Centers for more than three generations. For 17 years, he worked as a psychiatric technician in a variety of institutions in California, and later became an intern at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) working on disability access cases, and later transitioned to a private practice focused on drafting and administering special needs trusts. Stephen is currently the principal attorney at the Dale Law Firm which is dedicated to providing quality estate planning to clients by working cooperatively with the clients’ tax, financial and insurance professionals. He is also the trustee of the Golden State Pooled Trust which serves beneficiaries in California. Part of his duties is to oversee a series of MCLE programs accredited by the California State Bar, which provides education to attorneys and trustees on a wide variety of disability-related subjects focused on quality of life for persons with disabilities. Stephen is a long-standing member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national, not-for-profit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law.

Amy Tessler’s son was diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum when he was two years old. Just like most Moms of special needs children, Amy immersed herself in learning about the vast number of autism therapies in hope of finding something that would really help. She attended conferences about how to plan for his future. Although unlikely, Amy struggled with who would take care of Scott and his sister if something happened to her and her husband. Therefore, the Special Needs Trust was created when Scott was 10 years old in order to establish a funding source and provide direction for Scott’s safety and emotional well-being in the event of a worst case scenario. Even though Scott has an SNT, he opened an ABLE account in March of 2018.

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