May 2-4, 2019 IN CHICAGO, IL

Special Needs Planning:
Putting Theory into Practice
A Case Study Approach

The Academy of Special Needs Planners offers professionals who plan for persons with special needs the best tools to learn and grow their practices. One of the main tools is ASNP's acclaimed annual meeting. Our 13th Annual Meeting titled Special Needs Planning: Putting Theory into Practice, to be held May 2019 in Chicago, will continue the meeting’s tradition of balancing cutting-edge programs with planning basics to provide professionals the best overall learning experience. The Chicago meeting’s program is heavily focused on case studies and scenarios aimed at bringing the legal technical knowledge learned down to a practical level, so all can learn best practices to aid their clients. But education is only part of the program. Meeting with colleagues from around the country enhances a professional's knowledge and skills, and many first-time attendees are amazed at the level of collaboration among ASNP's members.

ASNP Agenda

Check out the schedule and learn more about our esteemed speakers.

May 2: Pre-Session Programs

Pre-session 1: Part 1
Basics of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Persons with Disabilities

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the foundational public benefit program for persons with disabilities. Understanding SSI allows the professional to create a proper special needs plan and correctly administer special needs trusts. SSI is a federal program and run under federal rules. Learn More

Pre-session 1: Part 2
Basics of Special Needs Planning

This program covers the different planning tools available to the professional when planning for a person with a disability. While first and third party special needs trusts are the primary tools, the professional has other options available to them. Learn More

Pre-session 2
Financial Planning for Persons with Disabilities

Financial planning for a loved one with special needs is one of the most satisfying services a planner can provide. A complete financial plan will address some of the biggest concerns that people have when protecting a loved one with special needs. Learn More

Pre-session 3
Special Needs Trust Administration: How the New 2018 POMS Changes SNT Administration

This program describes how SNT trustee can properly manage the special needs trust to best enhance the quality of life of a person with a disability. The rules are complex and difficult to navigate. Learn More

Top 10 Reasons

Why You Should Attend the 12th Annual Meeting
of the Academy for Special Needs Planners

  • REASON #1:
    Special Needs Planning Law Has Changed, Learn all the Details.

    By the time of the conference, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will have substantially modified ALL the rules about how it interprets Special Needs Trusts (SNTs). The author of these rules (known as the POMS), Kenneth Brown (alongside our very own David Lillesand) will provide a thorough overview of the changes. This is a game changer because ways of advising clients will change depending on what modifications the SSA made.

    REASON #2
  • REASON #2:
    What Now? SSA’s Rules Have Changed, What Can We Do?

    Practitioners need to know what changes they need to make in their special needs planning practices. ASNP scoured the lands to find the best panel to discuss how professionals will be affected by the SSA’s changes. Travis Finchum will discuss how pooled trusts are affected, Michele Fuller will discuss how trust drafters need to modify their documents, and Allison Bren Ferris will explain the impact on SNT administration.

  • REASON #3:
    Basics Bonanza!

    Special needs planners who are just learning or need a refresher are fully covered in this year’s program. There are basic programs on Drafting Third-Party SNTs, Financial Planning for Persons with Disabilities, Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities, Special Needs Planning, and Special Needs Trust Administration. Each program will provide a thorough overview of these essential topics and are taught by the top special needs planning professionals from around the country.

  • REASON #4:
    Understanding the Childhood Disabled Beneficiary Public Benefit.

    Many special needs planners understand Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are comfortable explaining how it works to clients. Yet, fewer understand Childhood Disabled Beneficiary (CDB) benefits. This program provides more money each month to persons with disabilities along with eligibility for Medicare. Clients may not even know they qualify for this valuable program. Be the hero to these clients by introducing them to this program. We are lucky to have the guru of special needs law Avram Sacks educating us on CDB.

  • REASON #5:
    SNTs and Asset Protection.

    Questions arise when the beneficiary of an SNT has outstanding creditor issues. What if there is unpaid child support, back taxes, or a judgment creditor? Is the trustee of an SNT required to pay those bills? Can the creditor seize trust assets? What legal responsibilities and power does the trustee have in deciding whether to pay these types of creditors. Asset protection attorney Brian Steadman will let us know to what extent SNT assets are protected.

  • REASON #6:
    Working with People with Disabilities.

    Each client arrives with different needs and expectations. Professionals working with these clients need to understand how best to interact without causing offense. Do you shake hands with someone who is a quadriplegic? Do you take a person with blindness and direct them to their chair? These and other issues will be discussed by author and educator Linda Fitzpatrick. Ms. Fitzpatrick will lead an interactive conversation about the culture and needs of different disabilities, providing a thumbnail "Seven Themes" for special needs planners.

  • REASON #7:
    Non-Profits and Special Needs Planning.

