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Special Needs Planning

North & South Carolina Special Needs Planning Lawyers

Experienced Special Needs Planning Services: Trusts, Guardianship & More

At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we understand the unique challenges families with special needs children face. That’s why our dedicated and compassionate special needs planning lawyers are here to help you create a plan for your child as they grow. We aim to help you find tailored special needs solutions for your child’s circumstances, protecting their well-being and future. 

If you need help handling estate planning for your special needs child or children, our special needs planning attorneys in North and South Carolina are ready to support you at every step.

Give us a call at (704) 289-3250 or contact us online today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Our Special Needs Planning Services 

Our special needs planning attorneys in North and South Carolina can guide you through various situations, including:

  • Guardianship 
  • Special needs trusts 
  • ABLE accounts
  • Public benefits planning

We are here to help. Please call us for a comprehensive special needs planning consultation today.

What Is Special Needs Planning? 

Caring for any child can be challenging at times. However, parents of special needs children often face additional challenges concerning their child’s healthcare needs and quality of life. 

Questions often arise, such as: 

  • How will I pay for the special services that my child may need? 
  • How can my child receive a settlement or an inheritance without being disqualified for public benefits?
  • How do I plan to protect my child during my lifetime and after my death? 

Our attorneys can help you find the solutions to these issues to ensure you can provide the proper care for your child with special needs.

How Can I Protect My Special Needs Loved One’s Future?

A lot of love and dedication goes into caring for a loved one with special needs. That’s why our special needs planning services give you the information and tools you need to have peace of mind that your child or loved one will be cared for throughout their life. 

At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we’ll help you create a comprehensive plan for your child through every life stage, ensuring they have the care, benefits, and assistance they need. The best way to protect the future of your special needs child is to meet with one of our special needs planning attorneys in North or South Carolina and develop a plan that changes with them as they grow.

What Is a Special Needs Trust? 

A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust, is a legal arrangement that provides for the financial security and care of individuals with disabilities or special needs. It is designed to enhance their quality of life while preserving their eligibility for government assistance programs.

The primary purpose of a special needs trust is to protect and manage assets on behalf of a person with special needs. This trust allows them to receive supplemental support without jeopardizing their eligibility for means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). By sheltering these assets in a trust, individuals with special needs can maintain their eligibility for these crucial programs.

Some of the advantages of a special needs trust include: 

  • Preservation of Public Benefits: A special needs trust helps ensure that the beneficiary can continue to receive government assistance while also benefiting from additional resources.
  • Financial Management: The trust can provide professional management of funds, ensuring that they are used appropriately and in the best interests of the individual with special needs.
  • Flexibility in Providing Support: The trust can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the beneficiary, taking into account their unique circumstances and requirements.
  • Protection Against Exploitation: A special needs trust safeguards the assets of the beneficiary, preventing them from being misused or taken advantage of by others.

A special needs trust differs from other types of trusts in its focus on maintaining eligibility for public benefits while providing supplemental support. Unlike a traditional trust, which may distribute assets directly to a beneficiary, a special needs trust allows for the funds to be used for goods and services that enhance the beneficiary's quality of life without disrupting their eligibility for means-tested programs.

How to Establish a Special Needs Trust

To establish a special needs trust, certain criteria must be met, including:

  • Disability or Special Needs: The beneficiary must have a qualifying disability or special needs as defined by applicable law.
  • Age Restrictions: There are no age restrictions for the establishment of a special needs trust. It can be created for a minor child or an adult with disabilities.
  • Distribution Restrictions: The trust must be structured to provide for supplemental needs beyond those covered by public benefits programs. It cannot be used to replace or duplicate benefits provided by government assistance.

What Can a Special Needs Trust Be Used For? 

Examples of how a special needs trust may be used include:

  • Housing and Living Expenses: The trust can be used to cover rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other housing-related costs.
  • Medical and Therapeutic Expenses: It can provide funds for medical treatments, therapies, assistive devices, and other healthcare needs not covered by public benefits.
  • Education and Vocational Training: The trust can support educational expenses, tuition fees, tutoring services, and vocational training programs.
  • Recreation and Entertainment: Funds can be allocated for recreational activities, vacations, hobbies, and other forms of entertainment that enhance the beneficiary's quality of life.

When it comes to public benefits programs, such as Medicaid, a special needs trust plays a crucial role. By properly structuring the trust, individuals with special needs can receive additional financial support while still qualifying for critical benefits.

Estate Planning Stages for Children with Special Needs in North & South Carolina

It can be challenging to complete estate planning for a child with special needs in North or South Carolina, especially when it may be unclear what their future holds. Our specialized planning approach helps you address the unique challenges you may face while raising and caring for your child with special needs. 

Whether you want to plan for an infant or small child, a teenager, or an adult with special needs, we support you with comprehensive and compassionate guidance through each stage of your child’s life. 

Stage 1: Planning for Infancy & Pre-Adolescence

  • Get a diagnosis from a medical professional as legal protection for accommodation, advocacy, and education laws. 
  • Create a plan for early childhood healthcare, including medications, needed specialists, and school accommodations for appointments. This is also an excellent time to consider who you would like to be your child’s guardian and medical power of attorney if you can no longer care for your child. 
  • Learn about potential accommodations your child may need for school. You can also look at early intervention and special education programs that may be helpful for your special needs child. 
  • Create a financial plan to address the expense of caring for a child with special needs. You can also look at programs like a life insurance policy or Medicaid that can financially care for your child if you pass away unexpectedly.
  • Consider whether to proactively appoint a guardian in estate planning documents in the event you become unable to act as your special needs minor child’s guardian at any point.

Stage 2: Planning for Adolescence

  • Consider additional educational options for your child, including high school or college, if they are capable of these possibilities. 
  • Take care of the paperwork to name yourself or another trusted individual as a durable power of attorney for your special needs child as soon as they turn 18.
  • Consider updating estate planning documents to account for alternative adult guardianship in the event you pass away and in preparation for your special needs child’s 18th birthday.
  • Look at work experience options if your special needs child might be able to handle this as they get older.

Stage 3: Planning for Adulthood

  • File the durable power of attorney paperwork once your child is 18. This ensures they legally have the protection they need regarding health, financial, and legal decisions. 
  • Complete your estate planning to ensure your adult child will be cared for upon your passing. This step includes designating who should be appointed guardian over your child and setting up a financial arrangement to continue providing for your child’s care. 

Your child may be eligible for Social Security Income and Medicaid benefits based on their special needs. This can potentially happen while they are a minor but should be available to them once they turn 18, so you can plan to ensure you’re ready to file on their behalf once they reach adulthood.

How Our Special Needs Planning Attorneys Can Help 

So many factors go into special needs estate planning, and you may feel overwhelmed with all the decisions you need to make and eventualities you need to account for. That’s why working with an experienced special needs planning attorney in North or South Carolina is crucial to ensure you feel prepared and informed every step of the way.

We are here to guide you through this process and put solid plans into place that protect your child now and in the future. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

You can reach us online using our secure contact form or give us a call at (704) 289-3250 to set up an initial consultation with Collins Family & Elder Law Group today.

Contact Us Today

Whether you have questions or you’re ready to get started, our legal team is ready to help. Complete our form below or call us at (704) 289-3250

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