Future Care Planning for Children and Adults with Special Needs
Would you like to make sure your loved one with special needs is protected for life?
What is future care planning for an individual with a disability?
If you have a loved one with a disability who will not be completely independent as an adult, you will need to engage in estate planning to provide the resources to fund a lifetime of care. Preparing for your loved one’s future is important because the alternative is total dependence on the government support system—which may or may not be available in the future.
Your estate plan should provide a comprehensive set of instructions that makes the transition of your family’s resources as easy as possible when the time comes. Your plan should also preserve the disabled person’s eligibility for critical government benefits—including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income—through the use of a properly drafted Special Needs Trust.
If you are planning for the future care of a person with a disability, you should consider implementing the following steps soon, if you haven’t done so already:
- Name guardians for both the short term (if you are temporarily unable to take care of your child) and the long term (if you are permanently unable to take care of your child).
- Identify the need for future care planning . . . . the critical issue is whether the person with a disability will be able to support themselves independently as an adult.
- Consider adult guardianship and the alternative at age 18 . . . . so someone is able to make decisions on behalf of the person with a disability if he or she is unable to do so.
- Plan for and secure essential government benefits at age 18 . . . including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The first step in order to schedule a PUNS interview is to contact your local Independent Service Coordinator (ISC). Click here for a list of Coordinators in Illinois.
- Create a life care plan . . . to make sure that everyone knows exactly what to do when you are no longer there to take care of the person with special needs.
- Prepare a Living Trust and Will . . . this makes the transition of financial resources upon your death as easy as possible on your family and loved ones.
- Establish the right kind of Special Needs Trust . . . to make sure the person with special needs has money available to provide for their lifetime care needs.
- Build a team . . . include your lawyer, financial advisor, CPA, social worker, and life care planner to make sure everyone knows what the plan is and how to implement it.
- Provide enough financial resources . . . so the individual’s Special Needs Trust is adequately funded and can provide for supplemental needs.
- Pass on more than just your money . . . write or record a set of instructions to guide future caregivers and trustees as they take care of your child.
Who Benefits From Special Needs Planning?
Families who have a loved one with special needs will benefit from putting in place a comprehensive estate plan, which includes a Special Needs Trust. In addition, an individual who is disabled and has received a person injury settlement or has received an inheritance outright and in their own name (rather than in the right kind of Special Needs Trust), will benefit from planning.
What Should You Expect During the Planning Process?
The first step in the planning process is to contact our office at 630-871-8778 or request a call here. Our staff will ask you a few questions about your planning needs and let you know how our firm works. If you would like to schedule an initial meeting with an attorney, our staff will send you a new client information packet.
The packet includes a Personal Information Worksheet, which will help you start the information gathering process. We request that you fill out the Worksheet and return it to our office prior to your initial meeting. Completing the Worksheet prior to the initial meeting allows you to get the most out of the meeting.
At your initial meeting, the attorney, either Bill Deitch or Kirsten Izatt, will gather information about your family, goals, and objectives. In addition, the attorney will explain the consequences of your current plan (whether or not you already have wills and trusts) and whether your current plan meets your objectives. The attorney will discuss public benefits and community resources that are available to the person with a disability. Finally, the attorney will discuss fees and present planning options with you so you can make the best decision for your family. You will know exactly what your planning fee will be before you decide to retain our firm.
When you are ready to move forward, the attorney will work with you to design your plan. The design phase of your planning may involve one or more meetings. When your plan is designed and drafted, a call or a meeting will be scheduled to allow you to review your plan. Then a signing meeting will be scheduled. During the signing meeting, we will go over everything with you—including your funding plan. Unlike some planners, we have a comprehensive process for making sure all of your accounts are titled properly. You will receive straightforward instructions about what to do next, and we will be available to answer questions. In addition, we provide you with a thumb drive containing scanned copies of all your documents.