How to Avoid Jeopardizing Government Benefits for Family Members With Special Needs: The goal of special-needs estate planning is to provide for loved ones with disabilities when you are no longer there to organize and advocate on their behalf. Apart from the standard estate planning documents that most people are familiar with — such as wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives — parents of a special-needs child often have additional considerations that can only be addressed in certain legal documents.
A special-needs trust—sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust”—provides for the needs of a disabled person without disqualifying him or her from the benefits received from government programs such as Social Security and Medicaid. A supplemental needs trust enables a person that has a physical or mental disability, or an individual with a chronic or acquired illness, to have an unlimited amount of assets — held in trust for his or her benefit. In a properly drafted supplemental needs trust, assets are not considered “countable” assets for purposes of qualification for certain government benefits.
Such benefits may include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing, and other benefits based on need. For purposes of a supplemental needs trust, an individual is considered impoverished if his or her personal assets are less than $2,000.
A supplemental-needs trust provides for supplemental and extra care over and above that which the government provides.
Special-needs planning encompasses many areas of law, such as trusts and estates, public benefits law, and health care law. Planning for the future of an individual with special needs requires an in-depth knowledge of the federal laws as they pertain to government eligibility and legal documentation. There are important financial considerations, as well, for providing not just lifetime care, but also for an individual’s quality of life.
Special-needs estate planning requires a delicate balance of resources — and careful consideration of each family’s unique circumstances. As an experienced attorney in estate planning, Jim Ward assists his clients in developing special-needs trusts, wills, letters of intent, health care directives, powers of attorney and other means of ensuring that loved ones will enjoy a lifetime of care, assistance and financial security.
Don’t hesitate to call us today for a free assessment — 1-800-JIM-WARD.