The Center for Elder Law

Special Needs Planning

Let us help you plan ahead for peace of mind.

When you care for and support a child with special needs, you know that caregiving is a lifetime job. But whose lifetime? Most vulnerable dependents with disabilities will outlive their parents. Whether your child is 10, 21 or 41, the question “What will happen to my loved one when I am gone?” takes on profound meaning when you care for a child or adult with disabilities.

Estate and financial planning for a person with a disability is like no other type of planning – it is specialized. It ensures that your child with a disability will always have a friend, advocate and protector of their legal rights. Unless you put the right plan in place now, their governmental benefits can be altered, diminished or even destroyed after you pass. Our experts at BRMM won’t let this happen – we will work with you to create a solid plan that provides for your loved one long after you are gone.

A traditional will is not enough to ensure your child with special needs will have a meaningful life after you are gone. When children with disabilities inherit money from their parents, their government benefits and medical coverage are cut off. Even the most generous inheritance will often run out before the end of the child’s life. Unfortunately this reality has led many parents to intentionally disinherit their child with special needs, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Perfect Solution: The Special Needs Trust

There is an alternative to the traditional will called a Special Needs Trust (SNT). The SNT keeps your assets available to your child and doesn’t disqualify him or her from other benefits. When it is properly drafted, an SNT will specify that the money is not to replace the benefits, but is to supplement them. We can help you prepare an SNT that will ensure that funding is available to enhance your child’s life.

The SNT may be used for:

  • Extra medical care
  • Personal items such as TVs, radios, computers, vacations
  • Advocates and companions
  • Anything but food and shelter.

There are strict, government-imposed rules on SNT plans, so consulting with an experienced attorney who understands SNTs and current benefit laws is vital. At BRMM we are exceptionally well-versed in special needs planning, understand SNTs and know how to navigate this system to write your perfect plan.

An Important Piece: The Letter of Guidance

The Letter of Guidance is almost as important as the SNT. No one knows your child better than you, so this thorough document describes the child’s history, current status and your wishes, hopes and dreams for them. The typical Letter of Guidance addresses:

  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Rights and values
  • Leisure and recreation
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Day programs/work
  • Daily routine
  • Daily living skills

When Should I Plan?

The answer is simple – start now, when your health is good and you don’t need the plan. Call BRMM today to set up a free consultation to learn more about SNTs and Letters of Guidance, so you can have peace of mind that your loved one will have:

  • A lifetime of supervision and care
  • Government benefits
  • Supplemental and special needs benefits

Let us help guide you through all of your special needs planning so you can provide a meaningful life for your cherished child long after you are gone.

Special credit is given to the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY), which is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education.