SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING
We want to secure a good life for our loved ones, but often we just don’t know how.
Applying for government benefits can be like walking through a maze in the dark. Almost every program seems to have its own eligibility requirements and application procedure. The rules are voluminous and hard to understand. Applying at the right time with the right documents is critical. So is knowing what to apply for. Consider beginning with www.yourtexasbenefits.com and www.ssa.gov.
Applying for benefits is only the first step. A comprehensive special needs plan can help protect your loved one’s future in ways which support the very special person she is. The Garrett Law Firm can help.
Creating a trust to benefit a person with special needs is important whether your family member became disabled as a child or you became disabled as an adult. Medicaid and Social Security do not pay for everything. Money in an ABLE Account or a Special Needs Trust can make a big difference. Special Needs Trusts: Permitted Distributions
There are other documents which might be important to a person with special needs, such as a
Special Education Power of Attorney,
Mental Health Treatment Directive,
Declaration of Guardian in Case of Need,
Supportive Decision-Making Agreement,
Family Caregiver Agreement.
Many people with special needs have the legal capacity to sign these documents.
In the event of a divorce, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO“) can direct spousal or child support payments to a Special Needs Trust. In Texas ordinary child support limits do not apply to a child with special needs, who is entitled to lifelong support. If this was not required at the time of the divorce, a parent or a disabled adult child can ask the court to modify its decree.
The most important thing to remember is who the Special Needs Trust is for. Whether special needs arise from birth, development or a personal injury, everyone should have a chance to live the best life they can. Understanding what that life might be, what someone likes or doesn’t like, what makes them happy and what they would rather avoid should be shared with others who are – or may become – a part of their life. A Special Needs Trust accompanied by a Letter to My Friend, suggestions for a Life Plan and regular reviews, preferably with advice from a care manager and relevant professionals, can guide the trustee and others in the years to come.
Although legal guardianship may come to mind when you think of the future, it is not the only and often not the best approach for either the person or the prospective guardian. There are many other ways to combine needed protection with freedom of choice. Alternatives to Guardianship
Sometimes guardianship is the best approach, whether guardianship of the estate of someone who has more than Social Security income and cannot manage it (or whose agent under a Durable Power of Attorney has proven untrustworthy or unable to act in the person’s best interest, reporting and providing accounting) or guardianship of the person for someone who needs protection, whether from poor choice of residence or other unfortunate circumstances. Today a note that someone is under a guardianship pops up on a DPS officer’s computer. A guardian of the person can also apply for a mental health detention, notifying the probate court.
Over time, there may be more choices and more changes than you expect. Resources for People with Special Needs and Their Families
Caring and providing for anyone with special needs requires advocacy for today and for tomorrow. Wherever you are, you can take the first step now. Special Needs Planning Checklist
It’s a hard road. But you don’t have to walk it alone.
Let an experienced attorney and special needs parent walk with you. Social Security, Medicaid and a Special Needs Trust are just a beginning. Contact The Garrett Law Firm for prompt, personalized service. 512-800-2420.
Serving Central Texas including Travis, Williamson, Hays and Bastrop counties. Austin, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock, San Marcos.