If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated with concern about what may happen to them when you are no longer able to provide and care for them. For those with a disabled family member, lack of planning for even small estates can have a devastating effect, resulting in the loss of government benefits.
A person with a disability may not be able to work so he or she may need financial and other assistance from a variety of government resources. However, many government programs will not assist people who have assets.
Many parents or other family members have the best of intentions when leaving a special-needs child or another loved one an inheritance or other funds. But often, due to incorrect planning, their loved one becomes ineligible for other benefits or loses a significant portion of his or her funds in the process. Failure to plan correctly for a loved one with special needs can have significant negative and unintended consequences.
To avoid this dilemma, it is important to include provisions in your estate plan that will enable a loved one with a disability to maintain eligibility for means-tested government benefits without having to forgo his or her inheritance. In addition, it is important to review common savings vehicles for children, like custodial accounts or traditional irrevocable trusts, that will cause a reduction or elimination of public benefits for a child with a disability when he or she reaches adulthood.
The most common document created to protect a disabled child’s benefits is a special needs trust. The government has established rules allowing assets to be held in trust, called a “Special Needs” or “Supplemental Needs” Trust for a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain requirements are met. Depending on your needs, this trust can then be used to pay for activities, amenities, home care or even a home. With proper planning, your disabled family member can fully utilize the public resources available to them and maintain a quality standard of living once you are no longer able to care for them.
Kierman Law, PLC can help you set up a Special Needs Trust so that government benefit eligibility is preserved while at the same time providing assets that will meet the supplemental needs of your loved ones.
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