Special NeedsProtecting Your Family & Legacy
Madison Special Needs Planning & Trust Lawyers
Protecting the Future of Your Loved Ones with Disabilities
At Estate Law Partners, LLC, we provide special needs estate planning services. If you are a parent of a child who has special needs, we can help you carefully plan for their future. What will happen to your loved one when you are no longer there to assist them? Our Madison special needs attorneys can help you prepare an estate plan that coordinates all of your child's financial, legal, and special care needs.
Your Special Needs Estate Planning Options
There are a variety of trusts that are designed to assist with the unique challenges that arise with special needs estate planning. The two most common types include:
- Support trusts – This type of trust allows a parent (the trustee) to provide for their child’s basic needs, such as medical care, clothing, food, shelter, and educational services. However, a support trust prevents the child (the beneficiary) from being eligible for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Those whose children will need Medicaid or SSI should consider an alternative option to a support trust.
- Special needs trusts – Many parents find that the best way to plan for their child with a disability is through a special needs trust. This type of trust provides a means of managing the necessary resources for their child, while the child remains eligible for public assistance benefits.
Special Needs Trusts
If you have loved ones with disabilities, a special needs trust is an essential component of your estate plan. One option for this type of trust is a stand-alone trust that is funded with separate assets. Alternatively, you may choose to make a special needs trust a sub-trust of any existing living trust.
There are two types of special needs trusts:
- Third-party special needs trust: This type of trust is created with one’s assets that are a part of an estate plan. In this case, the assets would be administered by a will or a living trust.
- Self-settled special needs trust: A trustee, such as a parent, legal guardian, or grandparent, funds a trust with the child’s assets. One common example of this is when a child receives compensation for a personal accident claim and he or she will need lifelong care.
Assistance for Special Needs Estate Planning
Preparing an estate plan for your child with special needs requires substantial research and planning. Estate Law Partners, LLC is here to guide you through every stage of the estate planning process, including the creation of a special needs trust. Call today to discuss your situation with our experienced special needs lawyers in Madison.
Here are some resources you may find helpful in the planning process:
- Handbook for Trustees
- Exceptional Parent online
- The Arc
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Benefits for Children with Special Needs
- Annual Disability Statistics Compendium
- Center for Parent Information and Resources
- Social Security Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool
What is Probate?A: Probate is the court and process that looks after people who cannot make their own personal, health care and financial decisions. These people fall into three general categories: Minor Children (under age 18 in most states); Incapacitated Adults; and People who have died without legal arrangements to avoid probate. Probate proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, the court proceeding and associated documents are all a matter of public record. Many people choose to avoid probate in order to save money, spare their heirs a legal hassle, and keep their personal affairs private.
What is Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship?A: (in some states “Tenancy by the Entirety” when between spouses) This is the most common form of asset ownership between spouses. Joint tenancy (or TBE) has the advantage of avoiding probate at the death of the first spouse. However, the surviving spouse should not add the names of other relatives to their assets. Doing so may subject their assets to loss through the debts, bankruptcies, divorces and/or lawsuits of any additional joint tenants. Joint tenancy planning also may result in unnecessary death taxes on the estate of a married couple.
What is a Will?A: The document a person signs to provide for the orderly disposition of assets after death. Wills do not avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the willmaker dies and the original will is delivered to the Probate Court. Still, everyone with minor children needs a will. It is the only way to appoint the new “parent” of an orphaned child. Special testamentary trust provisions in a will can provide for the management and distribution of assets for your heirs. Additionally, assets can be arranged and coordinated with provisions of the testamentary trusts to avoid death taxes.
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