Special needs planning attorneys have very specialized knowledge that can help families plan for their children’s future. There are so many things to keep straight when it comes to raising your special needs child, and focusing on what will happen to him or her after your death is not something that is easy or pleasant to contemplate. Still, it is very important to take the time to meet with a special needs planning attorney in order to give your child the best opportunities once you’re no longer around.
An Important Tool
One of the most common things an attorney is likely to recommend is either a special needs trust or a supplemental needs trust. The reason that this trust is so important is that it allows you to set aside money for your child’s future without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for government benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid. Unfortunately, leaving your child even a small inheritance can make it so he or she is no longer eligible for this kind of aid and can severely impact quality of life.
Trusts for Your Child
There are different types of trusts that your attorney will go over with you. Some are funded by the person with special needs, say through an award from a personal injury settlement. This is called a first party special needs trust. Others are specifically funded by a third party, such as parents or other family members. This is called a third party supplemental needs trust.
People to Consider
In addition to helping you set up the trust, a special needs attorney will also be able to help you determine the appropriate trustee. In some cases, this may be a family member or other caregiver. In other cases, the lawyer or firm may take care of the administration of the trust. An advocate may also be chosen. This person will be familiar with both the beneficiary’s needs and the intentions and wishes of the person creating the special needs trust.
Using the Trust
When the trust is set up, the person creating it (called the “grantor”) has a say in how the funds are to be used. For example, money can be dedicated to the special needs of the beneficiary. Dispersal schedules can be created, as well. The advocate works with the trustee to make sure the terms are being followed in the beneficiary’s best interest. At the same time, the trustee is charged with managing the funds held in the trust. This will likely include an array of conservative investments.
For a much fuller understanding and to get the ball rolling, contact a special needs attorney who is knowledgeable about this very specialized field.