child with special needs

Special Needs Estate Planning: Don’t Let Down the Most Vulnerable Person in Your Family

If your family has a member with special needs, not taking the time to prepare for their future with an updated estate plan can have devastating consequences. Today is the time to contact a well-respected estate planning attorney and take steps to secure the future of your most vulnerable relative, whether they are your child, your sibling, your aunt, or your uncle. If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts, contacting Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is a wise choice. 

Unfortunately, so many people neglect to make or modify their estate plans in time to benefit their loved ones. The stark reality is that anyone can become ill or disabled or die at any time. No one likes to think about such occurrences, but everyone should prepare for them. Estate planning is a bit like purchasing insurance; no one wants to consider possible catastrophes, but every responsible person should.

How to Do the Right Thing

Many well-intentioned, loving individuals make the following mistakes that may leave their special needs relative floundering. Let’s take a look at these errors and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: Not Making a Will

If an individual forgets or never takes the time to write a Will, they may unintentionally disinherit the person who most needs their assistance. For example, suppose your special needs loved one is your stepchild. If you have not adopted that child, the Massachusetts laws of intestate (without a will) succession will not allow that child to inherit from you, even if you two are close and you do a large portion of that child’s parenting.

Mistake #2: Trying to Prepare a Do-It-Yourself Special Needs Estate Plan

Even for those with moderate assets, looking for a cheap shortcut to protect your family is not a good idea, especially when a family member has special needs. Using cookie-cutter forms and failing to consult with a skilled professional is very unlikely to lead to positive results. 

Having a legal advocate who has in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws, and keeps current with their changes, is critical to making the right decisions. When you meet with one of our attorneys, you can be sure that we know precisely how to draft and execute well-crafted documents. We will tailor your estate plan to the specific needs of your loved one, taking into account the particulars of your case.

Mistake #3: Using a Trust, but Not a Special Needs Trust

Some people, aware that their special needs relative may not be responsible when it comes to financial matters or may not be able to handle money at all, recognize the need to establish a trust and appoint a trustee. They may not, however, understand how customized trusts can be. 

Unless a Special Needs Trust is created, an inheritance may prevent them from being eligible for the government benefits (e.g. SSDI, Medicaid) they are entitled to receive.

Our special needs trust attorney will help you to create a Special Needs Trust that will allow your relative to have government income and healthcare benefits while still permitting them to use the inheritance you leave to provide them with supplemental funds to enhance their quality of life. 

Mistake #4.  Not Updating Beneficiary Designations After Creating a Special Needs Trust

Suppose you make your special needs relative the beneficiary of a sizeable bank account or life insurance policy. If that individual, rather than their Special Needs Trust, is named as beneficiary, your generous contribution to their well-being will prevent them from receiving the government funds they need and deserve.

Contact Our Special Needs Estate Planning Attorneys Today

Planning your estate, especially when you have a special needs loved one to take care of, is a sobering task. That’s why you require the excellent judgment of our experienced special needs estate planning attorneys. Contact us now to put yourself and your family in trustworthy, capable hands.