We Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

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  • Can you help me apply for government benefits for my child?

    Meier law Firm provides the legal services and tools necessary to help your child become eligible for government benefits.  However, we work closely with professionals who can assist you with applying for government benefits. 

  • My child with special needs is now an adult. Can I still make decisions for my adult child with special needs?

    Once a person turns eighteen, the law presumes that he or she is an adult with full capability to make decisions.  For adult children with special needs, parents (or another caregiver) will need to go through a court process known as a conservatorship to continue to make decisions for an adult child. .  We can help you through the process of obtaining a conservatorship over your child. 

  • Does an ABLE account take the place of a special needs trust?

    No. ABLE accounts are new tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.  They allow individuals to save money without their funds being considered for purposes of qualifying for government benefits.  The individual’s disability must have onset before the individual was age 26. The max amount you can currently keep in an ABLE account without it being counted toward government benefit income requirements is $100,000.  There is also a payback provision, meaning if the individual passes away while money is still in the account, it must go to payback government benefits.  For these reasons, ABLE accounts may be an attractive option for individuals with disabilities who want to save and spend money from a job, or save and spend money gifted to them by family and friends, but is not the appropriate vehicle to receive an inheritance.

  • Will my child have to ‘pay back’ the government for benefits if I leave them money in a special needs trust?

    Currently, there is no ‘payback provision’ for a third party special needs trust, meaning you can leave your child money through a special needs trust, and direct where any remaining money will go should your child pass away before their trust is exhausted.  Most times, parents direct the remaining money to another child, or to a favorite charity. There is a payback provision for first party special needs trusts. 

  • My child has a disability but is high functioning. Will they need a special needs trust?

    For most of us, it’s hard to anticipate whether our child will ultimately need assistance in their adult life, making them eligible for government benefits.  In these cases, you will want to have a candid conversation with your attorney and seek guidance on the best options for your child.

  • My friend said it’s better to just disinherit my child with special needs, so my child would not get disqualified from benefits. Is that best?

    No.  You can leave your child money without disqualifying them from benefits, if you leave it to them through a special needs trust. 

  • What is the difference between a first party special needs trust and a third party special needs trust?

    A first party special needs trust is established by the person with the disability, and funded using money already in the child’s own name (usually from a settlement or inheritance).  A third party special needs trust uses funds from a third party, such as a parent, who leave the child money through the special needs trust, rather than to the child in their individual name.  The major difference between these two trusts, other than the source of funds, is that the first party special needs trust has a ‘payback provision’, meaning any money left in that trust at the end of your child’s lifetime will need to payback the government for benefits received, whereas there is no payback provision for third party special needs trusts, and the creators of the trust can choose where remaining money should go at the end of their child’s lifetime. 

  • My child received a settlement or inheritance already and now has money in his own name. What are my options?

    Depending on the amount of assets your child has already received, you may need to spend down those assets to later qualify for government benefits, or your child may need to establish a first party special needs trusts.  We can assist you with this process.

  • What is a Special Needs Trust?

    A Special Needs Trust is a legal document that allows you (and anyone) to pass money to your child with special needs, in a way that would not disqualify your child from receiving government benefits, now, or in the future. Special needs planning is highly technical and involves a lot of moving parts. We can help you understand how you need to structure your family trust together with your child’s special needs trust, so your complete plan is connected and works together seamlessly.