Life Planning for the Beneficiary with Special Needs

By creating a special kind of trust, you can ensure the financial security, health, well-being and safety of your disabled beneficiary after you are no longer able to physically provide for their care.
Individuals who have children with special needs, whether as the result of a genetic disorder, injury, or mental or physical illness, face several unique considerations in constructing a sound plan for the future. In addition to making decisions about the individuals’ own financial, healthcare, and distribution concerns in the event of being unable to care for themselves or their children, they must also consider the financial security, health, well-being, and safety of the children/beneficiaries who require additional attention and care. By working with a qualified estate planning attorney to establish a Life Plan for their Beneficiary with Special Needs (“Beneficiary”) in conjunction with their own estate plan, these individuals create protection and peace of mind for the future by being proactive todayThe creation of a Life Plan for such a Beneficiary typically involves coordinating the efforts of multiple professionals, ranging from financial planners, insurance agent(s) and attorneys to social workers and, in some instances, administrators of residential facilities. It is critical to assess the individual needs of the Beneficiary in assembling the team that will work toward the goal of maximizing his or her opportunities. Generally speaking, it is important to assess FOUR key areas:
  1. Medical Care
    • frequency of doctors’ appointments
    • specialists involved in the Beneficiary’s medical care
    • administration of medications and therapies
    • prognosis for future complications and/or decline
  2. Financial Concerns
    • costs of medical care, therapies, and medications
    • daily expenses of maintaining his/her standard of living
    • clothing and personal items
    • education costs
    • likelihood of the beneficiary being gainfully employed
  3. Education and Training
    • completion of primary education
    • vocational training
    • college and post-graduate studies
  4. Social Relationships
    • peer support
    • family activities
    • charities and organizational involvement
    • recreation and vacation

Once the assessment process is complete, the foundation has been laid on which the rest of the Life Plan can be built. There are several different tools that can be utilized to accomplish this goal, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Special Needs Trust – is a useful instrument for assuring the preservation of the Beneficiary’s inheritance, thereby retaining eligibility for government benefits should the need arise;
  • Advanced Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney – which name agents who can make medical and financial decisions on behalf of the Beneficiary if such person is unable to make those decisions individually;
  • Living Arrangements – whether in a private or group home, residential facility, or with a relative or loved one;
  • Roadmap – this provides direction and guidance for the provision of proper daily care and an agenda for a useful, productive life experience; and/or
  • Designated Advocate – a planned relationship/agreement with an agent to act in the best interest of the Beneficiary in place of parents who would otherwise act in that capacity.

Even with the implementation of the tools above, the Life Plan process is still not complete at this stage. In fact, it is critical to put in place a periodic review process every three to five years during which the team of professionals is called together to reassess the individual needs and goals of both the parents and the Beneficiary. Changes will occur in the development of such Beneficiaries, which necessitate changes in the Life Plan along with changes in the law that will require modifications, amendments and other possible revisions to maximize the benefits available to the Beneficiary. Once the parents of the Beneficiary are no longer able to provide care for this individual, this task is left with the team put in place by the parents. This means another highly important aspect of the Life Plan is choosing a “manager” whom the parents know and trust to act in their place. Often, this person is a family member, but choosing a relative is not required. There are many other people who can fill this role, including a case worker, a non-profit organization, or even a corporation who can manage the financial aspects of the Beneficiary’s care. A qualified estate planning attorney can guide you through this entire process and assist in you in making all of these decisions.

AlerStallings LLC is uniquely situated firm in the Columbus area to offer assistance with the creation of Life Plans for Beneficiaries with Special Needs and routinely researches changes in the law to ensure maximum protection and care for its clients. Not only will the attorneys at AlerStallings be there in the beginning to guide you through first establishing the Life Plan but they will also be there for the follow-up, review, and maintenance of such Life Plan moving into the future. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about the process of setting up a Life Plan, you may contact AlerStallings at (614) 798-9800, located in Dublin, Ohio. Someone is always available to speak with you about the importance and necessity of creating a Life Plan for your Beneficiary TODAY, to ensure peace of mind for TOMORROW.