Tips for Families with Special Needs

This is the first in a series of posts which examines the unique planning requirements of families with children, grandchildren or other family members (such as parents) with special needs. There are numerous misconceptions in this area that can result in costly mistakes when planning for special needs beneficiaries.  Understanding the pitfalls associated with special needs planning is a must for all of us who assist families who have loved ones with special needs.

Tip #1: Avoid disinheriting the special needs beneficiary.  Many disabled persons receive Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Medicaid or other government benefits to provide food, shelter and/or medical care. The loved ones of the special needs beneficiaries may have been advised to disinherit them – beneficiaries who need their help most – to protect those beneficiaries’ public benefits. But these benefits rarely provide more than basic needs. And this solution (which normally involves leaving the inheritance to another sibling) does not allow loved ones to help their special needs beneficiaries after they themselves become incapacitated or die.  The best solution is for loved ones to create a special needs trust to hold the inheritance of a special needs beneficiary.