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The Montana Estate Lawyer

Friday, October 6, 2017

Update – Montanans with disabilities can now establish ABLE accounts

In my blog post of January 21, 2015, we reported that in late 2014 the federal ABLE (" Achieving a Better Life Experience") Act was signed into law by Congress. Montana implemented the ABLE law in May, 2015, as was reported in my blog post of May 13, 2017.  You can refer to those previous posts for more detail, but you will remember that the law is aimed at achieving a manner in which those with special needs can save money without losing needs based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. The federal law allows states to implement the Act to provide for a savings program for persons with disabilities that is modeled after the 529 college savings account program.  Although Montana implemented the ABLE law in 2015, it has spent the last couple of years developing the program under which accounts may be established.

I am happy to report that Montana has now finally put into place the ability to establish accounts under the Act.  Unfortunately, one cannot simply go the bank and establish such an account.  However, it is possible to set up such an account.  The Montana ABLE program is administered by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.  Under the Montana ABLE Act, the disabled individual, or someone on his or her behalf, may set up a savings account to cover expenses associated with the person's disabilities that will not jeopardize the disabled person's public benefits.   Anyone can make a tax-deductible contribution of up to $3,000 each year to the account, whether or not a family member of the disabled individual, although the total annual amount that can be contributed by all persons into the account is limited to $14,000 per year.  The account can accumulate over time a maximum of $100,000 in contributions.

 According to the new Montana ABLE website, the program offers a range of investment options.  It appears that the accounts are opened online through the website.  It is unclear to me at this time how funds are actually deposited into the newly opened account but I would assume that is explained when one goes through the process of opening an account.  For more information, or to open an account, here is the link to Montana ABLE website:

https://savewithable.com/mt/home.html

While the ABLE account does not replace other special needs planning tools, such as special needs trusts, it does add an important option for individuals with disabilities.

Jon


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