Special Needs Planning
Special needs planning plays an important part in the lives of individuals or family members with disabilities. At Morgan Legal Group, P.C., our attorneys have years of experience in this highly specialized area and can ensure that those in New York who require special needs planning receive the best legal assistance for their circumstances. Far too many families go without any sort of long-term plan for a member living with a disability. This can create more difficulties down the road. As time goes by and a situation becomes critical, there are fewer options available. There can be a lot to navigate when it comes to special needs planning which is why it is imperative to seek out assistance from a legal entity that has an in-depth understanding of federal and state laws as well as public programs and benefits. At Morgan Legal Group, P.C., our attorneys can help families and individuals get a head start on establishing a special needs trust, setting up a guardianship, as well as other pivotal factors that will increase the quality of life for someone with a disability.
If you or a family member residing in New York is living with a disability, get in touch with our attorneys at Morgan Legal Group, P.C. to set up a consultation. We can discuss any questions or concerns you have about special needs planning for you or your loved one’s future.
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Questions And Answers
Supplemental or special needs trusts can vary across each state. In New York, a special needs trust functions as an estate planning tool that is used to provide for the future of a person with disabilities and increase their quality of living. This type of trust is usually set up like any other trust with the exception that the funds cannot be used for basic needs such as housing, groceries, or utilities. A special needs trust allows families and individuals to safeguard their assets while also allowing them to pursue government benefits. In turn, the special needs trust provides an additional source for financing supplemental needs not covered by public programs.
If someone is not concerned with government benefits, do they still need to set up a special needs trust?
While setting up a special needs trust is certainly not required of anyone, it is highly recommended. Regardless of whether an individual is concerned with qualifying for public programs, there are many benefits that come with setting up a special needs trust. A trust is a sound legal structure that would allow for the growth and management of financial assets which can be a great help for someone with a disability. In addition, a special needs trust can serve to protect certain assets from creditors and eventual estate taxes. In any case, a special needs attorney can help evaluate a client’s situation and determine whether establishing a special needs trust is right for them.
When it comes to special needs planning, the type of disability a person lives with does not affect the establishment of a long-term plan in any way. Disabilities can be diagnosed at birth, developmental, or they can be show up later in life through illness or injury. In these cases and others, what matters is to start special needs planning as early as possible in order to secure the best options for individuals and families with disabilities.
It is important to note that the assets and funds that are held within a special needs trust are to be used in a manner that supplements and enriches the life of someone with a disability. Another way to look at it is that the funds are to be used for things that would not be covered under a government program. For example, home furnishings, computers, televisions, etc. Experiences such as travel or concerts also qualify for financing through a special needs trust. A trust cannot be used for basic needs like groceries, utilities, or housing as these items are covered through public benefits.
One of the most common mistakes people make when creating a special needs trust is procrastination. This is especially true for parents of children who are born with disabilities. Setting up a trust early in the child’s life allows for contributions and gifts to accumulate and grow throughout the years without penalties. Another mistake is trying to set up a special needs trust without legal assistance. There are a lot of “DIY” tutorials available, but unless a person specializes in New York law, government programs, and public benefits, there is a wide margin of error that can occur and result in a disabled person being left out of critical benefits. Failing to make a special needs trust irrevocable is one more mistake that is quite common. This is particularly true for self-settled special needs trusts. A trust that is revocable can be considered an asset under certain government programs. As such, they can be counted against an individual’s asset threshold, making them ineligible for certain programs and benefits.
A special needs trust is designed, in part, to keep others from taking advantage of someone with a disability. However, even within the sound legal structure of a trust, misuse of funds can still occur. In order to prevent this from happening, the trustor needs to ensure that specific instructions are included in the trust document with regards to how the funds are to be managed and administered. Another important preventative measure is to designate a trustee that is reliable and who will oversee the trust with integrity and honesty.
At Morgan Legal Group, P.C., we handle estate planning as well as the creation of special needs plans and trusts. We understand that for many families, estate planning and special needs planning go hand in hand. This is why, in addition to their extensive knowledge of the best estate planning practices, our attorneys specialize in the laws, programs, and benefits for individuals with disabilities.