The aim of special needs estate planning is to put arrangements in place to take care of loved ones with special needs or disabilities when you are no longer around to organize and fight for their rights. To manage all of their children’s current and future legal, financial, and special care needs, parents of children with special needs must make thoughtful estate planning decisions.
If you have children or other beneficiaries who are disabled and you intend to make provisions for them after your passing, a special needs trust is a crucial part of your estate plan. Contact a special needs trust attorney at The Law Offices of Brenton C. McWilliams to start the process.
Alabama Disability and Special Needs Statistics
Disability healthcare costs in Alabama are considerable. According to information produced by the Centers For Disease Control And Protection, approximately $13.2 billion annually, or as much as 39% of the state’s healthcare expenditures, are attributable to special needs care. This translates to approximately $12,603 per disabled individual in a year.
If your child or loved one falls into this category, they are not alone. Disabled Alabamians between the ages of 16 and 64 make up more than one in ten of the population, according to census data released by the Alabama State Data Center (ASDC).
The National Center for Learning Disabilities reported that in Alabama, where they made up most of the 13 disability categories recognized by special education law, 32,392 kids were found to have specific learning disabilities (SLD) in 2015-2016. In addition to government benefits, having a special needs trust could make all the difference in terms of the standard of living afforded to your child or disabled loved one when you are gone.
Why You Need a Special Needs Trust in Alabama
This loved one with special needs may only have you to rely on. Your absence would be sorely felt if specific measures weren’t implemented.
An Alabama special needs trust is a formal legal arrangement that ensures your child’s needs are paid for out of assets, including life insurance proceeds, that are kept in an account outside of their control, which is, therefore, not a countable asset for Medicaid or SSI purposes. Since the assets belong to the trust and not your special needs child, the assets held by the special needs trust will not disqualify the beneficiary of the trust from receiving some types of financially based government aid.
Usually, the parent or guardian creates a special needs trust. The person who establishes the trust, known as the grantor, and others who intend to provide financial assistance to the child now or in the future, add property or money to the trust either during their lifetime or at their death.
Other arrangements are also available, called pooled trusts, where the assets of multiple beneficiaries are pooled together for administration purposes.
Ask a special needs trust attorney about the pros and cons of establishing a trust.
Contact an Experienced Trust Attorney Today
We are proud to be a full-service estate planning law firm. These are our other specialized practice areas:
- Will Probate
- Intestate Estate Administration
- Probate Estate Administration
- Summary Distribution
- Last Will & Testament
- Revocable Living Trust
- Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Beneficiary Designations
Special Needs Resources in Alabama
If you have a loved one with a disability and reside in Alabama, finding out about the state’s resources for persons with disabilities can help you advocate for a loved one. These resources can assist you in supporting a loved one with disabilities if you are a friend, family member, or caregiver for someone with special needs in Alabama.
Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities
All residents should have equal access to opportunities, according to the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities (ACDD). The organization supports Alabamans with developmental impairments. They support inclusion, productivity, advocacy, and independence. They assist people in realizing their full educational potential, obtaining and thriving in gainful employment, and gaining access to and using transportation through programs and initiatives as well as a network of services.
100 North Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
The Office of Mental Illness Community Programs
The Office of Mental Illness Community Programs acts as the department’s main point of contact with licensed community mental health providers for people with mental illnesses. For individuals with serious mental illnesses and children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances, this office is in charge of regulating the state of Alabama’s public mental illness services delivery system.
100 North Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
Our firm prides itself on being a resource for the special needs community and their families. We can help your special needs child live their life to the fullest, including helping to protect their future by establishing special needs trust.
Experienced Special Needs Estate Planning Attorney
The Law Offices of Brenton C. McWilliams is an estate planning, elder law, and probate law firm representing clients throughout Baldwin County, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Foley, Elberta, Summerdale, and Robertsdale. We have locations in Foley, Orange Beach, and Daphne for your convenience. Contact us to schedule a special needs trust consultation.
FAQ: Special Needs Trusts
Will a special needs trust stop my child from getting government benefits?
No. You establish a special needs trust for the purpose of ensuring that you or your beneficiary will continue to get means-based government assistance, including public benefits. If the special needs trust is created properly, assets can be allocated within the trust for you or your beneficiary without disqualification. This assistance includes Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled persons.
Who can serve as the trustee of a special needs trust?
Family members or other trusted individuals can serve as trustees of special needs trusts. You may also want to name an independent trustee with professional financial experiences, like a trusted company or bank. In that case, a family member can serve as an advisor or protector. An advisor or protector does not have legal authority over the trust but can help guide the trustee regarding the beneficiary’s needs.
Special needs trusts can have co-trustees, such as two family members or a combination of a family member and an independent trustee.
Is a trustee bound to hand over funds at the beneficiaries request?
No. The trustee may be asked for money by the beneficiary, but the trustee has the last say over whether the request is proper within the boundaries of the instructions given in the trust agreement creating the special needs trust.
The trustee typically has a few options about how distributions come out of the trust funds, including paying bills directly on the beneficiary’s behalf. Discuss with a special needs attorney about choosing a professional trustee you have confidence in, as this will be a very important duty in providing financial support for the disabled person.