Special Needs Planning
If there is someone in your life who has a disabling condition, special precautions must be taken to provide protection for that person. When you make a financial gift to someone who has special needs, you must ensure the money does not cause a loss of access to benefits and is not mismanaged. If you are the parent or guardian of someone with special needs, you also must ensure you make plans for your loved one to be cared for in case something happens to you.
Pyke & Associates, P.C. understands the responsibilities you have to the people in your life who have disabilities. Our Atlanta special needs planning lawyers will help you to make effective use of legal tools designed to protect those who have disabilities. Give us a call to work with a legal professional to create a personalized plan to address the issues which matter to your loved one. We can also provide answers to general questions including:
- When is special needs planning important?
- What is involved with special needs planning?
- How can a special needs planning lawyer assist you?
When is Special Needs Planning Important?
Special needs planning is important under two primary circumstances. It is essential if you are a caregiver of someone with a disability, as you must ensure you have made plans for the care of the person with disabilities if you can no longer provide that care. Something could happen to you at any time, and could leave your child or other loved one vulnerable. You should determine who will assume responsibility for the care of the person with special needs, as well as where the person with special needs will live and how that person will be supported.
Special needs planning is also essential if you plan to make any financial gift to someone with a disabling condition, or if the person with special needs is going to be coming into any money from any source. For example, there are circumstances where an accident causes someone to become disabled and unable to manage his affairs. A personal injury settlement could be provided to the person with the disabling condition, and provisions must be made to protect that money.
Whether you are giving a gift during your lifetime or after your death, or whether you are helping a person with special needs who is about to receive money, the goal is to protect access to government benefits. Acquiring resources could lead to the loss of Medicaid coverage and the loss of other means-tested benefits like Supplemental Security Income. You never want a gift of money or property to lead to the person with the disabilities losing essential benefits. Special needs planning can be used to make sure that this does not happen.
What is Involved With Special Needs Planning?
Special needs planning can involve naming a backup guardian for a person with special needs if you are currently serving as guardian. If something happens to you, the person who you selected can assume responsibility for your loved one with a disability.
Parents of a disabled child, for example, will often make a sibling a guardian. If the person with the disability will be living with the guardian, this step may be enough to provide for their care. However, if the guardian cannot assume this responsibility, parents may wish to find a group home, nursing home, or other living situation which will be appropriate for their disabled child.
If the primary concern that you have is to help protect access to government benefits that the person with special needs is currently receiving, then the special needs planning process will focus on how to structure a financial gift strategically in order to put assets acquired outside of the reach of Medicaid.
You can use a special needs trust so assets do not count for purposes of assessing whether the person with the disabilities is eligible for means-tested government benefits. Using such a trust also allows you to name a responsible party who will be in charge of managing the money and of using it for the benefit of the person with special needs.
How Can a Special Needs Planning Lawyer Assist You?
Pyke & Associates, P.C. has extensive experience with special needs planning. We provide assistance to clients in Atlanta, Stockbridge, Peachtree City, and surrounding areas. Give us a call at 770-507-2500 or contact us online to find out more about how our legal team can help you.