What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning allows individuals to designate who will receive their assets, as well as determine who will take the lead in carrying out their final wishes. Without estate planning, you cannot be secure in knowing that you or your loved one’s wishes will be carried out. A high-quality estate plan can also reduce the risk of conflict within the family concerning the final disposition of your property.
This process is an extremely personal one that can involve incredibly detailed and complex planning or can be as straight forward and direct as you would like your future planning to be. Attorney’s at Arctos Law are experienced both in crafting documents and in advocating for them in Court. We begin this process by sitting down with you and getting to know you, where you are, and where you would like to be in the future. Once we have your information, and we believe we understand your wishes thoroughly, we offer you a number of paths toward achieving your present and future goals.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your situation, attorneys may present you with options including various forms of trusts, some of which you still control during your lifetime and others which you appoint another person to manage your assets for you. Other trusts, such as testamentary trusts only come in to play after your death. Other options may include transfer on death deeds, early family transfers, joint accounts, joint-ownership, and various other methods.
How does Disability Impact Estate Planning?
Estate planning for a member of the family who has a disability can be difficult to say the least. First, few attorneys and estate planners have the background required to understand the particular needs of families with your specific needs. The interplay between government benefits for your loved one and the various gifts or inheritance the member may receive can be a complicated one.
Estate planning in these situations must prioritize the future needs of your loved one with your family’s current economic realities. While not utilizing government benefits to meet the needs of your loved one may seem less restrictive and therefore preferable, the realities of supplying care for your loved one throughout their life often requires financial help through governmental benefits.
Once a loved one has qualified for and has begun to receive benefits such as Social Security Disability or Medical Assistance, planning for the future economic needs of your loved one becomes incredibly important. Inheritance, gifts, or assets not previously known to the family, and planned for, can threaten the government benefits supporting their care and growth. An estate planning attorney who has experience advising families planning for a family member with a disability can help structure estate planning to avoid or minimize these risks, or to resolve such threats when they arrive.
In addition, an experienced attorney can help you consider what estate planning tools would be aid in ensuring your loved one with a disability’s future is secure. Supplemental and special needs trusts are trusts for the benefit of a person with a disability to ensure their economic needs are met throughout their lives without interrupting benefits such as Social Security Disability or Medical Assistance in Minnesota. There are also Pooled Trusts which accomplish similar goals to a Special Needs Trust but carry different advantages and disadvantages. In addition, ABLE Accounts are a newer addition to the options provided individuals with a disability which can offer a greater degree of autonomy to your loved one where that would be appropriate. These tools all prioritize the unique current and future needs of you or your loved one with a disability to differing degrees and experienced attorney can assist you in determining the tool that is right for your unique situation.