    For the first time ever, through the efforts of Kelly Piacenti of MassMutual, ASNP will have many of the CEOs of the nation’s leading charities that assist people with disabilities in a panel discussion. The panel will provide an overview of how these charities assist people with disabilities. Professionals can also learn how best they can work with charities in setting up a charitable donation and how to meet the charity’s consumers to educate them on the services a special needs planner offers.  

  • REASON #8:
    Ask The Experts.

    Our “Ask the Experts” program has been a real hit for the last several years. We have dedicated a whole program to answering questions on special needs planning that may not have been covered by the program. No question is too small or too big for the nation’s leading experts in all things special needs.

  • REASON #9:
    Las Vegas Venue.

    Just minutes from the glamour and action of the Las Vegas Strip, the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino. This oasis in the desert offers all the excitement of Las Vegas while still pampering guests in luxury and personal service coupled with state-of-the-art technology. Plan to spend an extra day pampering yourself in the award-winning, European-style health spa, or take advantage of their state-of-the-art workout facility. Both are great ways to look and feel your best. The outdoor pool area spans more than three acres, overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. Manicured lawns and trees separate private cabanas and the infinity-edge dipping pools are a perfect place to soak up some sun and enjoy lunch and great music.

    REASON #8 REASON #10
  • REASON #10:

    What would the ASNP conference be without you, the participants? The best part of the conference is meeting colleagues from around the country in order to share knowledge, network, and commiserate. Who else understands you when you scream to the heavens about that unexpected POMS change? Who can nod knowingly when an SNT beneficiary is shouting at the injustice of an SNT distribution denial? No one but the special needs practitioner. The conference is the place for like-minded people to meet and help each other grow and prosper. That cannot happen without you being there.  

    REASON #9
Already a member? Login to receive the Member Registration Rate.

Early Registration fee before March 25, 2022: $895

Registration fee after March 25, 2022: $995

Certified Financial Planners: Thanks to the Sponsorship of Oak Wealth Advisors LLC, ASNP has pre-applied for a total of 12 continuing education credit hours for CFP Professionals from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Attendee's Address Information

(Office address for conference related information and to list you in the conference program.)

Credit Card Information

The registration fees listed below are for Non-ASNP Members. To receive the ASNP Member discounted rate you must log-in above. Having trouble logging-in? Call us at (866) 296-5509.

ASNP National Meeting Main Session Program

Pre-Session Programs Held On May 2nd:

Registration Fee: $995.00

ASNP Registration & Cancellation Refund Policy

All cancellations must be received in writing. Cancellations received by March 23rd (30 days in advance) will be issued a full refund, less an $50 administrative fee. No refunds will be issued after March 23rd. Substitutions are welcome.

Thursday May 2, 2019
8:30 am - 10:30 am
Pre-session 1: Part I of II: Basics of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Persons with Disabilities
By David Lillesand
10:30 am - 11:00 am
11:00am - 12:30 pm
Pre-session 1: Part II of II: Basics of Special Needs Planning
By Nancy Fisher Chudacoff, Esq.
8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Pre-session 2: Financial Planning for Persons with Disabilities
By Jerry Hulick, Kevin McGrath, CFP®, ChSNC® Kelly Piacenti and and Michael C Walther, II, CPA/PFS, CFP®
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Lunch Break
On Your Own
1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Pre-session 3: Special Needs Trust Administration: How the New 2018 POMS Changes SNT Administration
By Erin Boerschel, Dan Cutter, Herb Thomas, Michele Fuller, Esq., and Kevin Urbatsch, Esq.
5:30 pm - 7:00pm
Opening Reception | Sponsored by MassMutual

Friday May 3, 2019
8:00 am - 9:00 am
Continental Breakfast/Visit with Exhibitors
9:00 am - 9:05 am
Opening Remarks
9:05 am – 10:20 am
Session 1: Recent Developments in Social Security Law Concerning Special Needs Planning
By: David Lillesand, Esq.

David Lillesand provides his always well received overview of Supplemental Security Income by covering the new regulations, new cases, new Regional Chief Counsel Precedents, and any new POMS that are released. New rules have been issued concerning attorneys receiving fees for doing work for Social Security recipients. There has always been a chance that doing special needs planning could jeopardize their law license. The SSA has modified the rules and David will lead us into the promised land. He will cover the SSA fee approval process in light of SSA's modification of its previous position, and further describe what we can and cannot do regarding fees and SSI claimants.

