Parents of children with special needs often worry about how their children would survive and be cared for when their parents are no longer alive to support them. If one of your loved ones is living with a disability, you make sure that all their needs are met daily. But what would happen if you were gone?
Also, over the years, parents are required to make many decisions in their children’s best interests, and those decisions are only amplified for parents with special needs children. Often, parents of special needs children don’t know what questions to ask and are unaware of the many questions that inevitably will come their way. For the greatest success in securing your children’s futures, it’s important for parents and other family members to be prepared before it’s too late. That’s the role of special needs planning.
Special Needs Planning involves preparing for current and future care needs of children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, neurocognitive disorders, and/or psychiatric illnesses. It is the best way for a parent, grandparent, and/or guardian to proactively protect and provide for children and grandchildren with disabilities both in the near and not-so-near future. for care, housing, and quality of life should something unexpectedly happen to you; for 18th birthdays (automatic transfer of parental rights); for eligibility for government benefits; for change in life circumstances; planning for your child’s quality of life, and for your peace of mind. Our special needs planning services include
Special needs planning is critical because individuals with special needs often are unable to make appropriate financial decisions for themselves and/or are at risk of financial exploitation by others. Equally important is to maintain eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid and enable children with special needs to have fulfilling lives.
SSI is used to pay for food and housing (primary needs), but it is not nearly enough to live on. Medicaid waiver programs enable access to beneficial services and programs not accessible absent Medicaid eligibility. Generally, beneficiaries of SSI or Medicaid can have little income and, at most, $2,000 in assets. Leaving money to loved ones directly to provide for their care would jeopardize their ability to receive any help from these means-tested government programs. On top of that, the money left to them would have to be spent down to pay for primary needs previously covered by SSI instead of being used to improve the care provided and quality of life. A Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust (SNT) manages resources while also maintaining the beneficiary’s eligibility for public assistance benefits.
For most families, a third-party irrevocable Special SNT is the most effective way to set aside assets and funds to help the person with special needs. Cash, investment accounts, real estate, or proceeds from a life insurance policy are common ways to fund the trust. The trust can provide for the beneficiary during parents’ lifetimes and will provide for the beneficiary when parents are no longer around to care for the beneficiary. Because the SNT owns the assets instead of the beneficiary, the assets are excluded from asset limit tests for SSI or Medicaid. Meanwhile, trust funds can be used to pay for quality-of-life improvements for the beneficiary, such as a phone, an iPad, computer games, trips, travel to visit family, entertainment events, and other activities. The SNT also ensures that funds are used for the benefit of your vulnerable family member and that other relatives, such as siblings, are not left with the responsibility and costs of care.
Special needs planning can be a complex and confusing area of the law. Ashley Day Law, LLC will work with you to construct a comprehensive plan customized to your situation and provide you with the tools and information necessary to make sure your loved one is protected, so you have peace of mind knowing your loved one will be taken care of just as you wish.
How well you do or don’t plan for a special needs family member can have tremendous consequences. Give us a call. Let us help you get it right.
Plan to provide for future care needs associated with aging, protect family relationships, and preserve your legacy.
Planning for the future and ensuring that your wishes will be carried out doesn’t have to keep you up at night. If you or your loved one is 60+, now is a good time to plan your legal strategies to receive care in your home as you desire and if you may need expensive long-term care. If you have plans in place, we will review them with you and suggest modifications or additions, if any, for you to accomplish your goals.
Elder law and estate planning serve two different, but equally vital, functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on ensuring your care and preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die.
Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future medical needs, including long-term care. Elder law services include planning for the expected and the unexpected: pre-need planning and crisis planning. Planning is tailored to each client’s concerns, goals, family dynamics, and immediate or potential future care needs and may include planning tools such as
Elder law planning also includes your instructions about living arrangements and priorities when it comes to care, which benefits your entire family. What’s more, it can ensure that you are protected from elder abuse or exploitation when you get older or become incapacitated. For seniors, this means resting assured that you will not be a burden to your children, siblings, or other family members if/when you are not able to care for yourselves. For other family members, your planning manifests your love for them, providing peace of mind and the tools needed to ensure care is provided as planned.
Finally, elder law covers assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, if needed. Guardianship and/or conservatorship may be necessary to protect and provide for individuals who are unable to care for themselves or live independently, who are unable to understand or manage money and assets, and who may be at risk of abuse and exploitation. Supported Decision Making may be an alternative to guardianship/conservatorship for individuals with limited abilities to retain their decision-making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices.
When planning proactively, Ashley Day Law works with you to determine your priorities and what future needs must be met and put together the best course of action based on your income and assets to protect your quality of life and reduce unnecessary stress within the family.
When crisis planning, our caring and comprehensive approach can help guide you through a difficult process and relieve you of some of your worries.
Having to place a loved one in a skilled nursing facility can be an emotionally wrenching experience. To make matters worse, confusion often reigns supreme when determining how to best use income and assets and when navigating the Medicaid application process. Well-meaning family, friends, and even professional advisers may give conflicting or incomplete advice causing families needlessly to lose their property and assets. At Ashley Day Law, we will help you plan for future care needs and how to pay for them, prepare documents for you to enact your plan, and assist with the administration to ensure plans are implemented and assets distributed as instructed.
You want to do what is best for the people you love throughout your lifetime and ensure they are taken care of after you are gone. Give us a call. We’re here to help.
Ashley Day Law provides comprehensive estate planning to individuals and families. We help our clients prepare for unexpected incapacity or death, to ensure both that their family and loved ones have the ability to care for them and that their assets are transferred at their passing in accordance with their goals and wishes. We design and create proper estate plans for our clients, review beneficiary designations, and advise our clients to ensure trusts are funded.
Establishing your estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones during your lifetime, in case of disability, and at your death. A well-thought-out and comprehensive estate plan can prevent the need for someone to obtain guardianship in the future, lessen administrative costs associated with the transfer of assets at death, and help smooth familial relations.
Our estate planning services include:
While estate planning often includes a variety of items among those listed above, foundational estate planning includes, at least, wills, durable powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, HIPAA authorizations, and a stand-alone or testamentary supplemental needs trust if you have a loved one with special needs. These instruments are critical to ensure your wishes are followed. A properly designed and implemented estate plan also can help you accomplish additional goals, such as:
Every family situation is unique. We work with you and your other professional advisors, including financial planners, accountants, and/or other attorneys who are familiar with your goals and concerns to determine what options work best for you and your family and ensure their implementation.
By protecting your estate and yourself, you are protecting your family and sparing them the expense, delay, and frustration that occurs when family members fail to plan. No estate plan is “one size fits all.” As priorities change, plans can be modified. It’s never too early – or too late – to plan. Give us a call. We’re here to help.
Upon the incapacity of a loved one, and following the death of a loved one, there is often a need for estate and/or trust administration to manage and distribute assets during your loved one’s life and to account for and transfer ownership of the assets at death. It can be difficult to know when and how to start and how best to proceed. At Ashley Day Law, we guide individuals and families through the often-challenging processes of administering probate and trust estates, assisting and representing fiduciaries and family members, including:
Guardians and Conservators
Guardianships and conservatorships are first and foremost protective proceedings, usually in probate court, meant to protect people who are unable to care for themselves or live independently, unable to understand or manage money and assets, and may be at risk of physical or financial abuse and exploitation.
Guardianships or conservatorships can be very useful in providing for the health and safety of adults with mental/physical impairments that have caused them to lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions or be able to manage property and business affairs effectively – who do not have valid healthcare and/or durable financial powers of attorney in place.
Ashley Day Law represents individuals/families to obtain guardianships and conservatorships, and we assist guardians and conservators with reports and estate administration. We also represent individuals/families in modification or termination of guardianship and conservatorship proceedings based on changes in circumstances, if/when appropriate.
Executors and Personal Representatives
When probate administration is necessary to settle a loved one’s estate, it does not have to be confusing or intimidating. Ashley Day Law helps you take care of the legal issues after the death of a loved one, including administration of your loved one’s Will or administration of your loved one’s intestate estate (if there is no Will) and can expedite the probate process by ensuring all documents are accurately and thoroughly prepared, published, served, and filed as needed.
From providing a checklist to help you keep track of the information you need to gather, to paying bills, to preparing inventories, accountings, and annual reports, to communicating with family members, institutions, and/or agencies, to making distributions, to the final termination of the estate or trust administration, we can help you determine what steps are necessary and assist you in all stages of administration.
Our goal is to ease your mind and help you transfer the assets of your loved one as quickly as possible.
Trust administration refers to the tasks associated with managing the assets, distributions, and filings of a trust. These tasks can often be quite complex and time-sensitive, especially for first-time trustees and people serving as trustees of Special (Supplemental) Needs Trusts (SNTs) and other irrevocable/asset protection trusts.
Trustees are responsible for trust administration and have fiduciary duties, including duties to primary and contingent beneficiaries, the duty to comply with the trust agreement’s provisions to carry out the intentions of the grantor and fulfill the purpose of the trust, and other specific duties established in the trust agreement and by state law, including prudently managing investments and paying taxes.
Ashley Day Law advises and works with trustees to successfully fulfill their responsibilities for managing the trust assets, making distributions according to the instructions contained in the trust agreement, and filing and reporting to government agencies if/when necessary, reducing or eliminating the stress and anxiety often experienced by trustees.
Ashley Day Law, LLC is happy to represent you, work with you to put structures and processes in place that simplify administration, and provide other guidance and assistance as requested. Our goal is to ensure you successfully perform your administrative duties and have peace of mind. Give us a call. We’re here to help.
Planning for the unforeseen circumstances in life shouldn’t be a burden—it’s an act of love that protects, provides, and empowers the ones you love most. Ready to plan for your family’s future? Give us a call today.GET IN TOUCH