An Overview of Special Needs Planning

An integral part of estate planning and administration is special needs planning. In most cases, this is to provide for the future special needs of an elderly relative, or it may be to address the present as well as future needs of a child with special needs. In either case, special needs planning has to be included in the mix in order to protect whatever private and public benefits that should accrue to the disabled family member.

One scenario is that of a disabled individual with limited means who qualifies or is receiving public benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may lose these benefits if that individual receives an inheritance that is not sufficient to replace these benefits but which can nevertheless disqualify him or her from receiving them. If the inheritance is placed in a special needs trust, for example, the disabled beneficiary can still maintain their public benefits which is then supplemented by funds held in trust designed to pay for other expenses to improve the beneficiary’s quality of life that is otherwise not covered by government benefits.

In a way, special-needs planning is a way to ensure that a disabled individual is able to sustain life even if their primary caregiver dies. As pointed out on the website of Peck Ritchey, it is designed to help families with special needs to maximize available resources and to enhance their loved ones’ quality of life.

However, special needs planning requires a certain level of specialized knowledge for it to be effective. A special needs trust, for example, has to meet certain criteria to avoid being disqualified as a supplement to public benefits. It is important to consult with a special needs planning lawyer in your state to make sure that the provisions you make for future and current needs of your disabled child or other family member meet legal requirements.

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