We often don’t think of Elder Law and Estate Planning when we talk about planning for the disabled. In fact, planning for someone with a disability is a large part of many elder law and estate planning practices.
All parents who have a child with special needs should do real planning such as purchasing life insurance, having a trust, doing a life care plan etc. That is because the central issue in planning for someone with special needs is leaving the individual money in a way that will not interfere with any public benefits (such as Medicaid) the individual is receiving. Often persons with special needs have high medical bills and Medicaid is crucial to their good care.
But grandparents and other family members need to also be mindful that the gifts they may give during lifetime, or at their death, can interfere with public benefits and really mess up the grandchild’s benefits and the parents’ plans. That’s why we encourage parents to also coordinate with other family members who may want to provide for the individual with special needs.
Family members can provide for their disabled family member by creating a Special Needs Trust. They are a great tool for ensuring that the public benefits are protected; and yet not disinheriting the individual, as we would have done before Special Needs Trusts. They are called “Special Needs Trusts” because the document will ordinarily provide that the assets be used only for needs above and beyond what public benefits provide. They are, however, flexible documents and are tailored to your family’s unique circumstances.
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