Category: Family Planning

Planning for Special Needs: A Guide to Special Needs Trusts & Their Benefits

Providing for the future of a loved one with special needs requires careful planning and consideration. One of the most effective tools for achieving this is the Special Needs Trust (SNT). This post dives deep into the world of SNTs, their benefits, and how they can provide for your loved one’s future without jeopardizing eligibility for essential public benefits.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust is a legal arrangement designed to benefit individuals with disabilities who qualify for government assistance. The trust holds assets for the benefit of the individual with special needs, providing for their supplementary needs while not disrupting their eligibility for programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Why a Special Needs Trust is Necessary

Public assistance programs provide essential support for individuals with special needs, but they come with strict income and asset limits. Directly inheriting money or property could disqualify your loved one from these benefits. An SNT allows you to set aside assets for your loved one’s use without these assets being counted towards their eligibility limits.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are three main types of Special Needs Trusts: First-Party SNTs, Third-Party SNTs, and Pooled Trusts. The choice between them depends on whose assets are funding the trust and the specific needs and circumstances of your loved one.

The Role of the Trustee

The trustee manages the assets in the SNT. They handle the day-to-day administration of the trust, making distributions for the benefit of the individual with special needs. Choosing the right trustee is crucial for the successful operation of the SNT.

The Benefits of Special Needs Trusts

An SNT can significantly enhance the quality of life for your loved one with special needs. It allows them to benefit from additional resources for education, medical expenses, therapies, recreational activities, and more while maintaining their government benefits.

Professional Guidance is Crucial

Establishing and administering a Special Needs Trust can be complex. It involves a detailed understanding of federal and state laws. Professional guidance from an experienced attorney is invaluable in ensuring the trust is set up correctly and managed effectively.

Beasley & Ferber: Your Trusted Partner in Special Needs Planning

At Beasley & Ferber, we understand the complexities of special needs planning and the pivotal role Special Needs Trusts can play. Our experienced team is committed to helping you navigate this process, providing the guidance and support you need to secure your loved one’s future.

Don’t navigate these complexities alone. Let our experienced team at Beasley & Ferber help you create an effective special needs plan tailored to your family’s unique circumstances. If you’re considering a Special Needs Trust for your loved one, contact us today to learn how we can help. Together, we can ensure your loved one’s needs are met now and in the future.

Strategies to Protect Your Inheritance From Divorce

No one plans on getting divorced and it’s easy to be complacent about protecting your assets before marriage. Unfortunately, divorce is a sad reality of modern life, and you need to be proactive about making sure you get to keep what’s rightfully yours after divorce. There are many complexities involved with how assets are divided up in a divorce, which is why you should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney such as Beasley & Ferber. In the meantime, here are some strategies to know about that can help protect your inheritance from divorce.

Avoid Commingling Inheritance

Many couples consider it a sign of trust to have joint accounts and to have the attitude of, “what’s mine is yours.” In general, that’s an admirable and generous way of looking at things. However, when it comes to inherited assets, the smart thing to do is to avoid commingling. Commingling is when you mix up assets in joint accounts, pay a credit card bill from a mix of a marital asset account and an inherited asset account, deposit a marital asset check into an inherited asset account, or vice versa, and more. There are many “accidental” ways to commingle marital assets with inherited assets. The best way to avoid doing it is to consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters.

Have the Prenup Drawn Up This Way

When you meet with your estate planning attorney, have a prenup drawn up. Ask that the prenup specifically exclude your inherited assets against any possible future divorce. You may be able to have language in the prenup that specifies existing or future inheritance. This might be helpful in the event that you anticipate receiving an inheritance anytime after your wedding date.

Save All Documentation

Make sure that you save all documentation relating to your inheritance. This includes things like wills, trust paperwork, buys and sells, investment statements, bank statements, etc. When relevant and possible, keep the originals instead of converting them into digital files. In the event that your inherited assets are disputed during a divorce, the originals will bear more weight.

Establish a Special Trust

To protect and preserve your inheritance, create a trust. Because they are a great tool to protect assets, trusts are often utilized in estate planning. You may be confident that your inheritance will stay separate from your marital assets by putting it into a special trust. You and your estate planning attorney should set up the trust so it names yourself or your children as the beneficiary, rather than your spouse.

