Estates and Trusts

Is By Their Side the "missing link" in your estate plan?

Many parents delay estate planning until they figure out how their trustee-- bank, attorney, or out of state relative--will learn about the financial needs or desires of their son or daughter. By Their Side provides update reports to siblings and Trustees. Advocates serve as local "eyes and ears", visiting and talking with your relative and his or her staff to help identify individual needs and life enrichment opportunities.

By Their Side does not serve as trustee, but works closely with those who do.

An Open Letter to Estate Planning Professionals

January 18, 2019

Dear Fellow Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys:

As estate planning and elder law attorneys, not only do we look to provide our clients with the best plan for their family, but also look for opportunities to educate and inform clients of additional ways to ensure the success of their plan for a special needs beneficiary.

I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland non-profit organization By Their Side, Inc (formerly known as “Maryland Trust for Retarded Citizens” or “MTRC.) Since being formed in 1965 by parents and despite having grown to 450 members, I believe that By Their Side remains a largely unrecognized name among estate, special needs and long-term care planning attorneys. I am convinced that By Their Side's professional advocacy services are invaluable to parents concerned with the oversight and care their relative will receive after they are gone, and would like to bring this organization to your attention.

What is By Their Side?

By Their Side provides advocacy services to Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, as arranged and funded by families. In short, when the parents are unable to continue as advocate, By Their Side can provide the lifetime advocacy and oversight needed to ensure their relative receives necessary services, health and safety needs are addressed, and opportunities for life enrichment continue.

This mission is accomplished through visits with the individual at the frequency determined by the family, advocating at team meetings, and addressing identified concerns. By Their Side monitors care, coordinates with trustees and advisors to make appropriate recommendations for needed expenditure of trust funds, provides updates to family and other fiduciaries, and offers direction when requested. Some parents involve By Their Side for short-term help to resolve a problem, or begin services early to assure a smooth transition.

How can By Their Side help your clients?

Many parents delay planning because they are uncertain who will provide the specialized oversight required by their relative with a disability. It requires great skill and persistence, acquired over years of dealing with agencies and the service delivery system, to effectively advocate and to implement the services and changes their child may need over time. By Their Side's experienced advocates provide assessment visits and monitoring at the frequency funded by the family or Trust.

By Their Side is family-funded and, therefore, is not subject to the changing priorities of State-funded advocacy services.

By Their Side does not need to be specifically identified in your clients estate planning documents. Services are often funded by parents during their lifetime or by trusts established for the benefit of a disabled relative.

By Their Side does not serve as guardian or trustee, but rather supports those fiduciaries by overseeing the coordination of involved service providers, both public and private.

What am I asking you to do?

Many families are not aware of By Their Side services. Simply informing your clients that there is an organization dedicated to helping with future advocacy needs can empower your clients to determine if By Their Side answers a need for their family.

For more information, contact Kathy Vecchioni, Executive Director, at 443-279-1234 or

Sincerely yours,

Paula M. Mattson-Sarli, Esq.

Director 2016-2019