A special needs plan is something that has to be carefully prepared and executed. Estate planning attorneys commonly help parents of children with disabilities create special needs plans that are suited to their individual circumstances. Because no two plans fit every situation, you need to be prepared to spend some time researching and developing the plan that is right for you. It is also important to avoid certain mistakes that can lead to serious problems with your plan.
Don’t use inheritances over benefits, or vice versa.
One of the commonly held misperceptions about special needs planning is that you can either take advantage of government assistance programs, such as Medicaid or SS I, or provide your special needs child with financial assistance through inheritances, but not both. This is incorrect. A good special needs plan will allow your child to benefit from government programs while at the same time receive an inheritance after you are gone. Structuring your estate properly in creating the necessary tools to make this happen requires careful planning.
Don’t neglect special needs trustee choice.
A special needs trust is one of the most important tools available to parents of children with disabilities. The trust allows you to set aside some property to benefit the child. The property will be there after you are gone, and will be managed by the trustee of your choice.
But therein lies one of the potential problems. Choosing the right trustee is essential if you want the special needs trust to operate efficiently. A good trustee should be responsible and able to manage property, but should also be someone you trust. Finding the right person to serve in this role can take time and careful consideration.
Don’t procrastinate, but don’t rush.
Time is an essential element in special needs planning. All too often, parents of children with disabilities will either rush into creating a special needs plan without carefully considering all their options. At the other end of the spectrum, parents who procrastinate can also cause serious problems. Waiting too long can mean, for example, that you miss out on certain opportunities. In the worst of circumstances, it can also mean that you won’t have a special needs plan in place should you die or become incapacitated.
Don’t rely on bad advice.
What you hear from friends, family members, coworkers, or from the Internet can very often be wrong. Even worse, the advice you receive can lead you down a path that actually harms your interests, or the interests of your child.
When creating a special needs plan, it’s essential that you get legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney. Relying on the words of people who aren’t experienced in this field can be a serious mistake.
Article written by Roberta Kula, Attorney At Law