James, my son David has Down syndrome and my husband, and I are concerned about planning for his care once we are gone. What should we consider when making estate plans? – Wendy
Wendy, all estate planning should be a comprehensive look at what your circumstances and needs. Estate planning is the not a one size fits all process and therefore having a open and frank conversation with the estate planning attorney about what plan is best for you is crucial.
When I am working with a family where a member of that family has special needs for their continued care we want to be clear about what they will need when you are gone. When this family member is also be receiving any assistance from Medicaid or disability services provided by state dollars there is a specific concern about not disrupting these services. A trust of any type should take into consideration these facts and possible scenarios. In fact, when I am drafting a revocable trust I will place within the wording of that trust a Supplemental Needs section. This helps address any scenarios where disability might one day become an issue for a beneficiary or trustee.
However, when my client has a child that these concerns are not theoretical but a concrete concern that they deal with daily I often suggest that the parent create a stand-alone Supplemental Needs trust for that child.
The Supplemental Needs trust provides a shelter of assets passed from the parents to the child that ensures the child will not lose the services they rely on for everyday needs. This trust appoints a trustee to steward the assets for the child into the future. This trustee is charged with using the assets to supplement the needs of child that are not provided by Medicaid or disability services. The funds are not consider in the control of the child and therefore do not disqualify them for services.
If you have time visit our website at ElrodFirm.com and consider scheduling a free consultation so that we can set your mind at ease and put in place an effective plan.