There are LOTS of attorneys in the Fairfax area, and many of them do wills and trusts. With that being the case, you might wonder why it’s important to work with an attorney whose practice focuses not just on estate planning but on special needs planning in Virginia if you have a child with disabilities.
Quite frankly, special needs planning is complex and that’s why it’s so important to work with an attorney who understands this specific area of the law. When your child’s future is at stake, you want to be confident that your lawyer knows the ins and outs of how to protect assets and how to create a long-term plan that will help your child have continued access to the benefits he or she needs, as well as a secure future.
For example, did you know that the eligibility rules for Medicaid are different from those used for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as Section 8 housing? Your Special Needs Trust has the potential to negatively impact the eligibility for all of these programs. It is important that your attorney can set up a plan that follows all of the rules, while also helping to ensure that there is enough money in the trust to cover costs that are not covered by government benefits. If prepared the wrong way, the Special Needs Trust can actually cause your child to lose his or her access to public benefits.
It’s also critical to work with an attorney who understands the options available for dispensing any remaining funds in the trust upon the death of the person with special needs. Many attorneys mistakenly put a “pay-back” provision into the trust rather than allowing the remaining funds to go to other family members. These pay-back provisions are necessary in some types of Special Needs Trusts, but not all of them. It is important to work with an attorney who knows the difference because it can save your family thousands of dollars.
You will also want an attorney experienced in special needs planning in Virginia on your team who can guide you through the process of selecting the right trustee to manage your child’s trust when you are no longer able. There is quite a bit to think about that most inexperienced attorneys won’t consider, such as who can serve as a back-up trustee if the original trustee can no longer do the job and how to use a memorandum of intent to make sure the trustee understands the beneficiary’s needs and can make good use of the money in the trust.
There’s a lot more to think about when you are creating your Special Needs Trust, so be sure that you work with a qualified and experienced attorney who specializes in special needs planning in Virginia. We’ve helped hundreds of families in Northern Virginia and we’d be happy to help you as well. Call our office at 571-328-5795 to schedule an appointment with Attorney Sheri Abrams.