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Special Needs Require Special Planning

Parents of children with intellectual, physical, mental, or emotional disabilities dedicate countless hours to caring for their special needs, and face significant challenges in planning for their futures.

What Happens When I Am No Longer Able to Care for My Child/Family Member?
Concerns about the future are very real. Where will your child live and who will care for him/her after you and your spouse are no longer alive? Thinking about the future can be challenging and emotional. Fortunately, help is available from local, state, and federal programs that can provide significant vital services such as in-home and residential services, as well as employment and companion services. However, in many cases family caregivers provide the majority of support for their loved ones, and supplement their quality of life, above and beyond what the government programs provide. Part of future planning is creating a guide for the family member with a disability that will help him/her lead as good a life as possible. It should reflect the wishes of the person with the disability, as well as other important people in his/her life.

What Should I Consider in a Future Plan for My Family Member?
When planning for the future, families have to consider, among other things, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Guardianship, Government Benefits, Future Living Situation, Special Needs Trust and ABLE Accounts. Meeting with an attorney who is knowledgeable in Special Needs Planning and aware of state disability laws is an important step in planning for the future.

Future planning also includes saving money and protecting assets for a loved one with a disability without compromising their vital government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This can be done through the different types of Special Needs Trusts and/or an ABLE Account.

Special Needs Trusts can be used to supplement government supports and services, without impacting eligibility for government benefits. The decision regarding when to establish a trust is based on several factors, but some of the most common reasons for establishing a trust are: when family members are developing their estate plans, when family members want to begin saving for future security, or when an individual with a disability has too many assets to remain eligible for certain government supports.

The ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act created a new option for some people with disabilities and their families to save for future disability related expenses, much like the current Section 529 Education Savings Plans.

Where Can I Go For Help in Developing a Future Plan?
Achieva Family Trust provides trust administration services for Special Needs Trusts, as well as a variety of resources for families for future planning, including Speaker Programs and a monthly newsletter. Achieva Family Trust also offers no-cost consultations for future planning for individuals, families and professionals.

For additional information, please contact ACHIEVA Family Trust at achievafamilytrust.org or by phone at 1-888-272-7299 or (412) 995-5000 ext. 565.

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