Are you the parent of a special needs child or the caregiver of a family member with special needs? Are you concerned about their future should something happen to you leaving you incapacitated, or ever what might happen following your passing? These are not uncommon concerns, even for those who are not parents. Even if you are a loved one with a family member who has special needs, these concerns are ever-present. What is going to happen? What can we do to prepare?
Special needs planning is a phrase coined for those who are unable to care for themselves. The reasons for their inability to care for themselves include children born with special needs, individuals who have developed mental illness, someone who has suffered from a paralyzing accident, or for elderly people who develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. All of these issues, as well as many others, require a plan to be put into place by their loved ones or their caregivers.
Special needs planning sometimes involve providing funds to your family member by means of an inheritance. While these plans are put into place with good intentions, it is often a bad idea. Why? The heirs are often met with financial difficulties as result of these inheritances. Meet with an estate planning attorney to help point you in the correct direction, as well as provide asset protection and financial security for your loved one.
Leaving a lump sum of money, like a life insurance policy for example, to your loved one is the easiest option. However, this is a big mistake. You will be putting their benefits, such as Medicaid, in jeopardy. They will not be able to make attempts to qualify for benefits again until all the funds left to them have been depleted. This is not a savory situation for anyone to be in.
When working with your estate planning attorney, they will help you utilize planning tools that will best serve your family member, as well as everything and everyone else involved on your estate. You must look at the entire picture, to include incapacity planning and who will take over guardianship for your loved one if you are their primary care. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, and as life goes on things are going to continuously change. Be sure your estate plan, including all special needs planning, reflect every change and is up to date at all times.