Part 2 – Did You Know?
Yesterday, I talked about why planning for the future of your loved one with a disability is so critically important. Today, I want to talk about what proper planning can actually accomplish. What it really means.
With proper planning, you will decide who will care for your child; where they will live; who will manage assets left for their care; the type of care he or she will receive; and what your specific wishes and goals are for your loved one. If you do not plan, these decisions will be made by the state in which your loved one lives and those who will be appointed to provide care and supervision. You have no assurances that what you want for your loved one will be done.
Stop for a minute and think about what would happen tomorrow if you were not here.
Review all the things you do each day for your loved one. Dressing; feeding; getting them off to school, work or the adult center; knowing their dietary needs; how to communicate; and all the other “little” details. This information must be given now to current providers (teachers, therapists, medical practitioners, case workers) and those who will serve in the future (guardians, trustees, conservators). Do you want the people who provide care and protection for your child to have to figure everything out on their own? What if they can’t figure it out? What effect will this have on your child? Is it fair to them or your child not to plan now before it’s too late? Creating the Letter of Intent, does just this. It’s not a legal document, merely the instrument to provide comprehensive information to current and future providers about your loved one’s abilities and requirements. This is a document that should be updated each year as your loved one grows and his or her needs change.
How can you provide for the supplemental needs of your loved one with a disability without jeopardizing their Social Security and healthcare benefits?
Why is it so important to make family and friends aware of the planning you have done for your loved one? How is it possible that one well meaning person can throw a “monkey wrench” into all the careful plans you have made and jeopardize your loved one’s Social Security and healthcare benefits, and result in the loss of assets left for his or her care? By creating a Special Needs Trust to hold, manage and protect the assets you leave for your loved one, you will ensure them a lifetime of care and supervision. By setting-up the correct Trust, family and friends can put their assets into the Trust while still living. Not all Trusts allow you to do that.
When you set-up a Special Needs Trust, your loved one with a disability is the beneficiary of the Trust. Why is this so important? Because some families are concerned that should a Special Needs Trust be established, and their loved one with a disability becomes self-sufficient and no longer needs the Trust funds, the money is no longer available to them. What happens? The money can be used for their college education, a home, a car, to start a business, anything they want to use it for.
In addition to the above, let’s look at what else you can accomplish with the proper planning. No planning, or improper planning can have dire consequences, including:
- All the guardians/conservators and trustees and their successors can be chosen ahead of time. You can even ask your child with special needs who they would like to take care of them after your death. What peace of mind for you knowing that your loved one will have guardians and trustees of your choosing taking care of them.
- Not all assets pass through a Will. Life insurance, retirement plans and annuities pass by beneficiary designation. Your child could receive these assets even if they are not named as a beneficiary. With proper planning, a serious potential problem can be averted.
- If the State is unable to find a single home for all of your children, they could be forced to live in separate homes.
- Your Estate will be distributed according to the rules of “Intestacy” in your State of residence. You have no say in this matter. If you are divorced from your child’s biological parent and remarried, your current spouse receives all your personal property and can do anything they want with it. If you are unmarried, your children share your Estate equally. Either way, your loved one with special needs may not get enough to live on, or anything at all.
- Regardless of how much in assets your loved one receives in their name, this money is subject to an immediate payback to Medicaid for previously provided healthcare services.
- In addition to the payback to Medicaid, if the person’s remaining assets exceed $2,000, they will be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The result is the loss of part, or all of their inheritance, ineligibility for SSI cash benefits and healthcare through Medicaid.
- Your child’s standard of living could be seriously jeopardized with the loss of these benefits and assets. To make matters worse, there are no budgetary guidelines to know exactly what your child’s monthly income requirements will be.
Are you starting to get the picture as to why future planning for your loved one with a disability is no longer an option? You must take responsibility and begin the planning process today. What I’ve talked about is only the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t do proper planning, you can see the problems you are creating for your loved one with a disability. No one wants to think about his or her own mortality. It’s downright scary. But don’t you want to make your loved one’s transition after your death as easy as possible? Discover the solutions for today, tomorrow and the future, by visiting Serenitas Special Needs Planning at www.SerenitasSNP.com, or call 818-231-6759. Make the commitment today.