What is Involved in Special Needs Planning?

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Special needs planning goes beyond basic estate planning.

You have a loved one with special needs.

As you consider taking the steps to create an estate plan, you want to be sure to include this loved one.

Any experienced estate planning attorney will tell you special needs planning requires additional considerations beyond a basic estate plan.

According to a recent The News-Enterprise article titled “Special needs plan should be carefully considered,” special needs planning must be more detailed to accomplish its purposes.

Special needs planning can help you protect your loved one.
Protect your loved one through special needs planning.

Your plan should include important information about your loved one with special needs.

What should you include?

Record his or her name, birth date, and age.

Next, include friends, favorite places, favorite activities, likes, and dislikes.

Treat this as a guide to anyone who has not met your loved one.

With this information, you will have a better idea how to plan for the needs of your loved one.

The next part of your special needs planning should record possible futures for your loved one.

One should describe the worst case scenario for your loved one if you are not around to provide care and support.

The second should include a situation where you are gone but your loved one is alive and well.

The third scenario should describe the future where you and your loved one with special needs are both alive and well.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you envision pitfalls so they can be actively avoided.

What specifics should you include in your special needs planning?

You will want to select a guardian.

More than one person should be named.

List them in order of preference and discuss your wishes to ensure they are up for the responsibility.

You also will need to consider living arrangements.

Will your loved one be capable of living independently with regular daily check-ins and support?

Will your loved one require assisted living in a facility?

Next, you will need to consider financial support.

Leaving an outright inheritance to your loved one will likely disqualify him or her from government assistance.

A Special Needs Trust is an valuable tool in special needs planning.

Within this trust, you should provide detailed instructions to the trustee.

It is often wise to name multiple trustees to manage the property.

Although you could name family members as a trustees, this may create problems within the family dynamic.

Another option is to name a professional trustee in your special needs planning.

A professional fiduciary may have an easier time accomplishing the duties without being entangled by family politics or emotions.

You may want to include instructions for the trustee to regularly check in on the beneficiary to ensure needs are being appropriately met.

Ultimately, your trustee should be organized, responsible, and capable of managing finances.

Start your special needs planning now to give yourself peace of mind about the future of your loved one.

Reference: The News Enterprise (Oct. 13, 2020) “Special needs plan should be carefully considered”

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