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Estate planning and special needs beneficiaries

On Behalf of | May 9, 2018 | Firm News, Trusts |

People in Ohio who are primary caregivers to relatives with special needs can develop an estate plan that will provide the support their relative with a disability may need. In order to create the most effective estate plan for a loved one with special needs, it is important that the caregivers are able to wade through the complicated eligibility rules for government benefits and are knowledge about the health care professionals, services and therapies that will be needed to provide a disabled person with support throughout their life.

The first step in creating an estate plan is to draft a letter of intent that will inform the other individuals who take part in the care of the disabled family member about that person’s interests, dislikes, functional abilities, likes and routines. This letter, which is not a legal document, should be issued to guardians, advocates and trustees and should be updated on a regular basis.

An estate plan for a special needs person should also include a special needs trust or supplemental needs trust. With this type of trust, relatives and friends are able to contribute funds to cover the services or goods that will benefit the beneficiary, and the beneficiary is still able to qualify for government assistance programs, such as SSI or Medicaid, that use means tests to determine eligibility.

An attorney may advise clients who have specific concerns, such as the lifelong welfare of a disabled relative for whom they are the primary caregiver, about how the use of certain trusts in an estate plan can be helpful. Depending on the client’s assets and circumstances, the attorney may recommend living trusts or irrevocable trusts to help protect financial assets. Additional services may include assisting with the drafting of wills and trust provisions.

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