Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Planning for Your Special Needs Family Member

If you are caring for a family member that has a disability, you worry about the future.  What happens when you aren’t there anymore to care for him or her?

Have you done the right kind of planning?  Or, have you put it off?

Now is the time to start planning for your disabled family member’s future.  You and your family should consider the following issues:

  • Where will my loved one live when I’m no longer here to care for him or her?
  • What financial needs will he or she have in the future?
  • How can we assure that our loved one will have the same quality of life as he or she does now?
  • Who will administer his or her funds? How do we assure that the funds are managed and used to the best advantage?
  • How do we make sure that Social Security and Medicaid benefits won’t be affected?
  • If we leave an inheritance, what impact will it have on his or her benefits?

The way to make certain that your loved one is well cared for when you are no longer here is to establish a Special Needs Trust.

This trust can provide for the “extras” that are not available when an individual relies totally upon public benefits.  While the funds cannot be used for food or rent, there is so much more that you want your loved one to have.  These funds can bridge the gap between the basic, bare bones existence that is possible on public benefits and maintaining the current standard of living.  It will provide funding for dental and eye care that is not covered by Medicaid.  It can also provide funds for entertainment and travel expenses.

A Special Needs Trust can provide the right future for your loved one, while providing you with peace of mind.  You will be assured that the life of your loved one will be enhanced and enriched, in the way that you would do, but when you are no longer here.

Do Millennials Really Need to Worry About Estate Planning?

You are in your 20’s or early 30’s.  Why would you need to think about estate planning?  You have more debt than assets.  If you have a house or car, the bank owns more than you do.

Well, you do need to think about estate planning.  Any assets that you do own need to be planned for.  If something untimely happened to you, who would receive these assets?  If you are unmarried and do not have any children and If you were to die without a Will, your parents would in all likelihood receive all of your assets.  If they are not alive, your assets would be divided equally among your siblings.

If you have children but are not legally married, who would handle the money for your children?  If you and your children’s mother were both to die, who would care for your children?  If you want to have any input into this circumstance, you need to execute a will.  You can name your beneficiaries and the persons who would be in charge of your estate.  If you have children, you could name the guardians and conservators for those children.

So, is that all you need?  No.  You need also to plan for a disability.  If you were ill or injured and unable to make decisions for yourself, who would do that for you?  Without anything in place, your family would be forced to go to Probate Court to gain Guardianship and Conservatorship over you.  This is costly and time consuming.

The better plan is to execute a Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care).  This would enable the individuals who you trust to step in and pay your bills while you were disabled.  They also could make medical decisions to permit you to receive the best medical care.

When should you do this?  Now.  You may not need these documents for years to come – or – you might need them tomorrow.

Icy blast provides planning opportunity!

There is little good to say about our current icy spell.  The single digit temperatures with below zero wind chills, combined with plenty of snow make getting out difficult and undesirable.

Why not use this time as a planning opportunity?

This is the perfect time to get your finances and documents organized and up to date!  What should you look at?

  • Life Insurance – do you know where the policies are? Do you know who your beneficiaries are?  Check each policy to make certain that these are correct.
  • Retirement Funds (IRAs, 401Ks) – again, have you named the correct beneficiaries? Double-check to make sure that these are up to date and correct.
  • Estate Plan – do you have one? If not, it is time to get started.
  • Will or Trust – if you do have one, take it out and re-read it. Does it accurately reflect your desires and relationships today?  Are the agents you selected in the past the ones that you want today?  Are the beneficiaries correct?  Are the amounts for each still right?
  • Disability – do you have a Durable Power of Attorney? A Patient Advocate Designation (Power of Attorney for Health Care)?  Do these reflect your current thinking?
  • Where is all your paperwork? Is all of this information scattered around in different drawers and locations?  Do you even know where it is?

Once the information is all accumulated – organize it.  Put it all together in one location.  Include life insurance policies, all retirement plans, retirement fund statements (year-end), bank account statements (year-end), investment account statements (year-end), deeds, trusts, wills, durable power of attorneys and health care directives.

If you don’t have an estate plan – start one now.  Determine, with the assistance of an attorney, what will meet your needs.  Then take the steps to get it done.

By the time the balmy breezes of spring arrive, your task will be complete.  You will have real peace of mind knowing that all of your affairs are in good order.