10:20 am 10:45 am
Break/Visit with Exhibitors
10:45 am - 12:00 pm
Session 2: New Developments and Creative Strategies in Using ABLE Accounts
By: Blaine Brockman, Esq., Kevin McGrath CFP®, ChSNC® and Michael C Walther, II, CPA/PFS, CFP®

Our panel will use case studies to illustrate the many valuable uses of ABLE accounts. Clients want to know about them and professionals need to understand them. Our panel of experts each has a unique perspective on the use of ABLE accounts. We will learn the latest developments and creative planning strategies that have been used to better serve persons with disabilities. Professionals will understand how to review and evaluate existing state programs to determine if it is the right plan for their client.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Networking Lunch
1:15 pm - 2:30 pm
Session 3: Exploring the Rubik’s Cube of Tax Issues in 3rd Party Special Needs Planning
By: Melanie Marmion, Esq.

Melanie Marmion will use a client scenario to discuss the tax consequences of a special needs plan with a lot of moving parts. This scenario includes an inter vivos SNT that the parents will fund with a second-to-die life insurance policy. Other family members will contribute to the SNT either through lifetime or testamentary transfers plus there are substantial IRAs that will be funded into the SNT. Sounds like a tough day in the office. Fortunately, we have Melanie who will use this scenario to discuss the tax consequences for gifting, income, estate, generation skipping, and as an added bonus describe the additional issues that arise when funding the retirement plan into the SNT.

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Break/Visit with Exhibitors
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Session 4: Case Studies for Coordinating Public Benefits and Private Funds for a Higher Quality of Life
By: Ann Koerner, RN, BSN, CRRN

Ann Koerner will discuss two real life case studies that are illustrative of the types of planning that can increase the quality of life for persons with disabilities. In the first study, she will discuss a third-party plan that was implemented for a young man while his parents are alive and well and able to assist and then the plan for how to transition him when his parents can no longer provide services. Her second case study will discuss a first-party plan for a young man with cerebral palsy who has difficulty speaking but with assistance and planning is in college and earning a 3.2 GPA. Both case studies will discuss how a team approach of professionals was able to secure a much higher quality of life. The professional will learn the steps necessary to address a wide variety of common but difficult situations.

4:00 pm - 4:15 pm
Break/Visit with Exhibitors
4:15 pm - 5:45 pm
Session: 5 Putting it All Together: Special Needs Case Study Issue Spotting and Resolving
By Terrie Varnet Esq., Melanie Marmion, Esq., Cynthia Haddad, CFP, Nancy Fisher Chudacoff, Esq. (Moderator)

The panel will present case studies that raise various issues regarding special-needs planning, will identify the issues, and offer options for resolving the issues. Issues may include coordinating charitable giving planning with special-needs planning; paying caregivers from special-needs trust, using annuities with first-party special needs trust, using funds from first-party special-needs trust in light of POMS changes to interpretation of sole benefit rule, creative uses of ABLE accounts when SSI recipient is a beneficiary of an inherited IRA, and planning for second marriages when one spouse has child with special-needs.

Saturday May 4, 2019
8:00 am – 8:30 am
Continental Breakfast
8:30 am - 9:45 am
Session 6: Assisting in Finding (Their) Desired Housing Solutions
By Jackie Eddy, Ann Sickon and Terrie Varnet, Esq.

There are long waiting lists for traditional residential options such as Group Homes, Adult Foster Care and other Waiver programs. The speakers will discuss creative private solutions for developing alternative residential options which utilize public/private resources. Specific program examples will be shared.

9:45 am - 10:00 am
Break/Visit with Exhibitors
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Session 7: Ask the Experts (aka "Stump the Chump") / Closing Remarks
Moderator: Kevin Urbatsch

The last several years "Ask the Experts" program has been a big hit. This program provides the answers to any questions from attendees to the nation’s leading experts in all things special needs.

Katie Bachmann, CFP®

Katie Bachmann, CFP®


Katie F. Bachmann, CFP® is a member of McGrath Consulting at UBS Financial Services Inc. in Atlanta, GA. A Certified Financial Planner™ professional, she has earned the Series 7 and Series 66 security licenses as well as Health, Life, Long-Term Care, Variable Life and Variable Annuity insurance licenses. Dedicated to professional proficiency, Katie is a member of Academy of Special Needs Planners, Financial Planning Association of Georgia, Georgia Planned Giving Council, and Association of Fundraising Professionals. Katie serves on the Young Alumni Board for the College of Business at Georgia Southern University and volunteers as an American Cancer Society National Professional Advisor and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Legacy Advisor. A summa cum laude graduate of Georgia Southern University, she earned a degree in Business Administration and was named the Top Marketing Scholar.

