Special Needs Estate Planning

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Marty Fogarty with Heartland Law Firm.

Special Needs Estate Planning

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Marty Fogarty, a Family Law attorney based in Illinois.


If you have a loved one with special needs, what happens when you can no longer care for them? If you do have an estate, a trust, or inheritance, you can rest assured: you do have options for special needs estate planning.

The question is, what option should you put in place in the event that you are unable to provide for your loved one? An estate planning attorney can help you sort through those decisions.

The point of special needs estate planning is to set up lifetime money management for the benefit of a person with special needs. This also protects that person’s eligibility for public benefits if that ever does become an option. More importantly, you ensure access to a pool of funds to provide for a high quality of life for years to come.

  • Option #1: Brothers and Sisters – If you do have other children, sometimes the best plan of action is to offer your estate in the will to those other children with the intention that they will take care of their special needs sibling as you would normally. Risks to this option, though, include creditor claims, bankruptcy, divorce and mismanagement of funds.
  • Option #2: An Inheritance – You might have a company, or consistent channel of income that’ll continue generating revenue. Pass it on to your child with disabilities, and that child reaps the benefits as you would have. However, this could hurt the prospect of publicly funded benefits, such as SSI or Medicaid, not to mention resources for assisted housing, supported employment, vocational rehabilitation, group housing, job coaching, personal care aides and transportation assistance.
  • Option #3: Special Needs Trust – However, there’s a way to circumvent that with your inheritance option, in that you can set up a specific trust account designed to provide that without your special needs loved one losing the potential benefit of public assistance programs and other resources. Simply assign a trustee to manage the funds, and with certain limitations in place, the recipient can benefit from those funds, but not with utmost sovereignty. It’s often the best choice for families.

Discuss With Your Attorney and Choose a Trustee to Handle Those Assets for You

Estate planning is a notoriously complex area of law. When choosing an attorney, make sure you select with one years of dedicated experience in this specific niche. Someone who’s spent years working within your state’s estate planning framework can answer your questions and simplify the entire process.

Written on behalf of Marty Fogarty by AskTheLawyers.com™


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