If you have a child or other beneficiary who has special needs such as a physical, psychological or developmental disability, your estate planning will probably likewise need to include some special considerations.

In order to support a proper standard of life, most persons with special needs depend upon Medicaid and/or other governmental programs for their medical care and often various other forms of assistance. These programs are almost always means-tested, meaning that they are not available to anyone above certain income and net worth limitations (which are typically extremely minimal).

For that reason, giving assets to a person with special needs outright, whether during your lifetime or as an inheritance after your death, can actually cause significant problems. At best, it is likely to result in the beneficiary being temporarily disqualified from eligibility for the programs they need and rely on until they “use up” the assets you have given, meaning that your generosity will end up having little to no effect on their long-term quality of life. At worst, the eligibility disqualification which results from your outright gift may cause your beneficiary to lose his/her spot in a placement or assistance program with limited availability, thereby causing a devastating loss which may be difficult to compensate for under the circumstances.

Fortunately, options do exist to provide for special needs beneficiaries in a way that will not cause them to lose eligibility for essential programs or coverages, and that will ensure that your gift to them will supplement the assistance they otherwise receive so that their quality of life can be enhanced as you intend.

To discuss options for protection of special needs beneficiaries, feel free to schedule an initial consultation.