Many people with a severe impairment or disability are not able to work or earn enough money to support themselves. If someone you care about has special needs and cannot be financially independent, you may wish to help provide for this person in your life. Unfortunately, simply giving a gift during your life or after your death may not be the best approach to take. Providing for someone with special needs can be complicated, but it is a worthy goal. It is also a goal that the special needs estate planning attorneys at The Zimmer Law Firm, LLC can help you achieve.
Ohio and federal laws have legal tools available which make it possible to leave money and assets to individuals with special needs while making sure the money is appropriately managed and doesn’t cause a loss of access to other benefits. These legal tools can also be used when a person is disabled and receives an accident or an injury settlement. It is up to you to know how to use these legal tools and The Zimmer Law Firm, LLC can help. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can assist you with special needs planning and to get answers to questions including:
- When is special needs planning necessary?
- What is involved in special needs planning?
- How can a Cincinnati special needs planning lawyer help you?
When is Special Needs Planning Necessary?
Special needs planning is important when a disabled person will be receiving money. If you want to give money to someone who is disabled, you cannot just write a check or leave cash in your will, as this could result in a loss of important benefits. If a person with special needs is about to receive an injury settlement or otherwise come into money, this windfall could also lead to problems if a plan is not in place.
The issue is, many people who are disabled rely on means-tested government benefit programs to provide them with income and with medical care. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid are both benefit programs which are intended for disabled people with low income and few resources. SSI may be providing cash and medical care to a disabled person, and these benefits could be lost once a gift is given that puts the disabled individual above asset limits. The money from the injury settlement or the gift could be spent very quickly on medical care and other services as a result of the lost access to benefits.
Even if the disabled individual is receiving no government aid, special needs planning may still be necessary. A person with special needs may be unable to handle the day-to-day tasks of managing money and property. If you simply give that person a cash infusion or other assets, this could be a burden and the property could lose its value due to mismanagement. When you get help with special needs planning and structure your gift appropriately using a trust, you can name a trustee who will make sure the money is effectively managed and used for desired purposes.
What is Involved in Special Needs Planning?
The actual steps you will need to take as part of your special needs planning are going to vary depending upon your role in providing for the disabled individual, as well as your goals for making a gift. Some of the different steps which may be involved include:
- Creating a special needs trust and transferring assets into it so the assets in the trust can be used for the disabled person’s benefit.
- Naming a trustee to manage the trust and providing detailed instructions for how trust assets are to be used.
- Making provisions for who will care for the special needs person, and assume guardianship of the individual, if you are currently providing care.
Trustees have a fiduciary duty to manage trust property on behalf of beneficiaries. This means that when you create a special needs trust and provide instructions, the instructions must be carried out and the trustee must always act in the best interests of the disabled person. The trustee cannot give cash to the person who is disabled without potentially triggering a loss of benefits, but the trustee can use the money to provide things which improve the disabled individual’s quality of life.
How Can a Cincinnati Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help?
The Zimmer Law Firm, LLC understands the rules and requirements for creating a special needs trust. We will assist you in creating a comprehensive plan and in moving forward with the steps you need to take to provide for the disabled person you care about. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.