Special Needs Planning / Trust
Special Needs Planning & Nursing Home Care
If your family includes a loved one with ongoing medical needs, your estate plan should anticipate meeting those needs in the future. It is never too early to begin planning for long-term nursing home or group home care for:
- A physically or developmentally disabled teen: As a parent, you will lose your decision-making authority when your child reaches the age of 18. If your child will not be competent to make his/her own decisions, you will need to seek legal guardianship to make decisions on his/her behalf.
- A mentally ill sibling or family member: Those caring and compassionate family members who seek guardianship of a mentally ill adult find the process to be a complicated and lengthy one. You will need to prove ongoing incapacity, among other things. This can be difficult to prove, but it’s a challenge worth pursuing for the sake of your loved one.
- An aging parent or relative suffering from dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other disabling or degenerative illness: Your loved one will likely need extended skilled nursing care. Talk to a Dallas elder law attorney now to ensure that the financial planning decisions you make today will not interfere with your loved one’s eligibility for Medicaid funding In the future.
Two Goals of Special Needs Planning
As you can see from the examples above, special needs planning has two goals: ensuring someone can make decisions for a person who is not capable of doing so themselves, and providing financially for the ongoing needs of the vulnerable person.
Guardianship and a General Power of Attorney are tools to give someone decision making authority. Financial needs can be covered through the use of Trusts.
Miller Trust (or Income Only Trust): A Miller Trust “holds” the income (pension income or social security income) of a person who will be applying for long-term care assistance from Medicaid. By putting this income into Trust, it is exempt from the calculations used to determine whether a person is eligible for Medicaid funding for long-term care.
Special Needs Trust: A Special Needs Trust can pay for the “extras” that can mean so much to a person living in a nursing home. For example, it can be used to pay for hair dressing, field trips, and personal items. By transferring assets into the Special Needs Trust well in advance of the time the person will require care, those assets are now available for use but like the Miller Trust, will not be included in calculations for Medicaid eligibility.
Long-term care planning done well requires a holistic approach. The earlier you begin to plan, the more assets you will be able to protect for use by the person in care and for the rest of your family.
An Estate Planning Specialist Handling Complex Planning
Attorney Christopher Parvin is a Board Certified specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has extensive experience in the field of elder law. He will work with you and with your financial planner or accountant to create a comprehensive plan that protects assets while providing care for your loved one.