Special Needs Estate Planning
Our Pasadena Attorneys Can Assist With Your SNEP
As the parent of a child with special needs, your priority has always been and will always be taking care of your child. And while you’ve already worked hard and sacrificed much to make your child’s life as fulfilling as possible, you have to give serious consideration to how your child will be cared for once you’re gone, or are unable to care for them. This is why special needs estate planning is so important.
Estate planning with a special needs child in mind is complicated, and if not handled properly, will have a negative impact on the child’s life once you’re out of the picture. For this reason, it is highly recommended that parents plan their estate with the aid of an attorney who specializes in special needs estate planning.
Since 2006, the San Gabriel Valley offices of Woodsmall Law Group has practiced exclusively in the niche legal fields of special needs trust planning and conservatorship, special education, and regional center matters. To secure your child’s future, call Woodsmall Law Group for a free consultation at (626) 440-0028.
Options for Parents of Special Needs Children
Most special needs children receive a certain degree of needs-based public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, subsidized housing, and more. The purpose of special needs estate planning is to provide a well-managed pool of funds for the care of the child throughout their lifetime, while also protecting their eligibility for public benefits. A well-designed estate plan should also provide funding in the event that public benefits are reduced, or canceled altogether.
Achieving this is more complicated than simply leaving your estate to your child, because a portion of the inheritance your child receives can be considered an available asset, which can block or reduce the child’s eligibility for public benefits.
The following options are available for parents who wish to leave their child in the best financial situation possible:
- Disinheriting the child is the simplest option. This will make the child eligible for public benefits (which are usually insufficient), but provide no financial aid if those benefits are canceled or reduced.
- Leaving the entire estate to the child’s siblings, with the understanding that they will provide care for their brother or sister. The problem with this option is that it leaves the inheritance vulnerable to mismanagement of funds, liens by the sibling’s creditors, divorce, and bankruptcy, etc.
- Establishing a special needs trust is probably the best way to provide for a disabled child’s future. With a well-drafted trust, your child will still be eligible for public benefits, because they won’t have direct access to the trust’s funds. In a special needs trust, a trustee is appointed to manage your child’s inheritance. The trustee will have complete control over the funds, and also have strict guidelines as to how the funds can be used. Because the trustee will use the inheritance to purchase necessities—such as medical expenses, home furnishings, recreation expenses, personal care attendants, food, and clothing—rather than give the child a large, lump sum of cash, the funds won’t be considered an available asset.
At Woodsmall Law Group, we know how important securing your child’s future is to you, and we’re here to help. We will work with you to develop a special needs estate plan to guarantee your child’s future needs will be met, and also give you peace of mind. Call our Pasadena office today at (626) 440-0028 for a free consultation with a special needs estate planning lawyer.