Helping Clients with Special Needs Planning & Trusts
When it comes to estate planning involving a loved one, a child or other family member with special needs, there are unique issues and techniques that should be considered. The proper approach to special needs planning involves not only using the tools available but understanding how the tools fit into ensuring a life of quality and meaning for your loved ones.
The estate planning attorneys at Frame & Frame have substantial experience in helping families with special needs planning. We can assist in creating a special needs trust, allowing for family members to contribute towards the future needs of a child with special needs. Our lawyers understand how important it is for a child with special needs to be considered as part of the discussions and planning process. To that end, we can review guardianship and its alternatives with someone approaching the age of eighteen, such as financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney. We can also examine public benefit eligibility issues and the ability to use an ABLE account. We can work with you and your family to put a plan in place, and bring peace of mind to all involved.
We are resources on a wealth of special needs planning topics, including public benefit eligibility, the various types of special needs trusts that are available, and the best way to select a trustee or fiduciary to help make your plan a success. The attorneys at Frame & Frame can also be a resource to a trustee that is seeking advice on how to manage their fiduciary responsibilities or how to handle an issue with a trust beneficiary.
Specifically, what is a special needs trust, and how can it allow an individual to provide for a loved one with a lifelong disability? A Maryland special needs trust attorney can discuss your situation with you and can help you to develop a trust that meets your and your family’s needs.
What is a Special Needs Trust in Maryland?
A special needs trust is a particular kind of trust that is set up by one person for the benefit of another person who has an incapacitating disability. Whether that individual has a physical, mental, or a developmental disability, a special needs trust can help. In short, the beneficiary of this kind of trust has special needs, and the trust is designed to provide financial resources for that beneficiary. Special needs trusts typically are tailored specifically to the requirements of the beneficiary for whom the trust is created.
A Maryland special needs trusts attorney can explain some of the benefits of such a trust in more detail.
Inheritance or Settlements for Families with Special Needs
We often provide guidance related to personal injury settlements, inheritance, and other windfalls for families with special needs. It’s so important to understand what options may be available. Often, a well-intentioned family member will leave assets or money to a person with special needs to provide for their care. However, this is not always the best option as it can affect their ability to qualify for government assistance programs. Our estate planning attorneys are specialists in the laws that impact families with special needs. Our lawyers can advise you and your loved ones on the best way to handle inherited assets, while ensuring your special needs family member remains eligible for applicable public benefit programs. Make sure your wishes can be carried out in accordance with the law and the best interest of your special needs person. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation to start the conversation.
Why Do I Need a Special Needs Trust?
Many beneficiaries of special needs trusts are eligible for government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). As such, it is often important to provide benefits to a special needs individual through a trust instead of through a will so that the beneficiary can remain eligible for these additional forms of assistance. Why would a special needs trust be beneficial in relation to government benefits? In short, if the special needs individual receives assets or property through a will, she or he could have to list that inheritance as income, which could be disqualifying for government benefits like Medicaid and SSI. By providing the same assets and property through a special needs trust, you can ensure that the beneficiary will remain eligible for these government programs.
Even if your disabled child or other family members does not currently require benefits from government assistance programs, a special needs trust an still be tailored to provide specifically for the unique needs of the beneficiary, addressing financial necessities and needs such as:
- Personal care attendant costs;
- Medical expenses;
- Educational expenses;
- Physical therapy needs;
- Individual product and service needs; and
- Recreational activities.
Although the beneficiary may not currently require government benefits, it is important to plan ahead. By setting up a trust with help from an estate planning attorney, you can ensure that your loved one will be provided for in the years to come.
Special Needs Planning is Life Planning
As you look to the future for your loved one with special needs, obtaining public benefits and protecting assets are critical, but the true goal is to provide for a life of quality, the support of loved ones and the support from a super hero team, along with the ability to contribute meaningfully and with a purpose. What makes for a good life is personal, so we work with you and your family to figure out what that might mean to them and to you. We help to identify and assemble the superhero team that will be there to ensure the planning works, now and in the future. This team might be made up of family members, neighbors, professional colleagues or mentors, religious figures, third-party agencies, attorneys, financial advisors, and other professionals. Diversifying this team helps build in resources, continuity and a group of advocates that help support you and your loved one with disabilities as time moves on.
A letter of intent is an important tool in planning for the future. A letter of intent is not a legal document, like a will or a power of attorney, but rather it is a document that can capture information about your loved one so that those in your superhero team who may not know your loved one’s history, connections, preferences, and goals are able to quickly get up to speed. When properly utilized, a letter of intent is treated as a living and ever-changing document, updated as your family member with disabilities changes. A letter of intent may include important family history, contact information for superhero teammates or other potential advocates, likes and dislikes, religious wishes, effective and not effective communication methods, and other personal and systematic information that may otherwise be taken for granted. The attorneys at Frame & Frame can help you prepare a letter of intent to include in your own estate plan.
Who Will Administer the Trust?
In many cases, a special needs trust is established as a safeguard in the event that a parent, spouse or primary caregiver is incapacitated or passes and therefore, no longer able to care for the family member with special needs. But, in these cases, it may be wise to consider who will administer the trust. The estate planning and trust attorneys at Frame & Frame often serve as a trustee to provide trust administration and fiduciary services. This can provide immense peace of mind to all family members.
Get Started Today!
The most important step you can take in learning more about creating your special needs estate plan is to get started. Thinking about your death or how to ensure your loved one with special needs can be a difficult experience but having a thorough plan in place can help bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones. Get started by downloading free legal guides or scheduling a consultation.