The documentation that you create with your special needs planning lawyer in Marietta will be quite detailed and will take an incredible amount into consideration, but it will likely not cover every possible concern or wish you may have for your child’s future care. For that purpose, many parents work with their lawyer to create a Letter of Intent.
The Letter of Intent is along the lines of a personal letter, rather than being a more formal legal document. It is used to supplement the special needs plan in order to provide additional information.
Uses for the Letter of Intent
- Parents often use it to address wishes that they have which don’t really fall under the purview of legal requirements.
- This document is also useful for addressing information about your child that is subject to change. While various other special needs planning documents tend to be more static, the Letter of Intent can be changed out as the information in it needs to be updated.
- Finally, a Letter of Intent is used to discuss topics that are just too lengthy to include in the special needs trust.
The letter is typically addressed to the people who will be caring for your child once you are unable to fulfill that role. When the time comes, your attorney will share the Letter of Intent with the child’s caregivers, as well as with the trustee. They can use the letter to help interpret your desires and to help follow through on the wishes you have for your child.
Where to Get the Letter
Your special needs attorney in Marietta can help you draw up your Letter of Intent as a supplemental piece of your special needs trust. You may also wish to download a template for organizing your thoughts. As with any online resource, be sure to have your attorney review the document and offer advice and recommendations. At Georgia Estate Plan: Worrall Law LLC, we’re happy to help. Call us at 770-425-6060 and let’s schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session at no charge to those readers of this blog post.
If your child has been recently diagnosed with autism, you are probably feeling overwhelmed with this new direction your life has taken and inundated with information about how to care for your very special child. The good news is that there are a number of ways that the government and other organizations can help you. A few of them are listed below.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI)
SSI is a financial benefit through Social Security and is available for children younger than age 18. Your child can qualify if he or she has a physical or mental condition (or combination of conditions) that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
The required level of severity for autistic disorders is met when a doctor finds that your child has the following:
- Deficits in reciprocal social interaction
- Deficits in communication and imagination, and
- A restricted range of activities and interests (this is not needed for Asperger’s syndrome)
In addition, the conditions above must cause serious limitations in at least two of the following:
- Communicative/cognitive functioning
- Social functioning
- Personal functioning, and/or
- Sustained concentration, persistence or pace.
Help for Adults with Autism
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration that provides financial assistance to individuals who have a disability that began before age 22. SSDI is paid based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record and are available if one of the parents is either receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, has died and worked for a sufficient amount of time under Social Security, or if the disabled adult received “dependent’s benefits” on the parent’s Social Security earnings prior to age 18.
Luckily, there are a growing number of government financial resources that are available for adults with autism spectrum disorders or to programs that they attend. However, many of these resources are “income dependent,” meaning that there is a limit to what an autistic adult can make or own. This includes any money or assets that may be left to them by parents or grandparents in their will or trust.
That is why our Marietta Georgia special needs lawyers are passionate about making sure people know that even if they have the best intentions in mind for their child/ grandchild, they could actually be harming them by leaving an inheritance that causes the child to become ineligible for government benefits (including Medicaid, which may be the only health insurance option available).
The good news is that a Special Needs Trust can help with this. By putting your child’s future inheritance in a trust, he or she can enjoy the benefits of owning assets while maintaining their eligibility for government benefits. Special Needs Trusts can be very complicated and must be created properly by an experienced Special Needs Trust attorney here in Marietta GA to ensure it works as the family intends.
If you have a child who falls within the autism spectrum and need help sorting through all of your options, call our Marietta special needs lawyers today at 770-425-6060 and schedule a free, no-obligation Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session. We can help you make sure your child’s financial future is secure while maintaining the benefits they need.
For families with special needs individuals, ensuring the care for their loved ones once the caretakers are gone is of the utmost priority. The loss of specialized care and Medicaid or SSI benefits is a very real danger if proper special needs planning is not put in place, which is why Atlanta special needs lawyers often share the benefits of special needs planning involving Special Needs Trusts.
What is a Special Needs Trust?
Since even a small amount of cash assets can disqualify special needs individuals from the care and assistance they need, it is important to not let these assets pass directly to them upon your passing. A Special Needs Trust is the best way to ensure your special needs loved one keeps their care and assistance while also benefiting from the legacy you leave behind. Atlanta special needs lawyers design these Trusts in such a way that the assets in it do not belong to your special needs beneficiary; instead, they are owned by the Trust and managed by a Trustee of your choosing who will direct the assets to be used for the benefit of your special needs loved one. Medicaid and SSI will ignore the assets in the Special Needs Trust as they are not directly owned by your special needs loved one.
How may the assets in a Special Needs Trust be spent?
