Creating an Estate Plan When You Have a Family Member with Special Needs
When it comes to estate planning, each family has different needs. While some people can accomplish most of their planning goals with a will, others have concerns or assets that cannot be adequately handled without other tools. More advanced planning may be needed when one of your family members has special needs. Medical conditions, physical disabilities, mental disabilities and addictions are all common reasons for making use of special needs trusts and other estate planning tools.
If you want to ensure that a person with unique needs is taken care of, leaving them money directly in a will may not be the best approach. Leaving money in a will can be ineffective because:
- This money can be lost if the recipient is sued.
- The recipient can be taken advantage of.
- The money can be collected by debtors.
In the case of someone with an alcohol or substance abuse problem, leaving them money directly could mean the money is wasted — instead of paying for an education, your gift could fuel an addiction. Leaving money to another family member and telling them to use it to care for your loved one is fraught with the same problems. That’s why a special needs trust may be your best option to safely care for a loved one.
Special needs trusts are tools that allow you to put away assets or money specifically for the care of a particular person. The trust can be created so that the money can only be used for things such as education, housing, and healthcare, although some people also choose to allow money to be spent on recreational activities. By appointing a trustee whose job it is to oversee the use of the funds, you can protect your family member and ensure their care.
Because these trusts don’t transfer money directly to the beneficiary and do not count as income, it is often possible for the beneficiary to receive government benefits such as Medicaid at the same time.
For help creating an estate plan that addresses your unique concerns, work with a trusted Florida estate planning attorney at the Charles Law Offices.