Whether this is your first marriage, second, or even third, it pays to give extra attention to protecting your inherited assets from a divorcing spouse. Remember, if you choose to do so, you can always concede assets as part of your divorce decree. However, using these strategies makes the decision yours and not the right of an estranged spouse. For assistance protecting your inheritance from divorce, contact Beasley & Ferber, expert estate planning attorneys in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


Tips to Prevent Sibling Disputes

When bequeathing to sibling children, remember that sibling disputes are extremely common. If you think about it, sibling disputes may have been festering since childhood. When you factor in the emotional turmoil after a parent’s death, combined with events that may have transpired over the years, there’s a more than likely chance that serious relationship damage can happen due to stipulations of your last wishes. You can help avoid all this with the following tips from elder law attorneys Beasley & Ferber.

Be Transparent About the Distribution

To avoid sibling disputes after the fact—and to iron out disagreements ahead of time—be transparent about what your will or trust specifies. Bring everyone together in person or on Zoom and share the document. Tell everyone in your own words what you plan to leave to whom, and why. You aren’t required to do this, but it would be an act of parental love that could help to avoid any sibling squabbles after you’ve passed.

Reconsider Distribution Percentages

Many times, parents purposely give more to one child than another. Reasons vary but may include judgment about who deserves less, who is a higher earner, or who has more mouths to feed. This kind of last judgment can leave a sour taste in the beneficiaries’ mouths. Your assets are yours to give as you see fit, but in the interest of sibling harmony, consider bequeathing your children equal shares. If assets are split up between real property and cash, you could leave instructions for the executor to assess fair market values and ensure that each child gets an equal allotment.

Introduce “Hidden” Children

Life is messy, and sometimes there are children from previous marriages or relationships that are unknown to siblings until after the Last Will and Testament is read aloud. This kind of surprise isn’t easy to bear and can lead to lots of unanswerable questions and resentment. That’s not the kind of legacy that most parents want to leave behind. In a situation like this, it’s usually best to “come clean” and introduce—or at least, divulge the existence of—hidden children. Doing so will help siblings to come to terms with another beneficiary who is to share in their inheritance.

In the chance that divulging the existence of children from a past relationship isn’t on the table, another option is available. You can include a personal letter in your final documents that explains the other child and the pertinent circumstances. At least this way your children will have answers that can help them to understand your reasoning and why you made bequests the way you did.

Contact Us for Assistance with your Estate Planning

Elder law and family estate planning in New Hampshire are the areas of expertise of Beasley & Fisher. Come to us with all of your estate planning needs, no matter the size of your estate. We are available for consultations, document preparation, and asset allocation. Contact us today to schedule an estate planning appointment or to request a copy of our free estate planning guide.

Lifelong Money Management for Children with Special Needs

As difficult as it can be to care for a child with special needs, planning for their care after you have passed away can be even more daunting. In addition to ensuring that they have the proper housing, medical attention, and personal assistance, it is essential to ensure that you have the right money management framework in place.

Funding for the Future of a Special Needs Dependent

For parents of children with special needs, targeted and thorough estate planning is even more important than it is for others. To support ongoing money management for your child, you will likely want to go beyond a standard will to establish a trust.

A trust is a legal agreement that can guarantee specific rights to earmarked assets to support your offspring in the event of your death. Trusts specify one party, a trustee, who holds legal title to these assets, managing them to benefit another party, the beneficiary.

Trusts can make optimum tools when it comes to providing for a child with special needs. By leaving your child in the hands of a trusted and capable money manager, you can rest easy in this life and the next.

A designated life insurance policy is generally the easiest and least expensive way to fund a trust. Furthermore, you can construct this life insurance policy so you will know precisely what will be leftover from your estate to provide a nest egg for your child.

Establishing a Special Needs Trust

If your child receives Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, SNAP food assistance, or other government benefits, you will probably want to create a particular type of trust called a special needs trust. This financial tool shields its assets, giving your child the financial resources to meet ongoing and future expenses without an interruption in access to stipulated government benefits. In short, a special needs trust won’t interfere with eligibility for most federal and state assistance programs.

When it comes to establishing a special needs trust, the first and most important step is choosing a trustee who will faithfully administer it with the best interests of your dependent at heart. In addition to following all stipulated guidelines exactly as you have written them, this trustee must adhere to all relevant state and federal legal requirements.

The key to a special needs trust lies in the fact that all assets are owned by the trust itself rather than its beneficiary. This places assets under the capable management of your chosen trustee while allowing your child to collect the government benefits that he or she deserves.

