Your Family Member with a Disability
Planning for the long term future of a family member with a disability can be tricky. A poorly crafted bequest (i.e., gift with significant value) to a family member with a disability might actually cause the opposite of your intent. Because laws and “entitlement” services may change, and each family’s specific circumstances vary, it is a good idea to develop relationships with professionals who keep up with the law and can provide you with on-going guidance. In general, however, it is important to recognize that the needs and desires of people with disabilities are not so different from those of anyone else.
Children with disabilities need the healthy physical and emotional support that comes from family relationships. Planning for the future of most children with disabilities should include provisions to keep the family intact, and supports to the child within familiar surroundings.
It is equally important to recognize that, as children grow older, they need the benefit of developing to their greatest level of independent living skills. Because children typically outlive parents, it is important for teenagers with disabilities to develop a sense of self apart from parents. Provisions for children with disabilities during this period should include opportunities for social, educational, and career development to the fullest extent of the child’s capacity.
Your young adult family member with a disability should be involved at all levels of decision making about his or her life, including where and with whom they wish to live. Even though there may be few options, it is important to respect the dignity of choice whenever possible.
Your senior family member with a disability deserves the same dignity. Most seniors with disabilities prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible.
Planning for a family member with a disability requires vigilance, consideration, and frequent review as law and circumstances change.
Here are several tools you may wish to investigate:
Annuity: A long-term retirement savings program that allows money to grow tax deferred
Charitable Trust: Avoids estate taxes by creating directives to favored charitable works while also ensuring bequests to loved ones
IRA/Roth IRA: Individual Retirement Accounts that take advantage of government approved tax benefits
Life Insurance: An effective means to leave financial resources to beneficiaries while controlling estate tax repercussions
Long Term Care Insurance: Avoids depletion of estate by covering costs of long term care in the event of disability or incapacitation
Revocable Living Trust: A document used to plan and organize an estate during one’s lifetime that allows one to retain control of assets, and reduces estate taxes upon death
Special Needs Trust: A type of trust usually developed for the benefit of a person who receives government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid