San Rafael, California Real Estate Attorneys Handle Special Needs Planning
Planning for a loved one with special needs
An increasing number of families are seeking legal and programmatic avenues of care for their loved ones with special needs. Often, life expectancy is not impacted by special needs conditions which could require care up to the age of 70 or longer. The diverse care needs include hundreds of thousands of people with some form of Autism spectrum disorder, tens of millions with Serious Psychological Distress including bipolar disorder and millions more diagnosed as substance dependent or abusive. Families of special needs loved ones are voicing the common concerns:
- Who will care for my loved one when I am gone?
- Who will be my loved one’s advocate?
- Where will my loved one live?
- How much independence can my loved one maintain?
- Will the money I provide last for my loved one’s lifetime?
Skilled legal assistance can help you answer these questions and guide you through the maze of government and non-government resources, some of which are being reduced and even eliminated. With state, local and federal budget reductions impacting the availability of special needs resources, it is a wise decision to enlist the help of legal counsel to help create a special needs plan tailored to the needs of your loved one. The law offices of J.R. Hastings can create a plan that will focus on providing the best quality of lifetime care. Our skilled attorneys will work with you to develop a plan that will supplement government benefits deemed worth preserving, has the flexibility to adjust to future changes in benefits and needs, will preserve and expand assets, identify potential tax reductions and ensure your loved ones’ proper care.
Building your unique team
Because special needs care must be molded to a person’s individual needs, the special needs trust requires proper implementation, funding, periodic review and a skilled, committed team that guarantees durable lifetime management. Our attorneys can help develop a team to deliver services structured specifically to each person’s needs. It is a recognized fact that the ideal trustee cannot meet the total requirements of care and diligence provided by a team of trained professionals acting in consort, who will:
- Be immortal;
- Use discretion and act in the best interest of the disabled beneficiary;
- Understand public benefits and keep up with changes in the law;
- Wisely invest and conform to all statutory fiduciary requirements;
- Understand tax needs, implications and requirements;
- Keep perfect books;
- Provide advocacy and prevent abuse.
A Corporate Fiduciary Trustee (bank or trust company), a Care Manager, a Financial Advisor and an attorney skilled in special needs planning can meet the above requirements and form a professional team that will create, regulate and determine your special needs loved one’s highest level of care. A system of checks and balances is critical to ensure priority care. For example, a professional trustee may manage the funds, make distributions, prepare tax returns and keep records, but a Trust Advisory Committee, which may include the care manager, can make distributions, amend the trust and, if deemed necessary, replace the trustee. Alternatively, a care manager, who interacts with the beneficiary, can direct the trustee appointed to manage the funds. An advisor or trust protector would oversee the trustee and care manager, providing an added level of protection, including the power to replace the care manager or trustee if needed.
Preserving your legacy, providing peace of mind
Good intentions do not always lead to good decisions. That is why an accomplished law firm is a critical need of those seeking guidance with special needs planning. Our law firm can help you plan wisely and avoid the pitfalls that occur when misconceptions drive decision making. For example:
- Siblings rarely make the best trustee as they face the conflicts of overwhelming responsibilities, potential lack of asset management experience, and the decision to spend or save the trust assets to provide for the beneficiary, coupled with the knowledge that they, the trustee, will inherit the assets when the beneficiary dies. Your attorney can help you identify a professional trustee and then the duties of the family member can be delegated to their service as a Trust Advisory Committee or trust protector.
- The role of care manager is critical to the lifetime care of your special needs loved one. Expert advice and guidance is needed to assure the current advocate, while living, is able to identify the person who will continue to advocate for their loved one, seek and evaluate benefits and programs, supervise care and progress and prevent abuse.
- Leaning on the understanding and expertise of professional legal advice is a major safeguard in the management of trust assets. To prevent the catastrophic loss of trust assets and the detrimental impact of this loss on the beneficiary, our attorneys can formulate a legal plan to help the trust assets earn and grow and avoid negative tax consequences, while ensuring the beneficiary’s public benefits remain in place. We can show you how to utilize life insurance to fund the trust and create separate stand alone trusts to support the beneficiary and provide supplemental care. The law firm of J.R. Hastings also can help you maximize tax advantages to the trust through qualified plans and show you how to benefit the beneficiary and identified charities (possibly, those that have helped your loved ones and whose work you wish to see continued) through charitable trusts.
We recognize you are committed to high priority care for your loved ones with special needs and we know that you realize now is the time to make that commitment into a lifetime special needs care plan. We invite you to call us and schedule a consultation to explore all the phases of structuring and implementing your specialized plan.
Contact us for legal assistance with your special needs planning
If you need legal assistance with your special needs planning, call the Law Offices of J.R. Hastings today at 415-459-6635 or contact us online at https://www.jrhastingslaw.com/ to schedule a free initial consultation Our office is located in San Rafael, California, and we represent individuals and families throughout Marin, Sonoma, Contra Costa, San Francisco and adjacent Bay Area counties.