Cary Special Needs Planning Lawyer Helping Families Protect Your Loved Ones
Estate planning is always complex, but this is especially true if you have a family member with special needs. Many disabled people rely on their loved ones for help on a regular basis. If you are a caregiver, it’s important to put an estate plan in place that ensures your loved ones with special needs are cared for after your death. Special needs estate planning can also help in the event that you are unexpectedly disabled and unable to care for yourself or your loved ones. No one knows what the future holds, but the Cary special needs planning attorneys at NC Planning can help you prepare for it. If you are ready to create an estate plan, contact our attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your unique situation. Our attorneys for special needs trust Cary can help you ensure your loved one is well-taken care of for life.
What Are the Benefits of Special Needs Planning?
While a child’s financial future can be daunting enough for a parent, if that child has special needs, additional anxiety is added. Parents worry about who will care for the child and how the child’s needs will continue to be met into adulthood if the parents are no longer alive. A comprehensive special needs trust will usually incorporate long-term residential options, surrogate decision-making authority, and a discussion regarding how the trust will be funded.
Funding generally centers around the incorporation of private assets, but may also incorporate income “streams,” including Social Security, Medicaid waivers, or federal employee benefits. Medicaid is a program that can provide health coverage and much more, however a person’s financial resources are limited if they want to take advantage of Medicaid. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid may no longer be the coverage of choice for those with disabilities This is a subject you should discuss with your special needs planning attorney Cary to determine how the trust should be structured. Benefits of special needs planning include:
- Your special needs child remains eligible for government benefits while any care over and above what is provided by the government can be provided through the trust.
- Funds from a special needs trust are not available to creditors and cannot be accessed to pay a judgment.
- There is no worrying about whether funds left for the benefit of the special needs child are actually used for that purpose.
Disadvantages of a Special Needs Trust
There are few disadvantages of a special needs trust, although cost could potentially be one of them. There can be annual costs to manage the trust, and, in specific cases, there are minimum amounts required to set up a special needs trust. The beneficiary of the special needs trust may not like the fact that the trustee has complete discretion in granting financial requests. This means the special needs individual has little control over the use of their money which can lead to frustration. Finally, once the special needs individual dies or the trust is legally terminated, Medicaid may require payback from the remaining funds.
Is Your Loved One with Special Needs Eligible for Government Benefits?
Your loved one with special needs may qualify for certain government benefits, including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Medicaid provides health insurance benefits to disabled individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements. If your loved one qualifies for Medicaid, this program may cover the cost of medical care and other health-related expenses.
Your loved one may also qualify for SNAP, which are benefits that can be used to purchase specific food items in retail stores. Finally, many people with special needs qualify for SSI benefits, which are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are paid monthly to eligible disabled individuals.
There are some government benefits that are not based on financial need, including Social Security, Social Security Disability, dependent benefits under federal retirement systems (military survivor benefits or civil service survivor benefits), and Medicare. Benefits that are needs-dependent include:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), provides a minimal income to an individual for expenses related to food and shelter. Unlike Social Security, eligibility for SSI is not based on the individual’s work record. Eligibility requires the individual to be disabled, age 65 or older, or blind, as well as a United States citizen, and not a resident of a public institution.
- Medicaid, including CHIPS, Medicaid Expansion, and Age, Blind, and Disabled Medicaid, are all dependent on income and assets. Under Medicaid waiver programs, community-based care services may be provided, as well as residential services through assisted living facilities or group homes.
- Housing Choice Voucher Program Under Section 8 can assist with monthly housing costs. Section 8 will pay a portion of monthly housing costs and is administered by a Public Housing Agency.
How Can Creating A Special Needs Trust Benefit Your Loved Ones?
Your loved one may currently qualify for the government benefits mentioned above, but that could change if they receive an inheritance from you after your death. Medicaid, SNAP, and SSI are all needs-based programs. This means that disabled individuals will not qualify for these benefits unless they can prove that they have limited financial resources.
If your loved one inherits cash or other assets from you, they may no longer qualify for these programs. If your loved one has special needs, it’s important to put a plan in place that will provide for them without forcing them to sacrifice their government benefits. A special needs trust can help you achieve this goal.
The person you appoint as trustee will be responsible for managing the trust and spending the money on behalf of your loved one with special needs. This ensures that your loved one with special needs will be provided for, but since the money is not technically in their name, the special needs trust will not affect their eligibility for government benefits. If your loved one has special needs, it’s imperative to create a special needs trust with the help of an attorney.
Why Is It Important to Name A Guardian in Your Estate Plan?
Another issue that should be addressed in your special needs estate plan is guardianship. If you have a minor child with special needs, it’s important to appoint a guardian in your estate plan. This person will be responsible for caring for your minor child in the event that you and your child’s other parent both pass away unexpectedly. If you fail to include this in your estate plan, the court will have the power to name a guardian for your child after your death. Don’t leave this important decision up to the court—create an estate plan that addresses this issue with the help of our attorneys.
Why Do You Need Attorneys for Special Needs Trusts Cary?
Setting up a special needs trust and engaging in special needs planning on your own is generally not advisable. There are many complexities associated with a special needs trust that an attorney will know about and understand while you may not. Your attorney for special needs trusts Cary can assist you with all issues related to special needs planning.
- Your attorney will have a deep knowledge regarding which legal documents are required to ensure continuity of care for your special needs child. These legal documents may include a health care proxy, guardianship documents, and/or powers of attorney documents.
- A comprehensive care plan can be established by your attorney that allows a named individual to step in and take over the day-to-day care of your disabled child in the event of your death.
- Your attorney offers guidance related to federal and state benefit programs as well as how to set up regular contributions for the care of your special needs child that will not impact their program eligibility.
- Help in creating a financial safety net for your special needs child through other types of trusts and accounts can be accomplished with your attorney’s experience and knowledge.
- Your special needs attorney will have access to other community resources that can benefit your special needs child.
What Are Some Common Issues Associated with Special Needs Planning?
One of the primary issues associated with special needs planning lies in the assumption that families of means can access programs on a private-pay basis. Many necessary, beneficial programs and services are unavailable on a private-pay basis. If money is simply left to the special needs child without being in a special needs trust, accessing the necessary services can result in the money being drained while the individual still requires care.
As an example, some community-based living arrangements require financial eligibility for SSI or Medicaid waiver programs. Other high-quality life skills programs also require financial eligibility. Additionally, most families with a special needs child understand that caring for the child is a team effort. Having an experienced estate planning team from NC Planning ensures this team effort will continue for as long as the special needs child requires assistance.
How NC Planning Will Help You Plan for the Road Ahead
Everyone can benefit from estate planning, especially people who have loved ones with special needs. As a caretaker, you have a responsibility to put a plan in place that ensures your loved one with special needs is properly cared for in the event of your death or disability. You may think that you have plenty of time to put this type of plan in place, but the truth is that it’s never too early to start planning ahead. Don’t wait any longer—take the first step towards creating a plan by contacting our attorneys today.
We are ready to help you protect and plan for your family’s future. We make this planning process as easy as possible to understand and accomplish. We are dedicated to a team approach and dedicated to building long-term attorney-client relationships. We are problem-solvers who implement innovative, practical solutions along with sound legal advice.
With meticulous attention to detail, we will craft a special needs estate plan that is specific to you and your situation. Contact our attorneys and tell us more about your situation by giving us a call at (919) 900-4720 to begin preparing for the unexpected before it’s too late.