Special Needs Planning Attorney Helps You Provide for Your Loved One

Knowledgeable assistance for clients in Sarasota and Osprey, Florida

If you have a loved one with special needs, you might be wondering about the best way to provide for their needs both now and in the future. Of course, understanding and compassion are essential for proper care, but these are rarely sufficient to meet the challenges that you and your disabled loved one face. Knowledge of the law and available benefits can bolster your efforts. As a Florida special needs planning attorney, I often assist families with strategies for present and long-term planning. If you have a special needs loved one who depends on you, you both can rely on Teresa K. Bowman, P.A.

Sarasota County law firm helps plan for the future of family members with special needs

When caring for a loved one with special needs, it’s important to take an expansive view of the situation. As your loved one ages, their needs will change. Therefore, the plan you put in place must anticipate their needs 5, 10 or 20 years into the future. You must also be realistic about your limitations. How much time do you have to dedicate to managing finances, providing personal care, and making medical decisions? Importantly, you have to consider who might handle those issues when you are no longer around.

Understanding disabilities and special needs

In my practice, I work with families whose special needs loved ones face a range of challenges, such as:

  • Physical disability such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy or muscular dystrophy
  • Developmental and behavioral challenges such as down’s syndrome, autism and ADD
  • Age-related issues such as dementia and osteoarthritis

Some of these individuals have been disabled from birth, some became disabled after an accident or illness and others are facing the inevitable decline that comes with old age. My extensive experience enables me to tailor plans to your loved one’s specific circumstances.

Government benefits and programs for those with special needs

For disabled individuals, government benefits can be a great help. I advise my clients on qualifying for a range of programs, including:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Social Security Disability Insurance

In most situations, it is possible to provide support for a disabled individual while still maintaining their eligibility for government assistance.

Caring for special needs family with a guardianship or conservatorship

In many cases, a concerned person will not have the legal authority to act for the benefit of the disabled loved one. It might be necessary to petition the court to be appointed legal guardian or conservator of the disabled individual, who would, upon court approval, become your ward. This appointment will allow you to oversee finances and make decisions for the ward’s health and welfare. As a Sarasota elder care lawyer, I often help clients obtain such appointments, specifically in the case of a special needs minor child who is turning 18. Upon the 18th birthday, the parent can no longer make decisions as the child is legally considered an adult. Guardian advocacy allows the parent to have authority to manage assets for a special needs child after they turn 18 and no finding of incapacity is necessary. 

Establishing a special needs trust

One of the best ways to provide for the financial needs of a disabled loved one is through a special needs trust. This is a particular type of trust that provides financial support for a disabled individual, with disbursements that are carefully managed not to disqualify the beneficiary from government assistance. Special needs trusts can be funded by third parties, such as parents, or they can be self-settled. Self-settled trusts are usually funded by personal injury settlements, or inherited funds. 

I often advise clients on the best strategies for funding a special needs trust, and when is the best time to establish the trust.                    

Contact a dedicated Florida estate planning lawyer for assistance with special needs issues 

Florida estate attorney Teresa K. Bowman, P.A. advises people in Sarasota and Osprey on strategies for assisting loved ones with special needs. Please call 941-735-0811 or contact my office online to schedule an appointment at my Sarasota or Osprey offices.