7 Costly Mistakes

HOW CAN THESE COSTLY MISTAKES BE AVOIDED?

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The common denominator in all of these issues is this question: “How can I get the right legal advice regarding special needs matters?” The fact is, any attorney in California can call themselves a “special needs attorney,” or “elder law attorney” regardless of their experience. Forms are available to any attorney or paralegal for “special needs trusts.” The skill is not in the tool, it’s in the person using it. You need to be able to trust the skill level of your attorney. At a minimum, they should have an excellent understanding of Public Benefits Law to adequately advise you on the type of Special Needs Trust and clauses to use in your individual situation. In California, there are two types of certified specializations that are relevant in this area: 1) Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELAs), who have Public Benefits Law as the core of their specialization, and 2) Certified Legal Specialists, Estate Planning Trusts and Probate (CLS-EP). While anyone can hold themselves out as a “special needs attorney” or as doing “special needs trusts,” only those who have undergone rigorous evaluation and testing can call themselves either of these. Regardless of whether or not your “special needs attorney” has either of these specializations, you should ask them direct questions about the length of their experience in this area, and what percentage of their practice is devoted to special needs planning.

MISTAKE 3: Not Having a Custom Plan

A Trust that is not designed with your child’s special needs in mind will probably render your child ineligible for the essential benefits they rely on. The Special Needs Trust is designed to promote your child’s comfort, happiness, and quality of life without sacrificing or jeopardizing benefit eligibility. Special needs can include medical and dental expenses, annual independent check-ups, necessary or desirable equipment (such as specially equipped vans), training and education, insurance, transportation and essential dietary needs. If the trust is sufficiently funded, your child can also receive electronic equipment & appliances, computers, vacations, movies, payments for a companion, clothing and other self-esteem enhancing and quality of life expenses: the sort of things you now provide.