Special Needs Planning
People worry about the financial implications of having a family member such as a child, a spouse with special needs; they often don't have the time or energy to address those issues, especially planning the future. Special planning needs is a critical important task to facilitate, including educating themselves on feasible options. It is critical, especially because “typical” financial planning rules may not apply. At Knappmann Law, we walk parents, spouses and family members through the special needs financial planning process so that everyone, from siblings to future caregivers, have a thorough understanding of the life care plan of the child/family member. Parents receive a written long-term comprehensive financial plan that provides a step-by-step path to follow, helping to ensure that their child's/family member’s needs – and the money and untapped resources to pay for them – These plans are designed to continue through for the child's, spouse, or family member's lifetime. We even strategize through cash flow analysis and make way for "what if” scenarios.
Special needs planning encompasses lifestyle preferences, legal issues, special needs trust funds, general estate planning, guardianship, conservatorship, powers of attorney, elder law, aid and attendance, VA benefits, navigating through the maze of disability services, accessing treatment for your child or an adult family member with disabilities. Knappmann Law's Estate Planning & Elder Law Division is well versed in these inter-related crossover legalities.
What to do...
Special Needs Planning
Start as soon as possible to avoid important decisions being made for the individual with disabilities by government agencies, the state, and the courts.
Lifestyle preferences, financial security, legal issues, and qualifying government benefits and access to government benefits should all be considered during the planning process.
A special needs trust, prepared by a professional with experience in estate and future needs planning for persons with disabilities, can preserve government benefits and avoid the loss of assets intended for the person with disabilities.
A letter of intent creates a record of critical information about the day-to-day care needs, abilities, diet, activities, rights, and medical care for the person with a disability.
Upon attaining age 18, individuals with disabilities are emancipated adults under the law. Which leaves the parents or primary caregivers without any authority to act on the person's behalf. Understanding your legal options pertaining to guardianship and conservatorship are an important part of planning.
A guardian is a legally appointed person responsible for the care and decisions made on behalf of a person deemed unable to manage certain necessary functions for themselves. A conservator manages the person's financial affairs. A trustee manages the trust established for the individual. The same person can serve in one or all capacities.
Starting special needs planning early enables the family to build the Special Needs Trust fund and make plans that will serve the individual with disabilities well for years to come. Again, planning can save not only money, but ensure the quality of a life!
Warning...The government will make the decisions for you, and can leach your assets! If you do not plan special needs, not only will your assets be unprotected, but what you consider the best plan for the special needs recipient, may not be fulfilled.
-Your children/family member will have guardians, trustees, and conservators appointed by the State in which they live.
-Your estate will be distributed according to the wishes of the State, not yours.
-If any assets that are received in the name of the person with special needs exceeds $2000, they will be ineligible for SSI (Social Security Insurance) cash benefits and Medicaid.
-Assets received in the name of the person with special needs are subject to immediate repayment to Medicaid for healthcare benefits previously received.
-Medicare may be the only healthcare benefit the person with special needs receives which does not offer the same benefits as Medicaid.
-Assets left to others to care for the person with special needs could be lost to creditors, litigation, divorce or their death. There is no guaranteed security or protection.
-Support provided by others for the person with special needs could be considered income and/or assets reducing or terminating SSI and Medicaid.
-Not all assets pass through a will. If you fail to make the necessary beneficiary changes and designations, your life insurance, retirement plans, and annuities could pass directly to your person with special needs in his or her name resulting in termination and payback for government benefits.
-Without written information explaining the day-to-day care needs of the person with special needs and what your goals and wishes for their future care are, providers will only be able to do what they think you want not necessarily what should be done.
Start your special needs planning today! Contact Knappmann Law