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What You Need to Know About Estate Planning for Adults with Special Needs

Last updated on: March 23, 2023

One of the challenges of raising a special needs child is planning for their future. It is hard to predict what a special-needs child may need throughout their adulthood, but proper estate planning requires you to think about these aspects of your loved one’s future. For example, your estate plan may need to address unique issues that involve state or federal assistance, such as Supplemental Security Assistance or Medicaid. 

An experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney may be able to help you create a comprehensive estate plan and overcome the challenges of raising a special needs child. At The Matus Law Group, we may be able to guide you through the process of creating a plan that meets your loved one’s unique needs and ensures their future is secure. By working with a skilled estate planning lawyer and using the following tips, you can gain peace of mind knowing that you have created a plan that will provide for your loved one’s future care and well-being.

Consider a Special Needs Trust

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A special needs trust will hold assets for your loved one that will pay for his or her care and expenses. Creating a trust for this purpose is important because it will keep these funds out of your loved one’s name, so he or she remains eligible for government benefits that are based on income. You can put funds in this trust right away, or you can use the trust as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Either option is acceptable, but some parents and guardians choose to fill the trust now to avoid potential issues with decreases in government benefits over time.

Deciding on Trustee

One of the first things you will need to do as part of your estate plan is to determine who would be a good disability trustee for your estate. This person needs to care deeply about your loved one to ensure that he or she gets all the benefits you have intended. Have a frank conversation with the individual that you are considering to make sure that they are up to the task.

Involving Everyone in the Plan

Family and friends may also want to be involved in a special needs adult’s care plan. For example, imagine that an uncle passes away and leaves $10,000 to your loved one with special needs. While this gift is certainly generous, it can decrease his or her ability to take advantage of state and federal assistance. Talk to your family and close friends about these issues to avoid these types of situations.

Be Sure to Address Your Own Needs

Some parents and guardians are so focused on providing for their special needs loved one that they forget that their estate plan should also involve them. That is, even those caring for a loved one with special needs must address some of the most common issues in estate planning, such as taxes and distributing property. Do not forget that your estate plan also needs to address both the complexities of caring for a special needs adult and the typical basics that are addressed in nearly all estate plans.

Understanding Government Benefits and Eligibility Requirements

One of the government benefit programs that offer financial assistance and support for individuals with special needs is Supplemental Security Income. SSI which provides financial assistance to individuals who are elderly, blind, or disabled. To qualify, you must have limited resources and income. If you are single, the value of your possessions, excluding your home, car, and some other resources, must be less than $2,000, and if you are married, it must be less than $3,000. 

Social Security Disability Income is another program that provides benefits to disabled adults based on their work history or the work history of their parents. In order to qualify, the individual must have a disability that started prior to their 22nd birthday. SSDI is classified as a “child’s” benefit and is disbursed based on the parent’s Social Security earnings history. 

Medicaid is a benefit program available to low-income individuals that pays directly to healthcare providers for medical needs that exceeds what Medicare will cover. Medicaid eligibility requirements vary by state, but in most cases, a person must have a low income and limited assets to qualify. 

Finally, Medicare is a program that provides direct payments to hospitals, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies.. People who are 65 years old or older and eligible for Social Security benefits, as well as those who have been receiving SSDI for a minimum of two years, may be eligible for Medicare benefits.

Meet with a Special Needs Attorney

You do not have to create your estate plan alone. Imagining every possible scenario for your loved one can be tough, and having someone who has experience with this process can be an invaluable asset. In fact, you can involve an entire team of experts, including a special-needs attorney, financial planner, and other local experts.

Do not wait to start this process. Contact the Matus Law Firm today to set up an appointment. Every plan is unique, and our team has the experience and knowledge you need to develop an estate plan that works for you and your special needs loved one.

Christine Matus

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Christine Matus

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