Estate Planning for Special Needs
If you are the parent or guardian of a family member with special needs such as physical or mental disabilities or special medical needs, you know that every aspect of his or her life requires detailed planning. So planning and adapting your daily routines are just a fact of life for you. However, you also need to have plans in place for the welfare of your loved one when you are no longer able to be the primary caregiver.
Special Needs Planning In Making a Will
When you are making a will, you will provide for your child with special needs in specific ways. You will name a guardian who will look after his or her welfare in areas such as health care decisions, living arrangements, training or education, and financial concerns. This is a very important decision to assure your child receives the best care.
Your will also provides the assets needed to continue supporting your child’s needs.
Asset Protection with a Special Needs Trust
If you leave too much of your financial assets to the child with special needs, it may disqualify him or her for necessary assistance from government funded programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Bequests or gifts from well-meaning family members may have the same effect. The best way to make sure your child has use of the funds provided for his or her care is to establish a Special Needs Trust into which money can be directed to provide for items and services beyond the basics of food, clothing, medicine he or she would receive from benefit programs. Since the Special Needs Trust holds the assets you or others give your loved one, and it is specifically designated to provide him or her with care beyond what the government benefits supply, it will not be counted as the child’s asset when qualifying for government benefits. The Special Needs Trust can be used to pay for things such as education or training; entertainment, athletic equipment or participation; transportation, including a vehicle and its maintenance and needed adaptations; hobby materials, including a computer, video game equipment, and supplies; special medical equipment, health aids, or companions. These are just some of the life enhancements you can provide for your child with special needs as long as they are paid for directly from his or her special needs trust.
For expert guidance in preparation of wills and special needs trusts to benefit your loved one without compromising access to government benefits, schedule a consultation with Glenn A. Deig, your estate planning attorney.