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Hearing about families with loved ones who have special needs is becoming more commonplace due to a greater awareness and social understanding. The special needs of physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled family members present unique planning circumstances, yet the goal for these families is the same…

Create and provide a more certain future for those with special needs, as well as, for the rest of the family.

With this goal in mind, special needs planning can help address these unique planning challenges. For example, parents facing the possibility of providing continued care for the rest of their child’s life now have better options. Or in the case of entire families taking on the responsibility of care, proper estate planning would help gather the financial means to facilitate a quality of living. But what exactly is proper estate planning?

Estate planning may bring to mind families with great wealth, but that is not true. It simply means organizing your estate, whatever its size, to meet the needs of the entire family as efficiently and economically as possible. The three primary sources of support available to a person with special needs are family, charity and government. Proper estate planning goals would seek to maximize each of these sources by:

  • Organizing the estate to minimize taxes and costs
  • Maintaining eligibility for government programs
  • Assuring continued availability of charitable programs
  • Providing family members the financial ability to handle ongoing needs

Without an estate plan in place, families are left with few choices. Bestowing assets directly may eliminate eligibility for any governmental or charitable assistance. However, leaving them completely dependent on government programs and charity is not always the best option.

One possible solution is to create and fund a Special Needs Trust with the help of a qualified attorney. A Special Needs Trust is a carefully structured trust that provides financial security for the special needs child or family member while allowing that person to qualify for government benefits. The plan provides the family with flexibility, allowing new caregivers to meet the social, emotional, physical and financial needs of their loved one.

I understand the concerns and challenges of special needs planning and can help guide your clients through the process, while helping ensure that their financial goals are being met.


Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.