Estate Planning For Adult Children With Special Needs
Effective estate planning means covering various contingencies and ensuring your assets are set up to pass on to heirs efficiently. Sometimes, we list all adult children as sharing equally in the estate. In many others, it can be more complicated. One of these complications involves planning for children with disabilities and special needs.
Families with special needs children must take extra planning steps to ensure these children are taken care of in a way that suits them – and preserves their eligibility for SSI and Medicaid if needed. This is true whether the child is still young or has already reached adulthood.
A parent’s goal will be to ensure their estate’s resources can be harnessed to enhance and enrich their children’s lives while factoring in any considerations needed for a special needs child. For example, some of these factors could include:
- Lifetime money management and protection for the special needs child;
- Preserving the child’s eligibility for public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid;
- Ensuring funds are available if qualification for public benefits ends for any reason.
How a family goes about this will depend on their unique circumstances and family dynamics. Some options could include:
- Leaving the estate to other siblings, understanding they will provide for their unique needs sibling. This can work if the estate is relatively modest and easy to manage. Some apparent problems can arise if siblings run into financial trouble with creditors or bankruptcy.
- Leaving the inheritance to the special needs child. There may be short and long-term benefits to this approach. But it almost always creates a problem when the child needs public assistance via Medicaid or SSI.
- Creating a Special Needs Trust for the child. Special Needs Trusts have emerged as one of the most common and valuable ways to protect an adult child financially while also maintaining their eligibility for critical public assistance programs.
What is a Special Needs Trust?
A Special Needs Trust (or “SNT”) is a trust that serves to protect a beneficiary’s eligibility for needs-based government benefits such as Medicaid and SSI. Assets within a Florida Special Needs Trust are not counted against a person for purposes of Medicaid eligibility in Florida. The special needs trustee can make distributions to the beneficiary under particular rules, allowing the recipient an improved quality of life.
Funds from a Special Needs Trust can cover costs and expenses that Medicaid or SSI generally don’t cover, such as:
- Clothing and laundry
- Transportation and rideshare programs
- Electronic equipment such as computers and TVs
- Education and job training
- Housekeeping and cooking assistance
- Some medical services, therapies, and equipment.
The Tampa Estate Planning Attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C., Can Help Discuss All Estate Planning Options Available to Address Special Needs
To learn more about the options available through a Special Needs Trust and how it might benefit a member of your family, meet with the Tampa estate planning attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C. Our attorneys understand the complexities involved for each family when it comes to estate planning. Our compassionate and trusted legal team is here to help you and your family meet your estate planning goals.