Special Needs Planning
If you have a loved one with a disability and want to provide for them during your lifetime or after your death, you have to take special care to protect any assets you give them so that you do not disrupt any existing government benefits. If the disabled person is applying for or receiving government benefits (such as Medicaid or SSI), his or her benefits may be in danger if he or she receives an inheritance. If you plan to gift or leave money to a loved one with a disability, it is critical that you work closely with an attorney specializing in Special Needs Planning in order to be sure that your generous gift does not put your loved one’s government benefits in danger.
Special Needs Planning may involve one or more of the following types of services:
• Providing for a person with special needs in your Will or Trust
• Setting up a Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust
• Strategizing and implementing asset protection and preservation plans for loved ones with a disability or in need of long-term care
• Assisting with long-term care Medicaid applications and appeals
• Applying for guardianship or guardian advocacy
Supplemental Needs Trusts
Disabled individuals are typically entitled to certain benefits provided by the federal government, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Although these benefits are crucial for the disabled person, they are often insufficient and will not cover all of his or her expenses or needs.
Typically, loved ones provide for these additional needs by paying out of pocket for expenses that are not covered by government benefits. But how do you make sure your loved one is provided for after your passing or during your incapacity? Previously, people often felt that they had to disinherit a disabled child or loved one and hope that others would continue to provide for him or her. That type of planning does not ensure that your disabled loved one will continue to receive the proper care and puts undue burden on your other beneficiaries. By leaving an inheritance, or making lifetime gifts, to a Supplemental Needs Trust, your assets will be protected and the Trustee will continue to provide for the disabled person’s expenses while still maintaining his or her necessary government benefits. It is important to work with an attorney experienced in this type of planning to be sure that government benefits are not disrupted. DeBellis Law, P.A. will work closely with you to determine your goals and make sure that your loved ones are provided for.
If a person with a disability receives a personal injury judgement or settlement, DeBellis Law, P.A. can also help you create a Supplemental Needs Trust that will protect that settlement for the disabled person’s lifetime and still allow him or her to continue to receive government benefits.