From the minute your first child is born, your life changes. It’s cliché, but it’s true. Nothing that mattered before seems as important now because all that you can think about is how much you love your child. That feeling never goes away, and it is one of the reasons the Hegwood Law Group is passionate about estate planning. We love helping parents craft estate plans that protect and provide for their families.
While we make custom estate plans for all sorts of Texas families, we find it particularly rewarding to work with families who are setting up plans to benefit a loved one with special needs. An estate plan that is set up to benefit someone with special needs can go a long way toward ensuring that someone who needs extra help and support will have it for his or her entire life.
One of the most important things we help families who have a loved one with special needs do is establish a special needs trust. These trusts are designed to hold assets that can be used for the benefit of a loved one with special needs without making the person with special needs the owner of them. Minimizing the assets a person with special needs has ownership of ensures they will be able to qualify for government assistance programs that are tied to one’s ability to pay.
When created and managed properly, the assets in a special needs trust do not count when the government is determining one’s financial eligibility for benefits. This makes these trusts the preferred way to incorporate a loved one with special needs into a parent’s estate plan. Leaving someone who depends on public benefits funds outright means those funds will be spent, and government support will be diminished, until the person in need is once again considered unable to pay.
The assets in a special needs trust can be used to supplement the support received from the government, which only funds basic necessities. For example, trust funds can be used to buy additional clothing, pay for special dental care, rent or buy a vehicle that accommodates a wheelchair, or even fund life-enriching outings like trips to a museum or the ballpark. It can really enrich your loved one’s life to have a trust they can depend on for things public assistance just does not cover.
Speaking of government benefits, we also help families find and apply for government assistance, and shepherd them through the appeals process if they believe they have been denied benefits they are eligible for. This includes SSI and SSDI benefits, Medicaid, and food stamps.
When a child with special needs reaches adulthood, we help families navigate the guardianship process if they believe their loved one cannot take care of themselves.
There are so many pieces of the puzzle that parents fit together to craft a rich, full life for a child with special needs. It is our pleasure to lend a hand with this process, and to help ensure that people who need extra love and care are looked after for years to come.