When it comes to creating a special needs trust for a disabled loved one of a client, too many practitioners focus only on the preservation of public benefits, says Stephen Dale, a disability advocate and specialist on estate planning. “Maybe 20 years ago that was good enough, but if that’s what you’re doing, you need to broaden your scope.”“To expect the government to provide adequate resources for a disabled loved one could be a mistake,” Dale warns.
In the ABA-CLE “Building a Successful and Supportive Special Needs Practice,” Dale explains that as states grapple with budget shortfalls, funding to social service programs across the country are being severely cut or phased out entirely. Taking the place of public agencies are an increasing number of private-sector providers.
Not only must today’s special needs trusts include the flexibility to address changing circumstances, but the attorneys preparing them must stay up to date on the ever-evolving environment in order to be effective, Dale says, noting that advocacy organizations such as the Arc, Autism Speaks and National Alliance can help practitioners stay informed. A special needs trust that can adapt to changing circumstances involves including the right team of advisors who will advocate for the needs of the protected loved one. These advisors collectively use their discretion in the best interest of the beneficiary—advocating for appropriate care, preventing abuse, keeping up with changing laws and investing funds.
A team approach can make a positive difference. Too often, people just name one of their family members as conservators or successor trustees, and it doesn’t work.“What you’ll often find is parents will serve as advocates for their disabled children, and they will get so involved in being the advocate that they lose sight that not everybody—including their siblings,” while others run far.
Family members can instead be part of a team, functioning as an advisory committee that directs the actions of a trustee. Committees typically include a care manager who interacts directly with the beneficiary, as well as a trust protector who receives all the reports and has the ability to fire the trustee, if necessary. “In the best circumstances, the advisory committee provides a system with checks and balances to ensure the trustee is acting in the best interest and incorporates the family in the process.” It’s imperative to be clear how the trust committee is structured, who’s in charge, and when and how the family members need to act. Attorneys specializing in creating special needs trusts are indeed in a niche practice with expertise standard probate attorneys may lack. Best advice–do your homework. Ask questions and contact us at (832) 315-8489 or email@example.com [wpResize]
Tags: attorney-special-needs-houston, Attorney-specialize-disability-Houston, atty4kids, autism-attorney-houston, autism-guardianship-attorney-houston, Candice-Schwager, family-lawyer-houston-special-needs, guardianship-attorney-Houston, houston-special-needs-attorney, houston-special-needs-lawyer, Proloquo2go-iPad-autism-Houston, special-needs-attorney-Houston, special-needs-trust-dallas, special-needs-trusts-houston