Blaine Brockman

Blaine Brockman


Blaine Brockman is a passionate advocate for improving the quality of life for people with special needs and the elderly. Prior to joining the firm, he operated Brockman Legal Services, a small firm law practice dedicated to special needs law and elder law. He is a on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is a member of Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP). He is also Chairs the NAELA Special Needs Law Steering Committee and Co-Chairs the Trusts and SNT Steering Committee. He currently serves as Chair of the Ohio State Bar Association's Elder and Special Needs Law Committee, as well as Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the Central Ohio Association for Justice. Blaine is very involved in the community, serving as Vice-President of the Board of APSI (Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc.), a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting the rights of people with developmental disabilities by providing guardianship and protective services. Blaine is Treasurer of the board of Creative Housing, an organization that provides housing in central Ohio for people with developmental disabilities. He is Treasurer of board of the ARC of Ohio. Blaine served for 12 years on the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Blaine had a 30 year career with the State of Ohio. In that time he was the Assistant Executive Director of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, a human resource administrator for two agencies, and a law enforcement officer with the Ohio Department Natural Resources. Blaine received his B.S. in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University and his J.D., cum laude, from Capital University Law School.

Erin Boerschel

Erin Boerschel


Erin Boerschel is a Vice President & Special Needs Trust Advisory Specialist with Wells Fargo Special Needs Trust Services. Ms. Boerschel previously worked at a law firm where she represented fiduciaries in estate and trust administration and prepared estate plans for individuals and couples, including administration and planning for Special and Supplemental Needs Trusts. She also served on the Hennepin County Probate Court Panel representing people with special needs in guardianship and conservatorship matters. She is a frequent presenter on special needs trust topics and enjoys examining the intersection between state law, federal law, and best practices as they relate to administration.

Ms. Boerschel works directly with individuals with diverse abilities along with their families, support systems, and other advisors. Ms. Boerschel is part of the relationship team for clients who are the beneficiaries of first party SNTs, third party SNTs, and settlement protection trusts. Ms. Boerschel assists her clients in coordinating services and resources that can improve their quality of life and facilitates conversations with investment strategists to align investment objectives with the client’s short and long-term needs. Using a holistic approach, Ms. Boerschel also participates in planning conversations with individuals and families who are concerned about how the needs of their loved ones will be met in the future. In addition, Ms. Boerschel engages in conversations around pre-settlement planning and the options available to an individual receiving a personal injury award.

Ms. Boerschel is a native of the Twin Cities area. She received a B.A. from Luther College and a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law. Ms. Boerschel is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Nancy Chudacoff

Nancy Chudacoff


Nancy Fisher Chudacoffjoined Cameron & Mittleman in January, 2016. For the past 33 years, Nancy has been practicing law, the last 23 of which she was a Partner in the firm of Hardy, Tabor and Chudacoff. Prior to forming that firm, she was a Partner at Edwards & Angell (now Locke Lord) in Providence, Rhode Island. She has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, probate, estate and trust administration, and guardianships, with a particular emphasis on estate planning for persons with special-needs, special-needs trusts, and Medicaid and Social Security matters regarding special-needs trusts.

Daniel Cutter

Daniel Cutter


Daniel Cutteris a Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch. He has been in the financial industry since 1999 and earned his MBA in Finance from the University of San Francisco. He is a special consultant on a book for attorneys titled, Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting, and Administration through the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB). He also is a special consultant on a book for consumers titled, Administering the California Special Needs Trust: A Guide for Assisting a Person with a Disability as Trustee of a Special Needs Trust.

Jacqueline Eddy

Jacqueline Eddy


Jacqueline Eddy is the Marketing/Communications Manager at The Center for Independent Futures – a Chicago based organization that was established to help individuals with disabilities, their families, educators, and agencies plan, support, and sustain more fulfilling lives. She has worked with them since 2002 in the areas of marketing communications, product development, and training. Jackie holds a B.A. in Art from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University in Boston. She brings her experience in general management, marketing, and training positions to her work with Center for Independent Futures.

Michele Fuller

Michele Fuller


Michele Fuller is Founder of the Michigan Law Center located in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The practice focuses on elder law, special needs planning, Veteran’s Administration planning, and and settlement planning, including a national practice establishing Qualified Settlement Funds (QSF).

Michele is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is serving her second term on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Chapter, and presented at the 2014 national conference. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP), and served as Chair of the 6th Annual conference, in addition to being a frequent presenter at the annual conferences and webinars. She has also presented for the American Bar Association and American Association for Justice regarding various aspects of special needs trusts and planning.

Cynthia R. Haddad, CFP®

Cynthia R. Haddad, CFP®


With over 20 years of experience, Cindy is a committed and invaluable partner to families planning the lifelong care for their family member with special needs. As a sister of an adult brother with disabilities, Cindy has dedicated her career to helping other families address their unique financial planning requirements. Cindy is the author, along with her business partner, John Nadworny, CFP®, of The Special Needs Planning Guide: How to Prepare for Every Stage of Your Child's Life (Brookes Publishing, 2008) and various other publications. She is a sought-after speaker and author on the topic of Special Needs Financial Planning for families and professionals.

