Special needs planning is a legal protection process for any person with a disability. They may be diagnosed at birth, in adulthood, or be disabled by illness or injury. Special needs planning is designed with your loved one’s government benefits in mind and may include:
- Establishing a special needs trust
- Appointing guardianship
- Creating a letter of intent
Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust protects the assets of a loved one who receives assistance due to a mental or physical disability or payments arising from an injury settlement. Assets in this type of trust are not countable resources when determining eligibility for government programs.
Funds can’t be used for basic needs, such as rent and groceries, but can be used for recreation, travel, education, and medical expenses not covered by Medicaid. A special needs trust is designed carefully by understanding the federal and state rules for the recipient’s benefits. A special needs planning attorney is crucial to ensure the trust is successful in meeting its goals.
Depending on the disability, some special needs cases require guardianship after the person turns eighteen. If the child can’t make their own legal and medical decisions in adulthood, guardianship proceedings must happen before they turn 18. However, it requires evidence that the disability substantially impairs their decision-making ability.
Planning for guardianship is the best thing to do to protect the interests of an adult with special needs. Specific documents enable a parent to assist with some decisions and access medical records. If parents die or can no longer continue the role of guardian, having a designated family member or friend prepared to take over makes a smoother transition for the adult with special needs.
Letter of Intent
This letter is an informal document with a detailed account of your child’s medical, educational, social, and behavioral requirements. It gives future caregivers or guardians insight about the person with special needs that they can only get from the parent. This document has no legal authority but offers beneficial instructions for any person taking over the care of your child.
As an attorney, John’s focus is on estate planning and elder law services for clients in Lake County and the surrounding areas. Admitted to the Ohio Bar in 2002, John has an extensive history as a public servant and is a trusted member of the community.