As a parent, concern for your child is never far from your mind. As the parent of a special needs child, that concern is intensified as you worry about who will provide for them once the disabled child reaches adulthood and you’re no longer with them.
The experienced estate planning lawyers at Morton & Gettys in Rock Hill can help ease your mind with special needs planning and tools that take care of their financial futures.
The goal typically is two-fold: ensure that the special needs child has access to assets for their continuing care while preserving eligibility for benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. This is a sometimes-tricky balance, as too much income or too many assets can hurt future eligibility for assistance that can become crucial after a parent’s death.
While it is possible to leave the entire estate to other heirs and instruct them to take care of the special needs adult, this approach is risky. It involves relying on someone else to follow your wishes, and it also makes the money vulnerable in cases of divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuits or other creditor actions.
The safest course is a special needs trust that preserves the assets without counting as income. Both living trusts, set up while the grantor is alive, and Testamentary trusts, created in a last Will and Testament, are options.
There are certain advantages to special needs living trusts. Other family members also can contribute, plus a co-trustee can be appointed and begin to learn how to administer the trust. Living trusts also keep assets out of the estate, which can decrease the tax impact and avoid some probate issues.
Other tools are available for special needs planning, too, including ABLE accounts that allow people with long-term physical or mental disabilities to save money without it counting against their SSI, SSDI or Medicaid eligibility. These funds accumulate interest tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free, too, as long as the spending is for a qualified expense.
Contact Morton & Gettys today and begin putting your mind at ease. Our lawyers can help you make sure your special needs child is taken care of now and into the future.