Navigating Tax Challenges of ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts: Guidance for Elder Law Attorneys

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will offer elder law attorneys guidance on navigating the intricacies of ABLE accounts and special needs trusts under current tax law. Our panel will review the impact of current tax law on the taxation of these critical planning tools, techniques for avoiding pitfalls in structuring, and their interplay with other planning strategies.


Since their introduction in 2014, ABLE (or 529A) accounts, along with third-party special needs trusts, have provided critical planning tools for families who need to provide for the care and well-being of aging or disabled family members. However, implementing ABLE account programs at the state level exposed several limitations corrected by the 2017 tax reform law. But, key issues and pitfalls for the unwary linger regarding the interplay between special needs trusts and ABLE accounts.

Concerning ABLE accounts, one of the more notable issues is the tax law's treatment of 529 account contributions--allowing for rollover of those contributions into ABLE accounts in amounts up to the gift tax exclusion.

Under current tax law, ABLE account beneficiaries can contribute earnings to their accounts over and above any contributions by friends and family members. However, the IRS does not guide how this tool can cooperate with special needs trusts to bolster care planning strategies for the same beneficiary.

Listen as our panel of experienced practitioners discusses key tax issues for ABLE accounts and special needs trusts and how elder law attorneys can employ critical changes in the tax treatment of these tools to offer strategic guidance to clients navigating planning issues for aging and disabled clients.



  1. Overview of ABLE accounts
    1. Criteria for enrollment and contributions
    2. Benefits
    3. Limitations
  2. Overview of special needs trusts
    1. Self-settled
    2. Third party
    3. Benefits
    4. Limitations
  3. The interplay between ABLE accounts and special needs trusts


The panel will review these and other noteworthy issues:

  • How are contributions to ABLE accounts and special needs trusts treated under current tax law?
  • What advantages are there for beneficiaries wanting to contribute income/earnings to special needs trusts and ABLE accounts?
  • What steps can families of aging and disabled clients take to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from these planning tools?


Cookman, Ellen
Ellen Cookman

Cookman Law

Ms. Cookman is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law from the California State Bar Board...  |  Read More

Greenberg, Michael
Michael J. Greenberg

Michael J. Greenberg P.C.

Mr. Greenberg's practice includes estate planning for high net worth individuals and families, estate and trust...  |  Read More

Hall, Mercy
Mercy Hall

Hall Law Firm

Ms. Hall represents clients in special needs planning, conservatorship, settlement planning, probate, and estate...  |  Read More

Tarzwell, Amanda
Amanda E. Tarzwell

Tarzwell & Trubiano Law

Ms. Tarzwell focuses her practice on estate planning, special needs planning, guardianships and trust & estate...  |  Read More

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Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

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