The Power of Parental Planning
These are the questions that can keep parents awake at night:
- Who will take care of my disabled child when I can’t do it any longer?
- What if my own medical needs and long-term care costs drain my assets so my disabled child gets nothing?
- Will my child still be eligible for need-based public benefits if I include him or her in my will?
When parents are young, they can handle the extra responsibility of a disabled child at home. As they get older, their uncertainties increase.
It is for this specific purpose that special needs trusts and supplemental benefits trusts are useful. Parental planning will make a difference to a disabled child. It will also benefit other family members who may be ill-equipped to add caregiving to their other responsibilities.
When a family member is a disabled child, estate and life planning should provide for that child’s needs without endangering eligibility for needs-based governmental benefits.
The Advantages of Creating a Trust
A trust can provide funds that will be necessary to care for a disabled heir. A properly drafted trust protects assets from creditor claims and allows the disabled child to continually qualify for the governmental assistance so vital to the child’s continued well-being.
Special needs trusts create a pathway so that the disabled beneficiary can receive gifts and settlements without becoming ineligible for many government benefits programs.
These trusts are written so that the funds aren’t considered to belong to the beneficiary and thus, do not undermine benefit eligibility. Special needs trusts are intended to supplement the basic support provided by governmental programs such as Social Security Income and Medicaid. These trusts provide for services and goods that public assistance funds cannot be used – specialized medical equipment and treatments, vacations and personal items that can give the disabled person a better quality of life.
Planning for a Continuation of Care
In addition to planning with Trusts, parents want to make sure that if they become ill and are not able to care for their disabled child there will be a continuation of the care that they had provided to that child. Certain legal documents may be needed in addition to the special needs trust.
It is important for parents to develop a Life Care Plan which addresses the who, what, where and how issues for your disabled child so that you and your family members are assured that there will be no interruption of the care you have loving provided to your child.
As Always, Discuss Your Problem with a Qualified Attorney
Many rules apply to special needs trusts. It is important to discuss your situation in detail with an attorney who will work with you to establish the trust and develop a Life Care Plan. Call our team at 908-277-2200 or email us to schedule an appointment.
*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation