Special Needs Planning
Individuals with disabilities must have less than $2,000 to their name in order to qualify for government benefits. Even if they do not currently have assets over that amount, we still need to plan for future inheritances, life insurance payouts, or the general desire to save financially for their future. To do so, we set up a special needs trust where someone (usually the parent) is named trustee and supervises the money to ensure continued eligibility for government benefits. We prepare a will for the parents which coordinates with the special needs trust, and we will have wording which the parents can give to other family members for use in their wills too.
If someone with a disability already has assets in their name, we can look at what we can a "first-party special needs trust". This would be used in situations such as where the individual has received an inheritance or a payout in a lawsuit.
Although ABLE Accounts are a new and wonderful option for those with disabilities here in Georgia - especially those who work -- a special needs trust is needed alongside the ABLE account to ensure continued eligibility for benefits, as an ABLE account cannot be used for inheritances or payouts from life insurance / retirement accounts.
In many cases, adults with disabilities need extra support in making and communicating responsible decisions about their health and safety.
Meredith Hilton offers assistance with petitioning for adult guardianship and conservatorship where families are in agreement that it is in the individual's best interest.
Although some individuals with disabilities have a need for guardianship, there are also tools available to allow those with disabilities to have the support needed to make their own decisions. Often, individuals with disabilities are able to sign financial powers of attorney and medical directives which can help avoid the need for a guardianship or conservatorship.