Special Needs Planning
Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that we can help you handle. We offer a variety of tools and strategies designed to accommodate your unique circumstances with your special needs child.
We are dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you are no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
But there is one unavoidable situation for those with special needs children.
You have to figure out how to leave enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and support your child typically needs throughout their lifetime, while ensuring the child remains eligible for important governmental benefits as well.
You want to pass on your financial assets to your child so they can live a rich life, but you do not want to jeopardize their eligibility for government benefits either. We will assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and trustee to look after your special needs child and their inheritance, who will raise them, teach them, and make decisions for them how you would.
Fortunately, the government allows for assets to be held in a “special needs trust” to provide supplemental resources for the physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled child without affecting their eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits.
That said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated, and that is where we can help.
And what is more, the requirements for a child with special needs change dramatically over time, as do the laws governing public benefits available to them.
It is vital that you work with an experienced special needs attorney who can create a comprehensive special needs trust that is both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation.
Read on for more…
What We Do
We help you to create a personalized plan for your family that includes elements of all of the following, depending on what is best for you and your special needs child. We have thoughtfully packaged what we do into customizable options for you and your family, and all of our fees are flat-rate and agreed to in advance so there are no surprises.
Special Needs Provisions in Revocable Living Trusts
First-Party Special Needs Trusts
Third-Party Special Needs Trusts
Pooled Special Needs Trusts
State-Specific Special Needs Trusts
Gift Planning To Ensure Transfers to Special Needs Trusts Reduce Your Taxable Estate
About Grace A. Phillips
Hello, I am your neighborhood Personal Family Lawyer® and Family Business Lawyer®.
What I know is that your legacy is about more than wills and trusts, and it is about more than money. As your trusted advisor, I help you make the very best legal decisions for your family with the kind of guidance usually reserved for only very high net worth individuals.
Our life and legacy planning model covers not just what happens with your assets, but sets you up to pass on what matters most to you: Your values. Your priorities. Your relationships. Your life. Your legacy.
Schedule Your Free 15-Minute Consult
With our life and legacy planning model, we help you confidently make legal and financial decisions so you know you have a plan to keep everyone you love out of court and out of conflict after you pass. Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Special Needs Planning
There is no one variety of a “special needs trust” and exactly which type of trust is right for your or your special needs child depends on your specific circumstances. Nevertheless, in practically all cases, special needs trusts are designed to be a vehicle by which you can transfer your assets to your child (really, for the benefit of your child) in a way that allows the child to enjoy your assets but also remain qualified for any important governmental benefits based on their special need. Some of these vehicles are revocable, in the sense that you can revisit and revise the terms over time, and some of these vehicles are irrevocable, meaning you have limited or no ability over time to continue managing assets transferred into the trust or modifying the terms of the trust as things change over time.
In the world of special needs planning, the best outcome for you and your special needs will be achieved only by working with a lawyer who encounters special needs planning situations daily. You have worked your whole life for what you have and how you have designed your life to fully support your loving, lovable special needs child. Unfortunately, some families collapse after the death of a loved one because they either did no planning at all, or if they did, it was through an online platform that knew nothing about their family or special need circumstances and that ultimately failed them when their special needs child needed help the most. We encourage a lifelong relationship between you and your estate planning attorney so that you have a lawyer for life to be there for your family – and your special needs child – when you cannot be.
This is the most often asked question in estate planning, and that is okay – we know the topic of cost is a sensitive one when it comes to choosing a professional to guide you, and we have designed our fees on a flat-fee basis only so that you know exactly what you are committing to – and there are no surprises. While we cannot quote fees online or over the phone, we invite you to check out our upcoming educational events where we teach you things about estate planning you do not even know to ask, plus we will cover during our next event our unique meeting process and fee schedule so that you know exactly how to take the next steps at the best time for you and your family.
How much in governmental benefits any particular person qualifies for is person-specific and can change over time as laws change. There is no right answer that applies to all cases, and each special needs child is different. This means that every special needs trust is going to be different as well, and as a result you should work with a qualified attorney (not fill-in-the-blank software or DIY templates) to ensure your special needs child is taken care of exactly how you want.
With all planning that we do, we always encourage our clients to write a “letter of intent” in their own words to describe, in a single document, the important details that will enable the guardian to care for and raise your special needs child exactly how you would. A letter of intent would include your child’s medical and education history; their likes, dislikes and habits; and aspirations concerning their future, including living arrangements, career, and lifestyle. The letter is meant to be a roadmap for the guardian and to minimize disruption during an emotional time of transition.
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You will learn how to choose the best guardian for your children, the nine steps to ensure your children will be raised with your parenting style, how to sleep well at night knowing your children will not be taken into the care of child protective services, and how to avoid the six common planning mistakes to avoid as parents of minor children. This best-selling book is delivered to your email as a pdf, so you can refer to it whenever you have a question.