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Considering Special Needs Dependents When Creating an Estate Plan

It can be a considerable challenge for people with chronic illnesses and mental disabilities to take care of themselves. Many require a caretaker to watch over them or a family member to provide for them. In some cases, a person with special needs may become legally dependent on their caretaker, who then acts as a guardian of sorts.

Due to the dependency of the special needs individual, it is crucial for a guardian, warden, or caretaker to plan far ahead into the future, even considering what will be done after they pass away. A carefully drafted estate plan can and should include what is to be done regarding the care of the special needs individual later in life.

Two aspects of an estate plan that should be considered when regarding a special needs dependent are:

  1. Assigning a caretaker: An estate plan can be used to assign responsibility for the special needs dependent directly to a specific person, group, or family. If this is not assigned ahead of time, people can be thrown into confusion as they attempt to sort out who should care for the individual. Needless to say, this is not an ideal or comfortable situation, especially for the person with special needs.
  2. Set up a special needs trust: If a person with special needs receives inheritances or considerable financial support due to a will or trust, they could lose access to government assistance programs that they heavily rely on. A special needs trust is designed to provide benefits to the special needs dependent after the testator passes away without disrupting their disability insurance, supplemental security income, and so on. This is generally accomplished by trickling in benefits over many years, or by assigning financial benefits that can only be used for specific, care-related expenses.

Creating an estate plan with a special needs dependent in mind can be a delicate process. The special needs individual is relying, once again, on the testator doing the right thing and creating an effective estate plan that will take care of them for years to come. Mixing things up or getting caught up in the legalities doesn’t benefit anyone.

To eliminate the guesswork and create a specialized estate plan, call 239.970.6844 to connect with Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A. and set up a free consultation. Our Fort Myers estate planning attorneys can help you with every step along the way. We also offer probate services to assist your loved ones.

Categories: Estate Planning, Trusts

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