It’s never too soon to plan for the future, especially when you have a child with special needs. There are several important aspects involved in special needs estate planning and speaking with a professional is always the best bet. What you don’t know can hurt you and your child in the long-run.
However, it’s a good idea to go into the meeting for a estate planning attorney armed with some knowledge about the decisions you will have to make as you set up a an estate plan. There are plenty of government guidelines that can be confusing and overwhelming. You have enough to deal with every day; there’s no reason you need to handle estate planning when there are professionals who can help.
So, what do you need to know? Of course, choosing someone who can care for your child in the event you are no longer able to do so is of paramount concern. Next, what services will your loved one be entitled to in the future. And, a huge looming issue: how will the services be paid for?
The answer to the latter question is simple in word, but not in deed. You need to set up a Special Needs Trust. In part, the purpose of this is to create a plan that will document how your loved one with special needs will be cared for regarding healthcare, therapies and services over their entire life.
In this article, we focus on paying for the services you want and need for your special needs loved one. The Special Needs Trust must include the issue of funding so there is an appropriate amount of money available to cover your goals.
- How much money will be needed to support your loved one’s lifestyle for the long-term?
There are many factors to consider here. How old is your loved one? What are their disabilities? Will the disability require additional care in the future? A child needs different things than an adult.
Keep in mind that the individual with special needs must be considered as a stand-alone entity. A child without a disability will likely need different and far less care long-term than another one of your children, perhaps.
- How much is too much?
Wealthy families should think about capping how much money is left to the Special Needs Trust. “There are specific tools, such as a pot trust or sprinkle provision we can use to make sure there excess trust assets can be used for the special needs individual if needed,” explained Alex M. Hilsen, Esq., LL.M., partner and special needs planning attorney at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler.
- How much is too little?
Families without considerable means may want to consider alternatives funding strategies, Mr. Hilsen said. “We can discuss a life insurance policy that would fund the Trust in the future.”
There are many tools Mr. Hilsen can use to create estate planning documents that will protect your loved one with special needs. For example, if the person with the disability has money in their name, there are other trusts that can be created to protect those assets. Additionally, an ABLE account may also be able to preserve those assets while also allowing the person to remain eligible for government benefits and services.
Contact Mr. Hilsen at 609-409-3600 today to schedule a consultation about your estate plan. You’ll rest more soundly knowing all the pieces are in place to protect your loved one as time goes on.
Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler is recognized as one of the leading special education law firms in New Jersey, having helped thousands of children with special needs receive access to the educational opportunities they might otherwise not have had.