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Estate Planning | Special Needs Planning | Elder Law
Law Office of David T. Siegel, Esq., LLC
Q: Who is going to take care of my special needs loved one?
A: Powers of Attorney or a Guardianship
Q: How is my special needs loved one going to afford to live?
A: Special Needs Trusts, Government Benefits, or Self-Finance
Special Needs Planning is a critical step for any family with a special need or disabled loved one. Special needs planning will prepare a family for the long-term health and financial needs of their special needs loved one. Many of our special needs loved ones rely on public benefits, specifically Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, and it is imperative that those plans for the future operate within the complex laws that govern eligibility and preservation those benefits. Proper special needs planning is essential to ensure that there will not be a temporary or permanent interruption of those benefits from a well-meaning gift, an inheritance from a loved one, or a personal injury settlement.
At the Law Office of David T. Siegel, Esq., LLC we create Special Needs Plans that help a family prepare for the long-term health and financial needs of their disabled loved one by helping that family answer two important questions:
Who will take care of your special needs loved one depends on many factors that vary from family to family. What is constant is that no matter the other factors, parents and family members wish to remain a part of the conversation and decision making process. Unfortunately, that is not always possible because of how the system works. At age 18 all persons are considered adults, no matter their mental or physical disabilities or limitations. That means that parents or family members that have been caring for their loved ones are no longer legally allowed to make financial or healthcare decisions for their loved one.
Parents and family members of special needs loved ones must then rely on two legal alternatives to maintain influence in the decision making process for the financial and healthcare well-being of their loved one: Powers of Attorney and Guardianships.
Powers of Attorney require the special needs loved one to assign the power over their financial and/or healthcare decision making
to another person.
Guardianships require that a Court of Law strips the financial and healthcare decision making powers from the special needs
person and appoints another person to be responsible for making those decisions.
How will my loved one afford to live is determined by the financial health and planning of the individual and the family that cares for them. Most individuals in this situation rely on three basic special needs planning techniques to afford to live long and prosperous lives: Special Needs Trusts, Government Benefits, or Self-Financing.
Special (supplemental) Needs Trusts are the keystone to any special needs or disability planning. A Special Needs Trust ensures
that there is a quality of life fund set aside for the life-long healthcare and financial needs of a disabled loved one while still
maintaining any public benefits they may be receiving. Whether your loved one's situation calls for a First Party (Self-Settled) or Third
Party Special Needs Trusts, we are able to create the trust that is best suited for their long-term care.
Government / Public Benefits are relied upon by many disabled or special needs people to provide for their healthcare, financial
support, and shelter. The two most common benefits are Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, which are needs based public
benefits that provide for the care and well-being of a disabled or special needs person. Eligible and preservation of these benefits is a
stressful time as families try to navigate the many complex laws that govern these benefits, we to help families determine their
eligibility and then devise a plan that will maximize and maintain those benefits for the special needs loved one.
Self-Financing is an option for some families that have the means to provide financial support for the life-time of their special needs
loved ones. An effective and protective way of maintaining that financial support is to set up a Third Party Special Needs Trust for the
long-term financial support of their special needs loved one.
The Law Office of David T. Siegel, Esq., LLC will review a family’s financial health to design an effective plan that may utilize one or more of these financial support methods. Every family and every situation is unique, so having options allows flexibility to design a custom special needs plan is indispensable to the long-term care and support of a special needs person.
For recipients of personal injury settlements that wish to maintain their public benefits we can offer them and their personal injury attorneys the options of setting up a Medicare Set-aside Account (MSA) or a Qualified Settlement Fund (QSF). If you would like more information about either of these settlement options, please contact us here.
Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners