Every adult should have a comprehensive estate plan in place; however, the need for estate planning is heightened when you include someone with special needs among your loved ones. Not only does it become more important to have an estate plan in place, but increased care must be exercised in the creation of that plan to ensure that your loved one does not lose eligibility for crucial state and federal assistance programs. The key is to work closely with an experienced Special Needs Planning attorney during the formation of your estate plan.
At Levine, Furman & Rubin, LLC our caring, compassionate, and competent attorneys are dedicated to helping you create an estate plan that includes Special Needs Planning strategies and tools to ensure that your loved one is well cared for now and in the future.
Why Special Needs Planning Is Important
If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you undoubtedly worry about your child’s future. Fortunately, many children with special needs are able to live relatively independent lives when they reach adulthood; however, most will continue to need specialized care. That specialized care can be costly, as you likely know. While you may wish to continue to contribute financially to your child’s care, doing so could jeopardize eligibility for much needed assistance programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The good news is that through careful estate planning you can contribute to your child’s care while you are alive and after you are gone.
The Problem with Direct Gifting
The law with consider your child to be an adult when he or she reaches the age of 18 without regard to your child’s abilities or functional level. That means that your child’s income and resources will be considered when determining eligibility for programs that provide health care coverage and much needed monetary assistance.
Consequently, giving your child money or assets while you are alive could lead to disqualification. Likewise, leaving directs gifts to your child in your estate plan could also cause your child to lose his or her eligibility for assistance. The solution can be found in Special Needs Planning strategies that are incorporated into a comprehensive estate plan.
A Special Needs Trust May Be the Answer
For many parents, and other loved ones, the answer to the eligibility conundrum can be found in a Special Needs Trust, also referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust. When drafted properly, a Special Needs Trust allows you to designate assets to be used for the care and maintenance of an individual with special needs without the risk of losing eligibility for state and federal assistance programs.
Assets held in a Special Needs Trust may be used to supplement the care and maintenance provided by programs such as Medicaid and SSI. Very specific language must be used to ensure that a trust is recognized as a Special Needs Trust so that the assets held in the trust are not counted when determining eligibility for assistance programs. This is one of the many reasons why you should work closely with an experienced Special Needs Planning attorney during the creation of your estate plan.
The East Brunswick Special Needs Planning attorneys at Levine, Furman & Rubin, LLC understand how complicated estate planning can be when you have a loved one with special needs that must be included in your planning. We are committed to helping you develop an estate plan that ensures your loved one will benefit from your financial support throughout your lifetime and after your death. Contact the team today by calling 732-238-6000 or by filling out our online contact form.