Planning for Disabled Children
Parents of disabled children face a unique challenge when doing their life care and estate planning. Their life care planning documents must address not only the management of the parent’s healthcare, personal and financial affairs; they also must address managing their disabled child’s affairs. In doing their estate planning parents must be mindful of their child’s current and expected capabilities and needs. The plan also must reflect an awareness of the public benefits for which their child is or may be eligible.
HOW DO YOU START PLANNING YOUR ESTATE?
Before contacting an attorney, you should gather the following information:
You must realistically assess your child’s disability and the prognosis for future development. If necessary, obtain a professional evaluation of your child’s prospects and capacity to earn a living and to manage financial resources.
You must inventory your financial assets. This inventory should include the preparation of a financial statement valuing all of your assets. You should collect copies of all deeds to real property, life insurance policies, bank and brokerage statements, stock and bond certificates, and business documents.
You should consider the living arrangements of your child with a disability. If you or your spouse were to die or become disabled tomorrow, where would the child live?
You should analyze the earning potential of your disabled child.
You should consider the governmental benefits that your child needs and is eligible to receive. A gift or transfer of assets to someone who is eligible for SSI or Medicaid may result in a reduction or loss of those benefits.
WHAT PUBLIC BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are two categories of benefits available to disabled children: programs which are “means-tested” and programs that are not. “Means-tested” benefits are those for which eligibility depends on not exceeding specified financial limits. These “means tests” usually include both asset (“resources”) and income limits. Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), food stamps and Section 8 housing subsidies are means-tested. Social Security Disability Income (“SSDI”) benefits and Medicare are not means-tested.
CONTACT A NORTHERN VIRGINIA SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING ATTORNEY
In addition to creating the trust document, it is extremely important that the family consider how the trust will be adequately funded. The funding of the trust must be realistic in relation to the disabled child’s needs. In the event that the family has insufficient resources to adequately fund the trust, life insurance should be considered.
Are you looking for an attorney to create a special needs trust for a disabled loved one in Northern Virginia? If so, contact Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy, PLC for the professional assistance you’re looking for.
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
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