Back To School: Make Sure To Plan For Your Special Needs Child

If your child has an autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, or any other disorder, you’ve spent the last few years making sure your child’s needs are met.  Teachers have been met with and doctor’s appointments have been attended.  Think of an acronym and you’ve had it: PT, OT, ST, the list goes on.  I’m sure it feels as though you don’t have a second to spare and could not possibly add one more item to you “to do” list.  I hate to be there bearer of bad news but there is one thing you must add. Today I’m urging you to spend five minutes thinking about future planning for your special needs child.  After you’ve put the kids to bed, set aside the laundry and forget the clean up of today’s adventures.  Spend five minutes thinking about your child’s future finances.

What will happen to your child if you are gone?  Does your child receive state assistance for their disorder?  Who will manage their special needs?  Many families with special needs are so financially strapped the idea of having an estate plan may seem laughable, but if you have a child with special needs it’s actually very important to have an estate plan, no matter the size of the estate.

Creating an estate plan centered on a “Special Needs Trust” (SNT) will provide you with peace of mind.  An SNT will provide funds to pay for the child’s expenses while still keeping the child eligible for government benefits.  In order for your child to receive most government assistance their assets may not exceed $2,000.  While that may seem an easy requirement to meet now, what about when your child is thirty or if they were to inherit from a grandparent or parent?  An SNT will protect whatever assets are left to your children while continuing their access to SSI or Medicaid.

For more information and an estate planning check list please contact Caitlin at Caitlin@BearerLaw.com or visit www.BearerLaw.com

Same-Sex Couples and Estate Planning

“Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage; 11 states have had their bans on same-sex marriage struck down by the courts. Some states recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships, giving couples some legal rights, while some states do not recognize any legal rights for same-sex couples”, writes Karen Demasters in yesterday’s Financial Advisor.

Financial and estate planning for heterosexual married couples is complicated enough, add to the mix changing laws from state to state, day by day and the maze that is estate planning may seem impossibly daunting. If you are a same-sex couple you MUST have an estate plan. While our country is in flux over same-sex marriage, members of the LGBT community must protect them selves. What is a legal marriage today may not be tomorrow.

Marriage may give you the right to visit your spouse in the hospital, but what if you’re traveling in a state that does not recognize your marriage? If you live in a state that has not yet legalized same-sex marriages you need some documentation expressing what you would like to leave your partner. Legally your partner may be entitled to nothing, even if you have been together for longer than most marriages last. Health Care Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney, Wills, and a Trust are all essential documents for every same sex-couple.

When DIY Isn’t The Best Option

I’m a big “Do It Yourself” when it comes to home improvements, crafts, and my favorite, furniture distressing. However there are some things I just won’t do myself (or let my husband): Painting our two story ceilings, anything involving a gas line, and making my own almond milk ice cream (I learned this one the hard way).

No matter how much of a DIYer you may be, please don’t skimp on your Estate Planning. Many clients have come to me for other issues and when I ask if they have an estate plan they explain that they found a “form will” online and just filled in a few blanks. My heart sinks. There are plenty of areas of your life where I am all for saving a few bucks, Estate Planning is NOT one of those areas.

Internet wills and quick E-Z forms will not protect your estate or your children, inevitably something will be wrong. Click this LINK for an article explaining the risks of doing your own Estate Plan.

Distress that antique, build your own fire pit, but step away from your estate plan. Let a professional handle it with care to make sure you and your heirs are protected.