There is no one way to plan an estate. There are various different courses of action that would be appropriate depending on the specific circumstances in question.
In Connecticut, for example, suppose you wanted to provide resources for someone who has a disability. This person is relying on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income to pay for expensive care and provide a little bit of monthly income.
You are going to utilize a last will to leave behind assets to all of your heirs. You look at your financial resources as kind of a pie. You decide on the size of the slices that you are going to distribute to the people on your inheritance list, and you express these wishes in your last will.
At this point you are confident that you have been able to provide sufficiently for everyone that you care about. You store the document for safekeeping and you go about your business.
After you pass away the executor is going about the tasks of estate administration. Once all final debts have been paid and the estate has been probated, the heirs to the estate receive their inheritances.
The person who has special needs may receive a rude awakening at this time.
Government programs for people with disabilities such as Medicaid and SSI are need-based programs. You can’t be in possession of significant financial resources as you receive government assistance.
It is easy for people to understand this when it comes to someone who is healthy who is receiving Medicaid assistance, but the distinction can get cloudy when it comes to people with disabilities.
When the disabled person on your inheritance list receives his or her inheritance, everything changes. His or her financial status is suddenly going to be something very different. As a result, benefit eligibility can be lost at least temporarily until the inheritance money has been spent on the ongoing care.
You can prevent this by setting aside assets for the benefit of a person with special needs through the creation of a supplemental or special needs trust.
What Are the Costs?
Some people don’t want to discuss things with an estate planning lawyer because they are concerned about the costs. When it comes to the creation of a special needs trust in Westport CT, the exact cost is going to vary depending on the details.
One thing is certain: if you want to leave behind assets to a person with special needs, the cost of the creation of a supplemental trust will be dwarfed by the cost of a loss of benefits.
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. If you have special family circumstances that you are unsure about, discuss things in detail with a licensed Westport CT estate planning lawyer.