Special needs planning is a process in which family and friends of someone with a disability learn how to help their differently-abled loved one. When a person has a disabling condition, he may be unable to personally manage property or investments. It is also very common for someone with special needs to require assistance with routine activities of daily living, to require supervision, or to require other custodial care giving.
Special needs planning can involve taking steps to arrange day-to-day care, or it can involve making smart choices about how to make a financial gift to a person with disabilities. The process needs to be personalized based on what you hope to accomplish when it comes to helping someone who has special needs.
Hodgkins Law, PLLC can provide invaluable help with the process of providing – financially for otherwise – for someone who has a disability. Give us a call at 207-358-3270 to speak with a southern Maine special needs planning lawyer for personalized help and to get answers to questions including:
- Why is special needs planning important?
- What type of special needs planning should you do?
- How can a southern Maine special needs planning lawyer help?
Why is Special Needs Planning Important?
When someone has a physical disability or has a mental disability, that person may be dependent upon family and friends to provide supervision and assistance. If you are someone who provides daily care for a person with special needs, you need to think about what could happen if something happens to you.
You should both make provisions to provide financially for the person with the disability, as well as making arrangements for the care that the disabled person requires. This could include arranging for a sibling or other friend or relative to take over acting as guardian for the person with special needs.
For someone with special needs, managing money can be just as impossible as handling routine daily care activities alone. While you may not want to give a substantial cash gift or other property to a person who is disabled and who cannot manage the money, it is very common to want to provide some financial support to a person with a disability.
Providing money to someone who is disabled is not only a tricky proposition due to the need for someone to actually manage the money and spend it wisely, but it is also an issue because of MaineCare and other means-tested government benefits. People who are disabled often receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and get their healthcare costs paid by MaineCare. Since these are means-tested programs, giving a cash (or cash-equivalent) gift to someone with special needs could trigger a loss of benefits.
What Type of Special Needs Planning Should You Do?
With special needs planning, you can find strategic ways to provide financially for someone who has a disability, even if you are no longer alive to provide that financial assistance.
Common types of special needs planning involve the creation of first or third party trusts. A first party trust is funded with assets belonging to the person who is disabled, who often receives money from an injury settlement after an accident. A third party special needs trust is funded with money gifted by someone else.
The rules differ in many ways for first party versus third party special needs trusts, including what happens to assets held in the trust after a death. An attorney can provide assistance in preparing the right kind of trust to ensure a gift will not create a loss of benefits or other harm to a person who has special needs.
An attorney can also provide guidance on the other steps which should be taken to provide for a person you care about who is disabled. It may be possible to leave very detailed instructions in a trust document, including explaining what exactly the money should be purchasing to enrich the quality of life of the person with the disability.
How Can a Local Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help?
A southern Maine special needs planning lawyer can offer the advice you need to make financial gifts without jeopardizing access to government benefits, and can help you to make sure a gift you provide is carefully managed. Hodgkins Law, PLLC also helps parents and other close family members who are concerned about who will provide daily care for a child or relative who is differently-abled and who is dependent upon them. To learn more and to get help with special needs planning, give us a call at 207-358-3270.