Loved ones with disabilities often rely on needs-based government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). This reliance creates a challenge for families that would like to provide a secure and enriched future for their loved ones without jeopardizing their eligibility for the public benefits they need. A special needs planning lawyer can help your family develop strategies to enrich the lives of your loved ones with special needs while preserving their benefits in Texas or California.
Establishing a Special Needs Trust
Special needs trusts in Texas or California are legal documents explicitly made to benefit those with physical and/or mental disabilities. These differ from the typical trust due to the unique conditions that often need to be in place to accommodate the beneficiary’s specific needs and lifestyle. Another one of the main reasons for having this type of trust is to ensure the beneficiary does not render themselves ineligible for government benefits due to an increase in assets.
Establishing special needs trusts are an excellent way to ensure your loved one with special needs is taken care of in the event of your passing. However, they can be challenging to set up. It is critical that you consult a Texas or California special needs planning attorney who will be able to examine your specific situation and make sure your loved one is taken care of for years to come.
Types of Special Needs Trusts
Special needs planning should reflect your and your family’s unique needs. There are many strategies that Bromlow Law, PLLC can implement to meet your or your loved one’s legal needs. Some types of special needs trusts that can be used for special needs planning include:
Third-Party Special Needs Trust
Family members often create a third-party special needs trust as part of their estate planning for a loved one who has special needs to pass down property or other assets. This type of trust protects a special needs loved one from losing their public benefits as a result of inherited assets. Third-party special needs trusts are not required to reimburse state(s) for Medicaid benefits received by beneficiaries during their lifetimes, upon the beneficiary’s death.
First-Party Special Needs Trust
A first-party special needs trust is most used when a disabled person inherits money or property outright or receives a court settlement. Trusts of this type are also useful for people without previous disabilities who later become disabled and need to qualify for public benefits that have income or asset limits.
Pooled Special Needs Trust
Pooled Trusts are a way to provide the benefits of a Special Needs Trust without having to set up and administer a separate trust. Pooled Special Needs Trusts are run by nonprofit organizations and are set up to efficiently administer the trust on behalf of individual beneficiaries with disabilities.
Understanding a Letter of Intent for Your Special Needs Loved One
This letter is an informal document that should be part of the estate plan of any parent of children with special needs. It is a detailed account of your child’s medical, educational, social, and behavioral requirements. A letter of intent gives future caregivers or guardians an inside look at the person with special needs that they can only get from the parent, who knows their child better than anyone. This document has no legal authority, but this set of instructions will significantly benefit any person taking over the care of your child.
Understanding ABLE Accounts for Your Special Needs Loved One
In the past, disabled people could only get government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or Medi-Cal if they had very little money or their access to the property was tightly confined by restrictive trusts.
Today, “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) accounts permit disabled people on benefits to deposit and spend up to $100,000.00, or a lot more than that, depending on the state, in tax-free accounts. These accounts allow your special needs loved ones to keep their benefits and still spend a substantial amount for themselves. ABLE accounts and other legal tools, such as trusts, all working together can allow a disabled person’s nest egg to grow and hatch into a better and more independent quality of life.
The Value of Working with an Expert Special Needs Planning Attorney
Bromlow Law, PLLC is here to help you and your family understand legal strategies to preserve your legacy. Our family-centric approach can give your family peace of mind that your legacy is protected and legal conflict is avoided.
Laura L. Bromlow is an attorney licensed in Texas and California. She can help you and your loved one understand estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, guardianship, special needs planning, probate, and trust and estate administration. Laura and her team invite you to contact them to learn how they can help you safeguard your future.