PLANNING FOR THE NEEDS OF A DISABLED PERSON
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), approximately 20% of U.S adults are disabled. A growing number of people between the ages of 45 and 64 are becoming disabled. Some argue that the recent economic downturn, coupled with caring for adult parents and young adult children may be contributing factors.
Approximately 15% of U.S. children have one or more developmental disabilities. According to the CDC, autism spectrum disorders have increased approximately 23% since 2009 and 73% since 2007!
The increasing amount of disabled individuals necessitates the need for an elder law attorney who incorporates special needs planning into his/her practice. Our practice regularly includes the use of supplemental needs trusts (“SNTs”) to preserve the assets of disabled individuals while maintaining government benefits such as Medicaid and/or SSI eligibility.
SNTs can be created with the assets of a third party or the assets of the disabled person. For instance, a parent who has a disabled child may be advised to create a SNT to hold that disabled person’s inheritance upon the death of the parent. The parent can appoint a trustee who can use the assets of the trust at his/her discretion for the benefit of the disabled child while preserving Medicaid and SSI benefits.
Often, couples include SNTs in their Wills to preserve the assets of the well spouse who predeceases an ill spouse after working with us to obtain Medicaid eligible.
In other cases, personal injury settlements received by a disabled person can be transferred to a SNT. Planning for disabilities does not only include the known but also the unknown. It is common practice in my Firm to draft SNTs in all Wills since you never know when someone can become disabled. These are called trigger SNTs.
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