Special Needs Planning

Navigating The Complexities Of Special Needs To Protect Your Loved One

How To Leave Assets For Your Special Needs Child

Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are ill-equipped to handle.

We at The Mundheim Firm, PLLC are dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you are no longer able to serve as their primary caregiver.

We offer a variety of estate planning tools and strategies designed to accommodate the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families.

We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. We will also assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and/or trustee to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity. And we will help with locating the best residential opportunities and identifying the best means to pay for them.

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ABLE® Accounts

As of May 1, 2018, Texas Achieving a Better Life Experience (Texas ABLE®), based on federal and state law, provides Texans experiencing the onset of a disability before the age of 26 (who also meet program eligibility requirements) or their fiduciaries, an opportunity to save up to $15,000 per year by placing those funds into an ABLE® account. When determining eligibility for federal benefits, funds up to $100,000 held in an ABLE® account are effectively ignored. 

Funds may be withdrawn from an ABLE® account for qualified expenses, including: 

Education

Housing

Transportation

Personal support services

Health

Prevention and wellness

Financial management and administrative services

Oversight and monitoring

Such qualified withdrawals are not subject to federal income tax.

Special Needs Trusts

One “Catch-22” situation that typically arises in estate planning for persons with disabilities is how to leave enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and support those loved ones one typically need throughout their lifetimes, while not disqualifying them from government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income.

If you leave a large lump sum of money directly to a person with a disability,  there are immediate concerns about how that might impact governmental assistance, and whether that person is capable of managing finances on their own.

Fortunately, we have an estate planning tool called a “special needs trust” designed to provide supplemental financial resources for the person with a physical, mental, or developmental disability without affecting  eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits.

This said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated.

For instance, funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary and must be disbursed to a third party who is responsible for providing the goods and services necessary to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Once you have established a special needs trust, the care and attention we pay to your loved one with a disability is not over. We know that your loved one’s financial and emotional requirements will change over time, sometimes dramatically.  The laws governing public benefits will definitely change over time.

Given this, it is vital to work with an experienced attorney who can create a comprehensive special needs trust that is both properly structured and appropriate for your  specific situation.

Special Needs Planning And Trusts

If you need estate planning for your child with Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or any other developmental or intellectual disability, we are here to help you.

We will help you develop a sustainable living plan that will provide them with the finances they need to live a full life, while preserving their access to government benefits.

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