Special Needs Estate and Trust - Three Essential Documents
Three Essential Documents for Parents of Children with Special Needs
If your child has special needs, a standard estate plan -- will, trust, power of attorney, and health care proxy -- may not be adequate for your family. If your child will not be able to support herself or live independently as an adult, you need to make special provision for her in your estate plan. Here are three must-have documents:
Special Needs Trust. Instead of leaving your estate directly to a disabled child, the funds should be left in a specially-drafted trust for the child's benefit. This will ensure that the funds are properly managed for the child's lifetime. And provided that the trust is properly administered, the trust funds will not be countable, which helps to preserve your child's eligibility for public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.
Guardianship Nomination. Your will should include a guardianship nomination for all of your minor children. But when your child turns 18, she is considered to be an adult by law, even if her disabilities are very severe. Taking the time to select a guardian for your disabled child reduces stress and uncertainty for other family members after your death: the person you nominate as guardian will typically be given preference by the court.
Letter of Intent. This is a non-binding document that captures vital information about your child for future caregivers and trustees. It can include information about your child's routines, preferences, medical history, allergies, and so on. As parents, you have gathered a lifetime's worth of information about your child, information that will be invaluable to your child's future caregivers. You can ask your attorney to keep a copy of the Letter of Intent with your other estate planning documents.Article Source/Courtesy of: Kirk S. Barth, CFP®,CLU®, ChSNC®,ChFC® (Special Needs Hawaii)
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or estate planning advice as individual situations will vary. HawaiiEstateAndTrust.com nor its registered representatives or employees, offer tax or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult with your tax or legal counsel for advice.
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A special needs trust (SNT) is a specialized trust that allows assets to be held on behalf of an income beneficiary who is unable to manage funds due to a mental or physical incapacity. The beneficiary enjoys the use of property that is held in the trust, while at the same time continuing to receive essential government benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, there are strict regulations regarding disbursements from a SNT that must be followed. This type of trust is also known as a supplemental needs trust. More...
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