New Jersey Special Needs Attorney
Taking care of a loved one with special needs can be highly rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming from time to time. Your relative deserves the planning required to ensure they will always have care, but there are legal issues and obstacles that need to be managed along the way with the assistance of a special needs attorney.
At Ergood Law, we know one of our strengths is compassion and careful attention to the legal needs of vulnerable people and those that take care of them. Whether it be a child with special needs or caring for an adult with a disability, we can establish the protection that person needs through special needs planning.
What Is Special Needs Planning?
Special Needs Planning refers to the process of planning and executing the proper legal steps to ensure that a loved one with a disability receives the care they deserve and require. A special needs plan includes components for medical care, financial planning and insurance needs. There are essential items to be considered when making a special needs plan:
General estate planning
Receiving medical care, the quality of that care, your loved one’s education and where they may live all are all foundational aspects of any special needs plan. These cannot be overlooked and must be clearly documented. These will be the starting point for your special needs lawyer to build the plan.
Guardianships and conservatorships
At times, a person with a disability may be unable to make decisions for themselves, so another person is given the legal power to act on their behalf and in their best interests. Parents of those with a disability have that authority naturally until their children reach an adult age of 18, but for adults with special needs, a guardian should be clearly appointed by a South Jersey court.
Prior to your child turning 18, you would need to apply to the court for guardianship to continue, otherwise you will lose the legal authority to act on their behalf. In the extreme circumstance where you become incapacitated or pass away, you should also have someone else designated to take over as guardian to ensure your loved one has their best interests protected.
Special needs trusts or discretionary trusts
Special needs trusts can be very useful when you are providing for your loved one financially or you plan to leave them a financial windfall or a portion of your estate upon passing. Proper planning ensures that your special needs loved one has a limited or reduced tax liability, protects them within the guidelines of Medicaid eligibility and protects the funds such that they can ony be used based on the guidelines you set forth.
You have to be proactive to make sure your loved one will always have appropriate care. Working with a special needs planning attorney that has the experience, care and compassion to get that done is critical. Contact us today for an initial consultation and planning session so we can start that process for you immediately.
An Experienced Special Needs Trust Attorney Serving Southern New Jersey
The care for a loved one that has a disability or special needs is a serious matter and you should only settle for an experienced special needs trust attorney to assist in planning and execution. Several types of trusts exist to assist with these special planning challenges. Most common are Support Trusts and Special Needs Trusts.
Support Trusts put guidelines in place that require the Trustee to make distributions that will provide support for things like food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and educational services. Of caution, beneficiaries of a support trust would not be eligible to receive financial assistance via Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, so this sort of trust is one that would need to be avoided in situations where the beneficiary may require aid from these sources.
Special Needs Trusts
In order to maintain eligibility for public assistance programs such as SSI, many will elect to use a more effective way to help a loved one with a disability by using a special needs trust.
There are two types of Special Needs Trusts:
Third-Party Special Needs Trust
This type of trust will generally use the assets of the caregiver, say a parent as part of an estate plan which then has the assets distributed by a will or a living trust.
Self-Settled Special Needs Trust
Created most often by a guardian, parent or grandparent, this trust uses the child’s or disabled family members assets to fund the trust (an example may be receipt of settlement from a personal injury suit that has left your loved one incapacitated or requiring lifelong care). This also leaves open the opportunity to receive public assistance through programs like SSI or Medicaid, however, it only requires payback of these benefits if there are assets remaining in the trust after the beneficiary’s death.
Special needs trusts are a highly important component of any estate plan involving a loved one with a disability or special needs. This will protect them and help provide guidance for a future caregiver should you pass away. At Ergood Law, we have decades of experience in preparing special needs trusts and assisting with special needs planning. Let us get your guide through the process, providing our expertise and insights to help you make the right decisions. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you. Contact us today at 856-266-9525 to schedule a consultation and get the process started.