Special Needs Planning
If you have a special needs child (whether a minor child or an adult child), or a loved one who is unable to manage his/her life and financial matters due to physical or mental disability, providing for that loved one after your death is undoubtedly very important for you. So special planning for that child or loved one should also be of utmost importance to you and other members of your family.
Traditionally, the typical “do it yourself” arrangement in families with a special needs person is to leave that child’s share of inheritance to other children or trusted family members. Such planning is usually imperfect and most such arrangements result in that particular special needs person’s interest to be placed in jeopardy, not necessarily because of misappropriation of funds by family members, but also by unforeseen occurrences in the life of that trust family member or other misfortunate developments in life.
How can a Special Needs Child be protected?
Typically the problem is that if a special needs person who is receiving government benefits due to disability (such as SSI or Medi-Cal) becomes a beneficiary of his/her parents’ trust or any other members of family, the government benefits may be jeopardized. So the planning challenge is how to prevent the government benefits from being lost and at the same time provide for the special needs family member in the parents’ trust so that they do not have to resort leaving that person’s share to other beneficiaries.
Fortunately, through a custom-designed estate plan, we are able to accomplish both of these objectives so that the special needs person’s share of inheritance is well-protected and government benefits are not discontinued due to inheritance.
The special needs planning should fund the additional financial needs of the special needs person (other than benefits he/she receives from government) and make it available for that person’s use and enjoyment in the future after the parents pass on.