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Palm Springs Law Blog

Friday, November 25, 2022

Estate Planning for a Relative with Special Needs

If you have a relative with special needs, it is guaranteed that they will need financial, medical, and caregiving assistance for the rest of their lives. And if you are the primary source of that assistance, there is a good chance that your relative will need that assistance after you are no longer able to provide it. That is a terrifying situation that no one ever wants to face.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your special needs relative even after you are no longer able to assist.

Arranging for a Special Needs Relative in Your Will

One of the most likely circumstances that will stop your ability to care for your relative with special needs is at the time of your death. The best way to prepare for this eventuality is to create a will that provides for your special needs relative. This does not just mean you should leave all of your assets to them. Money alone won’t protect your special needs relative.

You also need to arrange for guardianship for your relative. The money in your will should be designated to pay for the care your relative will require, and the guardian should have the right to access some of that money to improve the quality of life of your relative.

Create a Trust

Dying is not the only way you might become incapable of caring for your special needs relative. You could also grow too old to continue to provide support or have other life events prevent you from being able to provide the same care you once did. Assuming you can afford it, you can still provide for your loved one’s care, even once other factors limit your ability.

A trust provides long-term support for a special needs family member, even while you are still alive. By creating a trust, you ensure that your loved one is financially supported until the trust runs out of money.

Additionally, family and friends can easily donate to the trust, rather than having to give you money which you would then spend on the care for the special needs relative. A trust also allows you to avoid tax consequences that might arise from other options like a will.

Furthermore, by creating a trust, you can also designate additional trustees that can access the funds or make care decisions for your loved one. There are several ways that a trust can be set up. But however you set it up, you are ensuring that your special needs loved one will be cared for even if you no longer can personally provide that care.

Maximizing the Value of a Trust or Will

The United States has a large assortment of tax laws. A will or trust in one state will have significantly different costs or tax consequences than the same will or trust would have in a different state. Your will or trust can be more efficient in the same state, depending on the decisions you make when you create it.

Because you want your loved one to have the most financial support possible, you should always consult with an experienced estate planning attorney before making any decisions about how to provide long-term care for your special needs loved one. An estate planning attorney will know how to best create your will or trust to maximize the value and suffer the lowest possible tax liabilities.

If you require special needs estate planning in Palm Springs, CA, contact an attorney from Heritage Legal, PC, to discuss your options with wills and trusts.


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