Special Needs Planning
Caring for a loved one who is physically or developmentally disabled is a struggle both emotionally and financially. Not only are you dealing with the day to day concerns of relating to financial, social and medical medical needs, you have to worry about who will care for my loved one after you are gone. We can help you find the assistance you need now, and show you how to ensure your special needs loved one will be well cared for after you are gone or are no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
How do we help you accomplish these goals? We begin by working closely with you to understand your top priorities and overall family objectives, as well as analyzing your current financial situation. This allows us to determine what benefits are available in light of your specific situation, and what legal strategies we can use to maximize these benefits today and prepare for the future care of your special needs child tomorrow. Then, we will use our experience, knowledge of the law and close relationships with numerous private and public agencies, professionals and other service providers to secure your financial assistance and implement your plan. Finally, we can review your plan periodically to take into account any changes in your financial, family or medical situation.
The ultimate benefit for you and other family members of having a comprehensive special needs plan in place is the peace of mind that comes from knowing your special needs child will receive the best possible care for the rest of his or her life.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust, is one of the most powerful tool to help accomplish your goals. A Special Needs Trust is a trust that can supplement the needs of a special needs beneficiary while allowing the beneficiary to maintain his or her governmental benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security and Medicaid. With medical advancements, persons with disabilities are living longer and public benefits are often necessary, yet there is no guarantee that public benefits will provide adequate resources over the disabled person’s lifetime, or that existing public agencies will continue to provide acceptable services and advocacy over a disabled person’s lifetime.
If the special needs trust is established by you or someone other than the disabled person and the disabled person does not have the legal right to demand trust assets, the trust is not considered a ‘countable resource’ for purposes of government benefits. Therefore, the special needs trust beneficiary can continue to receive benefits even though he or she is a trust beneficiary. The trust will give the trustee the discretion to make distributions to the beneficiary to the extent possible without reducing benefits, and trust assets are available if the beneficiary no longer qualifies for governmental assistance or that assistance is no longer available.
If the trust is established on the beneficiary’s behalf pursuant to court order, for example as part of a personal injury settlement, the trust will not impact the beneficiary’s eligibility, but it may need to include a ‘payback’ provision that reimburses the state for its assistance before trust assets pass to the trust’s other beneficiaries.
Common savings vehicles for children, like Uniform Transfer to Minor Acts (UTMA) accounts, typical trusts, or designating a retirement plan, insurance policy or annuity directly to an SSI or Medicaid recipient will cause a reduction or elimination of public benefits. Recognizing this, some parents make the difficult decision to disinherit their special needs children, but this severe action is unnecessary.
South Florida Elder Law Attorney Gail M. Fisher
Our Offices are located in Plantation, Florida. We serve the South Florida Cities of
North Miami Beach
Sunny Isles Beach
West Palm Beach
8551 West Sunrise Blvd, Suite 300
Plantation, FL 33322
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