Jerry Hulick

Jerry Hulick


Jerry Hulick started The Washington Group Special Care Planning Team in 2004, the same year as when he retired as General Agent of The Washington Group of MassMutual. Mr. Hulick is a pioneer and advocate for the special needs community, having spoken across the country at various conferences, forums, radio programs, and panels dealing with issues and planning for the special needs community. He has been active in the financial services industry for over 40 years and was among the first to whom The American College of Financial Services conferred the new Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation. Mr. Hulick graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, Virginia Tech National Campaign Chairman for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Dean's Roundtable Executive Committee for the College of Science. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, charter member and past president of the Fair Oaks Rotary Club, and was an Elder with Faith Presbyterian Church of Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Hulick is also very active with many local special needs non-profits such as ArtStream and The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia’s Special Needs Department. His activism in the special needs community is also inspired by special needs individuals in his own family.

Ann Koerner

Ann Koerner


Ann founded National Care Advisors in 2008 as a firm dedicated to providing consulting services for attorneys, financial planners and trustees that support individuals with special needs and their families. Prior to the inception of National Care Advisors, Ann’s nursing practice has been dedicated to developing effective disability management solutions for injured and ill workers. As a result of her work with many national corporations, Ann possesses extensive business knowledge of case management, utilization review, third party payers, workers' compensation, private insurance companies and government resources.

Ann received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1981 from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. She began her nursing practice as a Public Health Nurse in New York and then continued that practice with the City of Columbus Health Department.

David Lillesand

David Lillesand


David Lillesand is the principal of Lillesand, Wolasky and Waks, P.L., attorneys with offices in Miami, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida. The firm represents disabled children, adults and their families in Social Security/SSI disability claims, Medicaid, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship and Estate Planning matters. David graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Behavior, and the University of Wisconsin Law School and began representing individuals with SSI disability claims in 1974. David has been Chair of the Special Needs Trust Committee of the Florida Bar's Elder Law Section. Since beginning private practice in 1979, he has been a frequent lecturer on Social Security disability, SSI, special needs trusts, Medicaid, guardianship, and legal and financial planning for disabled children and adults, before organizations such as the American Bar Association, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives, the national Society of Settlement Planners, the New Jersey Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and numerous Bar association continuing legal education programs. He received the ARC Plotkin Outstanding Legal Service Award for service to persons with intellectual disabilities, is a three-time recipient of the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award from the South-Miami Kendall Bar Association and received the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. He has been President of his two local bar associations, chairman of the South Florida Council on Divorce Mediation, and President of Guardianship and Case Management Services, Inc. and is Chair of the Florida Bar Elder Law Section Committee on Social Security/ SSI.

Melanie Marmion, Esq.

Melanie Marmion, Esq.


Melanie is a partner with the law firm of Fitzwater Law, located in Portland Oregon. Her practice focuses on all aspects of estate planning and administration, including planning for high net worth clients, complex trust administration, preparation of estate tax returns, and planning for people with special needs. She received her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law and holds a LLM in Taxation from New York University School of Law. She was an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University and taught in their LLM Program. After 23 years of practicing, she believes that promoting family harmony is the core of a good estate plan. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys hanging out with her husband, two young daughters and pets. She sometimes sneaks away for yoga or a hike in the woods.

Kevin McGrath, CFP®, ChSNC®

Kevin McGrath, CFP®, ChSNC®


Kevin F. McGrath, CFP®, ChSNC® is the founder of McGrath Consulting. He leads the team, providing planning advice and portfolio consulting. After retiring from the United States Marine Corps in 1994 as a selected Lieutenant Colonel, where he flew A-4M Skyhawks, Kevin joined UBS Financial Services Inc. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. A Certified Financial Planner™ professional and Chartered Special Needs Consultant® , Kevin has earned the Series 7, 8, 63 and 65 securities licenses as well as health, life, long-term care, variable life and variable annuity insurance licenses. Committed to professional competence, Kevin maintains active membership in the Financial Planning Association of Georgia, Academy of Special Needs Planners, Atlanta Estate Planning Council and North Georgia Estate Planning Council and Georgia Planned Giving Council. He volunteers as a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Legacy Advisor. An avid fly fisherman, Kevin holds several International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records.

Kelly Piacenti

Kelly Piacenti


Kelly Piacentiis the Assistant Vice President with MassMutual, based in Somerset, New Jersey. In this role She is responsible for the MassMutual SpecialCareSM program which includes over six hundred Special Care Planners. She also oversees partnerships between MassMutual and the largest special needs nonprofit organizations across the country; including Easterseals, The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Autism Society, National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) and Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. Piacenti serves on the National Board of Directors for both The Arc and TASH, national non-profit organizations advocating for people with disabilities. She also serves on the Advisory Board for The Academy of Special Needs Planners, as well as The American College MassMutual Center for Special Needs.

