Crafting an estate plan that more than adequately provides for your family in your absence can be challenging for anyone. However, when you have a loved one with special needs, the task can be even more complicated, and the stakes for getting things right are even higher.

While bequeathing property and other assets to the disabled family member may seem like a logical solution, doing so can actually jeopardize their eligibility for vital government resources and benefits. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you navigate the estate planning process and avoid common pitfalls. Fortunately, you've come to the right place.

At Cucinelli Geiger, PC, our caring, compassionate, and skilled Virginia attorneys help clients provide for family members with special needs while preserving and protecting their loved ones' entitlement to essential public services and programs. We listen carefully to thoroughly understand your goals and concerns so that we can help you find the special needs planning solutions that ensure your family member's dignity and comfort and gives you much-needed peace of mind. Here's what you should know about Virginia special needs planning, including how our dedicated legal team can help you through the process.

A Special Needs Trust Is a Vital Component of a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Standard estate plans typically include a will, power of attorney, advance medical directive, and a revocable living trust. However, when you have a loved one with special needs, these legal documents may not sufficiently protect their interests. Fortunately, a Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) can help.

These trusts allow people with disabilities to take advantage of property and resources that have been set aside for their benefit. Because the assets are held in a trust, they don't technically belong to the individual in question, which means they don't count against them when determining eligibility for means-tested government benefits.

Beyond the Basics

While public programs help meet your disabled loved one's basic needs, an SNT allows you to go beyond the basics, providing for them in a way that ensures their comfort and dignity and enhances their overall quality of life. In addition to food and shelter, an SNT can usually also be used to pay for things like:

  • Dental care
  • Non-covered medical care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mental health services
  • Training programs
  • Assistive devices (such as electric wheelchairs or mechanical beds)
  • Transportation
  • Hair and nail care
  • Telephone
  • Television
  • Vacations
  • Cultural experiences
  • Computer equipment
  • Internet access
  • And much, much more

Let Our Attorneys Help You Navigate the SNT Planning Process

Planning for a disabled loved one's future is a big responsibility. We're committed to making the process as painless as possible. After carefully assessing your situation, we'll help you determine whether a self-funded or third-party funded type of SNT is right for your family, as well as:

  • What care your family member needs now and in the future
  • How to fund the trust
  • Who to name as trustee
  • How trust assets should be managed
  • How and when assets should be distributed
  • Guardianship nominations
  • Letters of Intent
  • And more

Trying to create an estate plan that meets the needs of a family member with a disability can be overwhelming. Don't go it alone. Our caring, capable, and conscientious special needs planning attorneys are here for you each and every step of the way.

Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation

We help clients carefully plan for the needs of disabled loved ones. We've assisted countless clients in meeting their special needs planning goals, so they can feel confident in the care their family members will receive in their absence. Ready to find out what our accomplished Virginia attorneys can do for you? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation.