Special Needs Planning

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 the 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 (Supplemental) Needs Trusts
  • Revocable Living Trusts with Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust Provisions
  • Wills with Special Needs & Spousal Trust Provisions
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Planning for Age 18
  • Planning for Eligibility for Government Benefits (SSI, Medicaid, etc.)
  • Government Benefits Advisement
  • School Law/Advocacy
  • Guardianship/Conservatorship Administration
  • Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust Administration

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 the 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 for Peace of Mind

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.