Ohio Special Needs Estate Planning
As the parent or guardian of a person with special needs, you have always done what you had to do to ensure that they get the support and services they need to thrive. From working with their school on an appropriate educational plan to applying for government benefits, it’s no small task to care for someone with developmental or physical challenges. This care and advocacy don’t end once you are no longer able to do it. Whether by death or incapacity, there may very well come a day when you can no longer care for your loved one with special needs. That is why it is so important to plan now for whatever the future holds.
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. Jarvis Law Office understands 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.
What Your Special Needs Estate Plan Should Look Like
Because your dependent with special needs will not be able to advocate for him or herself after you are gone, it’s important to put your wishes down in writing and to organize all relevant documents in a file box that can be easily located. It is never too soon to get this information organized. When you sit down with our attorney, we will make sure your file has the following:
- Guardianship documents naming the person or people appointed to care for your child when you can’t
- Important legal documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, medical records, prescriptions, and health insurance cards
- A Letter of Intent, which is 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 aspects of his or her routine
- Copies of your own advance 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 that would assist future caregivers, like tax returns for your child and information about housing and educational programs
- Copies of special needs, 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.
Why You Should Consider A Special Needs Trust
Your dependent with special needs is likely eligible for a variety of government benefits to assist with their care and medical needs. They qualify for this assistance because of their disability but also because they don’t have financial assets in their name. However, if you die and leave your assets to your child, thinking you are providing the financial support they will need without you, you will likely do more harm than good by disqualifying them from these important benefits.
By establishing a special needs trust, however, you can enhance your dependent’s 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
As long as the money from the trust is not used to pay for medical care, food, and housing, your child will not lose access to these need-based benefits.
Three Goals Of Care Navigation for Special Needs
From Your Current Home Or Assisted Living To Specialized Care
Contact Jarvis Law Office To Get Started Today
A special needs estate planning attorney can help you not only plan for the future but make life better for your child with special needs now. Contact us today to talk about how we can help you. The future holds a lot of uncertainty, but your child’s care doesn’t have to be one of them.