Comprehensive estate planning is even more important for the parents of a child with special needs. Like all parents, you undoubtedly want to protect and provide for your child to the best of your ability. Incorporating a special needs planning component in your estate plan is crucial to achieving that goal. The special needs planning attorneys at O’Reilly Law Firm PLLC explain why special needs planning is important.
Raising a Child with Special Needs
While your child undoubtedly brings joy to your family, the reality is that raising a child with special needs though can be challenging and costly. It can feel as though you are the only parent facing the emotional and financial challenges that accompany raising a child with special needs, but did you know:
- One in every 26 American families reported raising children with a disability.
- Nearly one-fifth of all Americans have a physical, sensory, or intellectual disability, according to the National Organization on Disability.
- More than 41 million Americans, or almost 15% of the population age 5 and older, have some type of disability.
- Over 75 percent of special needs adults are without employment.
As the parent of a child with special needs, you likely already know that the cost of raising your child will likely be significantly higher than average. For example, you may incur ongoing expenses for things such as specialized equipment, prescription medication and surgeries as well as therapists, doctor visits and caregivers. Your child may continue to require specialized care as an adult — and that care will continue to be expensive. As an adult, your child may qualify for assistance from various state and/or federal assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP – food stamps), Medicaid, or Section 8 housing; however, you may want to supplement that assistance to the extent that you can. If so, special needs planning within your overall estate plan is crucial.
Why Is Special Needs Planning Necessary?
Providing financially for an adult child and/or gifting assets to an adult child with special needs can do more harm than good. If your adult child depends on assistance from programs such as SSI, Food Stamps, or Medicaid, gifting anything of value to your child could jeopardize his/her eligibility because any assistance programs have both an income and an asset test that applies to eligibility. Gifting anything to your child, therefore, could cause your child to lose eligibility for much needed assistance programs.
What Is Special Needs Planning?
Special needs planning is focused on allowing parents (or other family members) to continue to provide financial support to a child with special needs when that child reaches adulthood without jeopardizing eligibility for much needed government assistance programs. A special needs planning component within your estate plan will likely include a “Special Needs Trust.” Also referred to as a “Supplemental” Needs Trust, a Special Needs Trust is a specialized irrevocable living trust that allows you to continue to provide for your child without jeopardizing his/her eligibility for assistance. Specific language must be used when creating a Special Needs Trust to ensure that it is recognized by government programs as such a trust. You can transfer assets into the trust to be used to supplement the care provided to your child by programs such as SSI and Medicaid. In addition, other family members can contribute to the trust and the trust may continue to provide supplemental care for your child long after you are gone without creating problems with other benefits your child receives.
Contact Staten Island Special Needs Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE online seminar. If you have questions or concerns about special needs planning, contact the experienced special needs planning attorneys at O’Reilly Law Firm PLLC by calling 332- 456-0500.
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