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Top 5 Critical Things to Know When Planning for Special Needs

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Planning for the future of a loved one with special needs requires careful consideration and knowledge of key factors. To ensure their well-being and protect their benefits, it is essential to understand the critical aspects involved in special needs planning. In this blog post, we will explore the top five things you need to know when embarking on this important journey.

Public Benefits at Risk:
One of the first steps in special needs planning is understanding the public benefits your loved one currently receives or may need in the future. Identify whether they are eligible for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both. This knowledge will help you navigate the planning process effectively and ensure their benefits remain protected.

Consider the age of your loved one with special needs. Their age plays a significant role in planning for their future. Different strategies and options may be available depending on whether they are advanced age, a child, young adult, or approaching adulthood. Understanding their age-related needs will guide your planning decisions.

Timing the Gift:
Decide when you want your loved one to receive the gift or assets you plan to protect for their benefit. This decision may involve planning for gifting during your lifetime, leaving assets as an inheritance after your passing, or a combination of both. Timing plays a crucial role in ensuring the gift serves its intended purpose without jeopardizing their benefits.

Asset Source:
Identify the source of the assets you intend to protect for your loved one with special needs. Is it your own money, an inheritance they will receive, or a gift from someone else? Understanding the origin of these assets will help you implement the appropriate legal and financial strategies to safeguard them effectively. Knowing the asset source is critical to avoiding big mistakes in choosing a legal planning strategy. The wrong strategy can financially devastate generations of a family.

Assess the legal authority and protection in place for your loved one with special needs. Ensure you discuss with a specialized elder law and special needs planning attorney the possibility of your loved one having a quality, strong Durable Power of Attorney that designates a trusted individual to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf. Such a question is far more nuanced than you may realize and don’t ever assume it’s not possible. Additionally, consider whether a guardianship or conservatorship is required to provide further protection and support.

Bonus Number 6: ABLE Account Eligibility:
Explore whether your loved one is eligible to use an ABLE account, which allows individuals with disabilities to save and invest funds without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits. Check their age and ensure their disability onset occurred before the age of 26 to take advantage of this valuable financial tool.

By familiarizing yourself with these top five critical factors in special needs planning, you can take proactive steps to protect your loved one’s future. Remember to consider public benefits, age, timing, asset source, and legal authority while exploring options such as ABLE accounts. Seek guidance from highly specialized elder law and special needs planning attorneys with expertise in special needs planning to ensure a comprehensive and effective plan for your loved one’s well-being.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Consult with a qualified professional for personalized guidance regarding your specific circumstances.

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