Estate planning can be an emotional task for any family. It is, however, an important step for the future of your family, especially when your dependents have special needs. Don’t procrastinate. Part of estate planning is getting it done before it becomes necessary so that your loved ones aren’t burdened with handling this overwhelming task once you have passed.
At the Law Firm of Gary I. Handin, P.A., we understand that timing is not always on your side and that the unexpected can occur. This why we advise that estate planning takes place when a person is at least 18 years old, legally competent, in good health, and under no emotional stress at the time it is filed.
What Is Estate Planning?
The foundation of estate planning involves formally documenting the transfer of your estate after your passing. Your estate will include:
- All property owned, including land and houses
- Retirement funds
Within your estate, you should have a will; a legal document that states who will receive your property in the unfortunate event of your death, and in what amounts. The property includes any items owned by the deceased. An alternative to a Will is a Living Trust. The advantage to a living Trust over a Will is that the Will is subject to the Probate procedure upon your death, whereas the Trust does not usually require any Court proceedings in order to distribute your assets upon your death in accordance with your stated wishes. A trust designates a person, known as a trustee, who manages the property on behalf of listed beneficiaries. Another estate planning tool is the Durable Power of Attorney, wherein authority is granted to a person or organization giving such “attorney-in fact” the legal power to handle your matters and property during your lifetime if and when you are no longer able to do so.
The three main objectives of estate planning include:
- Ensuring that the lowest amount of tax is paid on your estate
- Designating a Guardian for minor children, if necessary.
- Ensuring that your estate is transferred and remains with your beneficiaries, in accordance with your wishes. This objective is especially important for people with special needs dependents.
Why Estate Planning Is Different For Special Needs Dependents
You can prepare to continue taking care of your special needs dependent once you have passed. Estate planning aims to eradicate the stress associated with the loss of a breadwinner in the life of a disabled individual. Planning gives your surviving family and children peace-of-mind, no matter the circumstances.
Being a provider for a special needs’ child, you’re no doubt aware of the trials they face in life. It can be difficult to determine what they may need in the future in terms of their health, prognosis, and their capabilities. This is where an estate planning lawyer can help you answer a few questions to guide your planning.
- Will they be considered for government benefits when they turn 18 years old or do you prefer them to be covered first and foremost by your estate?
- Does your estate carry enough assets to cover all their needs?
- Will your child be covered by a large sum of money or other assets?
- Will you appoint a discretionary trustee to distribute this income throughout the child’s life?
- Different types of trusts: If your child is guaranteed to receive government benefits, is it a better option to set up a special needs trust? A special needs trust aims to supplement government benefits and not reduce their eligibility. Government benefits cover basic needs while the trust gives them the opportunity to do the more enjoyable things.
- When you aren’t certain of government benefits for your special needs’ child, will it provide better security to allow trustees to create a separate special needs trust upon your passing so that all their needs are taken care of?
With all of these options, estate planning can become even more challenging. To prevent any confusion, there are a few steps you can take to ensure all your bases are covered. This can be done with the guidance of a reputable estate planning lawyer. We understand that the very idea of planning for your death can be daunting and a difficult task to consider. Because special needs children are likely to be dependent on their family for the rest of their lives, their long-term financial well being should be taken care of.
At the Gary I. Handin Law Firm, we’re here for you and we want to make your estate planning process as stress-free as possible. The cost of planning for your children’s future pays for itself when you are no longer here to take care of such matters yourself.