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Special Needs Require Special Planning — The Arizona Special Needs Trust

If you are the parent or guardian of a person who requires special needs planning, then you have probably begun to research how to guarantee that your loved one receives the care she needs after you are gone. While you can certainly leave special needs beneficiaries money and assets or name them as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, leaving them a direct bequest can disqualify them from important benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs. These public benefit programs provide for basic necessities such as food, housing and clothing, but you will likely want to also provide your loved one with the extra resources that will allow him to enjoy a richer quality of life.

In addition, without proper planning the money or property that passes to the special needs child will be controlled by the court which results in unnecessary court costs and legal fees related to conservatorships and guardianships; not to mention, the court may choose someone who you do not trust to be the child’s guardian and conservator.

At Phelps LaClair, we have enjoyed helping families plan for their loved ones with special needs for many years. Indeed, this is one of the most rewarding things that we do at Phelps LaClair. Our attorneys have a special interest in Arizona Special Needs Planning. Not only are we knowledgeable and experienced with Special Needs Planning, we are personally involved with various community organizations that are devoted to helping individuals with disabilities. We are committed to the local Gilbert, Chandler, Phoenix and Mesa communities.

The attorneys at Phelps LaClair can help you set up a Phoenix Special Needs Trust so that government benefit eligibility is preserved while at the same time the special needs child can receive sufficient assets from your estate to meet his or her supplemental needs (those that go beyond food, shelter, clothing and medical care).  A properly drafted Special Needs Trust can fund those additional needs.  In fact, the Special Needs Trust must be designed specifically to supplement, not replace, public benefits.  Otherwise, the government could attempt to seize the trust assets for repayment of services already provided or determine that the special needs child does not qualify for future benefits.

The Special Needs Trust can be used for a variety of life-enhancing expenditures without compromising your loved one’s eligibility such as:

  • Annual check-ups at an independent medical facility
  • Attendance of religious services
  • Supplemental education and tutoring
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • Transportation (including purchase of a vehicle)
  • Purchase materials for a hobby or recreation activity
  • Funds for trips or vacations
  • Funds for entertainment such as movies, shows or ballgames
  • Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life such as computers, videos, furniture or electronics
  • Athletic training or competitions
  • Special dietary needs
  • Personal care attendant or escort

Generally, Special Needs Trusts are either stand-alone trusts funded with a separate asset (like a life insurance policy) or it can be a sub-trust built into your existing revocable living trust.

Special Needs Trusts in Phoenix are a critical component of your estate planning if you have disabled beneficiaries for whom you wish to provide after your passing.  

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (4/8/2017) Terence Chang  (Flickr)

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