5 Things to Ask When Choosing an Attorney for a Special Needs Trust
If you have special needs beneficiaries, you have extra considerations when setting up your estate plan: how can you make sure that assets are there for your son or daughter, without affecting the benefits they rely on? Many attorneys, while they may be well versed in general estate planning knowledge, lack personal experience dealing with many of the issues faced by these families:
- Does your Attorney understand all the various programs your child is under? SSI, Medicaid, Waivers…these can be confusing for someone to jump into. When you pass away, it can be hard for your trustee to learn everything they need to know about the programs your child is on. Working with an attorney who is aware of and has knowledge of these programs can be vital in making sure their benefits are protected.
- Does your Attorney stay updated on changing laws? The laws relating to these programs can change at any time, and you want to be sure you are working with an Attorney who will stay up to date, and that you have a plan that can adapt to changes as they come.
- Does your Attorney know the difference between 1st and 3rd party trusts, and when to use them? From our practice, we see many Attorneys misusing each type of trust, which can have catastrophic effects on your estate plan.
- Does your Attorney know how your estate plan can be affected by a Nursing Home stay? Certain types of trusts may allow assets to be protected for your special needs son or daughter without being subject to a 5 year lookback, but you need to be sure that your Attorney is aware of all the nuance in the Nursing Home Medicaid laws to ensure your trust works.
- Does your Attorney know when money can be used from a Special Needs Trust for housing expenses, and how to use an ABLE account to provide more money for housing? Many are unaware how the different tools available to families to provide the maximum benefit to their child.