Special Needs Planning
While facing significant challenges, individuals with disabilities are increasingly living longer and more fulfilling lives.
In light of the individual’s circumstances, Special Needs Planning can provide an invaluable foundation for independence, self-determination, security, access to resources, and support with decision making.
Special Needs Planning
Planning for Those With Disabilities
Special Needs Planning helps ensure that those with disabilities have the financial resources, medical care, and long-term support they need.
Preserving government benefits
Special Needs Trusts
Many government benefits programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are means-tested. A special needs trust (SNT) can be used to maintain eligibility for means-tested government benefits while saving money in trust to better the life of the beneficiary.
A special needs trust can be created by an individual with their own funds or be created by someone other than the disabled individual, typically a parent or relative.
Generally, the trust’s assets must be used to supplement the needs of the disabled individual he or she would not otherwise receive under state and federal benefits programs. For example, such distributions can include trips, computers, power wheelchairs, prosthetics, or other comforts not generally provided by the government.
a new planning option
ABLE Act Accounts
ABLE Act accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. These accounts—named for the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (“ABLE Act”)—enable individuals with disabilities and their families to save and pay for disability-related expenses while maintaining eligibility for needs-based government benefits, such as SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid.
ABLE accounts have annual contribution limits eligibility is limited to individuals with disabilities that onset before turning 26 years of age.
overseeing personal needs
Guardianship (Guardian of the Person)
A person incapacitated by age, illness, or disability may need special protection and a surrogate decision-maker. A guardianship allows a third-party to have the legal authority to care for the personal interests of another person.
This means to preserve the person’s independence to the fullest extent possible, the court will choose the alternative that will least restrict the person’s freedom. While guardianship may be needed for adults with severe disabilities or diminished capacity, there are other options:
- Supported Decision Making Agreement
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
- Living Wills
- Living Trust
- Representative Payee
overseeing financial needs
Conservatorship (Guardian of the Estate)
A conservatorship allows a third-party to manage the financial affairs of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age.
A guardian and conservator may be the same person or separate individuals or entities may be appointed to fill unique roles of caring for the person and the person’s assets.
delegating decision-making authority
Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney – also known as a durable power of attorney – appoints an attorney-in-fact (agent) to care for your finances while you are incapacitated. If you ever become incapacitated this document, with exceptions, allows your agent to manage your finances and transact on your behalf. Although you can limit the power, the document is generally powerful. Typically the agent can do the following on your behalf:
- use your assets to pay expenses and support your family
- buy, sell, maintain, and encumber property
- collect government benefits
- file and pay your taxes
- buy, sell, and maintain insurance policies including annuities
- invest your money
- manage your retirement accounts
- transact with banks
The agent you choose should be someone you trust a great deal because this is a powerful document that should not be mishandled. We take care in educating you about the power of this document and possible solutions to managing its power.
Schedule a Consultation
Planning for loved ones with special needs can be daunting. To help you navigate your situation, we offer consultations—in-person or remotely—to explore your options and educate you about possible solutions.
To schedule your meeting, click on the button below.