Gerald Winters, Esquire, CPA
Tips and Ideas to Support a Loved One with Special Needs
When your loved one has special needs, you know that there are many unique challenges you face that many others have never thought of before. Disability manifests in different forms for different people. Our experience has shown us throughout the years that no one case is identical to another, but that individuals with special needs need help from their loved ones, friends, and estate planning attorney. This Special Needs Law Month, our goal is to ensure that we are answering your questions.
We know that you may often feel alone as you try to protect and provide for your loved one. It can be hard to find assistance from financial, health care, and government benefit programs. Our goal is to provide education and advocacy to ensure that you know the steps you can take to protect your family.
Let us share with you the top tips and ideas we have heard from our clients, friends, and advisors, when it comes to planning for your loved one with a disability.
1. It is never too early to plan. We find that, unfortunately, many families do not plan early. Most of us do not want to think about a time when we are no longer here, and this is especially true when we are caring for a loved one with special needs. We want you to know that planning early can make the difference in protecting and preserving valuable benefits for your loved ones.
2. Do everything you can to avoid losing government benefits. Your disabled child or grandchild may be receiving important government benefits right now. These can include, but not be limited to, Medicaid and SSI benefits. You want to work with your estate planning attorney to ensure that the plans you are creating will not result in your loved one losing these benefits.
3. Build a supportive network in your community. You may be the primary caregiver for your loved one right now. What will he or she do if you are no longer here? Although it can be a terrifying thought, you want to plan ahead for this possibility. Who are the people in your community you can rely on? It may be friends, family members, health care providers, or local advocates, but put in the time now to build these relationships.
4. Utilize special needs planning in your estate planning. A traditional estate plan can have the unfortunate result of disqualifying a disabled person from benefits. As a recipient of public benefits, he or she cannot inherit from you in a traditional manner. You need to work with your estate planning attorney to add special needs planning language and trusts to your estate plan. Depending on where the money originates, from you or from the disabled individual him or herself, there are different trusts that exist to meet your needs.
5. Develop a relationship with an estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney can be the biggest advocate for your disabled loved one. He or she can help you create the plan that you need both now and in the future. Further, in the event of a crisis, he or she will be a resource who knows your goals for yourself and your loved one. Do not wait to build this critical relationship.
Preparing for the future of your loved one with special needs is of critical importance. We know just how challenging this can be. Our law firm is here to answer your questions and provide support and education to you and your family.