When your family has a member with special needs, you invest a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring their day-to-day needs are met. But have you considered how you will take care of their needs after you, or other caregivers, have passed away? Estate planning for a family member with special needs should include provisions for their physical and financial support into the future. There are many aspects to consider. A Virginia Estate Planning Attorney from Promise Law can help.
Creating a Letter of Intent
A Letter of Intent is a basic document where your family records basic information about your family, your family member with special needs, your goals and plans for them, their financial needs, your family’s financial condition and other variables that will help you begin making a plan.
Begin by asking such questions as:
- What is the exact nature of your family member’s condition?
- What daily provisions do they require?
- What is their normal daily routine?
- What medical care do they require daily?
- Who is the primary daily caregiver?
- Who are the other caregivers?
- What is the financial status of your family?
- What are your special needs family member’s life goals or plans?
- Are they capable of holding down a job or building a career? If so, what kind?
- Do they have educational goals or aspirations?
Your Estate Planning Attorney can help you with this process, as well as recording other important information that is relevant to your loved one’s future.
Creating an Estate Plan with Provisions for a Loved One with Special Needs
An estate plan in Virginia with provisions for a loved one with special needs will contain several basic elements used in most estate plans, but with special considerations in each regarding your loved one and their specific needs.
Your will should contain all the normal provisions, but also some special information and instructions that relate to your special needs loved one. It should outline plans for your loved one’s ongoing care and supervision, long-term care, money management, and funeral arrangements. Your will should also designate the other people who have agreed to step forward and participate in your loved one’s ongoing care.
Durable Power of Attorney
In addition to your own Power of Attorney, you may also want to create one for your loved one with special needs. If they are unable to make financial decisions for themselves, you should empower another trusted person to handle their financial affairs when you become unable to do so. Include instructions for any assets owned by your loved one, bank accounts, insurance policies, investment accounts and the like.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
You may also want to include a Healthcare Power of Attorney and/or Advance Directive for your special needs family member. This will provide instructions for their ongoing care as well as any possible challenges that may arise in the future. In addition to instructions, it also names a trusted person to make decisions for their care in unforeseen circumstances.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust can be established to provide ongoing support for your loved one’s needs, including their education, daily needs, medical care and more. It can also provide a means for transferring assets to your special needs family member and avoiding probate, as well as sheltering assets for them so they are eligible for Medicaid Long-Term Care or other needs-based benefits. There are various types of trusts you can use for this, and a seasoned Estate Planning Attorney from Promise Law can help you choose the best ones for your needs and situation.
Guardianship and Conservatorship Arrangements
Depending on their condition, you may need to establish guardianship and/or conservatorship arrangements for your family member in the event of your death. If they are unable to manage their affairs themselves, a competent and trustworthy individual should be legally charged with their ongoing care in your stead. In Virginia, a guardianship manages their non-financial care and a conservatorship handles their financial concerns.
Alternatives to Guardianship & Conservatorship
If your loved one has sufficient capacity to establish their own Power of Attorney or Healthcare Power of Attorney, this is always preferrable to a court ordered guardianship or conservatorship. With a Power of Attorney, if they are unable to make financial decisions for themselves, they can empower another trusted person to handle their financial affairs when you become unable to do so. Include instructions for any assets owned by your loved one, bank accounts, insurance policies, investment accounts and the like. The Healthcare Power of Attorney will provide instructions for their ongoing care as well as any possible challenges that may arise in the future. In addition to instructions, it also names a trusted person to make decisions for their care in unforeseen circumstances.
It can also be wise to plan and fund your special needs family member’s funeral arrangements in advance. This can spare the remaining family the costs and responsibilities of this task, as well as ensure that their final disposition is respectful and according to your/their wishes.
Special Needs Estate Planning in Virginia
Advanced planning with the guidance of an experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Virginia can remove much of the anxiety over your special needs family member’s future. Each of the above provisions (and others) will need specific instructions and information that is unique to your family and situation, and our attorneys can help you craft the proper documents.
Avoid uncertainty and fear with comprehensive estate planning for your family member with special needs in Virginia. Register now for Promise Law’s free Estate Planning Workshop that shows you how to avoid serious mistakes in your estate planning. You will also benefit from a free consultation with one of our Estate Planning Attorneys. Be sure to ask about estate planning for a loved one with special needs when you meet with one of our attorneys in Newport News, VA.