Special Needs Estate Planning
If your estate plan includes a special needs beneficiary, we know your planning will require special care. Between Medicaid, Social Security, Waiver Programs, Housing Assistance and more, your beneficiary will require special language or trusts to ensure their inheritance is protected and does not result in the loss of the programs they rely on. We can also help ensure your assets pass down to your beneficiaries without being lost to a catastrophic nursing home stay, taxes, or probate fees.
Our firm can help you make sense of all the options for creating your estate plan.
We can help you understand and decipher when and how to use:
- First party trusts or third party trusts
- ABLE/STABLE accounts
- Pooled trusts
- Supplemental Care Trusts
- Sole Benefit Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- D4a trusts
…and more. We will help you determine which tools to use in which situation.
Periodically throughout the year, we will present workshops focused exclusively on planning for families such as yours to discuss these options in more depth.
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Should I Disinherit My Special Needs Beneficiary?
Many parents are concerned about leaving assets to a special needs son or daughter when they pass away. We understand the concern: there are benefits your child relies on, such as waiver, Medicaid or SSI, and they cannot afford to lose those benefits. However, we also know that often those benefits alone are not enough. You may have other children, and know that they will hold onto the inheritance and provide anything their brother or sister needs. But this places a tremendous burden on the other children, because what happens if they get in a car accident and get sued, get divorced, or what if they die? What will happen to those assets they were responsible for managing?
Through the proper use of Special Needs Trusts, you can set aside assets for your special needs son or daughter while keeping it safe from the potential misfortunes of your other children.
Are there Different Types of Special Needs Trusts?
Be careful when selecting a Special Needs Trust, as not all are created equal. There can be a lot of confusion between “first-party” and “third-party” trusts. You need to know which you should have in your plan.
Some trusts are designed to hold assets of the beneficiary without disqualifying them from benefits. They can be useful when a special needs individual is working, and saves too much money to qualify for benefits. This kind of “first-party” trust comes with a catch: when the beneficiary dies, the money pays Ohio back for Medicaid expenses.
On the other hand, a properly crafted “third-party” trust can be used to hold an inheritance for the beneficiary without that “medicaid payback” provision. This trust should be set up in place of your beneficiary as an individual. The trust will provide for anything your son or daughter needs that isn’t already covered by their benefits. This is the trust most people want as part of their plan.
Can I Just Leave My Assets to an ABLE/STABLE Account?
An ABLE account (in Ohio called a STABLE account), is a great new tool for special needs individuals. Much like the “first-party” trust above, it allows for an individual to save money while preserving eligibility for benefits. They even come with some tax advantages. But be careful! These should not be used as estate planning tools, as much like “first-party” trusts, Ohio Medicaid at death.
*Dually certified by the National Elder Law Foundation as Certified Elder Law Attorneys and the Ohio State Bar Association as Specialists in the Area of Elder Law.