When Should a Financial Planner contact a Special Needs Planning Attorney?
Financial Planners (FP) are in a very good position to identify special needs issues for their clients. Typically, the FP meets with or speaks with the client several times a year. At a minimum, the FP reviews the client’s portfolio based upon market changes and that provides the FP with the opportunity to discuss any changes in the health or well-being of family members. Here are several situations which would suggest that the client or family member is in need of special needs planning services:
1. Someone has a disability either from birth, an accident, malpractice claim, or otherwise.
2. Diagnosis of a chronic illness.
3. Client or client’s family member becomes incapacitated.
4. Someone who needs elder care planning and has a child with special needs.
5. Child who is disabled is graduating from high school and needs transition planning.
6. Person lost government benefits due to an inheritance, gift or personal injury award.
7. Person is anticipating receiving an inheritance or personal injury award and wants to be proactive so as to not lose government benefits.
8. Client’s child is turning 18 and needs a guardianship.
9. Child is being denied an appropriate education by reason of their disability.
10. Medicaid and/or the Court is requiring an accounting of trust expenditures.
11. Client or client’s family member died and left an inheritance to a person with a disability.
12. Client is going through a divorce and a child who is disabled is expected to receive child support payments.
Many people who have disabilities are receiving some type of government assistance. Often, the receipt of this assistance requires them to meet strict income and asset guidelines or they will lose their assistance. If a client of yours leaves money in their will or otherwise to someone who is the recipient of means-tested government benefits, this could cause them to lose their benefits. It is usually better to leave the money into a Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) for the benefit of the person with a disability. If properly done, the money in the SNT will not disqualify the beneficiary for government benefits and the money in the SNT can be used to improve the quality of life of the person with disabilities. A special needs planning attorney can assist your clients in counseling them on the various types of government programs available and the ways in which SNTs can be utilized to enhance the benefits available under those programs.