Planning ahead for a child or loved one with disabilities or special need is an extremely important and time-sensitive task. Your loved one is counting on you to create a legal and financial plan that not only protects him or her now, but well after you are gone.
Public benefits (social security, SSI, and Medi-Cal) often play a large part in the life of a person with disabilities and frequently are a lifeline. Without special planning these benefits are in jeopardy of being cut off.
What Does Special Needs Planning Include?
Understanding the situations that put these benefits in jeopardy and how to protect them is the focus of the special needs plan. In addition, the special needs plan provides a framework for proper medical care and management of assets, as well as protection from predators, all while facilitating a higher quality of life.
Depending on your loved one’s situation the plan will consider and may include:
- Creation of special needs trusts, either First Party Special Needs Trust or Third Party Special Needs Trust, to safely protect assets set aside for the future in a way that won’t jeopardize eligibility for public benefits;
- Establishment of conservatorship, whether limited or general, to ensure you are able to continue to manage your child’s finances and make medical and other decisions on his or her behalf;
- Alternatives to conservatorship if your loved one is high functioning and semi-independent;
- Nomination of legal guardians for your minor child with disabilities to ensure your child is raised the way you want if something unexpectedly happens to you;
- Use of ABLE accounts – a new form of tax-free savings account for certain people with disabilities
- Evaluation of the best way to pass retirement accounts to your special needs loved one
- Settlement planning to create a “safe harbor” special needs trust to protect the litigation recovery while preserving essential needs-based public benefits.
Did You Know?
When a person with special needs receives an inheritance outright or a lawsuit settlement:
- He or she will own the money, and those funds will be counted in determining financial eligibility for federal and state assistance programs, resulting in loss of your child’s benefits?
- Government benefits for housing, medical care, education, therapy and caregivers may be cut off completely?
- Your loved one will be obligated to spend his or her entire inheritance or settlement for all living and medical expenses before he or she is again eligible for government assistance?
- There will be nothing left for his or her supplemental needs: education, special outings, vacations, trips to see family members, a new tv or cd player – items which seemingly essential to us, the government will not pay for?
- The person with disabilities goes without.
In addition to providing a plan for your family’s protection and inheritance, a modern estate plan for parents with a disabled child needs to contain provisions that address special circumstances.
Special Needs Planning allows your special needs loved one to continue to receive the government benefits he or she is entitled to without interruption and to still have other protected resources to provide for those things that will improve quality of life.
Contact The Chubb Law Firm today to arrange your Peace of Mind Consultation. With over 20 years’ experience and commitment to serving the estate planning needs of the greater Sacramento area, we can help you create just the right Special Needs Plan for your loved ones’ future.
Call The Chubb Law Firm today at (916) 241-9661 to review your goals and discuss your options.