Estate Planning for a Loved One Who Has a Significant Disability

Estate planning for a child or loved on who has a significant developmental, physical or mental disability can be particularly challenging and is also particularly important. Many of the priorities, goals and questions are no different than any other situation:  How can I be sure that they are taken care of?  If they are young or unable to manage their own affairs, who should be given responsibility to help them? How can I protect them from foreseeable (or unforeseeable) problems or challenges?  However, while these sorts of goals and questions are common among various situations, there are often other more unique questions: How will a gift impact eligibility for Medicaid or other public benefits? How can I be sure that someone is looking out for their best interests? How can I plan for a potential change in circumstances or needs?

Fortunately, there are some unique estate planning tools that can be used to address these questions and effectively plan for the well-being of any individual.  A trust is commonly an effective tool to provide for the needs of another.  In some contexts, a “special needs” or “supplemental needs” trust can be a particularly effective tool to help provide for an individual who is also eligible for public benefits or similar financial assistance. Ultimately, each individual and each situation is quite unique and requires an experienced and skilled lawyer to help guide you through the right solutions.