Effective estate planning can contemplate a variety of scenarios. Providing for the needs of a person with a disability can be a great source of anxiety for families. Not only must they consider the impact the receipt of assets may have on benefits, but they must consider where a loved one will reside and the how care will be received. As a result, a true plan involves more than just a special needs trust, it requires an analysis of funding options, which include family assets, public benefits, and other resources available to provide the quality of life desired for a loved one.
A Virginia Beach special needs planning lawyer could not only help you to craft a special needs trust, but also develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the current and future needs of a loved one with a disability. While such a plan requires an understanding of financial options, public benefits laws, tax laws, local resources, and the laws pertaining to special needs trusts, a practitioner must also understand a client’s disability, the resulting abilities and limitations, and their goals. A skilled attorney is ready to guide you through this planning process.
A Trust Can Provide for the Needs of Others
Children and adults with special needs often rely on public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Medicare, and Medicare to provide for their basic needs and healthcare. While these benefits are often critical means of support, loved ones understand the necessity of providing long-term continued support in the wake of their inability to provide such in the event of their own personal disability or at the time of their death. Because these programs may be income or asset tested, families must avoid using traditional means, such as a Will or beneficiary designations, to pass assets to a person with special needs.
Such plans often require a special needs trust. These trusts, which are governed by federal law, are excluded as a resource, thereby allowing families to provide continued financial support to a child or adult with special needs, without disrupting essential benefits. There are multiple types of special needs trusts, and the laws governing the administration of special needs trusts are complex. It is best to navigate these scenarios with a special needs planning attorney in Virginia Beach that has a thorough understanding of the intricacies involved to ensure a proper plan in developed. Additionally, a lawyer can help advise on proper distributions from a special needs trust to maximize public benefits.
Special Needs Planning is More Than Just a Trust
While it is almost universally true that a well thought out plan must be made to support a child, many adults, due to either mental or physical limitations, require a similar plan of support. While special needs trusts is an important tool, special needs planning is more than just a trust.
The needs of a person with a disability is just as diverse as the disability world itself; however, there are concerns common among families. While young, families often provide much of the day-to-day support on their own and serve as advocates to ensure their child receives an appropriate education and ancillary services necessary to remain in the community. When a child with special needs reaches adulthood, there is a new range of planning that is necessary.
Just like anyone attaining the age of majority, a parent’s rights to handle certain matters comes to an end. Although the law provides parents the right to manage certain healthcare maters after a child becomes an adult, there may be roadblocks. It is therefore imperative a power of attorney is implemented to ensure continued support in decision-making, if the individual has the capacity to do so, or in default thereof, that a guardianship and conservatorship be established to ensure families can continue to make decisions necessary for personal and financial management.
Additionally, the parental duty of support imposed by public benefit agencies, often referred to as deeming, ends. As a result, families must navigate the maze of Social Security and Medicaid to attain benefits critical to a lifetime of support. Many families do not fully understand the rules associated with eligibility or what their loved one may qualify for, let alone the importance of applying for benefits as soon as possible to avoid disrupting dependent and survivor benefits available for dependent children.
Families must also consider who will provide care and where a loved one with a disability will reside when they are unable to provide such themselves. While other family members may step up and assist, when necessary, certain benefits exist that will allow for supportive care and residency. Families must assess the available options to determine whether care should be continued in the family home, other inclusive residential setting, or long-term care facility.
There are additional tools, such as ABLE accounts, that may also be utilized as part of a comprehensive plan to maximize benefits. This is particularly true if a person with special needs receives a small windfall or is unable to afford their own food and shelter. It is, however, important to understand the limitations of this tool and how best to incorporate into an overall plan.
A special needs planning attorney in Virginia Beach can help navigate these areas, and provide advice related to attaining and maintaining eligibility so as to maximize critical means-tested benefit for a secure future.
Reach Out to a Virginia Beach Special Needs Planning Attorney Today
Caring for the needs of those unable to perform this role themselves is at the top of many people’s priorities for the future. Unfortunately, this often becomes more complicated when the primary caregiver or decision-maker ages or dies. When you are responsible for the well-being of another who cannot care for themselves, it is imperative that a comprehensive and holistic plan be developed.
Creating a special needs trust enables people to pass on assets and necessary financial resources while also preserving means-tested public benefits. A special needs trust places directs assets into an account that is managed by a trustee, who will distribute property to the beneficiary to supplement other resources. The appointed trustee has a duty under the law to perform this role according to the terms of the trust. A Virginia Beach special needs planning lawyer can help you develop a special needs trust into an overarching plan of care for you or a loved one. Call today to learn more about your legal options.