Ann Sickon

Ann Sickon


Ann C Sickon, is the Exeuctive Director of the Center for Independent Futures –a Chicago based organization that was established to help individuals with disabilities, their families, educators, and agencies plan, support, and sustain more fulfilling lives. She has an adult sibling and a child with disabilities. Building a career combining health, business, and law, she has worked in hospital research, community health nursing, and starting and managing healthcare businesses. Ann’s health law practice focused on merger and acquisitions and healthcare management issues. Ann earned her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law, her Nursing Diploma from Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and her Bachelor of Science degree in healthcare administration from University of Michigan-Flint. She remains active with multiple charities, primarily focused on children and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Herb Thomas, CLPF

Herb Thomas, CLPF


Herb Thomas,CLPF, a California licensed private professional fiduciary (CLPF #86), is the principal fiduciary of Herb Thomas and Associates. Herb has a passion for people. He has extensive experience serving families throughout California with Special Needs Trusts, public benefits counseling and advocacy, Estate/Trust Administration, and Conservatorships. Additionally, Herb is a board member of Behavioral Intervention Association (a non-profit dedicated to providing intervention services to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families). Herb also served on the board for Legal Assistance for Seniors, East Bay.

Kevin Urbatsch

Kevin Urbatsch


Kevin Urbatsch is a principal of the special needs and settlement planning law firm, The Urbatsch Law Firm P.C. located in Pleasant Hill, California. Kevin also serves as National Director of the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP), a national organization of special needs and settlement planning professionals. Kevin is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Kevin is also a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

Kevin is a frequent lecturer to professionals and consumers on special needs and estate planning. In 2013, Parenting Magazine named Kevin as one of the nation’s Top Child Advocates for his work in fighting for the rights of children with special needs. In May 2011, Kevin was presented the NAELA’s Presidential Recognition Award for his work in special needs planning. In each year from 2010 to 2018, Kevin was named a Northern California Superlawyer. In 2009, Kevin was named KRON-TV’s Best of the Bay estate-planning attorney for Northern California.

Kevin is the author of numerous articles and books on special needs planning including Administering the California Special Needs Trust, Special Needs Trusts: Planning for your Child’s Future; and Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting and Administration.

Theresa Varnet, Esq.

Theresa Varnet, Esq.


Theresa Varnet has been an advocate for persons with disabilities for over 40 years. In addition to being a certified teacher, licensed social worker and a graduate of the DePaul University College of Law, she is the parent of a disabled adult daughter. She has served as Social Services Director in a residential school for children with profound developmental delays, Coordinator for a Special Education Cooperative and as a Citizen Advocacy/Disability Rights Coordinator. While living in the Sultanate of Oman, she assisted the Omani Ministry of Social Affairs in developing the first preschool program for children with handicapping conditions.

Ms. Varnet is an active volunteer in the National, State and local chapters of The Arc, Alliance for the Mentally Ill, The Autism Society, past member of the Developmental Disabilities Council in MA and KY, and past member of the Governor's Advisory Panel on Special Education in KY. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. Her experience includes extensive work in the area of in-service training with families, special educators, social workers and other professionals. She is a frequent speaker for volunteer and professional groups and has presented nationally at the National Conferences of TASH, AAIDD, The Arc, NAELA, and NADS among others. She is also the co-author, with Richard Spain, of "Home Control through Estate and Financial Planning." Ms. Varnet has been quoted on numerous occasions in national journals and publications, including Newsweek, Kiplinger Retirement Report, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, the AARP Bulletin, and Exceptional Parent magazine. She has also been interviewed on NPR's "All Things Considered" radio program.

She is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (co-chairperson of Special Needs Law Section of NAELA) and the Academy of Special Needs Planners. Ms. Varnet is licensed in both Massachusetts and Illinois and divides her time between the Chicago law firm of Spain, Spain & Varnet P.C. and the Massachusetts office of Fletcher Tilton, P.C.

Michael C. Walther, II, CPA/PFS, CFP®, CFA®

Michael C. Walther, II, CPA/PFS, CFP®, CFA®


Michael C Walther, II, CPA/PFS, CFP®, CFA® received his BS degree in Economics and MBA with concentration in Accounting from Vanderbilt University. He holds the CPA/PFS designation, is a Certified Financial Planner and is a CFA. Mike has a brother on the Autism spectrum. He founded Oak Wealth Advisors LLC in 2008 so that families seeking experienced and objective special needs financial planning advice could access the same quality of service that has traditionally been available only to the very wealthy. Mike has written articles for the Chicago Sun-Times and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, New York Times, and other national publications. He has presented at conferences around the country and taught at Texas Tech University, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, and San Diego State University.

