One particularly important part of estate planning involves developing tools that are designed to help those with special needs, or those who have physical or cognitive disabilities. When family members of people with disabilities consider their loved one’s future, they often worry that no one will be there to protect that person. For example, what will happen to your child with special needs once that child becomes an adult, or after you die?
Answering this type of question is what special needs planning is all about. To help give you a better understanding of what the special needs planning process looks like, what it does, and why it is important to help develop a plan as soon as possible, let’s take a look at some essential issues and questions.
What is a special needs plan?
A special needs plan is a collection of tools designed to provide for the needs of people with disabilities. All special needs plans have to look at the abilities of the individual, as well as his or her family members, and then evaluate what legal options will provide assistance to the person with disabilities. This process can take time and involve weighing a variety of factors.
What kinds of special needs planning tools are available?
That really depends on the circumstances of each individual case. In some situations, for example, parents of special needs children can establish a special needs trust. The special needs trust is a specific kind of trust designed to allow parents, or other family members, of a person with disabilities the ability to give that person an income or provide that person with property.
At the same time, because the property or income given to the person with special needs by his or her loved ones is owned by a trust, the person with disabilities is not considered the legal owner of that property. Therefore, the person with disabilities can still take advantage of any available public or government assistance programs that might be able to provide additional benefits. The special needs trust is important because otherwise, if the person with disabilities actually inherited or owned the property, this would likely prevent that person from receiving the available public assistance benefits because those benefits have income and asset restrictions associated with them.
Who needs a special needs plan?
Though most people who establish a special needs plan are parents of children with disabilities, almost anyone can come to need the protections afforded by these plans. For example, if your spouse is involved in an accident and develops a cognitive or physical disability, you might need to create a special needs plan in order to protect you and your spouse’s interests.
If you’d like more information about special needs plans or have questions on how to get started, you should contact us as soon as possible.
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