To Learn More

For more information about money management for children with special needs, supplemental needs trusts, and estate planning in general, contact the disability law experts at Beasley & Ferber. A law firm representative is eager to answer your questions or direct you to a seminar that covers these specific subjects among others.

First Time Parents Why You Need a Will

Becoming a first-time parent can be an overwhelming experience, but it is also a true blessing that you simply cannot fully grasp until it happens to you. The pregnancy and lead-up to the birth of your child or pre-adoption process is just the beginning of both the love — and anxiety — that parenthood will bring with it as the years pass.

From the moment your child enters the world, you will want to do everything within your power to love and protect them — even in a worst-case scenario. For this reason, it is critical to set up a will as soon as possible.

If you’re still unsure of the importance of a will for you and your new family, take a look at these 3 reasons, which more fully explain the importance of this document.

Why a Will Is So Important for New Families

1. It names who your child’s potential guardian will be.

In the event of your death, your will names a legal guardian who will care for and look after your child. Not having a will or naming a guardian means that your child could be lost in the court system and uncertain circumstances for months or even years at a time until a legal guardian is set.

2. It sets up your child’s future assets.

Naturally, if your child were to lose you, they would need funds in order to continue living the lifestyle you prepared for them. In many cases, a will can set up a trust that will provide for your child until he or she turns 18. After the age of 18, a will can also prepare additional funds for your child’s adult life.

3. It names a power of attorney in the event you are incapacitated.

In certain circumstances, you may become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself or your child before they turn 18. In this case, you will be able to name your power of attorney(s) in your will. Most sound wills name both a health care power of attorney (for making health care wish decisions) and a finance power of attorney (for making financial decisions).

This is critical as not naming a power of attorney for either one of these areas could result in decisions being made that you would never be happy with were you in charge.

Contact Beasley & Ferber Today to Set Up Your Will

No parent wants to think of their child living without them. Still, it is the most responsible and thoughtful parents that do broach this subject and understand the importance of will creation in order to secure their child’s safety, happiness, and success in the future.

Although it is difficult to think about an unfortunate event occurring in the future, it is critical to realize the importance of such planning. No one else can make these decisions but you, and it’s worth deciding on them now.

To learn more about setting up a will for you and your family, contact us at Beasley & Ferber today.

Raising a special-needs child comes with numerous extra commitments, such as frequent doctor appointments, IEP meetings at school, and physical or speech therapy, to name just a few. For some parents, caring for their child’s basic needs is already a full-time job. They become so focused on the present that they put off dealing with future decisions regarding their special-needs child. While this is understandable, it can put your family in a difficult position both legally and emotionally.

The Importance of Naming a Guardian for Your Special Needs Child

No one knows how to advocate and care for your child like you do. This is something you instinctively know, and you work hard every day because you understand how much your child needs you.

Considering who would care for your special needs child if you or your spouse passed away or became disabled yourself is uncomfortable. Even so, we urge you to think about this question and name a legal guardian in writing. Should the worst come to pass, the fact that you named a legal guardian earlier will mean less disruption for your special-needs child during an already difficult and stressful time. The guardian should be someone both you and your child know and trust.

Becoming Your Child’s Legal Guardian After Age 18

If your child has a developmental or cognitive disability, there is a good chance he or she will not be able to make important decisions independently, regardless of chronological age. By appointing yourself a legal guardian, you can continue to make medical, legal, and financial decisions for your child just as you did while he or she was a minor.

Many parents of special needs children also worry that others would take advantage of their disability once they are no longer around to protect them. Appointing a guardian over a disabled adult child can help to reduce these fears.

How to Set Up a Supplemental Needs Trust for a Disabled Child

This tool ensures that your child has enough financial resources to meet future expenses without losing eligibility for federal or state assistance programs. We have seen many well-meaning parents leave most of their estate to a special-needs child only for their son or daughter to lose social security benefits. A better idea is to establish a trust for your child without putting assets in his or her name.

When you establish a supplemental trust, you choose a trustee to administer it who must follow state guidelines and the requirements you stipulated. The benefit of this arrangement is that it provides for future expenses while keeping your child’s social security and Medicaid benefits intact.

Contact Our Experienced Elder and Disability Law Firm to Learn More

Naming a guardian, becoming your disabled child’s legal guardian in adulthood, and setting up a special trust all require experienced legal guidance to do correctly. We invite you to request a consultation from Beasley & Ferber Law Firm to learn more about each of these processes.


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