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Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law

Houma-Thibodaux Special Needs Planning Attorney

Special Needs Planning involves providing for the care and needs of individuals suffering from a range of intellectual difficulties, physical disabilities, learning impediments or mental conditions. Planning typically involves coordinating federal and state programs with available income and assets to provide a standard of living above what can be provided solely by governmental benefits. Parents of a child with a disability, regardless of age, have unique planning concerns that include healthcare, meeting developmental needs, qualifying for governmental benefits, providing for current needs, and providing for their disabled child when the parents are no longer able.

Governmental Assistance (Medicaid and SSI) in Louisiana

There are a number of state and federal benefits available to people with a disability. These programs include: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides cash allowances for food and shelter; Medicaid, which provides medical care; and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). In addition, various Medicaid Waivers including the Adult Day Health Care Waiver (“ADHC”), Community Choice Waivers (“CCW”), New Opportunities Waivers (“NOW”), Children’s Choice Waivers, and Residential Options Waivers (“ROW”) are available but typically have long waiting lists. Keep in mind that these programs, while providing valuable benefits, provide only for the bare necessities. These limited benefits will not provide your loved one with the financial resources needed to enjoy a quality of life you would like for them to enjoy. Unfortunately, you cannot haphazardly leave assets to your disabled child without jeopardizing their governmental benefits. You should consider leaving assets to a special needs trust for their benefit. Contact Houma-Thibodaux special needs planning lawyer John Sirois at 985-580-2520 if you have questions about how a special needs trust can help protect your disabled loved one.

Houma – Thibodaux Special Needs Trust Planning Lawyer

Houma Attorney John Sirois advises families making decisions for the care of children and adults with a disability. Of particular concern to most parents of a disabled child is who will care for their disabled child when the parents are gone? Who will provide the additional assistance over what is provided by SSI and Medicaid? For many families, the answer includes a special needs trust. Special needs planning attorney, John Sirois, can give you peace of mind knowing your loved one will have the additional resources provided by a special needs trust.

Metairie Special Needs Planning Lawyer

Louisiana is unique due to our forced heirship laws. A forced heir is entitled to receive a portion of the deceased person’s estate so they cannot be “written out” of the will. In Louisiana a child, regardless of age, is a forced heir if he or she suffers from an inherited, incurable disease or condition that renders them incapable of caring for their person or administering their estate now or in the future. Therefore, if you have a child with a disability, he or she is entitled to receive a portion of your estate that may disqualify them from SSI and Medicaid. Metairie and Houma, Louisiana Special Needs Planning Attorney, John Sirois, can advise you how to create a special needs trust to avoid disqualifying your loved one from SSI and/or Medicaid.

Planning for Personal Injury Settlements in Louisiana

A plaintiff receiving a personal injury settlement often has medical and financial needs that can be met, at least partially, with means-tested benefits (Medicaid and SSI) now or in the future. Unfortunately, the receipt of even a small personal injury award can disqualify the recipient from SSI and Medicaid. Planning with a special needs trust to provide for the needs of a disabled loved one who is a recipient of a personal injury settlement or award is vital to maintaining eligibility for the SSI and Medicaid. Maintaining or establishing eligibility for SSI and Medicaid should be a priority during the settlement process. Not only does a special needs trust preserve eligibility for SSI and Medicaid, but it also provides protection from creditors and prudent management of the settlement proceeds. If you have questions about how a special needs trust can help preserve a personal injury award, contact Metairie and Houma special needs planning lawyer, John Sirois at 504-837-1733 or 985-580-2520.

Special Needs Trust Attorney in Louisiana

A special needs trust is a type of trust designed to provide the disabled person with resources to enhance his or her quality of life while maintaining eligibility for means-tested public benefits. When planning for the needs of a disabled person, the goals are to maximize their quality of life and to optimize and coordinate available assets and governmental programs. Although the benefits available through SSI are not adequate to live above poverty levels, the associated Medicaid benefits (medical benefits and other services) are often very valuable and essential to meet the needs of the disabled person. Although the primary reason for establishing a special needs trust is to provide additional support to enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life while maintaining eligibility for governmental benefits, there are additional benefits to establishing a special needs trust (and the associated planning) including:

  1. Providing an advocacy system to ensure clean and safe living accommodations with the least amount of restriction
  2. Asset management
  3. Protection from financial predators
  4. The family’s peace of mind that a financial safety net and a care plan is in place for the beneficiary

First Party (Self-Settled) Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust may be a first party (self-settled) “d4A” trust that is funded with the assets of the person with special needs and requires a payback provision to the state. A first-party special needs trust is used for personal injury settlements and when the person with a disability receives an inheritance or other financial windfall.

Third Party Special Needs Trusts

Another type of special needs trust is a third party trust which is funded with assets from other people and does not require a payback provision to the state. A third party special needs trust is typically created by a parent or other family member to hold assets they contribute to the trust for the benefit of their disabled loved one.

Contact Houma Special Needs Planning Lawyer, John Sirois, at 985-580-2520 or by email if you have questions or concerns about planning for your loved one with a disability. John assists persons with a special needs throughout Southeast Louisiana including New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, Jefferson, Houma, Thibodaux, Luling, Morgan City and surrounding areas.

Click here to order a copy of John’s book, Louisiana Retirement and Estate Planning.