October is Special Needs Law Month

October is Special Needs Law Month

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has designated October as Special Needs Law Month. This program and observance grew out of a grass-roots effort to help those with disabilities understand what to do to plan for the financial stability of adults with special needs. 

Special needs planning can involve creating special needs trusts, and advocating to maintain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Planning for the future is also vital as it is sometimes necessary to make important decisions for a loved one if he or she is unable to do so. Some of the ways Bratton Law can help you and a loved one with special needs include: 

  • Guardianship
  • Estate planning
  • Creation of trusts

When a child reaches the age of 18 and has special needs, a guardianship is required to help your loved one make legal decisions if he or she is unable to do so. A guardian is a person or agency appointed to act on behalf of another. The responsibilities of a guardian can include financial, medical, and lifestyle decisions for an adult child. A guardian is a family member, another interested person, or an agency appointed by the court. If you are considering guardianship, consult with the professionals at Bratton Law, who can help you navigate the process to be able to make informed decisions on behalf of a loved one.

Estate planning can be complicated with a special needs adult as there are rules for eligibility for government assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While it is not necessary to disinherit a loved one with special needs, providing large gifts or an inheritance can affect government benefits. If these issues are concerns, you can work with an experienced elder law attorney to create a special needs trust with specific provisions for a disabled adult. Such a trust also means the gift will be considered as a supplement to government assistance instead of taking the place of benefits.

A special needs trust is often funded by parents, grandparents, and siblings. This is helpful in providing the necessary income needed while also allowing someone with a disability to maintain eligibility for government programs such as SSI or Medicaid. Setting up a trust will require choosing a trustee to make distributions to the special needs adult according to the terms of the trust. Choosing the best type of trust for your loved one’s needs is essential, as is getting others to contribute to the trust over time. It is important to have a law firm you can rely on to help you determine the best plan of action for creating a trust.

If you have a loved one with special needs, creating a plan is essential as it can decrease the stress on the family and provide the best opportunity for a fulfilling life. The professionals at Bratton Law can assist with both estate planning and family support.