Special needs planning is focused on providing for the current or future needs of individuals with disabilities, who due to the nature of their disability have special care needs or require special assistance or supports, which are expected to last through the disabled individual’s lifetime.
Special needs planning for parents or families with an individual with special needs is critical in order to protect or preserve any means-tested public or government benefits that the individual is or otherwise may be eligible to receive in the future.
Protecting Government Benefit Eligibility
Providing at death for an individual with special needs is certainly appropriate and allowable. But the way in which the special needs individual is provided for can make all the difference in whether the special needs individual remains eligible for certain “means-tested” government benefits, which limit the amount of income and/or assets that an individual can have and be financially qualified to receive benefits. These government benefits, principally Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, can be essential to the special needs individual in the form of providing basic necessities (such as food and shelter), along with medical and personal care, supports, and treatments. Without proper estate planning, many parents and families run the risk of leaving assets to a special needs individual that will cause financial disqualification for government benefits and the loss of the essential supports that the government benefits provide. Or many parents and families simply decide as a part of their estate planning to simply cut out the special needs individual altogether, out of concern or belief that there is no legal way in which to leave assets for the special needs individual without jeopardizing continued government benefit eligibility.
Use of Special or Supplemental Needs Trust
A Special or Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) is available to be used by parents and families with special needs individuals as a way to provide for that individual over his or her lifetime, while preserving his or her eligibility for government benefits, including SSI and Medicaid. The SSI and Medicaid rules specifically allow for the use of SNT for disabled individuals and encourage parents and families as a part of their estate planning to create SNT to hold assets for the benefit of a disabled individual. The SNT, while restrictive in how and when the assets can be used to aid the special needs individual, is a pot that is then available to help meet over time the disabled individual’s supplemental support needs, which are not otherwise being provided to or paid for by the government benefits received. In this way, a SNT can provide for lifetime care needs that a special needs individual may have that the government benefits will not or cannot pay for due to the program benefit limitations.
At The Laiderman Law Firm, our attorneys can help with special needs planning and prepare estate plans for parents or families with a disabled individual, which include a SNT, reviewing with you the eligibility requirements for SSI and Medicaid (and other applicable means-tested government benefits), the changing regulations and rules that impact upon current or future benefit eligibility, the assets to be placed in the SNT in order to meet current or future lifetime care needs, and the important issues in selecting a trustee and managing the SNT so that the special needs individual’s government benefit eligibility is preserved and protected.
Special needs planning using a SNT should be tailored to the particular facts and circumstances, goals, and needs of the parent and family member, as well as the special needs individual. Our firm is able to assist with the creation and preparation a SNT that is part of a comprehensive plan to assure that the disabled individual’s needs are met and maintained over his or her lifetime.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.
The Laiderman Law Firm, P.C. assists clients with Estate planning, Wills and Trusts, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning in Missouri, VA Pension, Long Term Care Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Special Needs Planning, Business Law and Real Estate Law. Serving clients in Missouri and Illinois primarily in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County , Madison County and St. Clair County.