Gaughan & Connealy provides assistance with special needs planning to clients throughout Overland Park, Kansas City, and surrounding areas. Whether you are the parent, relative, or friend of someone who is disabled or impaired, you need to understand how the law will affect your special-needs friend or relative. This is especially important in situations where someone has become disabled due to an accident and is about to recover an injury settlement, as well as in situations where you want to provide an inter vivos or post humous gift to a disabled person.
Our legal team understands the laws applicable to special needs individuals and can provide guidance on how those laws will affect your disabled friend or family member. When you want to make sure a disabled person is financially provided for, we can also help. Contact us today to learn about special needs planning and to get answers to some of the questions you may have including:
- Is special needs planning necessary and why?
- What should be a part of a special needs plan?
- How can a Kansas or Missouri special needs planning lawyer help?
Why Special Needs Planning is Necessary?
Special needs planning is necessary whenever you plan to provide a financial gift to someone who is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid as a result of a disability. Regardless of whether the person receiving these benefits is profoundly disabled or would be able to manage his or her own money, you should not just give a monetary gift.
Providing property or assets to someone receiving means-tested government benefits could result in the loss of these important benefits. Since SSI and Medicaid both have asset limits, as do many other programs often relied on by disabled individuals, a gift of money and property could actually be harmful. The benefits could be stopped, the money would need to be spent for the services, and restarting the benefits could be a challenge for the disabled person.
Special needs planning also becomes necessary when someone who is disabled is going to receive money from any source which that person cannot manage on his own. Often, people with severe disabilities are left money by relatives or they obtain a personal injury judgment if an accident has left them disabled. When a person is to receive money or property but his physical or mental condition will prevent him from making and communicating decisions about asset management, special needs planning becomes essential.
What Should be a Part of a Special Needs Plan?
A special needs plan should involve creating a plan to ensure a disabled person can receive money or assets without jeopardizing government benefits. A plan should also include provisions to manage money on behalf of the disabled person and to provide custodial care if the disabled person cannot live alone independently.
There are specific trusts, appropriately called special needs trusts, which can be created so that the trust owns the property being given to a disabled person. The disabled person is not considered the legal owner of the property, and thus the money in the trust will not disqualify the disabled person from any means-tested benefits.
Strict rules must be followed for the creation and the funding of a special needs trust and, depending upon the type of trust, it is possible the state will try to recover money from the trust after the disabled person has passed away. This could occur if the state has paid out Medicaid or other benefits and wants to recoup the money it spent.
It is important to be aware of the rules for creating special needs trusts and to fund the trusts appropriately. It is also important to leave specific instructions for how the trust should be used to benefit the person with special needs. A trustee should be assigned to oversee the management of trust assets and to use them appropriately. Cash gifts or the equivalent cannot be provided to a disabled person without jeopardizing benefits, so the trustee will serve a very important role in wisely using trust assets to benefit the person who has a disabling condition.
How can a Kansas or Missouri Special Needs Planning Lawyer Help?
Gaughan & Connealy has extensive experience providing comprehensive assistance with special needs planning to clients in both Kansas and Missouri. Whether you are a parent leaving money to a special needs child, another close relative, or a friend who is helping a disabled person with an injury settlement, you need to make sure you get advice so you can make the right choices when it comes to creating a plan for the future. Call us to speak with a special needs planning lawyer who can offer the help you need.