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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Special Needs Planning Requires Special Attention

 

 

Have you completed your Alabama estate planning for your loved one with special needs? We know this is a difficult topic to discuss as well as how hard it may be to contemplate a time when you are no longer here to provide for and protect your loved one. With as  many challenges as you and your loved one may face, however, you cannot wait to complete your Alabama estate planning. 

It is important to plan ahead for the long-term future of your loved one with special needs. Whether it is during this month of October, when there is national awareness on Special Needs Planning, or any time throughout the year, creating the estate plan you need is of critical importance.

As you already know, across the nation the age of majority is between eighteen and twenty-one years of age.  What does this mean as it pertains to estate planning? If you are the parent of a disabled child this can mean that you no longer have the legal right to make financial or health care decisions once the child is considered an adult.  Even if the special needs child is high functioning or can barely function, a parent no longer has the legal right to make financial or health care decisions. Again, without proper planning, even someone with a significant developmental, cognitive or mental health disability is legally permitted to make decisions at the age of majority. 

What can you do to protect your loved one with special needs? If this is your child then there is little question that from infancy forward, you always spoke to the school, to banks, financial institutions, doctors, specialists and so many more on their behalf. This has the potential of no longer being a legally viable option upon your child reaching the age of majority. Before this happens, you will want to determine with your Alabama estate planning attorney if your disabled loved one has the capacity needed to make less restrictive alternative documents that allow you act for them or if you may need court involvement.

Your attorney, with specific expertise in this area, can be particularly helpful in guidance and decision-making. Your attorney will not only help you with the planning needed for your disabled loved one but work with you to ensure that your Alabama estate plan is comprehensive and up-to-date. Planning ahead for a future where you are no longer here is extremely important. You do not want the special needs person to be left to his or her own defenses, or let the court make decisions through the intestacy process in the probate court. 

Further, a special needs trust can be set up for people with disabilities to ensure that money will be available for a special needs person throughout his or her lifetime. It can be used for a special needs beneficiary while not interrupting his or her ability to receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.  Your attorney can meet with you to discuss what type of trust agreement can best meet your needs and goals for your disabled loved one.

Special needs people deserve the best legal planning and advocacy possible.  The key is to plan ahead both for your loved one and yourself.  If you know someone with special needs, be sure this person is legally taken care of. Contact our office and schedule an appointment to start this planning today.


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