Pre-Session 1: Pre-Session 1: Fundamentals of Public Benefits for Persons with Disabilities

Coming Soon.
Time: May 5th 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Speakers: Mercy Hall, Ellen Cookman and Thomas Brinker

Session Description


Pre-Session 1: Pre-Session 2: Drafting the World's Greatest Special Needs Trust

Coming Soon.
Time: May 5th 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Speakers: Kevin Urbatsch, Jessica Farinas Jones, Fuller Urbatsch & Allison Bren Ferris

Session Description


Pre-Session 2: Pre-Session 3:

Coming Soon.
Time: May 5th 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Speakers: TBA

Session Description


The Drake Hotel

140 East Walton Place
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 787-2200
Toll-free: (800) 553-7253
Click here to book hotel reservations now

ASNP Group Rate: $209 + tax
Group rates are available on a first-come first served basis and cannot be guaranteed after March 20, 2019.

The Drake: A City Within a City

The Drake Hotel in Chicago, located where the Magnificent Mile begins near the iconic cathedrals in the neighborhood, is hosting the 13th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Special Needs Planners. No other Chicago hotel has inspired more legendary acclaim on par with The Drake. This timeless property affords guests easy access to the city's most exclusive shopping, nightlife and dining.

For more Information go to:

Getting There - By Plane, Train or Automobile:

Situated squarely in the center of the country, Chicago is easy to travel to from virtually everywhere. Thanks to thousands of flights options at two international airports, six class-one railroads, a vast network of major highways and a wide variety of airlines, it is one of the most cost-competitive and convenient cities for domestic and international travel.

By Plane

O'Hare International Airport, located 17 miles from downtown, is one of the largest airports in the world. It is North America's major international gateway airport, servicing over 67 million passengers to and from over 200 destinations around the globe.

Midway International Airport, is located 10 miles from downtown Chicago and offers another convenient travel option for visitors. It is the nation's premier point-to-point airport, offering value-oriented leisure and business travel to over 60 destinations.

Visit for details on parking, amenities, flight status, terminal maps and more for both O'Hare and Midway airports. Both airports offer plentiful taxi service to downtown and the suburbs. Rates range from $40-50 from O'Hare, and $30-40 from Midway. Rates vary based on travel time and are subject to change.

By Train

Amtrak serves Chicago with about 50 trains arriving and departing daily. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, the national rail operator Amtrak offers more than 300 trains each day—at high speeds up to 150 mph—to more than 500 destinations. The South Shore Line services Chicago through Northern Indiana to the South Bend Airport.

By Automobile

With its central geographic location and status as a hub for major interstates, Chicago is convenient to drive to from every region in the country. In fact, more than 20 million people live within a three-hour drive of the city. Chicago is accessible via several major interstates and highways: I-90 (Kennedy Expressway), I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway), I-55 (Stevenson Expressway), I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway), I-294 (Tri-State Tollway).

Use this fully-interactive parking map to search for parking options in downtown Chicago.

Many major car rental companies have facilities at the O'Hare and Midway Airports, including Avis, Alamo, Budget and Hertz. Please visit specific rental company websites for details.

Limousine and chauffer agencies prefer that all customers reserve cars at least 48 hours in advance although cars can occasionally be ordered with a two-hour notice. Click here for a list of available transportation services.

Getting Around

When you stay at the Drake Hotel you’ll be in the heart of downtown Chicago. And all the many attractions that have put the area on the map and bring it to life are within a short stroll or cab ride including nearby shopping at Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Block 37 Mall. Attractions in the area include the Chicago Theatre District, The Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, Cadillac Theatre, Jeweler’s Row, Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Children’s Park and more!

Airport Transportation

The Drake Hotel is approximately 18 miles/35-60-minute drive (depending on time of day) from Chicago O’Hare and ~12 miles from Chicago Midway Airport. Multiple options for transportation are available, including: • Uber and Lyft • Taxi Cab – Fares are ~$35 each way from O’Hare and $40 each way from Midway • Subway/Rail Services is only $2.25

The Chicago Transit Authority serves both airports for easy and economical travel between downtown and Chicago neighborhoods using the 'L' train. The 24-hour CTA Blue Line connects directly to O'Hare and the CTA Orange Line connects directly to Midway. Read more on getting around Chicago with public transportation or visit for full fare information and maps.

GO Airport Express Pair fares and group discounts are available along with customized reservation portals for your groups. GO Airport Express provides shared ride services to The Drake hotel and offers a 10% Discount on Shuttle Services for hotel Guests. Click Here to Book a reservation online now.

ASNP 13th Annual Meeting Chicago Walking Tour

Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time

Get a comprehensive look at Chicago's architectural history on this unique tour that covers buildings in chronological order. Hear important stories about the city while viewing some of its earliest buildings and new, super-tall high rises.

