Thriving with special needs

If you’re the parent or relative of someone with special needs, you’ve probably wondered what you can do to make sure your loved one is taken care of no matter what. With thoughtful planning, our experienced and credentialed team can help ensure the future care of a loved one with a disability.

A different shade of 529. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 created the federal framework that allows parents to fund long-term care for a disabled child in a tax-free savings account (similar to a 529 account), for the life of the child. The funds are held in a way that preserves eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and potentially Medicaid assistance. These types of means-tested benefits come with tricky rules for eligibility, which is why it’s important to work with a specialist to help navigate the opportunities and see them through for your family.

Special needs trusts. These common financial and estate planning tools are third-party trusts structured so the beneficiary doesn’t own the assets directly, allowing continued eligibility for need-based government benefits, such as Medicaid and SSI. The trust can be funded with just about any type of asset: securities, real estate or cash. We can help assess what’s right for your situation and structure the trust in a way that benefits your loved one in the best way.

Naming a trustee and guardian. Administering these types of trusts can be complex, so choosing the right trustee is crucial. This person will be given absolute control over the distribution of trust assets, be mindful of the beneficiary’s disabilities, be assertive about claiming entitlements, and invest the trust funds wisely. On top of all this, the trustee also must keep up with any laws regarding trusts and public benefits. This is one reason why many families choose to appoint a professional as sole trustee or co-trustee, or work with family members in a trust advisory committee.

Also, for most parents, choosing a successor guardian is a crucial but difficult part of the estate planning process. Once you’ve chosen a guardian, we can help you detail your preferences and instructions through an official will.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry