When you have a loved one with special needs, planning for the future can be tricky. You want to make sure your loved one is provided for financially without jeopardizing public benefits. Emotional considerations can be more complicated. And family dynamics can play out in ways no one intended.
Persons with special needs are often eligible for government support in the way of financial and medical benefits. However, without proper and careful planning, an inheritance or life insurance policy payout can kick them out of any such supportive program. Worse still, that could happen at your death, meaning you aren’t around to sort out a mess left behind.
A Special Needs attorney works with families to help prevent that mess from ever developing. With carefully drafted trusts, families can provide for their loved ones with special needs without risking their public benefits. A well-drafted trust also helps protect the family relationships by protecting those funds set aside for the special needs beneficiary from wayward decisions (or bankruptcies or divorces) of other family members. The special needs attorney also helps families understand the roles of trustees and guardians and how those roles can compliment each other. Having these conversations early can help prevent misunderstandings among family members in the future.
Special Needs attorneys also can help structure a trust in the case of a personal injury lawsuit settlement or damage award. If someone has been severely injured and has qualified for public benefits, a modest award might jeopardize that continuity. Of course an award or settlement that completely provides for the injured party’s future won’t need the same attention. But careful consideration should be taken in deciding which route to take in finalizing any such case.
Having spent a decade working with clients with mental illness and intellectual disabilities before entering the legal field, Jana McCreary developed a deep appreciation for planning for long-term care of persons with special needs. Weaving that experience with her current law practice sets a strong foundation of legal services for current clients.