Special Needs Planning

Special needs individuals and their families face a unique set of financial and care challenges which may include financing long-term care, gaining access to public benefits, or ensuring that the individual with special needs is protected against financial predators or abuse. The burden on family caregivers may be especially heavy as they struggle to provide support while also navigating complicated legal and financial issues.

If you or your loved ones are in this situation, don’t worry: you don’t have to go it alone. Elder Law of East Tennessee can help you to develop a Special Needs Planning package that will help to meet your needs both now and in the future.

Developing a tailored comprehensive Estate Plan and using other financial and legal planning tools, such as Special Needs Trusts, can help families achieve their goals and enjoy greater security and peace of mind. Many strategies are available to structure assets for the maximum benefit and protection of the special needs individual. These strategies 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, or court..
  • d4C “self-settled” special needs trust for a person with a disability who is of any age 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.

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 and to create a Special Needs Planning package that will bring the whole family greater peace of mind.  Contact us to get started today.