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St. Clairsville Special Needs Estate Planning

It’s always been your mission to prioritize the needs and support of your special needs child. It is a significant undertaking involving collaboration with their St. Clairsville school for an appropriate education plan and obtaining government assistance. However, the day may come when you’re unable to continue these efforts due to death or incapacity. That’s why it’s important to establish an estate plan, anticipating whatever the future may bring.


In estate planning, special needs is a broad category of documents and tools to protect individuals with a range of physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including learning difficulties and behavioral problems. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Jarvis Law Office understand the unique challenges facing families caring for a special needs child or adult, and we will guide you through the process of protecting their future with a special needs trust.

Structuring Your Estate Plan for a Special Needs Dependent

As your special needs dependent may not be capable of self-advocacy after your departure, it’s imperative to document your wishes and collate all relevant documents in a file box that can be found easily. The sooner you organize this information and commence a comprehensive estate planning process, the better. When you engage with our St. Clairsville special needs estate planning attorney, we’ll determine that your file incorporates the following:
  • Guardianship documents naming the person or people appointed to care for the child or disabled person when you can’t.
  • Important legal documents include birth certificates, Social Security cards, medical records, prescriptions, and health insurance cards.
  • A Letter of Intent, a non-binding document that gives vital information about the child with special needs to his or her future caregivers. This can be details like your child’s sleeping preferences, eating habits and favorite foods, activities and hobbies, and other things that impact his or her routine.
  • Copies of your own advanced health care and financial directives such as powers of attorney, living wills, and health care proxies.
  • A list of major assets such as insurance policies, investments, and bank accounts, and information about where they are located.
  • A list of government benefits your child may receive, as well as copies of completed applications and contact information for caseworkers with whom you have worked.
  • Other documentation, like tax returns for your child and information about housing and educational programs to assist future caregivers.
  • Copies of special needs trusts, living, or insurance trusts that may be in effect.
This file will need to be updated regularly to allow for changes in your dependent’s age, skills, and living situation.

The Merits of Establishing a Special Needs Trust

Due to your child’s disability and lack of personal financial assets, he or she is likely eligible for diverse government aid to help with care and medical requirements. But if you pass on and leave your wealth to your child, assuming it would provide the necessary financial backing, you might unknowingly do more harm than good by disqualifying them from these essential benefits.


By establishing a special needs trust, however, you can enhance your dependent child’s future quality of life without affecting their access to important benefits. In fact, you can take advantage of a special needs trust even during your lifetime. You can use money from this type of trust to:

  • Cover out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Pay for additional assistance in the home
  • Purchase assistive devices that are not covered by Medicaid
  • Cover the cost of private tutoring or other educational programs
  • Pay for life-enhancing activities such as theme park admission, movies, athletic teams, vacations, and more
Your child will not lose access to these need-based government benefits as long as the trust money is not used to pay for medical care, food, and housing.

Begin Your Special Needs Estate Planning with Jarvis Law Office

With the help of our experienced special needs estate planning attorney, you can plan for the future and enhance your child’s present circumstances. If you’re in the St. Clairsville area, reach out to us today to discuss how we can help organize your special needs estate plan. Although the future is uncertain, your child’s care doesn’t have to be.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Special needs estate planning is a highly concentrated area of estate planning that focuses on providing for the future care of disabled individuals while preserving their eligibility for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. At Jarvis Law Office, our experienced estate planning attorneys understand the complexities of special needs planning and can help families create comprehensive estate plans that ensure the financial security of their disabled loved ones while maximizing access to public benefits.
A special needs trust is a legal instrument designed to hold and manage assets for the benefit of a disabled individual without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. Trust assets can be used to supplement the disabled person’s needs, such as medical or holistic care expenses, education, or recreation, that are not covered by their public benefits. By establishing a special needs trust, families can provide for the disabled individual’s future care and enhance their quality of life while still receiving necessary government benefits.

Working with elder law attorneys or estate planning attorneys with experience in special needs planning is crucial for ensuring the proper structuring and administration of a special needs plan for your loved one. This might include a special needs trust but could also involve looking at the usefulness of a STABLE or ABLE account. The attorney will help you decide which tool or tools are right for you and your special needs loved one’s future. Any attorney you are considering working with should possess the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate complex government benefit programs, understand asset limits, and create tailored estate plans that meet the unique needs of disabled individuals and their families.


By engaging a professional with extensive experience in special needs trusts and other important planning options, families can have peace of mind knowing that their loved ones will be financially secure and able to access essential benefits.

Yes, a special needs trust can protect both probate and non-probate assets. Probate assets are those that are subject to the probate process upon the individual’s passing. Non-probate assets bypass probates, such as life insurance proceeds or retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries.


A properly crafted special needs plan addresses both types of assets and ensures that they are used to supplement the disabled person’s needs while preserving their eligibility for public benefits.

Possibly, but a Special Needs Trust, STABLE, and ABLE account are not tools you should think about as being interchangeable with each other. There are limitations and restrictions that are built into STABLE and ABLE accounts that do not apply to a Special Needs Trust. Deciding which is right for you and your loved one with special needs is something that an attorney with experience in special needs planning can assist you with by reviewing the pros and cons of each and assisting you in determining which is right for you and your special needs loved one.

Yes, a disabled individual can strive for financial independence while still receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration through special needs planning. Special needs trusts are designed to enhance the disabled person’s quality of life by providing supplemental resources beyond what public benefits cover.


By carefully structuring the trust, families can ensure that the disabled person’s financial independence is supported without jeopardizing their eligibility for crucial government programs, such as Medicaid and SSI. Special needs planning offers a valuable framework for achieving a balance between self-sufficiency and necessary disability assistance.

Please note that the information provided here is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. It is recommended to consult with a special needs trust attorney from Jarvis Law Office to obtain personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.

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