Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) January 24, 2013 – Leaving a secure future in place for a special needs child can be a daunting task.
One of the hardest things for the parents of a special needs child to face, experts say, is the thought that they will someday not be able to care for that child. For many parents, having a simple will which leaves assets to surviving children is enough. But, when a parent has a special needs child, a straightforward will simply is not enough.
A minor child or adult child with special needs who requires outside assistance via Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or another need-based social service will likely be adversely affected by inheriting their parents’ estate. Inheriting can disqualify a special needs individual from receiving any outside benefits until the inherited money has all been spent.
“Consider meeting with an estate planning attorney who also specializes in special needs trusts,” suggests Virginia estate planning attorney Andrew Hook. “Explore the options that a special needs trust can offer.”
A special needs trust, says Hook, also known as a supplemental needs trust, is a legal entity which holds and distributes money for the beneficiary – in this case, the special needs individual. When a special needs trust is in place, the beneficiary will not directly inherit any wealth. The assets left behind come under the ownership of the trust, and the parent can determine how the assets in the trust will be distributed to the beneficiary.
It may be stipulated, as part of the trust, that a specific amount of income will be disbursed each month, so as to not disqualify the beneficiary from Medicaid support or other government benefits. An executor will be put into place to oversee the trust – the executor can be a family member, a family friend, or an attorney – and specific instructions can be included to ensure the beneficiary is well cared for.
The designated trustee cannot just directly give money to the beneficiary. However, the trustee can spend the trust assets on goods and services, including personal care attendants, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, and recreation and education. In short, a special needs trust is essential for ensuring the highest standard of care for an individual with special needs.
The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virginia Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with wills, trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more.
Hook Law Center
295 Bendix Road, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-1294
5806 Harbour View Blvd.
Suffolk VA 23435