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Estate Planning for Special Needs

As the parent of a special needs child or adult, you have a lot on your plate. Estate planning is probably not something you look forward to adding to your already full to-do list.

Estate planning for special needs should not be stressful. Our attorneys at the TGQ Law Firm can guide you through the process. We understand what you are going through and will work hard to protect your child’s well-being and peace of mind.

We are based in Ann Arbor and serve all of Michigan. Contact us at (734) 707-3232 or click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

What Is Estate Planning for Special Needs? Why Is It Necessary?

Living with a disability comes with financial and medical challenges. Estate planning for special needs can ensure that your child has the financial support and health care they need after you pass away or are no longer able to care for them.

With proper planning, you can ensure that your assets will be available to your child during their lifetime without hurting their eligibility for means-tested benefits such as:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

These programs are only open to people below certain income and asset limits. If your child inherits a significant amount of money outright, they could lose eligibility for government assistance.

What Are the Benefits of Estate Planning for Special Needs?

Estate planning for special needs can help to:

  • Protect and distribute your assets after you die
  • Ensure that the assets will fund your child’s lifelong care
  • Protect your child’s eligibility for benefits

A critical step in the process is putting your assets in a special needs trust. This is a legal arrangement where a designated person (the trustee) manages the trust assets for the benefit of your child (the beneficiary) after you die.

The main function of these trusts is to hold the assets to protect them and maintain the beneficiary’s eligibility for benefits. Assets in special needs trusts do not affect eligibility.

You must seek legal assistance during this process. Benefits programs have different requirements that change often. A Michigan estate planning attorney from The TGQ Law Firm can help structure the trust to avoid risking eligibility.

What Role Will the Government Play in My Child’s Future?

Even if your child can access a special needs trust, they should use government benefits for daily expenses and supplemental care.

Trust money should only go toward quality-of-life expenses, such as education, recreation, or entertainment, and not basic needs. Trusts may also fund certain medical costs, such as speech therapy, dental, and mental health care.

Additionally, if you pass away without assigning another person to care for your special needs child, the state government will assign a conservator. Working with an Ann Arbor estate planning attorney is crucial to ensure that your child is in the best possible hands after your death

How Do I Set Up An Estate Plan to Assist My Child?

In addition to considering a special needs trust, you should keep all your child’s paperwork in one place for easy access by future caregivers and update it regularly. Some of this documentation includes:

  • Legal documents: Birth certificates, Social Security cards, tax documentation, etc.
  • Medical documents: Medical records, prescriptions, health insurance cards
  • Final arrangements: Directions about your final resting place and burial service
  • Letter of Intent: Information about your child’s needs and routines, such as eating habits, sleeping patterns, and hobbies
  • Trust paperwork: Special needs, insurance, and living trust documents
  • Asset inventory: A list of all major assets, such as investments, bank accounts, or insurance policies
  • Government benefits documents: A list of the benefits your child is receiving and contact details for government agencies or caseworkers you work with

Request a Consultation | Michigan Estate Planning Attorney | The TGQ Law Firm

At The TGQ Law Firm, we have been supporting parents in managing the affairs of their special needs children since 2008.

Whether you need an Ann Arbor probate attorney or a consultation on estate planning for special needs in Michigan, we can help.

Contact us at (734) 707-3232 or click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Sign up for a needs assessment

During this 60-minute (one hour) in-person meeting we will review your situation, listen to your interests, and identify a satisfactory plan of action. We look forward to meeting you!