Event Timing: Saturday, May 4th from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Cost: $25 per person
Meet: Hotel lobby of The Drake at 1:30 PM
Duration: 1.5 hours

On this tour, you'll learn about the city's beginnings on the river, its rebirth after the Great Fire and its development into a commercial and cultural hub, all while viewing structures in the order they were built. These buildings—including the Page Brothers Building, Old Dearborn Bank, the Chicago Motor Club, the Carbide and Carbon Building, NBC Tower and more—tell the story of how architectural technology evolved over time. You'll see up close how each building has its own unique design, often reflecting the style that was popular or prevalent when it was constructed.

If interested in joining us, please fill out this form. Limited spots available.

Questions? Contact us:

Sponsorship & Exhibitor Information

Platinum Sponsorship - $15,000 (SOLD)
  • Opening Reception Sole Sponsorship on May 2
  • Opening Breakfast Sole Sponsorship on May 3
  • Opportunity to address Attendees at Opening Reception/Breakfast
  • Marketing Materials Distributed to All Attendees
  • Designation as a Platinum Sponsor on the on ASNP Web Page
  • Designation as Platinum Sponsor with Logo on Conference Materials
  • Electronic Registered Attendee List Attendance at all Meals and Cocktail Reception including VIP/Speaker’s Dinner
  • Exhibit table (optional)

Current Platinum Sponsor

  • Mass Mutual

Gold Sponsorship - $10,000
  • Lunch Sponsorship on May 3 with signage
  • Five-minute Address to Attendees at Lunch
  • Marketing Materials Distributed to All Attendees
  • Designation as a Gold Sponsor on the on ASNP Web Page
  • Designation as Gold Sponsor with Logo on Conference Materials
  • Electronic Registered Attendee List
  • Attendance at all Meals and Cocktail Reception including VIP/Speaker’s Dinner
  • Exhibit table (optional)

Silver Sponsorship - $7,500
  • Breakfast Sponsorship on May 4 with signage
  • Five-minute Address to Attendees at Breakfast
  • Marketing Materials Distributed to All Attendees
  • Designation as a Silver Sponsor on the on ASNP Web Page
  • Designation as Silver Sponsor with Logo on Conference Materials
  • Electronic Registered Attendee List
  • Attendance for up to 2 exhibitors at all Meals and Cocktail Reception
  • Exhibit table (optional)

Bronze Sponsor - $5,000
  • Coffee Break Sponsorship with signage
  • Marketing Materials Distributed to All Attendees
  • Designation as a Bronze Sponsor on the on the ASNP Conference Web Page
  • Designation as Bronze Sponsor on Conference Materials
  • Electronic Registered Attendee List
  • Attendance for up to 2 exhibitors at all Meals and Cocktail Reception
  • Exhibit table (optional)

Current Bronze Sponsors

  • Capital First Trust Company
  • Cumberland Trust
  • First International Bank & Trust
  • Merrill Lynch
  • RBC Trust Company (Delaware) Limited

Exhibitor - $1,250
  • One 6' Exhibit Table
  • Electronic Registered Attendee List
  • Attendance for up to 2 exhibitors at all Meals and Cocktail Reception
  • Listing as Exhibitor on the on the ASNP website and Conference Materials

Current Exhibitors

  • Commonwealth Community Trust
  • Medivest
  • National Care Advisors
  • TEAM Risk Management Strategies
  • Annandale Village
  • Comerica Bank
  • ElderCounsel
  • Flying Angels
  • Guardian Trust
  • Krause Financial Services
  • Life's Plan Inc.
  • Medivest Benefit Advisors, Inc.
  • Midland Trust Company
  • Midwest Special Needs Trust
  • Mobility Support Systems
  • National Care Advisors
  • Secured Alliance
  • Stephen’s Place
  • Team Risk Management Strategy
  • Wells Fargo Special Needs Trust Services

Exhibitor Dates/Times

Setup: Anytime Thursday, May 2 after – 2:00 p.m. or before 8:00 on Friday, May 3
Friday, May 3 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 4 – 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Teardown: Anytime after 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4

Shipping Instructions

If you are shipping any materials in advance, you may ship your exhibit materials for arrival at the The Drake Hotel no earlier than Monday, April 29th. All packages should be labeled as follows:

The Drake Hotel
ASNP Annual Meeting Exhibitor/May 2-4, 2019
140 E Walton Place
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-2200
Box(es) ___ of ___ (multiple boxes should be numbered)

The shipper's return address should include shipper's name, address and telephone number. Please identify heavy boxes (over 50 pounds). We will work with the hotel shipping dept. to try and facilitate package delivery to the exhibit hall. However, if you have specific questions, please contact the package room clerk at for delivery to your specific location. All deliveries are on a first come, first served basis.

ASNP Exhibitor/Sponsor Cancellation Refund Policy

All cancellations must be received in writing. A 75% refund or credit toward future conference will be honored if received before March 1st. No refunds will be issued after March 1st.

Become an ASNP Exhibitor or Sponsor