Estate planning for individuals with disabilities is a complex and sensitive process that requires careful consideration to ensure their financial security, well-being, and quality of life. There are several key factors to keep in mind when crafting an estate plan tailored to the needs of someone with disabilities.
First and foremost, establishing a Special Needs Trust (SNT) is often a central component of the estate plan. This trust allows individuals with disabilities to receive financial support without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. By placing assets in the SNT, a designated trustee can manage and disburse funds on the beneficiary’s behalf, ensuring their needs are met without impacting their means-tested benefits.
Additionally, it’s crucial to select a responsible and trustworthy trustee who will act in the best interests of the individual with disabilities. This individual or entity should have a deep understanding of the beneficiary’s unique needs and be able to make financial decisions that enhance their quality of life. Regular communication with the trustee is essential to ensure that the trust continues to align with the beneficiary’s evolving requirements.
The estate plan should also address other critical aspects, such as guardianship or conservatorship. Designating a legal guardian or conservator can be necessary if an individual with disabilities lacks the capacity to make decisions related to their own personal care, medical treatment, or financial matters. This ensures that someone they trust is legally empowered to advocate for their well-being.
Healthcare directives and powers of attorney should be included in the estate plan to specify the individual’s healthcare preferences and designate someone to make medical decisions on their behalf when necessary. A detailed “Letter of Intent” can also be a valuable addition, providing guidance to caregivers and family members regarding the individual’s daily routines, preferences, and important considerations for their care.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you require assistance with your disability-related estate planning. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to provide expert guidance and support in ensuring the financial security and well-being of individuals with disabilities, while preserving their eligibility for essential government benefits. Call Roth Elder Law, PLLC at 607-962-6162 or complete this intake form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.