Category: Special Needs Trust

Considerations for Special Needs Children During Divorce

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Considerations for Special Needs Children During Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process for an entire family to go through. It typically requires consulting with spouses about dividing assets, determining who lives in the family household, and who receives child custody. However, when one or more children have special needs, the divorce process often becomes more difficult. This is due to the custodial and financial planning needed for these children.

In order to make the process of a divorce much easier, the parents of a special needs child are encouraged to contact a divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer helps both parents determine the best possible course of action to take for their child’s best interest. This typically includes making certain accommodations for the child that are unique from regular divorces. This makes the process easier for both the parents and the child.

Extra Expenses

In order to accommodate a child with special needs, the parents might need to invest more money in treatments or equipment. For instance, a child who needs medical treatment might have higher medical expenses. Due to the child’s higher expenses, it might affect the division of marital assets or child support. The parent with primary custody of the child should seek higher child support to accommodate the expenses.

Special Visitation Schedules

When two parents are going through a divorce, they often draft a visitation schedule. However, it is important for both parents to consider a child’s stressors before determining an adequate schedule. Many children with special needs tend to have a difficult time with choppy visitation schedules. To avoid this hardship, the child might be better suited with a schedule that allows them to spend long stretches of time with each parent. Some children might spend a few months out of the year with one parent and the rest of the time with their other parent. This helps to keep a child dealing with special needs as comfortable as possible.

Detailed Parenting Plan

Many special needs children tend to follow a specific routine. This routine often includes diet, medications, and behavioral management. When two parents divorce, it might be difficult for each parent to adapt to this routine without the other. Therefore, it is important for both parents to outline a detailed plan. This plan should include all the important elements of the child’s routine so the child and the parents have as much consistency as possible.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Divorcing Clients with Special Needs Children

If you or a loved one is dealing with a divorce, you need to contact a Morristown divorce lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our lawyers work closely with those making considerations for their children dealing with special needs. Contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 for a free consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Letter of Intent – A Must Have for Any Special Needs Family

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What is a Special Needs Trust and How Can it Help My Family?

Mendham family law lawyers advocate for special needs families.Written by: Joanna Adu, Esq.

If you are the primary caregiver of a person with special needs and passed away tomorrow, is there someone who could pick up where you left off in caring for that person? A letter of intent is a document used to communicate the instructions, preferences and general need-to-know information about your dependent with special needs. A well drafted letter of intent should cover everything from doctors, specialists, therapies, federal and state benefits, programs, medications, food preferences, allergies, favorite activities, education, daily routine, finances, religion, family members, living arrangements, etc.

Additionally, the letter of intent should describe your loved one’s level of independence, including their ability to handle money, transportation, employment, self-care, etc. Further, this is a great opportunity to memorialize any particular concerns that you may have about your loved one currently or in the future like particular vulnerabilities that the successor caregiver should be aware of.

Generally, your letter of intent should be written in such a way that the successor caregiver can understand your instructions, expectations and intentions for the person with special needs. In addition to providing a guideline of current needs and circumstances, a letter of intent provides a great opportunity to provide guidance regarding the preferred living and employment arrangements for your loved one in the future. For example, if you are the parent of a child with special needs who is still relatively young, what do you anticipate your child’s preferred living arrangements will be when they become an adult? A group home? Independently with occasional assistance from a caregiver?

The letter of intent should be signed and dated. It should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis, especially after major life changes. Copies of the letter of intent should be kept by yourself as well as any other person who may be responsible for your loved one’s care.

This type of letter of intent is not a legal document and is not required to have any particular format or language. Various templates and guides can easily be found online. However, care should be taken to ensure that the information and instructions contained in the letter of intent do not contradict the provisions of a trust or other estate planning document. In this regard, having an attorney review your letter of intent and estate documents to ensure that there are no issues is extremely helpful.

Estate planning for a special needs family requires an attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable. Fortunately, our skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey attorneys at Lyons & Associates have extensive experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment.

What is a Special Needs Trust and How Can it Help My Family?

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What is a Special Needs Trust and How Can it Help My Family?

Somerville family law firm can help clients set up a special needs trust.Written by: Joanna Adu, Esq.

A Special Needs Trust (sometimes called a Supplemental Needs Trust) or “SNT” is a specific type of trust, created by federal law, that allows an individual with special needs, or someone on behalf of that individual with special needs (commonly parents or grandparents), to hold assets in trust for that person without effecting his or her ability to receive certain government benefits that have income limits, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

For example, if a parent were to put $10,000 in a savings account for their child with special needs, Medicaid would consider that $10,000 to be an asset to the child, which may disqualify them from eligibility. However, under a SNT, it is the trust that owns the asset and the beneficiary (the special needs individual) does not have ready access to same. As such, anything that is transferred into the SNT will not negatively affect the beneficiary’s ability to access federal benefits that he or she may need.

Unless a family has the means to set aside enough money to provide for the individual with special needs for the rest of his or her life, preserving their ability to access federal benefits is crucial. Medicaid eligibility allows individuals to access community housing, therapies, programs, etc. that are otherwise extremely expensive.

There are two types of SNTs, a self-settled trust or a third-party trust. The self-settled trust contains assets belonging to the individual with special needs and a third-party trust contains assets set aside by others for the benefit of the individual with special needs. There are certain important differences between the two types of SNTs. For example, under a self-settled trust, the trust must provide that when the individual with special needs passes away, Medicaid will be reimbursed for services provided during that individual’s lifetime. This is not required under a third-party trust.

A special needs trust is irrevocable, meaning that once assets are transferred into the trust, they cannot be transferred out (unless it falls within a provision under the trust). Further, a trustee(s) will be designated who will control use of the trust. It is common for parents or other family members serve as trustee(s).

One of the reasons why SNTs protect assets from government benefits consideration is because the assets contained therein may only be distributed for very specific purposes that must be outlined in the trust. Generally, money may not be released for purposes that overlap with federal benefits. For example, social security benefits are meant to cover basic living expenses (housing, food, etc.), as such an SNT cannot disburse funds to overlap that benefit (although distributions may be made to supplement as needed).

If you are looking to create a Special Needs Trust it is important to have an attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable. Fortunately, our skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment.