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Family Money

moneyIt doesn't matter if a financial gift to someone with disabilities or other special needs is from a friend, relative, or parent. Or whether it's a one-time cash gift, regular and ongoing monthly payments, or a future gift of money or property given through a will. Or if it's a state-mandated distribution of an estate settled without a will. An increase in income from someone with disabilities could have surprising results.

Higher income may eliminate government benefits

The income level of someone with disabilities or other special needs determines whether or not the person can receive governmental benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. If those benefits are currently being received, you may want to ensure that they continue.

Of course, a large inheritance could significantly improve the person's lifestyle. But with the high cost of health care, housing and other needs, how long will the money last? When the money is exhausted, the special-needs person may have to reapply for government benefits – which often only cover the costs of bare necessities. There may be no additional income to provide for other needs such as education assistance, over-the-counter medicines, personal sundries, travel expenses, books and entertainment, and other such things.

Don't turn financial gifts away

If a grandparent, friend, or other family member wants to help out financially, say thank you and proceed cautiously with the help of specialists – your banker or financial services professional and your attorney, together with a Special Care Planner. Wills should be carefully written and a trust fund may be considered. The fund is not owned by the person (because the assets would increase income and jeopardize government benefits), but rather, it is set up to benefit him or her.

There's much to know about trusts: which type to choose, how to fund it, who will manage the trust on behalf of the disabled person, how funds are disbursed, and more. But it can be one of the most valuable tools you put in place to ensure the ongoing care and well being of the person you care for – for many years to come.

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