How a Special Needs Trust Can Help Your Child
March 5, 2011
You know how important it is to protect your family with an estate plan, but if you have a child with special needs then taking steps to protect them if something should happen to you is essential. Unfortunately, for families which include special needs children, knowing exactly the best way to protect your child(ren) isn’t always so clear. As Joe Perez, the widowed father of 14 year old Danny, and the subject of this article on the ABC News website found out, it’s not as simple as leaving your child with a good guardian and decent inheritance—special needs children need a little more planning than that.
You know what you want for your child, you want him to live as contentedly as possible, with loving guardians and engaged in activities which will bring pleasure and peace. But how can this dream be achieved on the limited assets that Medicaid recipients are allowed to have without losing their government benefits? How can responsible parents safely leave an inheritance to their special needs child? For many parents, part of the answer to that question is having a special needs trust.
Unfortunately, not all parents are aware of the benefits of a special needs trust, or how easy it can be to create one—with the right help. A special needs trust is the vessel that will hold your child’s inheritance (from you or from another source) without disrupting that child’s government benefits. It gives your child the funds they need beyond the basic living expenses provided by SSI or Medicaid.
If your family could benefit from a special needs trust, please contact our office for more information. A special needs trust is not the kind of document that can be found in a software package or created from a standard trust template. The needs of your child are unique, and should be addressed as such. For more information, click on “Special Needs Planning”.
Planning for the Future is Essential for Special Needs Families
September 23, 2010
If you have a special needs child, parent, or sibling then you know that planning for the future can be overwhelming under the best of circumstances; which is why so many parents and caretakers tend to live for today, while planning for tomorrow is always put off until… well, until tomorrow. But if planning and caring for your loved one is this difficult for you, can you imagine how difficult it would be for a friend or guardian if something were to happen to you? For this reason, the importance of planning for the care of your special needs loved one cannot be overstated.
Getting started with your planning can feel like climbing Mt. Everest at first, especially if you’re trying to navigate through government programs and federal financial aid. But as overwhelming as it can be in the beginning, with the right advisors the planning process can and should be a relieving and beneficial experience for all. The following article from CNN Money gives a few tips on how—and why—to begin planning for your special needs loved one.
If you would like to have a secure plan for the future but aren’t sure where to begin, perhaps the best way to start is to find an attorney in your area who specializes in Special Needs planning. The laws and requirements for government aid will vary from state to state, but more importantly, there is no substitute for a knowledgeable expert who will listen to your family’s unique story and help you blaze securely into the future. Click here for more on Special Needs Planning.
Helping the Special People in Your Life: The Special Needs Trust
August 20, 2009
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles often come into our offices to make estate plans, and one of the questions they ask is how they can support the people in their lives who have special needs. Special needs can include anything from Autism or Down Syndrome to Paralysis or blindness, and everything in between. These special needs family members may be receiving public benefits, such as SSI or Medi-Cal. Leaving money directly to them in a Will or Trust would, in most cases, bounce them off of such public benefits. A much better approach is to leave them a bequest in a way that will allow your special person to enjoy BOTH the public benefits upon which they rely AND your bequest. The way to do this is by leaving your gift in a Special Needs Trust.
Special needs trusts are not yet well-known, but they are gaining attention among attorneys, financial advisors, and in the mainstream media. They are permitted by both federal and state law, and recognize the need for families to “partnership” with government to improve the quality of life for the disabled. For Questions and Answers, and more information, visit our site at “Special Needs Planning”.
A Special Needs Trust can be useful for children or for disabled adults. It is a far better alternative than cutting your special person entirely out of your Will or Trust, simply to avoid jeopardizing their SSI or Medi-Cal benefits.
A special needs trust can mean the difference between living an enriched life and barely getting by. If you have someone in your life with special needs, inquire about a special needs trust as a way to leave an inheritance. It could make a world of difference.
New Website May Help Caregivers Breathe a Sigh of Relief
June 12, 2009
If you provide care for an elderly relative or a special needs child you know how much work is involved in just getting away for an afternoon or evening, let alone planning for their care if you were to pass away. First you have to find a caregiver qualified to handle your loved one’s more demanding needs, then there are lists upon lists of “what if” situations, a strict regimen of prescription medicines, and of course all of the little quirks and routines that must be strictly followed. And after all that, just when you feel comfortable leaving your loved one in the care of someone else… your “babysitter” moves away and you have to go through it all again.
What if there was a way that you could not only keep a record of all details, regimens and instructions, but also an easy way to update and communicate that information to any and all caregivers when anything changed? And would it be too much to ask to have this record somehow linked to all the latest research, resources and best-practice recommendations? Apparently it is not too much to ask, because this is exactly what the new online service, CareGiver360®, claims to provide.
CareGiver360® is the brainchild of Ken Ziel, father of a special needs son, who worried about what kind of life his son would have if anything were to happen to Ken. After much research, Ken started CareGiver360®, “an easy to use, interactive Web service that lets you create a secure Personalized Care Guide to help you manage the care of your loved one. CareGiver360® provides a wealth of caregiving resources through its searchable online library. You can draw upon this valuable resource to supplement your personal experience to create a customized, comprehensive care guide.”
CareGiver360® is a fairly new tool, but it sounds so good one has to wonder why nobody came up with the idea before. We would love to provide our clients and readers with helpful reviews, so if you’ve used the service please leave a comment letting us know how it worked for you. And we ought to mention that the service isn’t free, but at just under $10/month it’s probably not going to break the bank either.
Providing for the Special Heroes in Your Life
March 9, 2009
As an estate planning law firm we often have to take on the role of encouraging our clients to think and talk about difficult and sometimes sad issues. Sometimes, however, we have the joy of sharing something truly heartwarming. This video about autistic high school basketball player Jason McElwain is one of those things.
Check out the following website for more info: www.autism-society.org/
Many of our clients have children with special needs, and know that a basic estate plan is not going to have what it takes to protect and provide for those special needs after our clients have gone. If you have a child you would like to provide for, please contact our office to find out more.