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By David Inabinett, Attorney

Anyone can become disabled at any time, and when it’s a child or loved one, you can feel like your life has turned upside down. For parents with a child who will need a lifetime of care, I often hear the question, “What will happen when I’m gone?”

It’s important to begin planning for your child’s (or other loved one’s) long term care as soon as possible. Update your wills and estate plans to include details regarding your child’s care, naming a person you trust as guardian (note you can name a separate guardian for financial matters or to manage a trust for your child).

In August of 2015, the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) was signed into law. This legislation enables individuals with disabilities or families of those with disabilities to create savings accounts to cover their long-term care expenses. In the past, the monies in these accounts counted as assets when determining eligibility for services such as Medicaid. The ABLE Act allows individuals to accumulate up to $100,000 in savings (there are annual contribution caps, too) toward future care without impacting eligibility for government support.

While the ABLE Act is a great step forward, long-term care for those with disabilities can be extremely expensive. Individuals and families with the means to provide more should still consider establishing a special needs trust. There are several types of trusts available, depending on how the trust will be funded. A trust set up for a child may differ from that set up for a disabled parent or sibling who owns assets.

When set up correctly, special needs trusts are not included as assets when determining whether the beneficiary is eligible for government assistance through programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The other big benefit of the trust is ensuring the quality of care continues, even after you are gone.

If you are caring for a loved one who is disabled, making sure you and your dependent are protected under the law is imperative. If you have any questions or need assistance with guardianships, special needs trusts, elder care or estate planning, contact the attorneys at Brinkley Walser Stoner today.