Essential Estate Planning Knowledge – Special Needs Planning

When people in the Colorado Springs or Denver Colorado area have a family member or loved one with disabilities, they typically have a lot of questions about special needs planning. Special needs planning is all about assembling a collection of legal tools designed to allow a person with disabilities the ability to take advantage of any applicable government assistance programs, while at the same time maintaining the family’s ability to provide that person with financial assistance. A good special needs plan is something that takes time and preparation and is also something that might need to change over the years. Today, let’s take a look at this type of planning, and some common questions associated with it.

What are special needs planning?

In general, special needs planning is a process by which you and your attorney create a variety of legal tools to help a family member or close loved one with a disability. Most people with special needs have significant disabilities that prevent them from caring for themselves, taking care of their own finances, or living a completely independent lifestyle. These types of plans are those that both people with disabilities, and their family members and loved ones, can create that will allow a person with disabilities to be as independent as possible.

What does a special needs plan look like?

There is no single “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to planning. However, there are a variety of tools that most people will include when they create a plan of their own. One of these is the special needs trust.

A special needs trust is a specific kind of trust designed to allow a person with disabilities the ability to receive financial support from family members or loved ones, while at the same time maintaining eligibility for government assistance benefits.

This trust operates in much the same way that any other type of trust operates. Essentially, someone creates the trusts, transfers money or property into the trust’s name, and then appoints a trustee who will manage the trust on behalf of the beneficiary. (The beneficiary is the person who can use or benefit from the property the trust owns.) In a special needs trust, the person with disabilities is typically the sole beneficiary. The trust is allowed to provide for the financial needs of the person with special needs, but because that person doesn’t own the money, he or she can still apply for and receive government benefits.

How do I create a special needs trust?

In order to create special needs trust, you need to make sure that the needs of the person with disabilities match the tools you plan on creating. Creating the proper type trust is something that you should only do after speaking with an attorney and evaluating all the legal options available to you.

Getting more information

For more information on trusts contact us through email.  We’d love to help you with any questions you may have.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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