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Updating an estate plan in response to a loved one’s changing needs

A person’s own circumstances are not the only things that can impact what sorts of estate planning devices and approaches would be best for them. Another such thing are the circumstances of their family and other loved ones.

So, among the life events that could give rise to a need to update one’s estate plan is a change in the situation of a family member or other loved one. One major change in circumstances a person sometimes sees occur to their child or other loved one is their loved one suffering a medical event or experiencing a medical condition that results in long-term or permanent special needs.

There are a variety of special concerns a person may have when a loved one develops special needs. Examples include concerns about:

  • Whether their loved one will have the financial support they need to have their particular needs met.
  • How best to provide their loved one long-term financial support.
  • Whether their financial help to their loved one would endanger their loved one’s ability to qualify for government benefits.

There are mechanisms that can added to an estate plan which can be used to address special concerns a person has regarding supporting a loved one with special needs. One example is a special-needs trust.

When it comes to such trusts and other estate planning devices that can be used for special needs planning, it is very important for them to be carefully tailored to their intended purposes and the circumstances of the special-needs individual they are aimed at helping. Errors, oversights or missteps with such mechanisms could lead to them not providing the types of help they were aimed at.

So, when a person is having special-needs-planning devices added to their estate plan in response to a loved one developing special needs, it can be very important for the initial formation of the devices to be done correctly, given the specifics of the situation. Also, after setting up a special needs plan in relation to a loved one, it can be important to properly update the plan as the loved one’s needs change and evolve. Skilled estate planning lawyers can help individuals who have relatives with special needs with issues related to special needs planning, such as issues regarding special-needs-related estate plan updates.

Source: CNBC, “Special-needs trust is key part of some estate plans,” Anna Robaton, June 1, 2016

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