Designated by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the month of October is recognized as National Special Needs Law Month across the country. Their goal this month is to educate people with disabilities and their families/caregivers about the importance of Special Needs Planning and the resources that may be available to them. Elder law attorneys are dedicated to guiding families through this process, helping families with public benefits, care management, and special needs trusts.
In order to become eligible for such government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain income and asset restrictions must be met by the individual receiving care. A prominent solution to satisfy these requirements is having a lawyer produce a special needs trust (SNT). The different types of SNTs include:
- d4A “self-settled” special needs trust for a person with a disability who is under age 65 and funds the trust with his or her own assets. For example, a person who receives a personal injury damage award funds the trust with settlement proceeds, or a person receives an inheritance from a parent who did no planning in advance. These trusts must be created by a parent, grandparent, conservator, court, or the individual with the disability (him or herself or via a Durable General Power of Attorney).
- d4C “self-settled” special needs trust for a person with a disability who is of any age (depending on how the jurisdiction interprets the law) and funds the trust with his or her own assets. For example, an elderly person who is a nursing home resident and receiving Medicaid sells her home and funds this trust with the home sale proceeds to prevent loss of Medicaid nursing home benefits. These trusts may be created by a parent, grandparent, conservator, court, or the individual with the disability (him or herself or via a Durable General Power of Attorney).
- “Third party” supplemental needs trust for a person with a disability who is of any age. A third party funds the trust with assets belonging to the third party. For example, a parent funds a trust for a child. These trusts may be created by any person for the benefit of any other person.
Special Needs Alliance
At Elder Law of East Tennessee, we are proud to be led by Amelia Crotwell, JD, CELA, who is an active member of the Special Needs Alliance, a nationwide non-profit organization of disability and public benefits lawyers, who help individuals with special needs, their families, and caregivers. Many of the SNA members have loved ones or close friends with a disability, which helps them connect with individuals with disabilities.
The ELET Difference
In order for Special Needs Planning to be effective, it is important to take into account the individual’s and family’s unique needs and circumstances and tailor a plan that will achieve their goals. Trusts are powerful tools for maximizing assets available for a disabled individual’s care, but setting up the wrong kind of trust can have unintended consequences.
At Elder Law of East Tennessee, with a staff that includes not only attorneys but also advisors in public benefits and care coordination, we are well equipped to provide sound advice to achieve short term and long term financial and care goals while creating a Special Needs Planning package that will bring the whole family greater peace of mind. Contact us to get started today.