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Harrisburg Special Needs Planning Attorney

Harrisburg Special Needs Planning Attorney

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Protecting Disabled Adults

At Keystone Elder Law, P.C., many of our clients have a disabled loved one, such as a child or sibling. They want to provide for this special person after death, but there are legal pitfalls involved in doing so. Many disabled individuals rely on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income for basic needs. Unfortunately, leaving someone’s assets in a will could create problems later.

Call our law firm. We use all legal resources available to help our clients provide for beloved family members in ways that do not jeopardize their continued eligibility for government assistance. A Harrisburg special needs planning lawyer is standing by to answer your questions.

Why Special Needs Planning is So Important

Many disabled individuals are currently receiving government assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. These programs are means-tested. If an applicant earns too much or has too many assets, the government will deny them benefits. Of course, many disabled individuals pass the means test because they cannot work. These assistance programs provide crucial support, which they do not want to lose.

Unfortunately, leaving money or assets in a will could change that. There’s a real risk that your child, sibling, or other family member might suddenly become ineligible because you left them too much money. Now they are over the income or asset limits—and the government reduces benefits or cuts them off entirely.

The good news is that there are ways to leave assets for disabled adults which does not impair their eligibility for the most common assistance programs. Our Harrisburg special needs planning lawyers can walk you through your options.

The Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is an excellent way to leave assets to a disabled adult which will not jeopardize their eligibility for assistance programs. Our lawyers have created many of these trusts and can create the one that works for you.

When you place assets in the trust, they are not “owned” by your loved one—who nonetheless gains the benefit of the trust. Because they do not own the assets, they do not go over the income or asset limits imposed by SSI and Medicaid.

These trusts come in two varieties:

  1. First-party special needs trust: You fund this trust with assets that belong to the beneficiary, such as an inheritance. These assets now go into the trust and are owned by it. Still, the beneficiary continues to gain access to the funds while maintaining eligibility for assistance programs.
  2. Third-party special needs trust: Someone other than the beneficiary funds this trust. A classic example is a parent of a disabled adult who puts their own money into a trust, naming their disabled child as the beneficiary. You can create this trust while living or have it created after you pass.

What Can Someone Use Trust Assets For?

A beneficiary does not have unlimited access to assets in the trust. Instead, a trustee will manage the funds and pay for certain allowed expenses, including:

  • Some medical services are not covered by the state’s Medical Assistance
  • Private rehabilitation services
  • A motor vehicle
  • Educational expenses, such as training or school
  • Hobbies and entertainment
  • Vacations
  • Home Furnishings
  • Insurance
  • Burial expenses

Generally, the trust assets should not pay for any expense that a government assistance program pays for, such as food or covered medical services. If they did, then the government would probably reduce benefits accordingly.

A trustee should also avoid giving the beneficiary cash or cash equivalents because they might be used to pay for expenses covered by government programs. Still, a special needs trust can make your loved one’s life more comfortable.

Why You Should Work with an Expert

Instead of searching for a fill-in-the-blank form online, call our law firm. There are many considerations that go into leaving assets to a disabled adult:

  • Choosing the right trustee to manage the trust
  • Deciding which assets to place in the trust
  • Transferring assets the correct way
  • Identifying any tax advantages to creating a trust
  • Discussing who should inherit any assets that remain in the trust after the beneficiary passes
  • Determining whether a special needs trust is even the right legal vehicle for you

Providing Special Needs Planning to Harrisburg & Surrounding Areas

Keystone Elder Law, P.C., is an established family law firm in Harrisburg. We have provided the community with estate planning services for years, and look forward to many decades more. We are eager to help families plan for the future, including for the protection of a beloved disabled adult. Call us today to schedule a meeting with our Harrisburg special needs lawyers.

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Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Approach

Empowering Clients with Holistic Planning at
Keystone Elder Law

At Keystone Elder Law, we believe that the physical, social, legal, and financial considerations of our clients all intertwine. We utilize an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate each area, which allows for the creation of a plan that addresses the concerns of the individual as a whole as well as the family. To this end, our model of practice includes a Care Coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker), whose expertise complements our team of attorneys.

When the road of life is smooth, decisions about legal and financial matters are easy to push aside for “a rainy day.” Planning ahead, however, will allow for more options as you view the map of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Don’t let a crisis limit your choices or derail your plans.

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