According to the Center for Persons with Disabilities, greater than one in five Americans is disabled. And while we often hear about programs to assist the disabled, little is said about addressing their legal needs. Special Needs Planning is the solution.

What is Special Needs Planning?

Special Needs Planning helps families address the legal needs of a loved one with a disability. Without proper planning, leaving an inheritance may force him or her into court or, worse, may jeopardize eligibility for government benefits.

Special Needs Planning, done properly, ensures the disabled person’s eligibility for government aid is not negatively affected by an inheritance or, if benefits such as Medicaid and SSI are already being received, these are not interrupted.

How Does Special Needs Planning Work?

Eligibility for government benefits is not necessarily affected by owning a home, a car, home furnishings and common personal effects. People are allowed to own these things and still qualify for benefits, in most cases. However, having cash in the bank may disqualify the disabled person from receiving benefits.

A Special Needs Trust allows you to leave cash (and property) to the trust, instead of directly to your loved one, and appoints a trustee who will have complete discretion over the trust and how money is spent. The trustee may spend trust assets to buy commonly needed products and services on behalf of the disabled person, such as personal care attendants, physical rehabilitation, home furnishings, medical and dental expenses, education, recreation, and vehicles. The trustee’s job is to supplement your loved one’s government benefits, creating a better quality of life.

Because your loved one has no control over the trust, it is not counted against him or her when the government determines eligibility for benefits. If the disabled person passes away, or all the funds are spent, the trust ends.

In Missouri, estate planning attorney Brian Quinn helps families address the complexities associated with caring for a disabled loved one, and can help assure a more secure future. Why not call attorney Quinn today?