Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning | Guardianship | Strategic Alliances  | Estate Planning | Individual & Corporate Planning

SilverTree Special Needs Planning was formed specifically to work with families and caregivers who have children living with disabilities or other special needs. The firm was created out of the need for a planning service which would assist families in coordinating their legal and financial planning with the intent of helping to preserve government benefits.

Regardless of the type of disability, we are here to help you eliminate the overwhelming and confusing obstacles of Special Needs Planning. Lifestyle Preferences, Legal Issues, Special Needs Trusts, and access to Government Benefits should all be considered during the planning process. We know that this can be a daunting task, but we are here to help you. Please call us today to schedule a consultation.

The Need to Plan for Today and Tomorrow

Proper planning speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. If there is no information for the care of the person with special needs or the proper documents are not prepared those who take over the care of your son, daughter or other loved one are going to have a difficult time trying to figure things out.

Special Needs Planning is a greater necessity today than ever before. Advances in medical and social treatment for people with developmental disabilities have increased their life expectancy. Greater longevity for the person with special needs creates a greater need for parents or caregivers to do proper planning that incorporates daily routines and needs as well as special needs trusts for future financial needs.

Special Needs Planning plays an important role in the daily living of the person with special needs, as well as planning for when the primary care providers are no longer able to care for them. You would not go out for an evening without making sure that whoever is caring for your loved one with special needs knows what to do, how to do it, and how to reach you in an emergency. What would happen today if you were unable to provide care for an extended period of time or permanently? We have the answers to your questions. Please call us today so we can help you protect your loved ones.

What Will Happen If You Do Not Plan

No Wills - No Special Needs Trust - No Letter of Intent? No Government Benefit Planning - No Budgeting?

The Good News - The government has a plan for you.

The Bad News - The government has a plan for you.

  • Your children will have Guardians, Trustees, and Conservators appointed by the State in which they live.
  • Your estate will be distributed according to the wishes of the State, not yours.
  • If any assets that are received in the name of the person with special needs exceeds $2000, they will be ineligible for SSI (Social Security Insurance) cash benefits and Medicaid.
  • Assets received in the name of the person with special needs are subject to immediate repayment to Medicaid for healthcare benefits previously received.
  • Medicare may be the only healthcare benefit the person with special needs receives which does not offer the same benefits as Medicaid.
  • Assets left to others to care for the person with special needs could be lost to creditors, litigation, divorce or their death. There is no guaranteed security or protection.
  • Support provided by others for the person with special needs could be considered income and/or assets reducing or terminating SSI and Medicaid.
  • Not all assets pass through a Will. If you fail to make the necessary beneficiary changes and designations, your life insurance, retirement plans, and annuities could pass directly to your person with special needs in his or her name resulting in termination and payback for government benefits.
  • Without written information explaining the day-to-day care needs of the person with special needs and what your goals and wishes for their future care are, providers will only be able to do what they think you want not necessarily what should be done.

Key Points of Special Needs Planning

  • Special Needs Planning - start as soon as possible to avoid important decisions being made for the individual with disabilities by government agencies, the state, and the courts.
  • Lifestyle preferences, legal issues, financial security, and access to government benefits should all be considered during the planning process.
  • A Special Needs Trust, prepared by a professional with experience in estate and future needs planning for persons with disabilities, can preserve government benefits and avoid the loss of assets intended for the person with disabilities.
  • A Letter of Intent creates a record of critical information about the day-to-day care needs, abilities, diet, activities, rights, and medical care for the person with a disability.
  • Upon attaining age 18, individuals with disabilities are emancipated adults under the law. Which leaves the parents or primary caregivers without any authority to act on the person's behalf. Understanding your legal options pertaining to guardianship and conservatorship are an important part of planning.
  • A Guardianis a legally appointed person responsible for the care and decisions made on behalf of a person deemed unable to manage certain necessary functions for themselves. A Conservator manages the person's financial affairs. A Trustee manages the trust established for the individual. The same person can serve in one or all capacities.
  • Starting Special Needs Planning early enables the family to build the Special Needs Trust fund and make plans that will serve the individual with disabilities well for years to come.

Guardianship / Conservatorship 

The future guardianship / conservatorship of your child with special needs is a planning issue to discuss now. The law provides for all people who reach age 18 to be considered an adult. This means parents no longer have legal authority on behalf of their child, even though they may have special needs. This can be remedied with the proper planning. Parents need to know their options for continuing to provide the appropriate care and supervision for their child. However, if family members do not make provisions for the supervision, care and security of the person with special needs the courts will make important decisions regarding guardianship / conservatorship, trustees, and the distribution of assets.

Don't be afraid of planning...  be afraid if you don't!