Parents with special needs children should speak to an experienced and qualified estate planning lawyer about creating a special needs plan if you haven’t already done so. Through a properly drafted special needs plan, you and your family can rest assured that the person with disabilities will have their needs looked after should the worst happen to you. A good special needs plan will also allow you to leave an inheritance, while at the same time taking advantage of any relevant government programs that might be available. As you create your special needs plan, there are several errors or mistakes you will want to avoid. Your estate planning lawyer will give you instructions on what you need to do, but in the meantime, keep the following concepts in mind.
Carefully select the special needs trustee.
When you create a special needs plan you will likely create a special needs trust. This trust will give you the ability to provide for the person with disabilities by taking some of your property and transferring it into the trust’s name. The trust will then own the property and allow the person with disabilities the ability to use or benefit from it.
When you create your trust you will have to choose the trustee who will act as trust manager. This person needs to be financially responsible and capable of managing property on behalf of someone else. Though many people who create these types of trusts choose another family member to act as trustee, you should also consider other options. If you don’t believe you know anyone reliable enough to act as trustee, you should look to a professional trustee instead. Your attorney can assist you with making this important decision.
Pay special attention to the funding process.
Because the special needs trust plays such an important role in your plan, you will want to pay particular attention to funding it. Creating the trust instrument is important, but transferring your property into the trust name is equally vital. Transferring property into the trust is known as funding. Failing to fund the trusts properly can lead to significant problems. Always be sure you know what steps you have to take for each piece of property you intend to transfer into the trust’s name.
Don’t wait to begin planning.
Even though it may seem like you have all the time in the world, you don’t. None of us know what the future holds, and waiting to begin creating a special needs plan is one of the worst things you can do. You and your family need to be certain that your special-needs child or adult with disabilities will be cared for in the future. The only way to be certain is to have a special needs plan in place as soon as possible.