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Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late – Plan Now For The Future of Your Special Needs Loved One

Plan for loved ones with special needs

If you have a beneficiary who has a disability (i.e. Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis) or special needs (i.e. Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Intellectual Disability), you do not need to disinherit that person.  After all, you want to improve the quality of that person’s life and care by leaving them an inheritance.  There is a safe way to plan ahead that will not affect the beneficiary’s entitlement to government benefits such as Medicaid and SSI and simultaneously create a system for proper management of the inheritance.

A special needs trust can protect the beneficiary’s inheritance.  The person who wants to leave the inheritance (i.e. parent, grandparent, sibling) should consult with an elder law attorney to determine whether the special needs trust should be created in a Last Will & Testament or a revocable Trust.  The elder law attorney will need you to decide:

  • Who will serve as the primary Trustee of the special needs trust?
  • Who will serve as alternate Trustee if the primary Trustee becomes sick, incapacitated, dies, or resigns?
  • Do you want your Trustee to be compensated for their time and service? If so, do you want the Trustee to be paid an hourly rate, a set sum, or a percentage of the value of the trust?
  • Who (person or charity) will inherit the remaining trust assets when the beneficiary dies?

When the person creating the special needs trust does not have a legal duty to support the beneficiary, there is no legal obligation to repay the Medicaid agency from the trust when the beneficiary dies.

Before meeting with the elder law attorney, it is helpful for you to have:

  • Proof of age of the beneficiary;
  • Proof of government benefits (i.e. Medicaid notice, Social Security benefit notice);
  • Current address and telephone number for the beneficiary or the person who has legal authority to make decisions for the beneficiary;
  • An idea of which assets or what sum/percentage you wish to leave to this beneficiary’s special needs trust.

In order for the administration of the special needs trust to be successful, it is important that the Trustee receive guidance from an elder law attorney who has experience with special needs trusts, government benefits, and fiduciary requirements.

I welcome the opportunity to help you create a special needs trust to meet your and your beneficiary’s goals.

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