When your child has special needs, there are several things you need to do to plan for their future. One of the most important ways to prepare for your child with a disability is through estate planning. Therefore, if your child has special needs, you should know: How do I estate plan for my disabled child?
Estate planning is important for everyone, but it can be especially important for families with special needs children. A child with a significant disability may require medical and financial support well into adulthood and even for life. Therefore, parents in this situation often have to take a comprehensive approach when planning for their child’s needs and planning for their estates.
Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are government programs that can provide essential support for disabled individuals throughout their lives.
Medi-Cal provides healthcare coverage for qualifying individuals at little to no cost. Medi-Cal can be crucial for a disabled child with complex medical needs.
SSI is a government program that pays recipients a small monthly amount. These benefits are paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. SSI funds can help pay for a disabled child’s routine expenses.
Both Medi-Cal and SSI have income and resource restrictions. Consequently, if a benefit recipient has too many assets or more than a certain amount of funds, they could become ineligible for benefits.
These programs provide crucial benefits that can help support a disabled child’s ongoing financial and medical needs. Therefore, parents must consider how their estate plans may impact their child’s government program eligibility.
When parents plan for their estate, they usually want to leave their assets to their children. Ordinarily, people in this position plan for these bequests by naming the children in their will or creating a living trust. However, when planning for a disabled child, parents need to be mindful of Medi-Cal and SSI income restrictions. This is because if a disabled child were to inherit funds or assets from their parents directly, their inheritance could disqualify them from Medi-Cal coverage and SSI. Fortunately, there are ways to estate plan and leave assets to your disabled child without interfering with their coverage and benefits.
One of the best ways to estate plan for your disabled child is by creating a California special needs trust (SNT). An SNT is a legal device intended to provide funds to pay for expenses not covered by government assistance programs. Although Medi-Cal pays for most of a recipient’s medical care and SSI covers some basic living expenses, neither program pays for additional quality of life costs. By contrast, a special needs trust can provide for a beneficiary’s entertainment, transportation, home furnishings, travel costs, educational expenses, and other quality-of-life expenses.
One of the other primary benefits of a special needs trust is that parents and other family members can fund the trust without jeopardizing the beneficiary’s Medi-Cal and SSI eligibility. When parents are estate planning, they can direct their child’s inheritance into the trust rather than jeopardizing their eligibility for these essential government benefits.
As a parent, you want to do all you can to make certain your disabled child will always have what they need. The best way to plan for your disabled child is by working with an experienced California special needs planning attorney. Your special needs planning lawyer can help you put the right measures in place for your child’s support today and in the future.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California special needs planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and prepare for your disabled child’s future. Please get in touch with us online or by phone to set up a free consultation today.