Estate Planning for Special Needs & Disabled Children
Dependable legal guidance from Indiana special needs planning attorney
If you have a child with special needs, it can be difficult to know where to start with your estate planning. You may wish to name your child as a beneficiary, but do not want to negatively impact his or her eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other public benefits. Fortunately, there are options available to your family.
At CCSK Law, our dedicated Indiana estate planning attorneys have years of experience assisting families dealing with this very issue. We tailor an estate planning strategy to your needs, using special needs trusts and other available tools to put your family in the best position possible as you prepare for the future.
How does a special needs planning work?
A supplemental needs trust is a great way to leave an inheritance to a special needs child without it impacting that individual’s ability to qualify for public benefits. Rather than giving assets or property to your loved one directly, you designate the trust as the beneficiary and name a person as the trustee. The trustee oversees the trust assets. He or she spends the money per your directions for your child’s behalf, and within the limitations set by the government support programs for which your child benefits.
Basically, the assets in the trust do not belong to your disabled loved one, and so they are not counted when determining that person’s public benefits eligibility. Meanwhile, your child may continue benefiting from the trust’s assets—hopefully, for the rest of his or her life.
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Take a cohesive approach to your estate planning
Although a special needs trust is a fantastic tool, it works best when incorporated into an complete, well-thought-out, specifically designed-for-you estate plan. To that end, choose to work with an attorney to coordinate the trust with your other estate planning mechanisms, to ensure the trust has sufficient assets, and to take care not to provide assets to your disabled child through other means.
It is not just the legal structures you need to consider, you need to be aware of the types of assets and how they are designated. Money from qualified assets (401(k), 403(b), SEPs) and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can cause taxation issues that can be avoided with proper planning. Your special needs attorney should be willing to meet with your financial advisor(s) in order to help you make the best choices for how assets can be distributed to both your special needs child(ren) and non-special needs family members or charities. That conversation could save thousands of dollars in taxes or lost services.
It is also important to discuss the trust with other family members, such as your child’s grandparents, siblings and aunts and uncles, proper options as they may wish to contribute to the trust, as well.
Work with a knowledgeable Valparaiso estate attorney
When you engage in comprehensive estate planning, you can ensure that you are providing your disabled loved one with a stable future, while allowing him or her to continue benefiting from public programs. To learn more about your options, speak with an experienced Porter County estate planning attorney at CCSK Law today. Call us at 219-230-3600 or contact us online to get started.