Assets in a Special Needs Trust can be spent in a number of ways which benefit the special needs individual. These include education, recreation, vacations, home improvement, and certain out-of-pocket medical expenses. These expenses are considered “non-countable” by Medicaid and SSI since they do not count as the special needs individual’s personal assets. Atlanta special needs attorneys caution that assets in a Special Needs Trust may not be given directly to the special needs individual, as this will oftentimes disqualify them from receiving state assistance.
What if I don’t have a Trustee or I’m not leaving behind a large sum of money?
In cases where a suitable Trustee cannot be chosen or a small or moderate sum of money is being left behind, Atlanta special needs lawyers often direct their clients towards Pooled Trusts. Pooled Trusts are typically run by non-profits which manage the assets for special needs individuals. The non-profit will assign a Trustee who is responsible for managing the assets on behalf of the special needs individual; the benefit of such an arrangement is that the Trustee and the non-profit are both heavily involved in the special needs community and understand the care and compassion needed to look after your special needs loved one. While there are fees and different types of services attached to Pooled Trusts, they are often a good alternative to an individual Special Needs Trust in certain situations.
If you have any questions about how a Special Needs Trust can benefit you and your loved ones, please contact us at 770.425.6060 to schedule a consultation.
Special needs planning attorneys in Atlanta have very specialized knowledge that can help families plan for their children’s future. There are so many things to keep straight when it comes to raising your special needs child, and focusing on what will happen to him or her after your death is not something that is pleasant to contemplate. Still, it is very important to take the time to meet with a special needs planning attorney in Atlanta in order to give your child the best opportunities.
An Important Tool
Special needs planning is a part of estate planning, and one of the most common things an Atlanta GA special needs atttorney is likely to advise will be a “special needs trust.” The reason that this trust is so important is that it allows you to set aside money for your child’s future without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for government benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid. Unfortunately, leaving your child even a small inheritance can make it so he or she is no longer eligible for this kind of aid and can severely impact quality of life.
Trusts for Your Child
There are different types of trusts that the attorney will go over with you. Some are funded by the person with special needs, say through an award from a personal injury case or from an inheritance. Others are specifically funded by a third party such as parents or other family members. The second kind is the special needs trust, and if it’s the right choice for you, a qualified Georgia special needs trust attorney will be able to help you understand your options with the trust.
People to Consider
In addition to helping you set up the trust, a special needs attorney will also be able to help you determine the appropriate trustee. In some cases, this may be a family member or other caregiver. In other cases, the lawyer or firm may take care of the administration of the trust. An advocate may also be chosen. This person will be familiar with both the beneficiary’s needs and the intentions and wishes of the person creating the special needs trust.
Using the Trust
When the trust is set up, the person creating it (called the “grantor”) has a say in how the funds are to be used. For example, money can be dedicated to the daily needs of the beneficiary. Dispersal schedules can be created, as well. In this way, rather than giving someone a single lump sum, you can set up a situation where monthly allotments are made. The advocate would understand this and work with the trustee to make sure the terms were being followed in the beneficiary’s best interest. At the same time, the trustee is charged with managing the funds through investments or other means that keep the trust funded.
Of course, this is just an introduction to the possibilities of a trust. For a much fuller understanding and to get the ball rolling, we invite you to contact our Atlanta special needs attorneys who are knowledgeable about the field, as well as how Georgia’s state laws come into play. To schedule a Georgia Treasures Planning Session (valued at $750) at no charge, simply call 770.425.6060 and mention this article.
Estate planning is incredibly important for all parents, as it allows them the opportunity to make very difficult choices. It provides the chance to determine who will raise your minor children if you can’t, what money will be set aside or used for their upbringing, and even what money will be used to support them as adults. Each of these choices can become even more difficult when the child has disabilities, especially if he or she is receiving some type of government assistance. This is where working with an Atlanta special needs planning attorney comes into play.
A special needs planning attorney is familiar with the most common choices faced by parents of children with disabilities and can offer advice and suggestions on how to plan for that child’s care. They also understand the ramifications of inheritance when it comes to eligibility for government assistance. Here in Atlanta, as in other places across the country, planning tools such as a special needs trust or supplemental needs trust must be set up a very particular way in order to meet government standards and allow for the continuation of other benefits.
However, special needs planning is not just about maintaining government support. It also protects the disabled individual from lawsuits and other debts, as the trust cannot be seized in order to pay these. This protects the trust and the individual who relies upon it for his or her ongoing care.
An Atlanta special needs planning attorney will be familiar with how local, state, and federal laws interact in order for parents to put together a plan that best protects their child. It is highly recommended that you seek out a lawyer who specializes in special needs trust planning. He or she will help set up your child’s trust, as well as explain all the details such as how a trustee will manage the assets for the beneficiary.
If you are ready to get started in creating a plan that makes sure your disabled child stays physically and financially protected if something happens to you, I invite you to give our office a call at 770-425-6060 and schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session. These sessions are normally $750, but we’ve made space for 10 area families to come in this month absolutely free of charge. Simply call 770-425-6060 to reserve your free planning session today.
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