Collins Law Group provides assistance to individuals who want help making a plan for a friend or a relative with special needs. If you are planning to give a financial gift to someone with special needs, you need to speak with an attorney first to understand the legal implications of the gift and to ensure you structure it appropriately so the money is well managed and will not result in lost access to benefits. If you are caring for a person with special needs who is going to receive an injury settlement or other sum of money, we can also help.
To learn more about special needs planning and to get the assistance you need to provide appropriate help to your friend or relative who is disabled, give us a call at (310) 677-9787. Our legal team can help you to create a personalized plan and can offer you information about general questions you have including
- Why is special needs planning important?
- What should be part of a special needs plan?
- How can an Los Angeles special needs planning lawyer help you?
Why is Special Needs Planning Important?
A person with special needs who receives a sum of money or who receives assets may have not the ability to manage the money and property. This money could come from a personal injury settlement if the disabling condition resulted from an accident. It is also common for parents, caregivers, and other friends and relatives to leave money to a loved one with special needs or to give inter vivos gifts to a loved one with a disability.
Special needs planning involves making sure that provisions are made so money or assets given to a person with disabilities can be effectively managed. A trustee can be named and instructions given to ensure the money or property is used exclusively to provide for the person with the disability. With the trust creation document, you can be as specific as you want about what the money you have provided is used for. This way, you can ensure the funds are used to enrich the quality of life of the person with special needs.
Special needs planning is also important because it is very common for a person with a disability to be receiving some type of means-tested government benefits. The most common benefits include Medicaid coverage for medical care and/or nursing home care as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Whenever any means-tested benefits are being received, an inheritance, a cash gift, or a gift equivalent to cash can result in disqualification from those benefits.
This means leaving an inheritance to a person with special needs could result in loss of essential, valuable benefits such as Medicaid coverage for medical bills. With Medicaid planning, you can ensure that the money or property provided to the person with disabilities does not result in disqualification of benefits. Such disqualification could be financially devastating, and an entire inheritance or gift could be spent quickly to pay for the lost medical care or other coverage.
What Should Be Part of a Special Needs Plan?
A special needs plan should typically involve the creation of a first or third party special needs trust so money or property given to the person with disabilities can be owned by the trust. The use of a special needs trust solves many problems, including allowing the appointment of a trustee to manage assets as well as preventing the assets from counting when determining resource levels for means-tested benefits.
Planning for someone with special needs may also involve more than just trust creation when it is parents and caregivers who are doing the planning. If you oversee day-to-day care of a person with a disabling condition, you need to make provisions for what will happen when you are no longer around and able to provide that care. Naming a guardian may be necessary, and you may wish to make arrangements regarding where the person with the disability will live after you are gone.
Because a plan needs to be personalized based on your relationship with the person with special needs, as well as based on the unique needs of the person with disabilities, your plan should be created in consultation with professionals who can advise you on how to make the laws work for you.
How Can an Los Angeles Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help You?
Collins Law Group can provide comprehensive assistance with special needs planning to clients in the greater Los Angeles area including Inglewood, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Torrance, and surrounding areas. To learn more about how we can assist you, give us a call at (310) 677-9787 or contact us online.