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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

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:


  • Focus on a loved one’s good health, safety, and well-being.
  • Make dependable decisions regarding a family’s long-term care needs while keeping their goals in mind.
  • Offer viable financial solutions in paying for long-term care.


For families of a loved one with special needs, care navigation & planning guides them through important considerations such as guardians, a special needs trust, a summary of our wishes, an ABLE account, SSI/SSDI, Medical Assistance for Workers with Disability (MAWD), and any additional legal tools they should be considering.


Regardless of their situation, care navigation planning offers Ohio families the resources to manage their long-term care options and expenses. From reviewing existing insurance policies to exploring Medicaid eligibility options or filing veterans benefits claims, Jarvis Law Office has the necessary knowledge and experience to help clients identify financial solutions that are right for them. 

What Care Navigation Planning Entails

To protect what matters most, developing a comprehensive Care Navigation Plan involves identifying critical aspects of your loved one’s life that need careful attention, including:


Preferred living arrangements: Determining the right location for your loved one, whether aging in place, transitioning to an assisted living facility, or moving into a specialized community. Jarvis Law Office offers access to an Care Navigator who acts as a liaison between the family and the care centers.


Healthcare providers: Identifying experienced healthcare providers specializing in special needs care who can deliver optimal support to your loved one. Jarvis Law Office team members will help identify preferred care providers to meet your loved one’s needs and to develop a client-focused care plan to maximize quality of life for your loved one. Your care navigator will also advocate on your loved one’s behalf and coordinate communication among the care professionals involved in that care.


Legal documentation: Developing essential legal tools like advance directives, durable powers of attorney, trusts, and guardian and conservator appointments to ensure your loved one’s medical, financial, and personal decisions are always in the right hands.

From Your Current Home Or Assisted Living To Specialized Care

Transitioning a loved one from their current home or an assisted living center to another specialized care environment can be challenging. When you work with Jarvis Law Office, you gain a dedicated social worker for guidance, resources, and advocacy to help you address important care planning considerations. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Research special needs care communities and facilities to identify those that meet your loved one’s needs and preferences.
  • Visit potential communities, arrange a tour, meet with staff, and observe daily routines.
  • Discuss the transition with your loved one or close support system, including the benefits and the importance of specialized care.
  • Create a plan for the physical move, paying attention to details that can create a comfortable and familiar environment.

At Jarvis Law Office, our special needs attorneys and care navigators can diligently guide you and your loved one through these anticipated transitions to address your needs and concerns while helping you to prepare for the steps ahead.

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.

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