Special Needs Planning
Caring for a loved one with special needs has a profound effect on the day to day life of a family. This often leaves little or no time to contemplate what may happen when you are no longer able to provide the care they need. Providing for a loved one with a disability is of the utmost importance. We are here to ensure that your loved ones are adequately cared for in the event that you can no longer be the primary care giver.
Special needs planning is estate planning for individuals with special needs. This is often accomplished through a Special Needs Trust which allows funds to be set aside to care for a disabled loved one while preserving crucial government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These types of Trusts come to life upon the death of the second parent and are much more effective than simply leaving behind a lump sum of money.
Special Needs Trusts
Special Needs Trusts (“SNT”) generally work like this: a person wants to make sure their disabled loved one is provided for upon their death. Instead of leaving a lump sum of money behind in their Last Will and Testament (“Will”), they will create an SNT to benefit the disabled individual (the “Beneficiary”). The person creating the Trust (“Grantor”) places certain assets into the Trust and designates who will manage them (“Trustee”). The assets in the Trust are then managed according to the Grantor’s terms and used to help pay for the beneficiary’s needs. The most important aspect of an SNT Trust is that the assets in the Trust are not counted as being owned by the disabled individual. This allows them to qualify or retain their public assistance benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or subsidized housing.
Benefits of a Special Needs Trust
- Leave an inheritance to your loved one with special needs while preserving their access to public assistance.
- While retaining public assistance, the SNT can pay for care and services beyond what the government benefits allow.
- Assets in the SNT have creditor protection so no lawsuit can take these assets away.
- The SNT incorporates Medicaid planning strategies to help shelter your assets so that your loved one can retain their Medicaid benefits or qualify for them later in life.
- You decide who will manage these assets by naming one or more Trustees to manage the Trust.
- If the special needs individual will receive proceeds from a personal injury settlement or lawsuit, these funds can be structured in such a way that it won’t discontinue their public benefits.
Other Special Needs Considerations
- Both the caregiver and the disabled individual need to plan for their possible incapacity and create Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate documents naming a trusted agent to make decisions on their behalf.
- Travel considerations and transport for individuals with special need.
- Choosing the right facility for your loved one.
- Choosing an at home personal health care attendant.
- Language, cultural, and religious considerations for long term care facilities.
Planning Ahead for Special Needs is not a Matter of If, But How.
Leaving behind money or property to a loved one with a disability requires careful planning. We’ll focus on the planning, so you can focus on your loved one.