Specialized Planning For Special Needs
Parents and other family members of a disabled loved one have an added concern when building their estate plan; providing specialized care so that a disabled heir can continue to live and thrive after the death of a guardian. The specialized planning typically revolves around a special needs trusts or supplemental needs trusts.
Avoid Unanticipated Consequences
If you do not do special needs planning in conjunction with your estate plan, and your beneficiaries end up needing financial support from the government, then an inheritance from you will cause your loved one to become disqualified from receiving most government monetary benefits – sometimes forever. This doesn’t have to happen. Adding special needs planning to your estate plan can allow your beneficiaries to have the best of both worlds. Some examples of the financial benefits that this special needs planning can protect are: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Section 8 housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medi-Cal or Medicaid, American Disability Act (ADA) benefits, state disability payments, and more.
Special needs planning works by allowing your loved one to use the inheritance to supplement the government monetary benefits that they are already receiving. If the planning is done correctly, it does not count as an asset when renewing or even applying for further benefits.
Crucial Asset Protection
You can also use this specialized planning to protect your loved ones from being influenced or taken advantage of in matters concerning cash and other assets. By setting up a special needs trust, you add a layer of protection against these financial predators. In addition, the funds in a special needs trust are also protected from creditors, legal judgments, lawsuits, and divorce.
Protecting Assets Through Trustee Designation
In all trusts, but even more importantly in a special needs trust, choosing the right people to look out for your loved one when you are gone is critical. You must choose someone you can depend on to act as the trustee to manage the assets for your loved one. This trustee will be the only person (or if you use a committee of trustees, the only persons) who has access to the assets. The individual(s) you choose will have a legal obligation to use the inheritance only for the benefit of the loved one the trust was established for. You may also need to nominate someone to care for your loved one if their disability does not allow them to fully care for themselves. These decisions and many more are part of what goes into this specialized planning.