How to Plan for a Loved One with Special Needs

November 13, 2015

mistakes in special needs planningFamilies of loved ones with special needs must have a special needs plan to ensure the continued care of their special loved ones.  If you have a child or an adult family member with a disability, and you ever become incapable of caring for them, a special needs plan will provide the instructions and resources necessary to continue their care.  In order to be sure you and your family are properly prepared, you should know how to establish a special needs plan and avoid common mistakes.
Who needs a special needs plan?
Caring for a disabled loved one requires attention to their medical and personal needs, as well as their financial affairs, in some cases.  Another consideration that many families with special needs have, is protecting a loved one’s eligibility for assistance from need-based government programs.  Special needs planning is designed to provide care for the disabled, while guarding their eligibility for those benefits programs.  An effective special needs plan will often consist of a financial plan, a benefits plan, a care plan and an estate plan that includes the establishment of a special needs trust.
Don’t rely entirely on other family members
One mistake that clients often make is assuming that other family members will automatically take over the responsibility of providing care to their disabled loved one, when the clients are no longer able to do so. Whether or not that is a realistic assumption, you should still provide the basic groundwork of a care plan.  We all know that special needs care can be complicated and costly depending on the nature of the disability.  Your loved one with special needs will benefit from the security that a special needs plan will provide.
Don’t forget to establish and fund the special needs trust
A special needs trust is an integral part of most special needs planning.  The special needs trust will ultimately own and protect the assets you choose to set aside as the financial resources for your loved one’s needs.  The special needs trust will allow the beneficiary to benefit from the trust assets while remaining eligible for needs-based public benefits.  Creating the special needs trust is only the first step. The property must also be transferred or “funded” to the trust.  Typically, this means transferring ownership of the property into the name of the trust.  If the funding process is not successfully completed, then your trust will be defective leaving your loved one’s future uncertain and unprotected.
Create your special needs plan now
The worst mistake you can make is putting off the planning process. In reality, every person with special needs will benefit greatly from having a special needs plan in place. The plan should be created as soon as possible, before something unexpected happens.  Imagine if you, as the primary caregiver,  die or become incapacitated before you can complete your special needs planning for a disabled loved one.  The result could be tragic.
If you have questions regarding special needs planning, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

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