Special Needs Planning
Individuals with disabilities often have special planning needs, as do their families. This law firm puts a special focus on helping people maximize their available resources while planning for future goals.
Planning for Adults with Disabilities
Whether someone has been disabled their entire life, or they become disabled due to an injury or illness, adults with disabilities have far more complex legal and financial situations than most people realize. We work with people to help them protect their legal rights, make the most of their financial resources, and protect their eligibility for needed benefits.
Planning for Children with Disabilities
Special needs planning by parents can make a big difference in the life of the child with a disability. A well-thought-out plan can also help that child’s siblings, who often carry the responsibility for future caretaking.
A special needs plan may include the following components:
A letter of intent
Adults with disabilities have the same rights that all that adults have. Whenever possible, it is the individual who should define what assistance he or she needs. For younger children and those with more severe disabilities, it is helpful for the parents to create a written statement of their wishes for their child’s care. They know him better than anyone else. They can explain what helps, what hurts, what scares their child, and what reassures him. Recording that information lets caregivers know what to do in an emergency.
A special needs trust
In most cases, an inheritance for an individual with disabilities should be in the form of a trust. A special needs planning attorney can design a trust to support a loved one with disabilities. When properly written, a special needs trust protects the beneficiary’s current or future eligibility for disability benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. The trustee, who manages the trust, is obligated to look out for the beneficiary’s best interests.
A parent of a child with special needs should consider whether their estate will be sufficient to meet their child’s future needs. A financial planner trained in special needs planning can help with this. Many parents consider buying life insurance to fund a trust set up for the child’s future support. What may look like a substantial sum to leave in trust today may run out after several years of paying for care that the parent had previously provided. The more resources available, the better the support that can be provided.
Representation and Mandate
Once someone turns 18, by law they have the authority to handle their personal affairs without interference from family. However, in some circumstances, an individual with disabilities may wish give authority to another person, such as a parent or spouse, to act on his behalf. A power of attorney gives someone authority to handle financial matters or make medical decisions for someone else. Alternately, sometimes it is appropriate to have the parish court authorize someone to act on behalf of the individual with disabilities. This is done through a continuing tutorship, or in rare situations, interdiction.