If you are the parent, friend, or relative of a person with a disability, there is a good chance you want to do everything that you can to make life as good as possible for your loved one who is disabled. Unfortunately, there are many situations where your efforts to improve quality of life backfire because of the laws that apply to provide benefits to those who are disabled.
You need to make certain that you understand how the law works if you wish to make any type of financial gift to a person with a disability. You also must make sure to effectively use legal tools to protect a loved one with a disability whose physical care you are responsible for. Nehoray and Drake, LLP can help you. Our legal team is experienced in special needs planning and we can provide the personalized advice you need to make a plan. To find out more about the assistance we offer, give us a call. We can also provide answers to questions you have about special needs planning including:
- What is special needs planning?
- What should be part of a special needs plan?
- How can a special needs plan lawyer help?
What is Special Needs Planning?
Special needs planning means different things. It can mean making plans for the care of a disabled person, or it can mean making plans to provide financially for a person with a disability. In some cases, a plan provides for both physical care and financial support.
It is important for a parent or other caretaker to plan ahead for the physical care of the person with the disability if that person cannot live or make decisions independently. Without a plan in place, the disabled person could be assigned a guardian by the court and the person with the disability may not end up in an appropriate living situation or getting an appropriate level of support. Special needs planning is about making sure there is an appropriate plan in place and ensuring there is money available to pay to carry out that plan.
It is also important for anyone who wishes to give a gift to engage in special needs planning to ensure the gift doesn’t result in benefits being lost. Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are two common benefits programs relied upon frequently by people who have disabling conditions. Both programs have maximum limits on resources or assets a person can own. Exceeding these limits can mean a loss in benefits, which could be especially devastating financially if Medicaid is paying for costly care.
There are ways to structure a gift so it does not cause a disqualification in benefits. Special needs planning is about finding the way to make a financial contribution that enriches life for the person with the disability.
What Should Be Part of a Special Needs Plan?
The specifics of your special needs plan are going to be determine by your relationship with the person with the disability, as well as your goals for making a special needs plan. Your plan may need to include:
- The creation of a special needs trust. This is a very specific kind of trust aimed at allowing for money to be provided to meet the supplemental needs of a person with a disabling condition. Strict rules have to be followed on trust creation and on how the trust assets are used. For example, paying rent or giving cash or cash equivalents to the person with the disability is not permitted.
- Naming a guardian. Parents or caregivers can select who is going to take over guardianship of a person with a disability once the parents are gone.
- Arranging care for a person with a disability. Caregivers can find a group home or other appropriate living environment for a child or other loved one whose disability prevents independent living. Making plans in advance means there won’t need to be uncertainty regarding where the person with the disability will live after a caregiver has passed.
There may also be additional components of your special needs plan, depending upon your relationship with the person with the disability and the goals you are hoping to accomplish.
How Can a Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help?
If you have a person with a disabling condition who you care about, you should talk with an estate planning attorney from Nehoray and Drake, LLP to find out about the ways in which our legal team can help with your special needs planning. To find out more, give us a call today.