Perhaps one of the more prevalent issues parents of a child with special needs face is figuring out the best course of action for the long-term care of that child. After all, the child’s care needs are ever-evolving — especially as they get older — and, sadly, you will not always be around to meet those needs. Thankfully, there are many estate planning options available to parents and other relatives, one of which is a special needs trust.
At Leigh Hilton, PLLC, we are here to help you develop the best plan for your family and stay with you every step of the way. We have written quite a bit about special needs trusts before, but it is always good to keep this conversation going.
First thing’s first — what is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust is created while you are living and is 100% customized to the dependent with a disability’s individual needs. It provides a child with their own share of the inheritance and gives them the ability to pay for future care and services that may or may not be covered by government benefits, including:
Travel costs associated with medical appointments
Additional medical care
By establishing a special needs trust, a parent or guardian can also make it possible for a beneficiary with a disability to receive assets without threatening his or her eligibility for government programs or benefits. For example, there may be language that says, “trust funds may not be used to pay for any medical expenses that are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.” What that does is exclude the funds in the trust from being considered when determining eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid.
This leaves their funds available for the other needs mentioned above that are not covered.
How do I get started?
First, you need to gather together your financial information and a brief family history.
Second, you need to sketch out your wishes for your special needs trust. This includes making decisions on the amount of financial support your child with special needs will require over his or her life, protecting his or her governmental benefits, and how your other children fit into your estate plan.
Third, you need to decide who will manage your child’s finances. Other than deciding to create a special needs plan, this is your most important choice. When you create a special needs trust, you will need to name a trustee or trustees to manage the trust assets for the benefit of your child. Choose someone you know who cares about your child and who is willing to assume the responsibilities of caring for him or her.
Many people embark on an estate planning quest to help them support the people in their lives with special needs — now and long after they are gone. The information above will help the trustee find resources in the community, improve your child’s quality of life, make the transition easier, and help your child enjoy the maximum degree of independence.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!!