Protecting loved ones with special needs through estate planning

| May 11, 2017 | Wills & Trusts

We create estate plans to express our wishes for how our personal property should be distributed when we pass. This also includes making sure that the people we care for will be taken care of if we are no longer able to. For special needs children and people who receive supplemental security income (SSI) leaving money or property may have unintended consequences.

Basically, federal rules prohibit SSI recipients from receiving benefits if they have more than $2000 in assets. So, a person in financial need could lose their benefits if they inherit money or assets. As such, caregivers must be strategic in this regard.  

This post will highlight a few ways to do so. 

Create a special needs trust – It is important to understand that federal rules do not prevent an SSI recipient from being a beneficiary to a special needs trust. Such a trust works like a traditional trust, where the entity actually owns the assets and a trustee administers it for the recipient’s benefit.  

Set up an ABLE account – If a special needs trust is not suitable, an ABLE account may be the proper way to ensure a special needs person is taken care of. Caregivers may set aside up to $14,000 each year to be used for regular living expenses in the future. Moreover, federal law allows these accounts to grow to up to $100,000 without Medicaid or SSI eligibility being affected.

If you have further questions about crafting your estate plan in Florida, an experienced attorney can help.

The preceding is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice.