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You are not alone. Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are ill-equipped to handle. But experienced attorney Noah Clements is dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you’re no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
Luckily, there are estate planning tools and strategies we can use to address the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families in Florida. Most people would say that ensuring their loved ones’ quality of life is their focus rather than just preserving government benefits. We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. We can also help you find a trusted guardian, trustee, and care manager to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity, including help with locating the best residential opportunities—as well as the means to pay for them.
For those families fortunate enough to be able to support family members with special needs, a major goal is leaving enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and supports these individuals typically need throughout their lifetimes. Yet, if families leave a large lump sum of money directly to a child with special needs, they risk disqualifying him or her for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income.
Fortunately, the government allows assets to be held in what’s known as a“special needs trust” to provide financial 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.
For instance, funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary and must be disbursed to a third-party who’s responsible for providing the goods and services they need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. What’s more, the requirements for a child with special needs change dramatically over time, as do the laws governing public benefits.
There are also alternative methods for supporting a loved one with special needs that may be appropriate for some families, such as establishing an ABLE account, a tax-advantaged savings account for some special needs individuals.
Because the rules and options are complex, it’s vital to work with an experienced special needs attorney who can guide you through the process and help you create a plan that’s both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation. You are not alone. We are here to help.