When Richard Blank takes on a project or mission, he does so with a quiet intensity and determination that shows in his demeanor. Thus, when one learns that he regularly bicycles to work from Needham to Boston from March through November, it comes as no real surprise given his lean frame and the large backpack on the floor of his office. What is less immediately evident is the source of his passion for bringing thoughtful counsel to individuals with special needs and their families. This latter drive comes from observing the difficulties and challenges inherent in his parents’ care for his severely disabled brother.
“Growing up, I was in an odd position. Since my brother was institutionalized at a young age, I grew up feeling that I was an only child. However, I also had a sense that my parents were frequently distracted by the emotional repercussions of having a disabled child. As a result, I have a deep compassion and sympathy for families that struggle with similar issues,” Richard explains.
“There are many different considerations that we must take into account for disabled clients. For instance, we help families ensure that their disabled child or grandchild will be well cared for now and into the future. We also help them navigate both the financial and emotional challenges that will arise.” Richard provides estate planning for families and individuals of all ages. His particular expertise, however, lies in helping clients derive the maximum benefit from financial settlements they may have received, without jeopardizing their access to government benefits such as Medicaid, SSI, or public housing. His practice includes:
- Providing clients with a broad range of estate planning services including lifetime and testamentary planning for all individuals and families.
- Drafting and administering special needs, inter vivos, and testamentary trusts.
- Providing expert counsel on the preservation of government benefits and trust assets for disabled beneficiaries.
- Integrating personal-injury settlements and other funds into special needs trusts, often serving as trustee.
Richard also offers skilled counsel to personal injury attorneys as they conduct the important transition from settlement to post-settlement stages with their clients. “For example, if a client receives a financial payout as the result of an accident, we help identify the most appropriate trust vehicles to hold those funds. We can also offer thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of structured versus lump-sum settlements for the client. Finally, we can oversee administration of the funds so that the client receives the maximum benefit over time from the settlement.”
When serving as a trustee, Richard’s approach is marked by compassion, understanding, and respect. “Most families I work with have enough aggravation. They don’t need any more. My role often comes down to making a difficult situation a little bit easier. Sometimes this is as simple as returning phone calls promptly. More often, however, it involves helping clients navigate the confusing—and occasionally conflicting–rules for government benefit programs.”
Professional and Community Involvement
- For nearly ten years, Richard has raised money for AIDS research and care by riding from Boston to Provincetown as part of the “Harbor to the Bay AIDS Benefit Bike Ride”
Publications and Speaking Engagements
- Contributing author and editor, “Managing a Special Needs Trust (3rd ed.)”