Special Needs Planning

The Brightest Path to the Future and Piece of Mind for You
Why Do Special Needs Planning?  If you have a child or other loved one with a disability, you can use estate planning to protect them long after you are gone.  A world of planning options exists for disabled Texans and their families.  Failure to do proper estate planning can also have disastrous effects.  We want to help Texas families plan for the future and expand the horizons of their disabled children and loved ones.  Our priority is  making life better for disabled persons, their parents and families and those who will care for them after their parents or guardians are gone.
What Special Needs Planning Can I Do?
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Letters of Intent
  • Care Coordination
  • Advance Directives and Guardianship Designations
  • Guardianships
Issues to Consider in Special Needs Planning
  • Who would serve as guardian to care for your child or loved one?
  • Who would serve as trustee to manage assets and finances?
  • What goals do you have for your child or loved one regarding education, enjoying life, relationships with loved ones, physical and emotional health and finances?
  • How do you make assets last for their use and enjoyment?
  • What government aid do they receive now or may receive in the future?
  • What government aid do they receive now or may receive in the future?
Special Needs Trusts? – SNTs are special trusts to hold assets for a disabled loved that will not disrupt their government aid.  It also allows you to leave an able person or organization in charge of whatever assets you will leave, providing you with piece of mind. This tool is changing lives of families with disabled children and loved ones and is not terribly difficult or expensive to set up.  We can help you use this tool and others to brighten the futures of your child or loved one.
Letter of Intent – Is a set of instructions you can leave regarding your child on detailing the many things that are important to your child’s care.  In this letter you can detail instructions regarding everything from medical care, medicines, financial situation, public benefits information, routines, religion, social environment, relationships with others, education, food preferences, likes, dislikes and anything else you feel future caretakers should know.  No one else knows your child like you.  Writing a Letter of Intent is your chance to write down everything you can think of that will make life better for your child and his or her caretakers after you are gone.  It is a wonderful tool and a non legal document that we encourage all families to complete for their children.
Powers of Attorney and Guardianship Designations?  A disabled person who does not have a mentally disabling condition can also execute advance directives designating who will care for them and manage their financial affairs if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Parents of disabled children have chances in their own estate planning to plan for their child’s future by designating guardians and trustees to manage their child’s affairs when the time comes.
GUARDIANSHIPS FOR THOSE WITH MENTALLY INCAPACITATING DISABILITIES – What is a Guardianship and When is it Right?  A guardianship is the procedure when one person (the “Guardian”) becomes the court appointed legal representative of another person (the “Ward”).  In a nutshell, the Guardian will be able to manage the life, affairs, medical care and financial assets of the Ward.  In cases of persons with special needs, a parent is usually seeking guardianship over their child who has a mentally incapacitating disability and who is becoming an adult.   When children with special needs become legal adults, their parents may not have the same ability to meet their needs without a guardianship.  Doctors and medical providers may no longer deal with the parent as they did when the child was a minor.  Usually, this is due to the rights of privacy American are afforded as the become adults and privacy regulations.  Because of that, oftentimes, third parties will not deal with the parent until the parent has become the court appointed guardian of the child. Guardianships may also be necessary for special needs children if they inherit assets, even if they are still minors.  Special care for estate planning should always be taken by the families of disabled children and persons.  If a child inherits property from a family member or friend who did not have proper special needs planning, that child may be disqualified from their government aid.  This can be devastating and a huge hassle.  Special Needs Trusts and other estate planning can be used to avoid this outcome and create a much better life for your child and those who care for your child after you are gone.
CONNECTING YOU TO OTHER VALUABLE RESOURCES We also want to help you identify other legal and non legal resources that may assist you, your child or loved one and those who will care for them after you have gone.  Letters of Intent and connection to care coordinators, private professional guardians, trustees, financial institutions, financial advisors, non profit organizations and other highly specialized attorneys and professionals are all options to consider.
WARNING Properly drafting and using a special needs trust is a specialized practice that should not be undertaken by any person or attorney who does not understand government aid programs, the practice of special needs law and how it is applied to each person from whom an SNT is drafted.  There are many traps for the unwary which can result in disastrous outcomes for the person you were attempting to help.  Families of persons with special needs should always be very careful about preserving any government aid and assistance which their child or loved on receives or may receive in the future. If they inherit assets without proper planning, they may lose very important government aid such as Medcaid, SSI and other programs.  This can be devastating to them and those caring for them.
* Elder law and special needs planning are vast practice areas with many different specialties.  In some cases, we may refer your case to a lawyer who we feel may better meet your needs such as a certified elder law attorney who is certified by the National Elder Law Foundation, which is approved to grant this certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization*  *The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.*