Having a family member with special needs means looking at the world in a way that most people never consider. Each individual’s needs are unique. From choosing which medical devices are best for your situation, to deciding whether to take a more mainstream approach to caregiving, there can be a lot of factors and information to keep in mind. Additionally, those with special needs often need assistance for their entire lives. If you become incapacitated or deceased, who will pick up your responsibility as a caregiver? Who will be willing, and able, to care for your loved one and treat them as well as you do? A special needs planning attorney can help you create a plan to ensure your loved one is taken care of, even when you’re no longer able to do so personally.
Creating a Conservatorship
You likely have strong feelings about who you would (and who you would not) like to assume your role as caregiver. Perhaps you feel that your sibling or cousin might be best suited for the job, or perhaps you feel like your parents wouldn’t be a very good fit. If you have any specific people in mind who you do (or do not) want to be the conservator, this information needs to be communicated to an attorney so that it can be clearly and legally specified. Otherwise, the courts may appoint someone of their own choosing.
Many special needs attorneys will advise against leaving an inheritance outright to someone with special needs, not because you don’t care for them, but because the acquisition of assets may cause your loved one to be disqualified from certain benefits or assistance programs. Even health insurance companies may view the acquisition of assets as a reason to attempt to collect payment for benefits that were paid out in the past. We instead encourage parents to create a Special Needs Trust, which can hold assets for your child’s future care without the red flags of having them legally in his or her name.
Special Needs Trusts
Again, your California special needs planning attorney may recommend that you set up a Special Needs Trust for your loved one, depending on your unique situation. You will also need to determine how the trust will be funded, with life insurance being a common choice. This action is intended as a way to protect your loved one’s ability to qualify for certain programs and benefits. In addition to possibly providing assets and funding for the family member with special needs, this kind of trust also allows you to name someone of your own choosing as the legal manager of those funds.
When it is apparent that your loved one will be dependent upon others for a lifetime, preparing for their future is of the utmost importance. To ensure your loved one is cared for in a manner that you see fit, call (800) 244-8814 to plan an appointment with one of our experienced California special needs attorneys.