It’s Important to Choose Special Needs Advocates on All Fronts

One of the most valuable services to secure for children and adults with special needs are those of an advocate. Advocates can be special needs attorneys or non-lawyer professionals who are supervised by attorneys. They can also be parents or family members of someone with special needs who self-advocates on their behalf. While levels of […]

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Becomes Law

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Becomes LawIndividuals with disabilities now have the right to create their own self-settled special needs trust (SNT) without having to go to court, thanks to the President’s signing of the 21st Century Cures Act into law on December 13, 2016.

Section 5007 of the 21st Century Cures Act includes language from the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015, adding the words “the individual” to the existing statute. Prior to this change, disabled individuals without a living parent or grandparent could not create a self-settled SNT without having to go to court.

The effective date of the amendment to the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015 applies to trusts established on or after December 13, 2016.

A self-settled SNT differs from special needs trusts created by third parties for the benefit of a special needs individual. Special needs trusts are funded with the third party’s assets or other sources and are a common estate planning tool to improve the qualify of life for a disabled individual. Upon the death of the disabled individual, the remaining assets in a third-party trust can pass to other family members.

Self-settled SNTs must include a provision that, upon the death of the disabled individual, the state’s Medicaid agency will be reimbursed for the cost of any benefits received by the individual. Payments from the SNT to the disabled individual may be limited depending on state law and could require an annual accounting to the state Medicaid agency. There are also rules that must be strictly adhered to so that the disabled individual is not disqualified from receiving Medicaid or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits.

If you are considering a special needs trust, you should consult with an experienced special needs estate planning attorney to determine which trust vehicle works best for your needs.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with your estate planning, please contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.

Estate Planning for Your Special Needs Child

Estate Planning for Your Special Needs ChildProbably one of the most prevalent worries for parents of special needs children is the long-term care of that child once the parents are gone. There are ways to plan for the care of a long-term special needs heir via special trusts, including:

Housing – A special needs trust allows parents to place assets in trust for the benefit of a special needs heir without endangering their government benefits. A qualified personal residence trust (QPRT) allows parents to stay in the home with the special needs child, and upon their death transfers ownership to an heir – for example, another adult child or a charity – at a discount to the current market value.

Long-term care – should the parent of a special needs child under the age of 65 need long-term care, a special needs trust can shelter parental assets and still allow the parent to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Inheritance – in order to avoid a special needs child from being disqualified for government services, parents may be tempted to leave everything to their other children with the proviso that they care for their special needs sibling. However, those assets could go to others if one of the other children gets divorced or dies. Parents should consider leaving equal shares to all children, and placing the special needs child’s shares in a trust.

There are many estate planning options available to parents and other relatives of special needs children to ensure they continue to live fulfilled lives, even after you are gone. An experienced Florida estate planning attorney can help you find the best plan for your family.

With the proper guidance, you can protect your finances and spare your loved ones the frustration of having to make costly and difficult decisions.  Contact us for your free initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.