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IL estate lawyerParents of children with disabling special needs must navigate a complex array of Illinois laws to ensure their children are taken care of as part of their estate plan. In addition to managing the financial resources a family can provide for their disabled loved one, government assistance may also be available to support a disabled adult. A family that can set up the right special needs trust can maximize their options for providing a stable, reliable source of income for their loved one that combines available government support with family assets.

How Do Special Needs Trusts Work?

A special needs trust is part of an overall estate plan that allows parents of children with disabilities to give their child money while still allowing the child to receive government benefits like social security. There are three kinds of special needs trust that vary slightly in certain respects. They are:

  • Self-Settled Special Needs Trust - This type of trust is available to an individual under age 65 whose personal resources exceed the maximum limits allowed for Medicaid eligibility. The Self-Settled Special Needs Trust will pay any remaining funds in the trust after the beneficiary’s death to reimburse the state for any Medicaid the beneficiary received.
  • Third-Party Special Needs Trust - This type of trust is established and funded using the assets of the trust’s settlor. Any assets which are not used by the beneficiary will revert back to the settlor, rather than the government, upon the beneficiary’s death.
  • Pooled Special Needs Trust - This type of trust must be managed by a nonprofit organization and can have funds that belong to many beneficiaries, which are pooled for investment and administrative purposes. Each individual has their own account and receives their share of the fund’s earnings.

Determining which type of trust makes sense for your loved one and your overall estate plan will depend on your assets, the beneficiary’s age and assets, and many other factors which an estate planning attorney can help you review.

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IL probate lawyerThere are many cases where a person may wish to help provide for the needs of loved ones who have special needs. Since people with physical disabilities, mental impairments, or other conditions may be unable to work and earn an income, they may struggle to provide for themselves. To ensure that a person’s ongoing needs will be met, family members may wish to step in and provide financial assistance. However, they may not realize that giving money to a person, buying items for them to use, or otherwise providing them with financial support may disqualify them from receiving government aid. To preserve a person’s right to receive public benefits, family members may create a special needs trust. Setting up this type of trust can be an important part of the estate planning process.

Why Should I Use a Special Needs Trust?

People who suffer from disabilities that affect their ability to maintain gainful employment may qualify for multiple types of benefits. However, to receive these types of benefits, they will usually need to show that they have limited financial resources. For example, to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through Social Security, a person’s financial resources must be under $2,000. Because of this, a family member who gifts a significant amount of money or property to a person with special needs may cause the person to be ineligible for SSI or other benefits.

To prevent the possibility of jeopardizing a person’s public benefits, a family member can create a special needs trust and name the disabled person as the beneficiary. In these cases, the assets a person wishes to use to help their loved one will be owned by the trust rather than the person with a disability. Distributions from the trust may be provided to the beneficiary to help them meet their ongoing needs while also ensuring that they will be able to receive ongoing government benefits.

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Illinois guardianship attorneysNo parent wants to think about passing away before their children have grown, but tragedies happen every day. Sadly, if families are unprepared for such an issue, their children may be further traumatized by the events that occur after their loss. As such, all parents are encouraged to name a guardian for their child in a legally drafted will. Learn more about this process, including how to choose the right person for the job, with help from the following.

Guardianship is Not Automatic

Above all else, parents need to know that guardianship is not automatic after a tragedy. For example, you may assume that your parents would automatically receive your children if something happened to you, but this is not the case. Instead, anyone that is interested in custody of your children can come forward and request it. Then a judge must hear each person's side and determine which home may be most appropriate.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyersAccording to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in seven American children have some form of disability. Some suffer from behavioral and mental health issues. Others have developmental disabilities or congenital defects that severely impact their ability to care for themselves. Many of them could be at risk for issues in the future, once their parents are no longer around to care for them. Thankfully, estate planning offers parents a way to mitigate some of those risks. The following explains.

Choosing a Guardian for Your Child

If you know that your child will need lifelong care, it is critical that you create a will or estate plan and name at least two potential guardians to care for your child. The first can be the primary. The second can be someone who would assume care, should the first person pass away or be unable/unwilling to care for your child. You might also wish to set up an emergency care person - someone who would assume temporary care for your child, should you pass away suddenly. This can ensure they stay out of the state's care and in the care of someone you know and trust.

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DuPage County wills and trusts attorneysNo parent wants to think about dying before their children reach adulthood. Sadly, it does happen, and often before the parents have had the chance to create a will. This can leave children in limbo, create problems for their financial future, and ultimately impact their quality of life. Know how to protect your child with a carefully crafted will.

Designate First Responders

While most parents know who they would want to serve as a long-term guardian for their children, and may have even already discussed the idea with the selected person, many fail to consider what will happen in the minutes, hours, and days immediately after their death. For example, consider the following scenario: You are on your way to pick up your children from school but are killed in an accident. What happens next? Who will pick up your children and ensure they are cared for?

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