LegalJourney Blog

Monday, December 26, 2016

Estate Planning for Special Needs

Forbes.com published an article entitled, "Estate Planning for Special Needs" (Nov 7, 2016). Provided below is a brief summary of the article from Forbes.com:

Estate Planning for Special Needs

A sound, up-to-date estate plan is important for virtually every adult—but it’s absolutely essential for people who have dependents with special needs. "Many special needs children will be financially dependent on others their entire lives," says Mark Albertson, an Estate Planning Specialist for Fidelity Wealth Planning and Personal Trust. "It's crucial to have a plan in place that protects the long-term financial well-being of these dependents."

When creating or reviewing your estate plan, start by identifying what you’re trying to accomplish as a family. Hold conversations with appropriate family members, as well as professionals such as financial advisors, attorneys, and physicians, to determine how you want to divide up the estate among your heirs. “Some families may want to leave more money to a special needs child than to other children; other families may decide it makes sense to leave less, because that child receives income from a settlement or Social Security; and others might want to make inheritances as equal as possible,” says Albertson. “Talking through those kinds of issues is the first step.”

Also discuss what care will be necessary for your special needs dependents, how it will be provided, and who will take on responsibility for overseeing it.

It is recommended to speak with a legal and estate planning professional regarding the creation of a trust that could provide for special needs dependents for as long as they live, rather than leaving money directly to the dependent or another family member.

"Many people with special needs have cognitive impairments that keep them from being able to manage money well," says Albertson. "What’s more, leaving an inheritance to a special needs dependent may put him or her at risk of losing eligibility for government benefits."

Some families simply leave extra assets for a sibling or other loved one to care for the dependent. That’s unwise, Albertson warns. Such a commitment can create unwanted moral obligations or financial problems. "It's impossible to prepare for every contingency," Albertson says. "Say a special needs child has a brother who's very reliable and agrees to take on added responsibilities. Divorce, job loss, or unexpected death can derail even the best-intentioned plans."

A trust provides the vehicle in which a family can set aside funds specifically for the care of the special needs dependent. The right type of trust depends largely on the anticipated size of the grantor's estate.

To find out more information on this topic, please continue to read the full article “Estate Planning for Special Needs” from forbes.com


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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