Preparing Instructions in Advance Is Vital for A Special Needs Estate Plan

When building a comprehensive estate plan to support a special needs loved one, it is important to take into account both current and long-term considerations, including if you pass away.

Various financial and legal arrangements can be crafted to achieve long-term stability pursuant to your specific situation.  The key for each case is preparing instructions in advance!

For many, a Special Needs Trust is the best of all options. These trusts are designed to support both children and adults with special needs in a number of ways, including remaining intact if the special needs beneficiary outlives his or her parents or guardians.

Deciding whether to start a trust now or through a last will and testament or revocable trust at the time of your passing largely depends on your goals and circumstances. Attorneys who specialize in special needs trusts and estate planning can  provide critical guidance.

Proactive planning is crucial when the goal is to shape an estate plan that will enrich the personal lifestyle, well-being and stability of your special needs loved one. In addition, this involves selecting the right trustee to manage the assets held in trust, and an advocate who understands your special needs family member and is dedicated to enhancing their quality of life. Ideally, these two individuals would work together, with the trustee making trust distributions at the direction of the advocate.

Their guiding light, however, will be the instructions you leave behind. You can work with your attorney begin to prepare these instructions. This could be in the form of a “letter of intent” or a document that can describe your special needs family member’s functional abilities, routines, and interests, while citing particular doctors and services you would like them to continue using.

Work with your attorney to determine how best to reach this goal, but, in addition to your legal planning, you can consider including:

  • A final expression of love and desires for a special needs love one.
  • Detailed medical instructions.
  • Therapists, clinics, hospitals, and current medications.
  • Educational goals.
  • Trusted local resources, like churches and certain private organizations.
  • Important personal relationships such as relatives, special friends, teachers, and particular care providers.
  • His or her favorite foods, music, books, and television shows.

Does this article raise more questions than it answers? We know it is not easy to plan for your disabled loved one, especially when you are contemplating a time when you will no longer be here. If you need more education on this topic during this Special Needs Law Month, or at any other time, do not wait to let us know.

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