Planning to leave an inheritance for a loved one with special needs is one of the most impactful decisions one can make. Depending on their condition, they may be rendered unable to work or live independently resulting in a steady influx of bills and no way for the individual to afford them. Leaving an inheritance can help lessen the burden by providing a financial cushion to cover expected expenses. However, there are many considerations to account for such as ensuring that the funds you leave don't disqualify your loved one for public assistance. Another concern is whether to have a power of attorney or court-appointed conservator. Ensure that your special needs plan for your loved one is comprehensive and error-free by consulting with a seasoned estate planning lawyer.
The Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles special needs planning attorneys at Heritage Law Office are seasoned estate planning lawyers with experience helping family members craft tailored special needs plans. Planning care for a family member with special needs will require prepping for financial, living, and vocational support. Whether the individual in question is an adult child, a teenager becoming an adult, or a young child, we can guide you through the creation of a plan that provides for the well-being of your loved one.
Inside Special Needs Trusts
Special needs trusts (SNT) are one of the most efficient ways to plan for immediate and future concerns for your heir. One has the freedom to have a customized trust that is catered to the individual, selected trustee, and assets or establish the special needs trust through a pooled trust, such as WisPACT (Wisconsin Pooled and Comunity Trusts). WisPACT is a non-profit program that has a professional corporate trustee to administer the plan.
A special needs trust can cover a range of needs including, but not limited to:
- Preserving gifts and inheritance for young children
- Protecting personal injury and medical malpractice settlements
- Remaining eligible for means-tested public assistance (Medicaid, Social Security Insurance, etc.)
- Ensuring that funds are used for the care of the individual with a disability
- Protecting money from creditors and paying court judgments
When creating a special needs trust, many find it essential that the selected trustee is someone who genuinely knows the child. Otherwise, it can result in funds being improperly spent and the individual who the trust was created for not being able to benefit fully. Numerous factors will determine the structure and terms of the trust, but the source of the assets will determine whether it is a First-Party SNTs or Third-Party SNTs.
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Expectancy) accounts are also becoming increasingly popular for those with disabilities. Our team of attorneys can help you make an informed decision on which is the most favorable for your specific situation.
Providing Care and Guidance Throughout Adulthood
Transitioning into adulthood can be tough for any teenager but more so when that teenager has special needs. While the state may consider all of those over 18-years-old to be adults, there is still much maturing to do, even for the fully-functioning. Our team can construct a plan that assists with educational, health care, and financial support through guardianship, conservatorship, and powers of attorney.
If the individual is competent, he or she has the freedom to give an individual of his or her choice power of attorney who can legally act on their behalf. A power of attorney is seen as highly beneficial as it can allow a parent to stay involved in their child's decision making through their young adult years and as they age. For those who aren't competent, a court-appointed conservator can be the more favorable option to have someone to make the necessary financial decisions.
Milwaukee Special Needs Planning Attorney
Deciding to create a special needs plan is the first step in ensuring the well-being of a loved one after you pass. Allow our team to help you take it a step further. The Milwaukee special needs planning attorneys at Heritage Law Offices of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California are knowledgeable lawyers with a wealth of estate planning experience. We can help you build a trust, prepare the appropriate legal documents, and appear in court on your behalf for all legal proceedings.
No matter the age or affliction your loved one is living with, we have the resources and legal know-how to help ensure that all of your concerns are addressed. Contact us today at 414-253-8500 for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is a Special Needs Trust (SNT)?
A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a legal arrangement designed to provide financial support to a person with special needs without disqualifying them from receiving public assistance. It allows assets, like gifts, inheritance, or personal injury settlements, to be held in trust for a person with special needs. The funds from the SNT are used for the care of the individual with a disability and can help protect money from creditors and court judgments.
2. What are First-Party and Third-Party Special Needs Trusts?
First-Party and Third-Party Special Needs Trusts are both types of SNTs. A First-Party SNT is funded with the assets of the individual with special needs, often from a personal injury settlement or an inheritance. On the other hand, a Third-Party SNT is funded with assets from someone other than the individual with special needs, such as parents or other relatives.
3. What is an ABLE Account?
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Expectancy) accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The funds in an ABLE account do not count against the $2,000 asset limit for means-tested public assistance, allowing the individual to maintain eligibility for these benefits while saving for qualified disability expenses.
4. What is the difference between guardianship, conservatorship, and powers of attorney?
Guardianship, conservatorship, and powers of attorney are all legal arrangements that allow one person to make decisions for another. Guardianship and conservatorship are court-appointed roles that grant authority over personal and financial matters, respectively. A power of attorney, however, is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on another person's behalf. This can be particularly useful for parents of individuals with special needs who want to stay involved in their child's decision-making process.
5. How can a Special Needs Planning Attorney help me?
A Special Needs Planning Attorney can help you navigate the complex process of planning for the future of a loved one with special needs. This includes setting up Special Needs Trusts or ABLE accounts, preparing appropriate legal documents, representing you in court for legal proceedings, and providing advice on guardianship, conservatorship, and powers of attorney. By seeking the help of a Special Needs Planning Attorney, you can ensure the well-being of your loved one after you pass.