A: When there is a special needs child to consider, a family’s wealth management plan, by necessity, becomes more risk averse. There is still the desire to find the best available investment opportunities that provide the best tax shelters, but a primary investment strategy should be providing a sustainable quality of life for the special needs child. In the previous article on Special Needs Planning, I emphasized that a special needs child who is now or who may become eligible for government health benefits should never be named directly as a beneficiary of their family’s legacy. Not directly, not ever. But, a well-developed estate plan can and should include a special needs trust in which to shelter funds and provide for the supplemental needs of the special needs child and their enhanced quality of life.
Every special needs child is different, but they typically have one thing in common – they may eventually have to rely on government services at some time in their lives for the extended care required to provide for a meaningful quality of life. Any direct inheritance which puts them over the allowable means-testing figure for those benefits (at this time, $2000) will make those services unavailable.
Wealth management strategies, intended for the benefit of a special needs child, requires not only the amassing of discretionary trust fund assets, but also the development of a strategy for creating a comprehensive special needs plan for the future health and welfare of the special needs child. This plan includes not only creating and funding a supplemental needs trust for the special needs child, but also, determining who can best manage the trust assets so that those assets will be available to provide for the child’s special needs for the duration of their life; choosing the best candidate to provide continuing care for the special needs child after their primary caregiver(s) are gone; and, making the transition from one care situation to another as seamlessly as possible for the special needs child.
Raising a special needs child can be very expensive. Many families simply cannot do it without some government medical assistance. While having financial resources affords a special needs family options that may not be otherwise available, a properly created supplemental needs trust ensures its beneficiary continued eligibility for government benefits and additional funds for an enhanced quality of life, even for those of more meager means. Association with competent legal and financial professionals is key to properly managing the best available options for the benefit of your special needs child.
Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A., partners with financial institutions and planners who have certified special needs financial advisors that are skilled in the investment strategies that best suit the risk aversity inherent in a special needs investment plan.
Together, with your financial advisor, Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A., can help you determine the best estate planning strategies to meet your investment and estate preservation goals.
Some of the successful estate planning strategies utilized by Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A., include;
Often, a family’s wealth management plan includes other children or grandchildren that are not disabled. In this case, while the management vehicle is made more complex, it is still possible, with careful drafting, to define within the asset management vehicle, a supplemental trust that can protect those assets intended for the special needs family member in addition to providing for other children and grandchildren.
Contact Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A., to discuss your estate planning goals and make an appointment for a free initial consultation.