If you are raising a child with disabling special needs, you understand the depth of your love for your child, and learn the lengths you are willing to go for another person. There also comes a clearer focus and priority placed on planning for your family’s future. This is because long-term medical care is prohibitively expensive for most people, and you worry about how you this type of care is going to be paid for when you pass away. Further, you also want to make sure that the rest of your family is provided for, and that your entire estate is not consumed by medical expenses. This is why you should consult with an attorney about special needs planning.
There are several elements that, when combined, can help provide for your special needs child, which include:
- Social Security Income (SSI) Payments — Administered by the Social Security Administration, this provides money to people who are disabled and unable to work. This money is meant to provide for the person’s basic needs. However, qualifying for SSI is difficult and can be denied many times, as the person must have a qualifying medical condition, and must be below a specific income and asset threshold to be eligible.
- Medicaid Benefits — Medicaid is another federal benefit that can cover certain expenses relating to a person’s long-term care. However, a person must be eligible for Medicaid and meet the eligibility requirements, which look at the long-term disability and that the person has minimal assets or income.
- Trusts — If you leave assets to your disabled child as part of your estate plan, you run a high risk of rendering them ineligible for critical SSI and Medicaid benefits to pay for their long-term care. This is why it is wise to establish a trust, into which you can place your property (or if applicable, a personal injury settlement) and which is used to pay for expenses that benefit your child. This may include out-of-pocket medical expenses, a caretaker, food, transportation, or recreational activity. It is important to choose a trustee who you absolutely trust and who fully understands how to properly distribute these funds.
- Trusted People Who Will Carry Out the Plan — This includes a team of people who are on the same page. This could include a trustee to carry out the intentions of the trust, a guardian of the person to make important medical decisions, and an estate planning attorney to make sure that all of the technical and legal requirements of the plan are met. The last thing you want is for a mistake to result in your child’s loss of critical SSI and Medicaid benefits.
An Attorney Can Help You
Being the parent of a special needs child requires time and attention. If you are interested in planning for your child’s future, please call the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas. I understand how important your child is to you and will provide thoughtful, compassionate legal guidance to make sure that you feel secure that your child is provided for. I have been an estate planning and family law attorney for over two decades and have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 to schedule an appointment or visit our website today.