Parents of kids with special needs want the peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to mom or dad, a guardian of their choosing will care for their child and that there will be enough money left behind to provide such care for the remainder of the child’s life.
Accomplishing such a goal might seem as simple as going online and printing out a Do-It-Yourself will from the internet. Such programs can walk parents through instructions to appoint guardians and specify how assets are to be left to their kids if something happens.
Unfortunately, many online tools are unable to handle the complexities that exist when a child in the family has disabilities or special needs, especially if the child is the recipient of benefits such as Medicaid or SSI. Here are a few of the other drawbacks of using an online program when trying to create a DIY estate plan:
Addressing State Laws
There is no one set of laws that apply to children and adults with special needs. In fact, programs such as Medicaid (which is the health insurance program utilized by many individuals with special needs) is a federal program that is administered differently by each state. Benefits that you may have heard are available to children in other parts of the country may not apply in your state and vice versa. There may also be programs for individuals with special needs available on the county level. Online programs or “DIY planning kits” are not equipped to understand the nuances of each program and their eligibility requirements. As such, any decisions you make in your planning could have repercussions when it comes to accessing these different benefits—or you may miss out on benefits all together because the DIY program does not offer counseling and information on what’s ultimately available for your family.
Online Programs Won’t Offer Guidance or Provide Advice
Sitting down to do your planning with an experienced special needs attorney will give you the benefit of brainstorming with a human being who can offer advice, give guidance, and help you weigh the pros and cons of all options. When you are making choices for your child’s future, such as deciding about whether to go on waitlists now for group homes or deciding who can manage the child’s special needs trust if something happens to mom or dad, it helps tremendously to work with a professional who can answer your questions and steer you in the right direction. Likewise, some elements of special needs planning require court involvement, such as petitioning for a Guardianship when the individual turns 18. These proceedings can be complicated, and once again, your attorney will be by your side to ensure the best outcome.
Even if you think your personal situation is simple enough that documents such as a Special Needs Trust can be done using a form or template on a website, at least look into an appointment with a local attorney. There’s a good chance that it will be less of a hassle than you thought. If you’d like to meet with our Brandon special needs attorneys to discuss your options, simply call (813) 438-8503 to schedule an appointment.