Future planning is critical for those that are disabled. Many are, or may one day be, dependent on government benefits for living and healthcare expenses. Gifts, an inheritance, or a lawsuit settlement/award can disrupt important these benefits. Without careful planning and management of their finances, they may jeopardize their eligibility for government benefits, either in part or completely. Even if the funds received are sufficient for their needs now, it is very difficult to predict the future. Healthcare and living expenses increase with age or as their condition progresses. Especially challenging are that the rules of eligibility and awards for government benefits are under constant revision and the benefits received from parents are also subject to unforeseen change.
We can create a plan that will ensure the disabled person's needs are met. Our goal is to assist those individuals with disabilities to preserve the maximum assets possible and to maintain government benefit eligibility. Thus, with the proper legal tools in place, those individuals and their families gain a peace of mind knowing they are better able to stretch out their resources to receive sufficient care and to maintain a comfortable lifestyle throughout their lives. We are here to draft Special Needs Trusts (sometimes called Supplemental Needs Trusts) either as part of the estate plan of the parents or grandparents of the disabled child so that the inheritance can be used to enrich the child's life. We also draft such trusts to hold the proceeds of a personal injury award.
Adult Guardianship/Conservatorship should be considered. Individuals are considered to be competent and treated as "adults" once they reache the age of 18. Sometimes parents are surprised to learn that they no longer have the ability to communicate or make decisions on behalf of their disabled child.
For example, the parents may experience a frustrating doctor's visit or phone call with their child's insurance provider. A parent no longer has the right to speak for a child who reaches the age of adulthood without being appointed as the child's guardian and/or conservator. In other words, a court must find that the child (who is now an adult) has a disability that prevents him or her from being able to manage his or her own affairs. The appointment of a guardian (to manage health, housing and education) and/or conservator (to manage finances) is the key to opening the channels of communication again for a parent or caregiver to manage the affairs of the disabled individual and help them obtain proper care. Therefore, if you have a disabled child who is approaching that age 18, we strongly suggest you visit with an attorney experienced in guardianships and conservatorships to ensure a smoother transition to adulthood for your child.
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