How Can I Ensure That My Special Needs Child is Cared for After I’m Gone?

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Can You Ensure Security for a Special Needs Child?

If your child is a special needs child (including an adult or a minor who has a physical or mental disability), it’s right to be concerned about what will happen to that child when you can no longer be a caretaker and parent, but you can ask a Waco special needs planning attorney to help.

If your child has special needs, you should consider setting up a special needs trust with a planning attorney’s help and advice. In Texas, your special needs trust can ensure that your special needs child is cared for properly after your death or if you become incapacitated.

Without a special needs trust (also called a “supplemental needs” trust), your child could become disqualified for public benefits, lose any money that you leave, or even end up being exploited by others. What are the specific benefits of setting up a special needs trust? How does it work?

How Will a Special Needs Trust Benefit Your Family?

Trusts are legal documents that spell out how a trustee of your choice will manage assets for another person. The trustee you choose for your special needs trust should be a knowledgeable and trustworthy individual who is good with details.

Under federal law, you are allowed to keep assets for your special needs child in a special needs or supplemental trust without losing the child’s eligibility for government benefits, provided that the trust satisfies several legal requirements.

If you give or leave assets directly to your special needs child, your child could lose his or her eligibility for public assistance. But if you transfer those assets to a supplemental or special needs trust, your child will receive appropriate care and remain eligible for public benefits.

If your special needs child counts on your financial support, a Waco estate planning lawyer will help you set up your special needs trust and ensure that it is compliant with all federal and state requirements.

What Public Benefits Are Available to Special Needs Children?

In Texas, many people with disabilities or special needs qualify for government benefits. A special needs child may be eligible for programs including but not limited to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid.

What can these programs provide? Medicaid pays a variety of healthcare costs for those who are qualified. Supplemental Security Income is available to adults with little or no assets or income. SNAP helps qualified families and individuals with food purchases.

If a special needs child qualifies now for Medicaid, SNAP, or SSI, leaving an inheritance directly to that child could make the child ineligible. Special needs persons are eligible for these programs only when their financial resources and incomes are limited.

How Does a Special Needs Trust Work?

Special needs trusts in Texas provide for special needs children without risking their eligibility for public benefits. The child will not have control over the funds in the trust, which will be owned by the trust and will be managed by the trustee you have named.

As long as you are alive, you can name yourself as the trustee and manage the trust, but you also must designate someone to be your successor trustee and manage the trust after your death or should you become incapacitated.

When a special needs child needs professional, full-time medical care, a Waco special needs planning attorney can establish a trust that maximizes your family’s savings, reduces your family’s costs, and maintains your child’s eligibility for government assistance.

If your own special needs child is a minor, you should also name a guardian for the worst-case scenario – if you and/or the other parent unexpectedly and suddenly pass away. If you don’t name a guardian, a court will name one in that circumstance, but that choice should be yours.

What Else Should You Know About Special Needs Trusts?

Every special needs trust is different. Here are some of the facts you should know when you ask a Waco estate planning lawyer to set up your special needs trust:

  1. A trust for a special needs individual must be precisely written. It must clearly state that the trust has been set up for your child’s extra and supplemental care beyond what government benefits provide.
  2. Trusts for special needs individuals cannot directly transfer cash to that person. The trustee you name will manage the trust’s spending, and that trustee will pay directly – for example – for your child’s utilities, housing, and healthcare providers.
  3. Trusts for special needs individuals are irrevocable, so you can’t cancel or modify the trust without court approval. Special needs trust funds can’t be seized by creditors, aren’t subject to liens, and can’t be lost through lawsuits.

Should You Consider a “Pooled” Trust?

A pooled trust may be the right option for you and your special needs child. With a pooled trust, rather than designating an individual as your trustee, you choose a non-profit that will pool, invest, and manage the special needs trust.

These non-profits maintain individual trust accounts and assign an account manager to work with the special needs individual.

Pooled trusts ensure that special needs funds are managed capably, that your special needs child will receive the proper care, and that the child will remain eligible for government benefits. You should discuss with your planning lawyer whether a pooled trust is right for you and your child.

How Will a Planning Attorney Help You?

Your special needs planning attorney should be an experienced estate planning professional who understands your concerns about your child and your child’s needs. A lawyer can offer guidance and insights, but the final choices about a special needs trust for your child are yours alone.

You and your attorney will review your child’s personal situation, identify the child’s needs, and set up a personalized trust that meets your child’s needs and provides peace of mind about that child’s future.

Choose Rainey & Rainey for All of Your Planning Needs

In order to set up a special needs trust, you’ll need to work with a Texas trust attorney who will help you plan for your loved one’s future. The estate planning attorneys at Rainey & Rainey will provide the help that you and your family need.

Special needs planning is more than merely writing a trust document. Your attorney may suggest options that you’re not aware of. At Rainey & Rainey, our attorneys assist and guide Texas families with every aspect of estate planning and special needs planning.

To set up a special needs trust, to create a comprehensive estate plan, or if you would simply like to learn more, call the offices of Rainey & Rainey now at 254-752-8644 (in Waco) or 512-598-9005 (in Georgetown). Rainey & Rainey works with families throughout the State of Texas.

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