The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has declared the month of May “National Elder Law Month.” NAELA will be sponsoring programs throughout the United States to educate older Americans about their legal rights and to call attention to the legal resources available to them within their own communities. I am a member of NAELA, which is a professional association of attorneys dedicated to improving the availability and delivery of legal services to older Americans. In this final entry in a series of five posts, I want to talk more about the importance of planning for individuals with special needs.
What are the issues for which people with special needs need to plan?
Individuals with disabilities who receive public benefits would benefit from having funds in a trust used to maintain their quality of life. When an individual who receives public benefits also receives money, the public benefits may be jeopardized. This situation may arise when the individual receives a personal injury or divorce settlement, an inheritance, or other funds. Regardless of the source of the funds, once the individual has money in his or her own name, the public benefits may be at risk. To protect the public benefits, the excess funds can be placed in a Special Needs Trust. A Special Needs Trust is used to supplement, not replace, public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. There are several planning options and the advice of an experienced Special Needs Planning attorney is needed. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you or a loved one.