There is no way to know for sure what will happen in the future, but California families can take certain steps to ensure that there are protections in place for every member of the family. Estate planning is a smart way to decide what will happen to your estate after you pass away, but there are certain estate planning tools that can also help you meet specific goals.
If you are caring for a special needs child, or a person who cannot currently care for themselves or will not be able to do so in the future, you may consider establishing a special needs trust. This step can allow you to set aside money for a special needs individual, and it could be a beneficial addition to an existing estate plan.
What should you know about this type of trust?
Some people mistakenly believe that if they have a will, their loved ones will automatically get what you intended for them. While a will does dictate who gets what, it is not a practical or effective way for you to set aside and preserve funds for a specific reason, such as the case of a disabled individual. With a special needs trust, you can do the following:
- Name a family member or trusted individual to oversee the trust as the trustee
- Ensure that your loved one will not lose any government benefits he or she is already receiving
- Set aside inheritance funds or settlement funds won through a civil claim
A special needs trust will set these funds aside. This means that government programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid, do not take into account these funds when determining eligibility for certain types of benefits. This step could be a practical and effective way to ensure that a specific individual has what he or she requires for medical care, living arrangements, assistance and other needs.
The unique nature of your estate plan
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to estate planning. If you believe that you may benefit from the protections provided by setting up a trust, you would be wise to speak with a lawyer regarding your options and needs.
Your estate plan should match your objectives and your wishes for your estate. You have the right to decide what will happen to your hard-earned assets and money, and with the right documents, you can protect your loved ones for years into the future.