Special Needs Planning For Your Children In California
When you have a kid with special needs, you know that you need to prepare for their future. They'll likely face significant hurdles, so planning things out while they're young is the best way you can help them.
This post will discuss the crucial steps to special needs planning, as often handled by our prescreened Anaheim Estate Planning Attorneys in California.
1. Establish Guardianships And Directives
While your child is still a minor, make sure you and anyone caring for them have signed appropriate directives stating who will look for them if you are unable to.
In addition, you should consider obtaining legal paperwork that identifies a guardian for your child. This is especially important because you don't really know what could happen in the future. Choosing a set guardian you can trust in case you won't be able to care for your children (i.e., disability, health problems, death, etc.) is a must.
Your child should have their own set of advance directives naming a trusted agent once they are an adult and have the legal capacity to sign documents.
For a smoother process, consult with an Anaheim Estate Planning Attorney.
2. Use a Special Needs Trust If You Have A Child With Special Needs
The first thing to understand is that special needs trusts come in a variety of forms:
First-Party Trust. This is funded by the special needs person as long as they are under 65. This trust can be established by the child, parent, grandparent, or guardian.
If correctly drafted, it will not affect the beneficiary's eligibility for government assistance.
Third-Party Trust. This allows family members to contribute assets to a trust for the benefit of a person with special needs without putting that person's government benefits eligibility in jeopardy.
This type of trust has no repayment provision, allowing any remaining assets to transfer to other beneficiaries as specified by the trust maker. It can be set up during one's lifetime or according to the directions of a will.
Pooled Trust. This is a community trust that a non-profit organization runs to help many people with special needs. In essence, the non-profit serves as a trustee, making it a viable choice for small families or those seeking trustees who are not family members.
The beneficiary's property held through a pooled trust should not influence their eligibility for government benefits.
You can make the proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to your third-party special needs trust if you have one or are thinking about getting one. If permanent and term life insurance policies are left to this trust type, the child's government payments will not be affected. In addition, if you have retirement accounts, any remaining balance at the end of the account holder's life may be payable to the third-party special needs trust.
Caveats: Third-Party Trusts
It is not a good idea to entrust your special needs child's care to a third party, such as an older child or another relative.
However, it's vital to understand that, regardless of how close the personal or familial tie is, a chosen third-party designate has no legal obligation to follow your intentions, leaving the use of your money to that third party's discretion.
That said, make sure to work alongside an Anaheim Estate Planning Attorney in choosing your special needs trust. A lawyer will know what's best for you based on you and your family's current concerns.
3. Establishing An ABLE Account
On December 19, 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) was signed into law. The law intends to alleviate financial burdens for people with disabilities by allowing them to open tax-free savings accounts to meet eligible disability expenses.
People who become disabled before the age of 26 can contribute up to their ABLE account, with total contribution limits changing by state. The money in the ABLE account grows tax-free and can be used to pay for eligible costs that help you maintain or improve your quality of life.
An ABLE account can also accept contributions from parents, other family members, or friends. ABLE account funds have no impact on most government assistance programs.
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