When an individual has physical or mental disabilities which prevent him from making or managing money, special care must be taken to ensure the individual is provided for. Sometimes, the disability results from an accident or injury and the funds from a personal injury settlement should be used to provide care. In other situations, a friend or a relative may wish to make an inter vivos gift or to leave money to the person with a disability in a last will and testament. Whenever a person with special needs will be receiving money from any source, special needs planning is required. An advance plan may also need to be created by caregivers to ensure that a person with a disability is secure.
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Kulas & Crawford provides assistance with special needs planning in the Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach areas. If you need an attorney to help you understand the law, make informed choices and protect a person with special needs who you love, we are here. Reach out to our legal team today to learn more about how a special needs planning lawyer can offer personalized advice and to get answers to your questions including:
- Why is special planning necessary for someone who is disabled?
- What types of special needs planning tools are available?
- How can a special needs planning lawyer help?
Why is Special Needs Planning Necessary?
A person who is severely disabled will not typically be able to earn any income in order to be self-supporting. A person with special needs may also be unable to manage money when it is given to him in an inheritance or as a gift, or when money is received as part of a personal injury settlement. A special needs plan involves making sure a person with a disability is provided for financially and making sure the money to fulfill that goal is carefully managed.
When a person with a disability inherits money, is given a gift, or gets an injury settlement, it will be important to determine who is in charge of ensuring the money is well spent and what the money should be spent on. There is, however, also another very important reason why creating a detailed and comprehensive plan for the transfer of money is important. If money or assets are transferred to a person with special needs directly, this could cause a loss of access to government benefits.
Many individuals with disabilities have their medical needs paid for by Medicaid, and they have income coming in as a result of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provided by the Social Security Administration. These benefit programs are means tested, so a transfer of money or assets could result in disqualification from receiving the benefits.
This means the money, which should have been used to enrich the individual’s quality of life, would instead be spent on medical care and basic costs of living. The money would likely run out quickly if the person with special needs had high medical expenses, and he or she could be put into a position of needing to re-apply to benefits while having none of the assets remaining.
What Types of Tools Help with Special Needs Planning?
The most common type of special needs planning involves the creation of a special needs trust. This trust will be the legal owner of the money and assets given to the disabled individual, so the individual is not the owner of the property. With the right type of trust, the assets will not count for purposes of determining eligibility for government benefits, so access to Medicaid, SSI, or other benefits will not be affected. A trustee can also be named to manage assets in the trust and to use them appropriately to provide for the individual with special needs.
A comprehensive plan may also include making other provisions for the care of the disabled person, as well as specifying what the trust should be used to provide. An attorney can help you to determine what, specifically, should be in the plan that you create.
How can a Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help?
Kulas & Crawford provides compassionate and knowledgeable representation to parents, caregivers and friends of someone who is has special needs. Our legal team cares deeply about helping our clients to provide for and protect friends and relatives.
If you are located in Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Florida or the surrounding areas and you want to ensure that a person with a disability who you care about will always be cared for, give us a call at 772-398-0720 or contact us online so we can get started on the creation of a comprehensive special needs plan.